Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics

Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics

Theodore Sider

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0198724047

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Now in its second edition, Riddles of Existence is the first book to make metaphysics genuinely accessible and fun. Its lively, informal style brings metaphysical questions to life and shows how stimulating it can be to think about them.

Earl Conee and Theodore Sider offer a lucid discussion of the major topics in metaphysics. What makes me the same person I was as a child? Is everything fated to be exactly as it is? Does time flow? How fast does it flow, and can one travel back in time, against the current? Does God exist? Why is there anything at all rather than nothing? If our actions are caused by things science can predict and control, how can we have free will? The authors approach these topics in an open-minded and non-dogmatic manner, giving students a full sense of the issues involved.

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words, a necessary condition for Cathy not choosing to accept is that very condition itself: that Cathy will not choose to accept the oVer. As the Second Assumption says, that condition is a non-negotiable necessary condition for itself. Again, it is part of our example that Cathy will choose to accept. So a necessary condition of this not happening is absent, now and forever. The First Assumption of the argument says that when any necessary condition for something not happening is absent, the

for God’s existence. There are arguments against God’s existence too. The most prominent one—the Problem of Evil—contends that an all-powerful, all-knowing, morally perfect being would never allow all of the bad things that exist in this world, and so no such being exists. Several versions of this argument have been developed. They have in turn received intense critical scrutiny. All of that is more of the evidence available on the topic of God’s existence. And then there’s the challenge of

portrays the other in paint. But equally, it might be that I have a painting ‘of ’ an animal by having on the wall a painting that represents a mythical animal, say, a hippogriV. It is still correctly called a painting ‘of ’ an animal, but now in a new sense. HippogriVs do not exist. No 96 $ Why Not Nothing? actual animal was painted. The new meaning is that it would take a certain sort of animal for the painting to portray something real. In eVect, the painting speciWes how part of the world

whatever is maximally perfect must exist, it follows that something maximally perfect does exist, just as the conclusion says. Taking P1 in this way, with the ‘of ’ relating a concept to an existing thing, why believe it? Only this much is clear: there is a concept that applies to something that is maximally perfect, if it applies at all. When we had P1 saying only that much, though, we were back with the other interpretation and its problem. The argument needs P1 to claim something beyond that.

What’s wrong with easy? If the reasoning fails, exactly where does it go wrong? We might try denying that the three apples have any properties in common. After all, strictly speaking, the apples do not have precisely the same color, and they differ in details of their chemical composition. Encouraged by these points, we might try to go all the way with this line and maintain that the apples have nothing truly in common. This line is tough to defend. For one thing, it is difficult to get around

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