Why the World Does Not Exist
Why the World Does Not Exist

Where do we come from? Are we merely a cluster of elementary particles in a gigantic world receptacle? And what does it all mean?

In this highly original new book, the philosopher Markus Gabriel challenges our notion of what exists and what it means to exist. He questions the idea that there is a world that encompasses everything like a container life, the universe, and everything else. This all-inclusive being does not exist and cannot exist. For the world itself is not found in the world. And even when we think about the world, the world about which we think is obviously not identical with the world in which we think. For, as we are thinking about the world, this is only a very small event in the world. Besides this, there are still innumerable other objects and events: rain showers, toothaches and the World Cup. Drawing on the recent history of philosophy, Gabriel asserts that the world cannot exist at all, because it is not found in the world. Yet with the exception of the world, everything else exists; even unicorns on the far side of the moon wearing police uniforms.

Revelling in witty thought experiments, word play, and the courage of provocation, Markus Gabriel demonstrates the necessity of a questioning mind and the role that humour can play in coming to terms with the abyss of human existence.

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  • March 2017 (pb)
    June 2015 (hb)
  • 200 pages
  • 145 x 224 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9780745687568
  • Paperback $16.95
  • 9780745687575
  • Open eBook $16.95
  • 9780745687605
Table of Contents

Thinking Philosophy Anew

Appearance and Being

New Realism

The Plurality of Worlds

Less than Nothing

I What is this Actually: the World?

You and the Universe


“The World is Everything that is the Case”


Philosophers and Physicists

II What is Existence?

The Super-Object

Monism, Dualism, Pluralism

Absolute and Relative Differences

Fields of Sense

III Why the World Does Not Exist

The Super-Thought

Nihilism and Non-Existence

The External and the Internal World

Why the World Does Not Exist

IV The Worldview of Natural Science



The Book of the World

Subjective Truths


Science and Art

V The Meaning of Religion


The Infinite

Religion and the Search for Meaning

The Function of God

VI The Meaning of Art


On Sense and Reference

The Demon of Analogy



VII Closing Credits: Television

A Show about Nothing

The Senses . . .

. . . and the Meaning of Life



Index of Names

About the Author
Markus Gabriel was born in 1980 and studied in Heidelberg, Lisbon and New York. Since 2009 he has held the chair for Epistemology at the University of Bonn and with that is Germany’s youngest philosophy professor. He is also the director of the International Center for Philosophy in Bonn.
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"A majestic thought experiment"
Slavoj Žižek

"Imagine a philosopher. This philosopher has the verve and pop-culture curiosity of Slavoj Žižek; Graham Priest's comfort with unresolved ambiguity; the transparent prose of John Gray; and Martin Heidegger's​ nose for the faint scent of being. Your imagined thinker is Markus Gabriel, and his book is Why the World Does Not Exist."
Sydney Morning Herald

"The world might not exist, but Markus Gabriel clearly does, and his fresh, buoyant and bracing intelligence is evidenced on every page of this compelling new book. It is a rare gift to be able to philosophize from first principles in a way that is neither patronizingly derivative nor technically arcane and in a manner that is accessible to the general reader. But Gabriel possesses that gift in bucketloads."
Simon Critchley, New School for Social Research

"Gabriel has written a gripping thriller, which is of course what all good philosophy should be."
Die Literarische Welt

"Markus Gabriel shows with great verve how to tackle fundamental philosophical questions, without being overly academic or dumbing down his subject matter."
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"With great wit and intellectual provocation, Markus Gabriel explores the perennial questions of humanity."
Der Spiegel

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