Why the World Does Not Exist
Why the World Does Not Exist
Translated by Gregory Moss

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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  • June 2015 (hb)
    March 2017 (pb)
  • 200 pages
  • 145 x 219 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $72.75
  • 9780745687568
  • Paperback $16.95
  • 9780745687575
  • Open eBook $14.00
  • 9780745687605
Table of Contents

Thinking Philosophy Anew 1

Appearance and Being 2

New Realism 5

The Plurality of Worlds 8

Less than Nothing 11

I What is this Actually: the World? 16

You and the Universe 21

Materialism 28

“The World is Everything that is the Case” 32

Constructivism 38

Philosophers and Physicists 44

II What is Existence? 50

The Super-Object 53

Monism, Dualism, Pluralism 56

Absolute and Relative Differences 61

Fields of Sense 65

III Why the World Does Not Exist 73

The Super-Thought 78

Nihilism and Non-Existence 81

The External and the Internal World 91

Why the World Does Not Exist

IV The Worldview of Natural Science 99

Naturalism 106

Monism 111

The Book of the World 115

Subjective Truths 126

Holzwege 131

Science and Art 137

V The Meaning of Religion 146

Fetishism 154

The Infinite 162

Religion and the Search for Meaning 168

The Function of God 178

VI The Meaning of Art 184

Ambivalences 186

On Sense and Reference 190

The Demon of Analogy 194

Reflexivity 197

Diversity 204

VII Closing Credits: Television 209

A Show about Nothing 212

The Senses . . . 215

. . . and the Meaning of Life 220

Notes 222

Glossary 231

Index of Names 237

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 Zizek

"Imagine a philosopher. This philosopher has the verve and pop-culture curiosity of Slavoj Zizek; 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

"This delightful book, translated by Gregory Moss, upholds Wittgenstein's remark that 'whatever can be said at all can be said clearly'."
—The Guardian

"Why the World Does Not Exist, is confirmation… that modern works of German philosophy can be both profound and successful."
—Foreign Policy

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