Synopses & Reviews
Do we have free will?
How can we know anything?
What is justice?
Why is there evil in the world?
What is the source of truth?
Is it possible for God not to exist?
Can we really believe what we see?
These are some of the questions that have intrigued the worlds greatest thinkers over the ages. They are questions that make us think about the way we live, work, relate to each other, and see the world. In elegant and accessible prose, the eminent philosopher Leszek Kolakowski explores the essence of these ideas and their ongoing relevance as he introduces us to the great figures of Western thought: from Socrates to St. Augustine, Descartes to Nietzsche, and beyond.
Reflecting on the great issues that animate our livesgood and evil, truth and beauty, faith and the soul, free will and consciousnessWhy Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? offers a guided tour of Western philosophy by one of the worlds greatest living experts.
A tour of Western thought by one of the world's most eminent philosophers--in a book that fits in the palm of your hand
Can nature make us happy? How can we know anything? What is justice? Why is there evil in the world? What is the source of truth? Is it possible for God not to exist? Can we really believe what we see? There are questions that have intrigued the world's great thinkers over the ages, which still touch a chord in all of us today. They are questions that can teach us about the way we live, work, relate to each other and see the world. Here Leszek Kolakowski explores the essence of these ideas, introducing figures from Socrates to Thomas Aquinas, Descartes to Nietzsche, and concentrating on one single important philosophical question from each of them. Whether reflecting on good and evil, truth and beauty, faith and the soul, or free will and consciousness, Leszek Kolakowski shows that these timeless ideas remain at the very core of our existence.
About the Author
Leszek Kolakowski is currently senior research fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. He has also taught at the University of Chicago, McGill University, UC Berkeley, and Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including his masterpiece and magnum opus Main Currents of Marxism, published in three volumes in the 1970s and recently reissued in a single volume by Norton. He is the recipient of many major international awards, including the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society (2007), the Library of Congress John W. Kluge Prize in the Human Sciences awarded for lifetime achievement in the humanistic and social sciences (2004), a MacArthur ("genius") Fellowship (1983) as well as the German Booksellers Peace Prize (1977), the Erasmus Prize (1980) and the Veillon Foundation European Prize for the Essay (1980). He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a fellow of the Académie Universelle des Cultures, and a Foreign Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives in Oxford, England.
Table of Contents
Introduction: What These Essays Are For
Note on the English edition
Truth and the Good: Why do we do evil?
Being and Non-Being: What is real?
PARMENIDES OF ELBA
Change, Conflict and Harmony: How does the cosmos work?
HERACLITUS OF EPHESUS
The Good and the Just: What is the source of truth?
Life in Accordance with Nature: Can it make us happy?
EPICTETUS OF HIERAPOLIS
Knowledge and Belief: Can we know anything?
God and Man: What is evil?
Gods Necessity: Could God not exist?
Knowledge, Faith and the Soul: Is the world good?
ST THOMAS AQUINAS
What There Is: Do ideas exist?
WILLIAM OF OCKHAM
God, the World and our Minds: How can we achieve certainty?
The Nature of God: Do we have free will?
God and the World: Why is there something rather than nothing?
GOTTFRIED WILHELM LEIBNIZ
Faith:Why should we believe?
Reason, Freedom and Equality: What did God endow us with?
Perception and Causality: What can we know?
Reason, Necessity and Morality:How is knowledge possible?
History and the Absolute:Progress without good and evil?
GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL
World, Will and Sex:Should we commit suicide?
God and Faith:Do we need the Church?
SOREN AABYE KIERKEGAARD
The Will to Power:Is there good and evil?
Consciousness and Evolution:What is the human spirit?
The Foundations of Certainty:What can we know and how can we know it?