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Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics Paperback – 19 Jul 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press; New Ed edition (19 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199215189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199215188
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 1.3 x 13.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Review from previous edition A series of hors d'oeuvres for intellectual diners.... The entertainment value lies in picking one's way through ingenious arguments, encountering along the way basic ideas like the law of the excluded middle and the principle of sufficient reason.... Mr. Conee and Mr. Sider like to start with a common-sense, real-life question―Why is the person in my baby picture the same as the person I see in the mirror today?―and then pick apart the comfortable assumptions that carry most of us through life.... The questions are big. Do things occur by accident or necessity? Do humans have free will? Why does anything exist? Nothing is resolved, but a lot is discussed, and some famous arguments, like St. Anselm's devilishly clever proof of the existence of God, are presented clearly and understandably. (William Grimes, The New York Times)

About the Author

Earl Conee is at the University of Rochester. Theodore Sider is at Rutgers University.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Commuter on 25 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As most people who have had discussions about the "deeper questions" with philosophically sophisticated friends can attest, the line "It's a metaphysical issue" rears it head quite often. What does this mean? What is metaphysics, and why is regular science unable to settle these types of questions?

That was the motivation for me getting this book - as a plebe in philosophy, I felt I had to get a grip on this or forever be an embarrassment to my learned friends. Well, no more!

The authors' approach is (perhaps somewhat ironically) to illustrate metaphysics by example. A set of topics that seem reflective of the major issues in the field was selected, and the authors jump in without much ado. It is, to me at least, a real pleasure to see how things that I usually take for granted can be analyzed from a different perspective, often with very confusing and counter-intuitive results!

The issues touched by the book ranges from ontological arguments, personal identity, time and how it relates to space, universals and constitution, to name a few. I don't know if the order of the topics reflect some kind of build-up or increasing knowledge, but it seemed quite arbitrary to me. Which means you can probably read the chapters in any order without missing much. The arguments are well thought out, presented in a style that is accessible to the uninitiated like myself, entertaining and engaging. Both authors are clearly quite familiar with the issues at hand, and will generally make a case for all sides (usually just before squashing it with opposing arguments). For the curious, reference on further reading is provided.

In spite of the informal presentation, the topics at hand can be get complicated.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steve Cann on 5 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
Ever wondered why there is something, instead of nothing? Or why humans supposedly have free will? Or what part of you is actually 'you'? Or could god actually exist?
All these classic metaphysical questions (& a great deal more besides) are tackled in 10 bite-sized portions in this handy volume, co-written by Philosophy Professors Earl Conee & Theodore Sider, each writing alternating chapters.

As with this subject matter, there is the necessary depth to the subject-matter here that philosophical writing requires, ultimately distilling everything down to the most explanatorily basic necessities & possibilities. Having said that, there is a light tone throughout, & this book is excellent for students or anyone wishing to have a potted-introduction to metaphysics.

Maybe not a book to take to the beach, but well worth a read, & it will certainly get you thinking in a new way about life's most profound & deep questions!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By vanessa on 17 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a purchase for a student undertaking a degree in philosophy and was in good condition. A good purchase
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janie on 25 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Have only just started reading, but looks like a fascinating introduction to a brilliant subject. A great buy for now.
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