Why the World Does Not Exist

Markus Gabriel is a realistic man. His arguments are practical and locked in an actuality that many philosophers often diverge from. For example, he believes that if something is in your realm of sense, than it must exist. One cannot look at a water bottle on a desk and claim that perhaps it does not exit. One cannot progress through life and question time passing.

“When one honestly gets the idea that time does not pass while one is formulating one’s theory, something has obviously gone wrong” (51).

He does acknowledge that truths exist beyond that which we observe (just because we haven’t discovered the water bottle, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist), but Gabriel won’t dabble in alternate/multi-layer realities or internal vs. internal realities. But then, the title of the book seems rather misleading as he aims to show readers that the world does not exist.

These ideas can be summarized through a couple quotes I’ve identified to be the crux of his argument. First:

“The world is neither the entirety of objects or things nor the entirety of facts. It is the domain of all domains” (49).

Gabriel’s world is impossible to grasp because he wants to encompass all that the world holds, tangible and intangible. The world is not only made up of people, trees, and water bottles, it includes ideas, imagination, infrastructures, democracy, love. All of these elements are not necessarily connected but reside in their own (often connected) domains.


“An object that would have all possible properties cannot exist, however, or stand out against the mass of other objects. […] It could not stick out against a background, as it would have to encompass any possible background within itself” (55).

Nothing can encompass everything as a field of sense cannot also contain itself and an object cannot define itself. Therefore, the world does not exist as an all-encompassing entity of our life.

“Rather there are infinitely many worlds” (65). Or, in other words, the world is really only a fractal of many different domains.

Get it? You’ll have to read the book to understand the full scope. The book is carefully plot out. It is complex, but well explained and doesn’t leave much room for misinterpretation. He slowly layers his theories in order for the reader to grasp each step of his views on why, exactly, the world does not exist.

Markus has created a very accessible book. One need not have a grand philosophical background in order to understand the jargon of hi
s book; rather, he explains the world as he would to anyone willing to contemplate the existence of humans and their “world.” To really draw in a wide range of readers he uses a plethora of real-world examples that really bring his arguments to understanding. By the end of each step of his argument the reader cannot help but think what he’s said is reasonable.

I will go so far as to critique some of his humour. The funny examples are often good, but sometimes devalue the seriousness of the text and the quality of his writing.

What can we take away from this book? Well, what can we take away from any book of philosophy? The world cannot be explained by science alone (that is but one domain in our field of sense!) Thinkers such as Gabriel give us the tools to attempt glimpsing the many worlds that make up existence.