Close Notification

Your cart does not contain any items

Why? The Purpose of the Universe

Philip Goff



In stock
Ready to ship


Oxford University Press
24 January 2024
Why are we here? What's the point of existence? On the 'big questions' of meaning and purpose, Western thought has been dominated by the dichotomy of traditional religion and secular atheism. In this pioneering work, Philip Goff argues that it is time to move on from both God and atheism. Through an exploration of contemporary cosmology and cutting-edge philosophical research on consciousness, Goff argues for cosmic purpose: the idea that the universe is directed towards certain goals, such as the emergence of life.

In contrast to religious thinkers, Goff argues that the traditional God is a bad explanation of cosmic purpose. Instead, he explores a range of alternative possibilities for accounting for cosmic purpose, from the speculation that we live in a computer simulation to the hypothesis that the universe itself is a conscious mind. Goff scrutinizes these options with analytical rigour, laying the foundations for a new paradigm of philosophical enquiry into the middle ground between God and atheism. Ultimately, Goff outlines a way of living in hope that cosmic purpose is still unfolding, involving political engagement and a non-literalist interpretation of traditional religion.

Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 224mm,  Width: 144mm,  Spine: 20mm
Weight:   324g
ISBN:   9780198883760
ISBN 10:   0198883765
Pages:   208
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
1: What's the point of living? 2: Why science points to purpose 3: Why consciousness points to purpose 4: Why the omni-God probably doesn't exist 5: Cosmic purpose without God 6: A conscious universe 7: Living with purpose

Philip Goff is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Durham University. His research focuses on consciousness and the ultimate nature of reality. Goff is best known for defending panpsychism, the view that consciousness pervades the universe and is a fundamental feature of it. On that theme, Goff has published three books, Consciousness and Fundamental Reality, Galileo's Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, and a co-edited volume, Is Consciousness Everywhere? Essays on Panpsychism. Goff has published many academic articles, as well as writing extensively for newspapers and magazines, including Scientific American, The Guardian, Aeon, and the Times Literary Supplement.

Reviews for Why? The Purpose of the Universe

"It takes a sort of cosmic chutzpah to announce that your book is going to explain the purpose of the universe, and that predisposed me in its favour before I even began to read the text. But what I enjoyed most was the author's calm and level-headed approach to that fundamental question: Why? I suppose it's the question most young people begin with when they start to develop intellectual curiosity, as well as being the source of every system of religion and of science as well. Philip Goff explains that 'purpose' is not some emotional human need with little ultimate importance, but a quality that seems to be built into the very nature of things. It's nothing less than thrilling to follow his argument, and to regain that sense of connectedness that's so important not just to our well-being, but to our very survival. * Philip Pullman * This book is a tour de force. If you have ever wondered what the point is in living, whether the universe itself has any purpose (and if it does, whether that is best explained by the existence of God), why the universe exists at all for that matter, what the nature of consciousness is and how it fits into the universe as a whole, this is the book for you. Written in an engaging and easy to follow style, Goff presents a highly original, unified, and thought-provoking world view. It is rare to read anything that makes one seriously question one's basic assumptions about reality. Goff's book does just that. The result is something head spinning. I cannot recommend it highly enough. * Michael Tye, Professor of Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin * Am I here by accident? Is there a purpose? This is contentious territory in science and philosophy. Goff offers a lucid and riveting account of key ideas, data, and theories. He then, with a rare audacity, blazes new trails. It is fascinating terrain to explore, and Goff proves an expert and genial guide. * Donald Hoffman, Professor of Cognitive Science, University of California, Irvine * The best metaphysical pictures help us fulfill three aims: give us a sense of the world and how we as human beings fit within it, provide an ethical guide, and help us make some peace with our condition. Philip Goff's brilliant new book Why? The Purpose of the Universe does all three by making a compelling case for teleological cosmopsychism. With this unique position that is neither God nor atheism, Goff gives us a glimpse of the immense creative potential of the universe. He outlines an attractive picture of spiritual belonging and practice in a godless world that is far from nihilistic. * Helen De Cruz, Danforth Chair in the Humanities, Saint Louis University * It might sound surprising, but the progress of physics, astronomy and cosmology in recent decades has raised important questions about the meaning and purpose in the universe, and of the universe. ""Nature has been kinder to us than we had any right to expect"", wrote Freeman Dyson in 1971, ""it almost seems as if the universe must in some sense have known that we were coming"". So, what now? Philip Goff has provided a discussion of these important issues that is informed, accessible, original and entertaining. This is a book worth reading, and worth thinking hard about. * Luke Barnes, Lecturer in Astronomy and Cosmology, Western Sydney University * Why? is a terrific book. For a work in philosophy, it is unusually fun to read. Goff clearly has a gift for making rigorous philosophy accessible to a broad audience. Part of his genius is the way he weaves his main arguments into a narrative about his own intellectual journey. * Paul Draper, Professor of Philosophy, Purdue University * Why? is simultaneously accessible and profound, comprehensible to the general reader and full of novel ideas sure to challenge professional philosophers. Goff offers an intriguingly weird vision of the cosmos, neither atheistic nor orthodox, pushing beyond the boundaries of both ordinary scientific thinking and ordinary religious apologetics. * Eric Schwitzgebel, Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Riverside * A brilliant book! Goff takes us to the edges of physics and philosophy to make a compelling case for cosmic purpose. The presentation is clear, innovative, and provocative. True to form, Goff's ideas are not anchored to convention or tradition, but he instead lights a torch on an original path of discovery. I came away feeling that Goff's work contributes to the purpose of the universe in a profound and beautiful way. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the big question of why we are here and what life might be about. * Josh Rasmussen, Associate Professor of Philosophy. Azusa Pacific University * What's the meaning of life? Raw science tells us we live in an uncaring universe, devoid of purpose and oblivious to the wants and needs of humans. Or does it? In this new book, Goff explores purpose in the cosmos, not a purpose rooted in religion, but in a conscious fabric of the universe itself. Whilst Goff and I have argued over the implications of cosmological fine-tuning and the statistics of typing monkeys, the contents will certainly make you think about life and its meaning. * Geraint Lewis, Professor of Astrophysics, Sydney Institute for Astronomy, the University of Sydney * One of the most persuasive panpsychists. * Stephen Fry *"

See Also