The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics

In the wake of his enormously popular books The Armchair Economist and More Sex Is Safer Sex, Slate columnist and Economics professor Steven Landsburg uses concepts from mathematics, economics, and physics to address the big questions in philosophy: What is real? What can we know? What is the difference between right and wrong? And how should we live? Landsburg begins with the broadest possible categories from a mathematical analysis of the arguments for the existence of God; to the real meaning of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the Godel Incompleteness Theorem; to the moral choices we face in the marketplace and the voting booth. Stimulating, illuminating, and always surprising, The Bid Questions challenges readers to re-evaluate their most fundamental beliefs and reveals the relationship between the loftiest philosophical quests and our everyday lives.

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By Lindsay (Cincinnati, OH) · ★★★★☆ · February 19, 2010
I have, with the help of a friend, concluded that while Landsburg’s writing is a bit off the wall, he would undoubtedly be an awesome professor to have in the area of economics or philosophy. I disagreed with half of Landsburg’s conclusions, and am still a bit baffled at some of the jumps he make... ...more
By Mark (Seattle, WA) · ★☆☆☆☆ · November 03, 2010
I found the title of this book to be a little misleading. This is more of a libertarian rant by economist Landsburg -- complete with the moral reasoning why restaurants should not be forced by the government to serve all clientele regardless of race -- than it is a philosophy book. I guess it cou... ...more
By Andrew (San Mateo, CA) · ★☆☆☆☆ · September 02, 2013
"The Big Questions" by Mr Landsburg is an amazing book, meaning it is profoundly amazing how any sane publisher agreed to publish it and a respectable book-seller (I got mine at Barnes&Noble) agreed to stock it.

Despite what the title might suggest, namely an honest and potentially insightful... ...more
By Julie (Norway) · January 15, 2010
In "The Big Questions", Steven E. Landsburg uses math, economics and physics to discuss questions of philosophy, especially morality and ethics. That sounds a lot more serious than the book turned out to be. In fact, Landsburg ends the book by saying that most of it was written "not to make any p... ...more
By Don (Portland, OR) · ★★★★☆ · February 14, 2012
there is a lot of great advice and educated thinking in this book. The author's background in economics is the most important influence on the writing and he applies that sort of thinking to many subject areas.

my paraphrasing of some of what i found interesting: many people hold erroneous believe... ...more
By Greg (Kailua, HI) · ★★★★★ · December 27, 2011
Steven Landsburg believes that mathematics is at the core of existence. In other words, mathematics is the most fundamental thing in the universe. Not surprisingly, then, Landsburg's worldview is centered around this belief. In The Big Questions he takes on a host of philosophical problems and da... ...more
By Craig (Haddonfield, NJ) · ★★★☆☆ · January 29, 2010
Very interesting worldview expressed here - pretty much what you would expect from a Libertarian, economist-mathemetician. Whether you agree with him or not, this is a guy who has thought long and hard about what he believes, and why. He me leave some very big gaps in the explanation (too much "t... ...more
By Shirley · July 28, 2011
I read this a little bit at a time over many weeks so it is hard to remember much of it. It's a mixture of philosophy, economics, math, physics, theology (or not), educational philosophy etc. Landsburg thinks way outside the box and he is excellent at following things to their logical conclusions... ...more
By Barry (San Antonio, TX) · ★☆☆☆☆ · March 28, 2013
If it were possible to take away stars for rating this book, Landsburg would owe me 5. It should be titled The Big Ego. He "likes" Steven Hawking, but consistently claims disagreement with Hawkings main premises. He routinely dismisses any thought but his own. His logic is incomplete and flawed,... ...more
By Kitty (Rochester, NY) · ★★★☆☆ · October 23, 2014
Interesting questions, examples and ideas. I admit I read it quickly to get an overview,
as I'm in the middle of a course on Kirkegaard which starts with Socrates, and whether
the pursuit of knowledge ultimately a dangerous thing both for the individual and for society as a whole.


What do we know... ...more