Why the World Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense

An Inquiry into Science, Philosophy, and Perception (Revised and Updated Edition of How the World Can Be the Way It Is)


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Why the World Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense is an eminently down-to-earth, practical, and non-technical response to the urgent questions posed by contemporary science and philosophy. This book addresses an intelligent general audience. It does not require readers to have any familiarity with modern or classical physics, philosophy, formal logic, or any other specific body of knowledge.

The book takes the reader on a journey that examines our most basic assumptions about reality and focuses on fundamental questions of knowledge, perception, and belief, both in the light of quantum research (which yields contradictions) and ancient wisdom (which anticipated such contradictions). It ultimately suggests not only a new way of seeing the world but a set of practical ethical principles for living in it and experiencing it in a way that is free of mind-boggling contradictions.

Why the World Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense discusses the two-not-two paradox that other works only identify. It is through reliance on perception rather than conception that we have an opportunity to resolve this essential paradox. We can then establish an effective moral, philosophical, and intellectual framework for living our lives. The primary purpose of this book is to help readers learn to perceive the world directly—as it is, not how they conceive it to be. It is through this perception that each of us can answer profound moral questions, resolve philosophical and ethical dilemmas, and live out lives of harmony and joy.


Praise for Why the World Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense


An unusually stimulating and exhilarating book, of profound value to those seeking to clarify the essential nature of everyday existence—in short, all of us.

—Peter Matthiessen, author of The Snow Leopard

In crisp, no-nonsense prose, Steve Hagen demonstrates that Reality is not to be found in complex, philosophical, or religious formulations, but is immediately available to those with eyes to see, as plain as the nose on your face. Hagen, as a cosmic opthamologist, retrains our eyes to see again the Original Vision and shows how to use the power of bare attention to experience how consciousness recreates the world moment-by-moment. Read this book: it will change how you look at things.

—Nick Herbert, Ph.D., author of Quantum Reality

For those who are certain that objectivity and intellect are the ground floor of all knowledge, this can be a valuable trip to the sub-basement.

—Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Hagen cuts cleanly through the duality of mind and body, perception and conception, science and religion, and takes us on a spell-binding journey through what we know—and what we only think we know—that ultimately provides a fresh, effective, and remarkably simple grounding for living our lives. Why the World Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense is original, breathtaking, and beautiful.

—Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones


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Understanding is secondary to much of the world. Why the World Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense: An Inquiry into Science, Philosophy, and Perception is a philosophical exploration of philosophy and science itself, as Steve Hagen tries to define the purpose of understanding, discussing many concepts and their purpose in seeking to define our perception. With a touch of humor and no shortage of concept to ponder, Why the World Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense is a core addition to any community or college modern philosophy collection.

Midwest Book Review


about the author

Steve Hagen

Steve Hagen has been a student of Buddhist thought and practice since 1967. He became a student of Dainin Katagiri Roshi in 1975, and continued on to be ordained a Zen priest by Katagiri Roshi in 1979. He has studied with teachers in the U.S., Asia, and Europe, and in 1989 received Dharma transmission (the endorsement to teach) from Katagiri Roshi.

Steve founded the Dharma Field Meditation and Learning Center (www.dharmafield.org) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he lives. He currently maintains an active role as the head teacher at the center, where he leads classes, meditations, sesshins and more. He has written four books that help to clarify Buddhism, and his Buddhism Plain and Simple is among the bestselling books on the subject.