Worlds without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse

…in which are discussed pre-, early-, and post-modern multiple-worlds cosmologies; the sundry arguments for and against them; the striking peculiarities of their adherents and detractors; the shifting boundaries of science, philosophy, and religion; and the stubbornly persistent question of whether or not creation has been “designed.”

Worlds without End explores the recent proliferation of "multiverse" cosmologies, which imagine our universe as just one of a vast, even infinite, number of others. While this idea has been the stuff of philosophy, religion, and literature for millennia, it is now under consideration as a scientific hypothesis, with wildly different models emerging from the fields of cosmology, quantum mechanics, and string theory. Beginning with the Atomistic and Stoic philosophies of ancient Greece, this book assembles a genealogy of the multiverse, seeking to map contemporary models in relation to their forerunners, and to ask why the proposition has become such an attractive one at this historical juncture.

  • “Here, the most everyday—the matter of any material world—turns almost unthinkably strange. Rubenstein lays out for us the multiplicity of these new theories, and at the same time, because she is a nosy philosopher, an entire genealogy of multiverse theories that includes atomists, stoics, Aquinas, Cusa, Bruno, Kant… If it is the wondrous weirdness and the irreducible multiplicity that had attracted her—cosmic support for the boundless pluralism and the ethical indeterminism wanted now, wanted philosophically—she delivers it.” Catherine Keller, from the introduction to An Und Für Sich's ongoing Worlds Without End book event, featuring responses from Keller, Marika Rose, Jonnie Russell, Lisa Gasson-Gardner, Anooj Kansara, Rebekah Sinclair, and Beatrice Marovich, 8/21/2015
  • “This is the beauty of Rubenstein’s deep, nuanced intellectual history: she helps us see that interpretations of a multiverse appearing in Star Trek, or True Detective, or any other work of fiction are only the modern manifestations of the ongoing questions of the universe that have influenced cosmologists, scientists, and theologists for centuries.” Jared Keller, Los Angeles Review of Books, 5/8/2014
  • “Rubenstein's witty, thought-provoking history of philosophy and physics leaves one in awe of just how close Thomas Aquinas and American physicist Steven Weinberg are in spirit as they seek ultimate answers.” Publishers Weekly, 10/28/2013
  • “Worlds Without End… is a dazzling tour de force, equal parts history of philosophy, science, and religion, as well as a formidable, original philosophical inquiry in its own right.” Patrick Blanchfield, The Revealer, 10/22/2014
  • This deeply learned excavation is a rare accomplishment: a page-turner that asks large questions about science, philosophy, and religion. Fascinating.” David Kaiser, author of How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival
  • “This is a work that performs the 'many-oneness' of the multiverse, whose history and potentiality it maps. As she traces the startling philosophical depths, mystical ancestry, and scientific shocks of this cosmic boundlessness, Rubenstein's brilliance sparkles like its innumerable stars.” Catherine Keller, author of Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming
  • “Rubenstein grounds the current debate on the plurality of universes on solid scholarship, skillfully exploring its historical and philosophical roots.” Marcelo Gleiser, Dartmouth College
  • “Rubenstein shows the way scientific worldviews grow from the kind of questions we ask, how metaphysics and physics are mutually entangled, and how the many worlds of her title emerge, again and again over two thousand years, often in spite of their authors' intentions and taste. A witty and mature view of views.” Charles Jencks, author of The Garden of Cosmic Speculation
  • “A must read for anyone who is interested in the evolution of human thought about the cosmos. A beautiful and authoritative description of the struggles and developments of competing ideas about nature for the past three millenia.” Laura Mersini-Houghton, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill