Unfortunately I don't have time to write out a full review with details but I wanted to share with anyone else contemplating buying this book my high opinion of the author's philosophical dissertations. The general theme is straightforward, a world-view is inherent in scientific theories even such purely mathematical ones as physics and these world-views cannot be ignored despite the desire of the scientists themselves to avoid their mention. Reductionism works well in physics but it cannot fully explain the universe, for this we need other standpoints which are just as important. The ex. that sticks in my mind is this: how do you explain why math is useful to a child? (To do this you have to go far beyond math itself.)
It's amazing how much ground the author covers in this less than 250 pp. book, an exploration of the scientific method, human consciousness and related puzzles of explanation, the troublesome issue of mathematics as 'real' or invented, physics theories and their limitations, and finally a chapter on religion and belief in god. The book is far from being religious, though it opens the door to religion in the end. It very intelligently discusses all these conundrums of science-- how does complexity enter into the picture, to what degree can we really simplify all physics into a theory of everything, what are the limitations of experiments (eg bigger particle accelerators) which will lead to a dead end, the controversial anthropic principle, artificial intelligence and its over-hype, etc. Some of these topics were covered in The quark and the jaguar by Gell-Mann and The end of science by John Horgan but not quite with the depth of philosophical analysis.
The chapter on mathematics is particularly well thought out, outlining the opposite viewpoints of math as human cultural invention and math as platonic ideal in Penrose's writings. The mystery of platonism (in what place do the truths of mathematics inhabit?) is suggested to be less mysterious on closer dissection.
It is wonderful to see a scientist engaging in these ultimate truth considerations of philosophy, the nature of the universe, the 'dreams of a final theory' of physics, consciousness and existence, the meaning of mathematics. Even though answers are not forthcoming, the profound analysis of science makes this highly satisfying.