THE BEGINNING OF INFINITY: EXPLANATIONS THAT TRANSFORM THE WORLD BY (Author)Deutsch, David[Hardcover]Jul-2011 Hardcover – 21 Jul 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
Within a few hours reading I'm confronted by explanations of how Occam's Razor is a misconception and how the biosphere cannot sustain human life. So, wow, I'm hooked!
Chapter 6: "The Jump to Universality" alone is worth the price of the book. It explains how many systems of symbolic representation, such as written characters, numerals and the genetic code evolve slowly and steadily before wandering into universal domains with corresponding huge leaps of expressive power.
The theme of *The Beginning of Infinity* is how the search for hard-to-vary explanations is the source of all progress in science and in the rest of human affairs, and that this progress may continue indefinitely, since all problems are soluble. But it can only do so if we choose to make it happen, in part by acknowledging that problems are inevitable and that 'all evils are caused by insufficient knowledge' (Deutsch's 'Principle of Optimism'). This makes human beings precious and of central importance in the scheme of the things, including cosmological physics.
There is a lot of material here, in 18 Chapters, because Deutsch is most concerned with ideas which have 'reach', including reach into diverse disciplines such as aesthetics, morality and political theory.
My guess is that some if not many readers will be put off by this breadth, considering it arrogant for an academic to write authoritatively outside his home fields of physics and the philosophy of science.Read more ›
I'll give a brief sketch of some of the ideas you can expect to find in BoI. The first idea that I would emphasize is that explanation is central to living a rational and satisfying life. Good explanations are well adapted to solving problems - for example, the theory that the Earth orbits the sun is well adapted to explaining the seasons.
The next is that problems are inevitable because we will certainly make mistakes, and they are soluble because those mistakes can be fixed. The author explains that any way of changing the world that is not forbidden by the laws of physics is allowed. If there was some problem that we could never possibly solve, e.g. - some mathematical proofs can't be proven, then that would in itself be a fact about the laws of physics.Read more ›
You might think that David Deutsch is a genius (and he is) and that therefore his way of thinking won't work for you. That is not the case. His worldview can help anyone with any topic. It's not equally useful for all fields -- it fairs better with important topics -- but it always has a surprisingly large amount of relevance and use. And unlike many philosophers who want to sound impressive, Deutsch has made a concerted effort to write clearly and accessibly. This isn't a book written only for the initiated.
I've identified three main themes which I think best describe the most important message of the book.
The first theme is the titular one. Like Deutsch's previous book, chapters conclude with short summaries and terminology sections. But he's got a new section too: the meanings of the beginning of infinity encountered in the previous chapter. So what kind of infinity is Deutsch concerned with? Primarily progress. Humans are capable of an infinite amount of progress. We can improve things without limit, and learn without limit. This covers not just material improvement but also moral improvement.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Deutsch is a quantum physicist by trade, best known for his adherence to the Multiverse explanation for quantum effects. Read morePublished 1 month ago by didyouseethat
This is one of my favourite books. Deutsch is an engaging writer and anyone who likes this book should also read his first book, The Fabric of Reality. Read morePublished 5 months ago by T. J. Stephenson
I don't have much to add to other reviews of this remarkable book, so I'll just reiterate some points briefly before coming to my main point.
Firstly, the negatives. Read more
A truly challenging and wide ranging book,accessible for the general reader.
It is well written-grammatically sound-a rare pleasure nowadays! Read more
Completely changed my understanding of Knowledge, our place in the Universe and many other topics. A truly magnificent book. Read morePublished 18 months ago by PaulD
Tried to read it and found it tough going, but then (a year later) tried the audiobook and really enjoyed it. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Cormac Murphy