The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World

by David Deutsch

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The New York Times bestseller: A provocative, imaginative exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge

“Dazzling.” – Steven Pinker, The Guardian

In this groundbreaking book, award-winning physicist David Deutsch argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe—and that improving them is the basic regulating principle of all successful human endeavor. Taking us on a journey through every fundamental field of science, as well as the history of civilization, art, moral values, and the theory of political institutions, Deutsch tracks how we form new explanations and drop bad ones, explaining the conditions under which progress—which he argues is potentially boundless—can and cannot happen. Hugely ambitious and highly original, The Beginning of Infinity explores and establishes deep connections between the laws of nature, the human condition, knowledge, and the possibility for progress.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101549827
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/21/2011
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 342,318
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Born in Haifa, Israel, David Deutsch was educated at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a professor of physics at the University of Oxford, where he is a member of the Centre for Quantum Computation. His papers on quantum computation laid the foundations for that field, and he is an authority on the theory of parallel universes. His honors include the Institute of Physics' Paul Dirac Prize and Medal. The author of The Fabric of Reality, he lives in England.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vi

Introduction vii

1 The Reach of Explanations 1

2 Closer to Reality 34

3 The Spark 42

4 Creation 78

5 The Reality of Abstractions 107

6 The Jump to Universality 125

7 Artificial Creativity 148

8 A Window on Infinity 164

9 Optimism 196

10 A Dream of Socrates 223

11 The Multiverse 258

12 A Physicist's History of Bad Philosophy 305

13 Choices 326

14 Why are Flowers Beautiful? 353

15 The Evolution of Culture 369

16 The Evolution of Creativity 398

17 Unsustainable 418

18 The Beginning 443

Bibliography 460

Index 463

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Beginning of Infinity 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
charlesmathes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've grown tired of the world I see, so my reading has turned to the larger world that I don't see but that is -- theoretically -- just as real (at least for now). Bobbling between quantum and astro physics, I found my way to David Deutsch's new book, "The Beginning of Infinity" and for a while I loved it. He was a fantastic guide when he was discussing infinity, the universe, the philosophy and evolution of the scientific method, even Darwin -- like having your own personal genius to explain larger pictures and puzzles you had never conceived of, let alone seen. But somewhere past the middle of the book, he began to flake out -- at least for me. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to follow him all the way to where he wants to go or maybe I just got tired of wandering in the desert. There isn't a real analogy with the final novels of Isaac Asimov, when he stumbled into trying to connect everything in the universe he had created into some grand unified field theory -- but the effect was the same for me: rapid loss of interest. Even his forays into physics, which had begun in ways I found challenging, enlightening and fun suddenly were less than comprehensible unless you were a graduate student at MIT or Cal Tech yourself.Deutsch's last book, THE FABRIC OF REALITY was published in the late 1990s. It may be that he started to write THE BEGINNING OF INFINITY a decade back and as his personal interests developed and changed he forgot what book he was writing (he may have gotten interested in political philosophies, but this was not what I signed up for). Not that a reader can't profit from and enjoy the author's original and challenging ideas. I loved the book I started -- I just didn't want to finish the one he ended.
jefware on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An important and optimistic view of science and technology. Also covers certain aspects of epistemology.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
...for me, it's a real effort. It's not so difficult as a George Soros book I once picked up, which probably should have been titled "I am Smarter than You", but you really have to concentrate at times. Still, the subject matter is definitely interesting. At times, it gave me the satisfaction depicted in the song "If I were a Rich Man": "I'd spend my whole time listening to the wise men, and that would be the sweetest thing of all."
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She nodded and quickly trotted off
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Self indulgent and rambling. What could have been an interesting read became a chore. There's better choices than this book.