The Beginning of Infinity
Explanations That Transform the World
Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the YearA bold and all-embracing exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge from one of today's great thinkers.
Throughout history, mankind has struggled to understand life's mysteries, from the mundane to the seemingly miraculous. In this important new book, David Deutsch, an award-winning pioneer in the field of quantum computation, argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe. They have unlimited scope and power to cause change, and the quest to improve them is the basic regulating principle not only of science but of all successful human endeavor. This stream of ever improving explanations has infinite reach, according to Deutsch: we are subject only to the laws of physics, and they impose no upper boundary to what we can eventually understand, control, and achieve.
In his previous book, The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch describe the four deepest strands of existing knowledge-the theories of evolution, quantum physics, knowledge, and computation-arguing jointly they reveal a unified fabric of reality. In this new book, he applies that worldview to a wide range of issues and unsolved problems, from creativity and free will to the origin and future of the human species. Filled with startling new conclusions about human choice, optimism, scientific explanation, and the evolution of culture, The Beginning of Infinity is a groundbreaking book that will become a classic of its kind.
-David Albert, The New York Times Book Review
"[Deutsch's books] are among the most ambitious works of nonfiction I have read, in that their aim is no less than an explanation of all reality...they are treatises that weave together not just physics and astronomy but biology, mathematics, computer science, political science, psychology, philosophy, aesthetics and - most important for Deutsch - epistemology, among other fields, in fashioning a profound new view of the world and the universe. They are guaranteed to be either provocative or life-changing."
-Nathaniel Stein, The Book Bench (The New Yorker)
"Provocative and persuasive...Mr. Deutsch's previous tome, The Fabric of Reality, took a broad-ranging sweep...The Beginning of Infinity is equally bold, addressing subjects from artificial intelligence to the evolution of culture and of creativity; its conclusions are just as profound."
"Building upward and outward from the foundation laid in The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch tells a coherent and compelling story about topics as diverse as why flowers (and faces) are beautiful, the mathematical impossibility of fairly apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, why it's harder to be a conformist than you think, and which cultures can and cannot sustain themselves (hint: the conformists are doomed). Once you have been exposed to his extraordinarily original worldview-or perhaps multiverse-view-it's impossible to see these and many other topics in quite the same way again."
-Neal Stephenson, author of Anathem and Cryptonomicon
"Reading The Beginning of Infinity is as fun as reading Philip K. Dick and as illuminating as reading Bertrand Russell. Deutsch teaches us how to understand that what is counterintuitive may be true; he teaches us this so well that it may even become intuitive. This book is truly marvelous."
-Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
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