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The Beginning Of Infinity by David J Deutsch

The Beginning Of Infinity (original 2011; edition 2011)

by David J Deutsch

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3671129,545 (3.8)6
Title:The Beginning Of Infinity
Authors:David J Deutsch (Author)
Info:Allen Lane (2011), Hardcover, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:science, nonfiction

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The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch (2011)



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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Provocative and very interesting, although some chapters are very weak, e.g., the one on social choices ( )
  Alex1952 | Mar 15, 2015 |
A good book on Theory of Knowledge, but no good on the maths/physics of Infinity - which was what I was expecting from the review I read. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
didn't read all of this, just the chapter summaries and some things. not as good as ' Fabric ' ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
This is a fun book to read, probably because it is mildly provocative. It is a book about knowledge rather than a book strictly about science. Deutsch sidelines orthodoxy and focuses on what he thinks people get wrong. His overall stance is that all reliable ideas (across all fields) start with a conjecture and their acceptability depends upon surviving constant challenges from new ideas. In this way information (whether genetic or memetic) is self-creatable ex nihilo. He calls us universal explainers and identifies good explanations by their lack of redundant or adjustable detail. His often repeated mantra is that problems are inevitable, but problems are soluble. Indeed all human advancement is made by creating and solving problems.

He weaves these ideas into many issues across science, politics, art and philosophy. For instance he argues that beauty is in part parochially subjective and in part objectively universal. Cultures take two forms. Static cultures oppress all criticism and develop slowly. Dynamic cultures encourage inquiry and novelty and they change rapidly. He sees political elections as a verdict on conjectured solutions.

Many renowned scientists and philosophers cop some criticism for their views: Hawking, Blackmore, Dawkins, Turing, Attenborough and Pinker. As Deutsch explains such critical probing gives power to science. Of course in turn he leaves himself open to criticism, particularly for his interpretations of fallibilism and of a quantum multiverse. ( )
  Jewsbury | May 5, 2013 |
This book is mostly about one simple yet profound idea: good explanations. Good explanations, according to Deutsch, are the epistemological foundations for how we've come so far and how we can keep going infinitely still. In a beautifully poetic metaphor, Deutsch leaves behind notions of utopia, but endorses a meliorism that is an infinite process with no end, and every point in which we find ourselves within that process is always the beginning of the rest of infinite. Deutsch is a true child of the Enlightenment, and a champion of philosopher Karl Popper's ideas of falsifiability and open societies, which he bases much of his philosophical ideas upon.

So what are good explanations? They are the best theories of how we make sense of our experience of the world that stand up to the test of our best attempts at falsifying them. And what do our best explanations tell us about the world? That universality, as in Turing completeness, is a fundamental property of certain finite systems that transform them into being capable of infinite possibilities. And how do these ideas help us? They point the way towards a process of continual discovery and improvement by creating open societies which provide the best environments that allow for good explanations to flourish within a universal reality capable of expanding infinitely in both space and time.

Unlike other books that cover these unabashedly optimistic perspectives, Deutsch actually goes to great lengths to anchor his rational optimism on a bedrock of science and reason. This is not just naive positive thinking, speculative exponential trend fitting, or imaginative science fiction. This is a detailed attempt at showing how and why good explanations are, themselves, a good explanation for us being optimistic about our infinite future. ( )
2 vote haig51 | Aug 14, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Deutschprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blechman, NicholasIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buckley, PaulDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Progress that is both rapid enough to be noticed and stable enough to continue over many generations has been achieved only once in the history of our species.
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"A 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"--… (more)

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