Synopses & Reviews
Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year 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.
"Brilliant and exhilarating...Deutsch is so smart, and so strange, and so creative, and so inexhaustibly curious, and so vividly intellectually alive, that it is a distinct privilege to spend time in his head. He writes as if what he is giving us amounts to a tight, grand, cumulative system of ideas...he is well worth getting to know, and we are very lucky indeed to have him."
-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
The New York Times bestseller: A provocative, imaginative exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge
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.
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 many honors include the Institute of Physics' Paul Dirac Prize and Medal. The author of The Fabric of Reality, he lives in England.