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The Beginning and the End: The Meaning of Life in a Cosmological Perspective (The Frontiers Collection) Hardcover – June 3, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-3319050614 ISBN-10: 3319050613 Edition: 2014th

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Product Details

  • Series: The Frontiers Collection
  • Hardcover: 379 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2014 edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3319050613
  • ISBN-13: 978-3319050614
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"In a very beautiful book, The Beginning and the End, published by Springer, Clément Vidal, a young French philosopher, succeeds in synthesizing what is at stake in the programmed disappearance. ... What is the ultimate goal of humanity, of science? For Clément Vidal, the answer to this latter question is clear: the ultimate goal of science is to fight the death of the universe, with the artificial creation of new universes." (quote translated into English, original book review in French language: Laurent Alexandre, Le monde, June 28, 2014)


“An outstandingly clear, comprehensive and systematic investigation of some of the deepest and most speculative questions of all time: How did the universe begin? How will it end? And what is the meaning of life in this cosmic evolution?” (Francis Heylighen, Director of the Global Brain Institute, research professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

“Cutting-edge science is starting to discover a 'big picture' in which humans have the potential to play a key role in the future evolution of life in the universe. If you want your mind to be expanded so that it takes in this wider perspective, Clément Vidal's book is an absolute must read. His book is for everyone who wants to combine hard science with an understanding of the meaning and purpose of life.” (John Stewart, Author of Evolution's Arrow and The Evolutionary Manifesto)

 “This book is a magisterial work, a synthesis of systems theory, philosophy, cosmology, and life science. In a search for his own comprehensive and coherent worldview, Clément Vidal has come to some startling conclusions: evolution and simulation (and I would add, development) appear to operate at every scale within our universe, and can be used as a basis for a universal ethics. What's more, this view yields some surprisingly specific suspicions about the nature and drives of advanced extraterrestrial intelligence: starivores. If we, stewards of Earth, are on the starivore development path, this insight alone will prove as revolutionary as Darwin's 19th century elucidation of human evolution. It is exciting to see the many clues and arguments he presents, and to realize that Vidal's hypothesis can be tested here and now. He also walks his talk, as he has founded with me a research community (Evo Devo Universe) to explore and critique these fascinating ideas. I invite you to join us there. His quest is our quest, to ask and answer our biggest questions with more truth, goodness, and beauty than ever before.” (John Smart, President, Acceleration Studies Foundation,,; Co-founder,

More About the Author

Dr. Clément Vidal is a philosopher with a background in logic and cognitive sciences. He is co-director of the 'Evo Devo Universe' community and founder of the 'High Energy Astrobiology' prize. To satisfy his intellectual curiosity when facing the big questions, he brings together many areas of knowledge such as cosmology, physics, astrobiology, complexity science, evolutionary theory and philosophy of science.

(Photo: Sebastien Herrmann)

Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By john messerly on May 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover

Vidal investigates a most important question–whether modern scientific cosmology can satisfy our search for meaning in life. The book is a carefully and conscientiously crafted work of immense scope and daring imagination, one of the most important and timely books of the last few decades.

A briefest overview is as follows. Chapter 1 conducts a broad study of the philosophical method whose major aim, Vidal concludes, is to construct worldviews–comprehensive and coherent answers to big questions. Where do we come from? Where are we going? What should we do? What does it all mean? Chapter 2 develops criteria to test the strengths and weaknesses of these worldviews; Chapter 3 applies these criteria to various religious, philosophical and scientific worldviews; Chapters 4-6 investigate the question of the origin of the cosmos; chapters 7-8 study the question of the future of the cosmos; chapter 9 the question of whether we are alone in the cosmos; and Chapter 10 the possibility of a cosmological ethics.

Vidal is aware of the speculative nature of his work, but he reminds us that speculation plays a large part in the scientific and philosophical enterprises, it aims to solve scientific or philosophical problems. He knows his speculations could turn out to be wrong, but given the choice between careful speculation or silence, Vidal chooses the former. And we are glad he did. For his assiduous scholarship reveals the possibility that a scientific cosmology can provide a narrative which gives life meaning. A narrative so desperately needed as the old mythological ones become increasingly passé. And we are privileged to journey along with a well-ordered and visionary mind as it contemplates perhaps the most important question of our time–how do we find meaning in the cosmos revealed by modern science.

You can read my detailed overview here:
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cadell Last on June 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Clement Vidal boldly takes us to the very edges of knowledge in this work, and in so doing, helps advance and point science towards new fields of study. I think anyone with a technical background in fields related to space or evolutionary science would find this work to be extremely rewarding. However, I also think that Vidal writes with a clarity and wit that also makes this book of interest to anyone who has ever wondered about the ultimate fate of intelligence in the cosmos.

If you want to learn more about the book - I wrote a blog post on my website: [...]
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Format: Hardcover
Clement Vidal has written an engaging book that explores how and why we should use biological criteria to study our universe. While the astrobiology subject matter is deep and his research in philosophy, logic and cosmology is extensive, Mr. Vidal has done an amazing job making these concepts easily accessible to the novice reader. Furthermore many footnotes, recommended readings and extensive references serve as a jumping off point for those who want to go deeper. The early chapters on philosophy give way to what I believe is one of the core concepts of Mr. Vidal’s book – the “starivore”. According to Mr. Vidal, the biological evolution of the universe will lead intelligent entities to harness and metabolically live off the energy of stars (ie. starivores). He outlines in much more detail the logic for this thinking and includes several ideas for how we might test the existence of starivores with existing data. While others have explored somewhat similar concepts, (ie. Dyson spheres), Mr. Vidal applies a biological outlook that seems much less mechanical and more natural. I congratulate Mr. Vidal on a well written first book and will say that I am now back reading it a second time to further grasp more of the details he presents.
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0 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Gutteridge on July 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The author spammed me requesting I leave an amazon review. I do not know him and have never had contact with him. As he made the effort to ask I left a review. One star of course because I'll just assume the worst of someone who resorts to spam.
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