- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 29, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780143121350
- ISBN-13: 978-0143121350
- ASIN: 0143121359
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World Reprint Edition
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"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."
--The New York Times Book Review
"[Deutsch] makes the case for infinite progress and such passion, imagination, and quirky brilliance that I couldn't help enjoying his argument. . . . [He] mounts a compelling challenge to scientific reductionism."
--The Wall Street Journal
"Provocative and persuasive . . . Address[es] subjects from artificial intelligence to the evolution of culture and creativity."
“[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.”
--The New Yorker’s Book Bench
“Deutsch has an important message . . . that our destiny is to be explainers of the world around us, and explaining is the key to our mastery. . . . He writes clearly and thinks wisely. His book could help the world toward better ways of dealing with its problems.”
--Freeman Dyson, The New York Review of Books
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Having read the book three times (and the bit about the Infinity Hotel four times to figure out what happened to the puppy!) and finding that I am getting more out of it with each reading, I can understand that it may be controversial in some respects, but I don't understand why it is attracting such intense and bizarre hostility. What am I missing? For me, the writing is crystal clear, charming and riveting, like the author himself when you hear him speak -- it's a sheer delight to read. It made me laugh out loud several times -- I LOVE that the author's sense of humor comes through even in what is a very deep, important book. And it even moved me to tears.
The subject matter is super wide-ranging, including stuff about physics and mathematics (no formulas, thankfully), beauty (yes, really!), voting systems (why proportional voting systems are fundamentally unfair despite the best intentions of those proposing them), environmentalism (why we have it all wrong!), intriguing stuff about culture, history, philosophy, etc., etc. David Deutsch is truly a polymath.
But what I personally find so enthralling is the way reading this book is challenging me and changing the way I think. I love the way all the apparently disparate issues are united in a single, coherent worldview having implications far beyond just what David Deutsch discusses in this book. As best I can tell, the author's worldview is vibrantly positive, optimistic (not to be confused with unrealistic), and rational (in the sense of being in favor of progress, solving problems and ending misery and suffering) -- a fundamentally humane worldview -- a beautiful, life-affirming, shining-beacon-of-light sort of worldview. For me, it has the ring of truth. Evidently for others, it is the work of the devil. But for anyone who loves ideas and thinking about things, The Beginning of Infinity is worth reading whether or not you agree with the author's ideas.
Possibly disturbing to readers with epistemologically 'thin skin,' Deutsch not only "does not suffer fools gladly," he barely suffers (and directly disparages) numerous popular points of view as to 'what constitutes a good explanation,' classifying them as a theme and variation of modern mythology. But I believe it wise to listen and take seriously his analyses and to read twice or three times before evaluating, as he clearly IS one of the deep thinkers of our day. This relatively recent work is directly relevant to the very-in-vogue Vinge/Kurzweil notion of a rapidly approaching Technological Singularity, the exponential explosion of combined human knowledge that, in a kind of sociopolitical Dirac delta function, heads off towards the Infinity that is the eponymous theme of his book. So buckle up, stay alert, and keep your hesitations safely inside the car on the near-vertical ascent of the impending E-ticket ride that you and I and seven billion close relatives are about to embark upon, genuinely The Beginning of Infinity