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

de David Deutsch

Outros autores: Nicholas Blechman (Ilustrador)

Outros autores: Veja a seção outros autores.

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
6891824,504 (3.83)6
"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"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 18 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
The first time I read this book I did not catch so much of the profound knowledge this book has to offer and I still felt it was amazing. On second read I can now more confidently claim that this is perhaps one of the greatest book ever written.

Update: Yup, definitely my favorite book.

Dispelled any notion that inductivist is not a myth
Showed that Humans are Universal explanatory knowledge creators
Scientific knowledge is acquired not by empiricism - but through bold conjectures and refutations. Empiricism plays the role of criticism.

Optimism- All evil is caused by lack of knowledge. Thus every problem can be solved.

Deutsch is a true proponent of Popper. And improves upon his work. Reach of explanations is an example.

Brilliant read again. A book I will come back to again and again. ( )
  SeekingApatheia | Apr 13, 2021 |
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 | Jan 23, 2021 |
This book centres around splitting all things into two categories, everything is either infinite or parochial. Many times I have no idea what the author means when he calls something parochial. ( )
  TeaTimeCoder | Dec 23, 2020 |
This is a frustrating book, because I simultaneously agree with the conclusion and an entirely unimpressed with its argument. There is some great stuff here about the meaning of "reality" (things that are _real_ are those things that are involved in our best explanation for a phenomena), and it gives a good heuristic metric for the quality of arguments (good arguments are ones in which there are few-to-none variables which can be changed without affecting the outcome.) Also that people are relevant in the grand scheme of the universe, due to their engineering and scientific prowess to effect change. I liked all that stuff.

What I didn't like was Deutsch's bad logic. He plays fast-and-loose with shaky metaphors, and generalizes their arguments back to the real world. For example, he takes issue with Haldane's quote that "the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." I've always interpreted this as either "the universe is infinite, and we are not, therefore we simply can't enumerate all thoughts about its queerness," or as "something about our neural architecture makes us fundamentally blind to some of the universe's mysteries." Analogously to the first case, it's uncomputable to choose an arbitrary real number --- there's simply too many of them to ever possibly find most of them.

But this is all stupid, says Deutsch! He dismisses it metacircularly, saying that if the universe did have physically-possible but technically-impossible aspects, then "this fact would itself be a testable regularly in nature. But all regularities in nature have explanations, so the explanation of that regularity would itself be a law of nature, or a consequence of one. And so, again, everything that is not forbidden by nature is achievable, given the right knowledge." As is so often the case with physicists, philosophers, and traditional mathematicians, Deutsch is missing the capital-C Complexity issue of this problem. Just because something must have an answer doesn't mean it must be computable, which is to say, doesn't mean it is necessarily instantiable inside the universe. As an illustration, there is an answer to "what is the quantum state of the universe," but the answer to that is too big to fit into the universe, other than _as the universe qua itself._ More generally, if a problem space grows too quickly, you simply can't expect to find an answer.

Most of the book is Deutsch having interesting ideas with extremely weak justifications. It gives off the impression that he wants to talk about his (in my opinion, not-so) crazy beliefs, but feels that he ought to justify them first. But either he couldn't be fucked to give good justifications, or his entire thought process is needlessly muddy and if he's gotten to the right answers, its purely by coincidence. As someone who already agreed with his conclusion, I found myself put off by his arguments; they simply would not compel a disbeliever to start believing, nor do I think they hold much water even stripped of the rhetoric.

All in all, I wanted to like this book, but put it down around 30% because Deutsch didn't seem to have a point, and his arguments were frustrating enough that I wasn't convinced I could trust him of anything novel he might have to show me tangentially. ( )
  isovector | Dec 14, 2020 |
It's odd that a book written in such a priggishly prescriptive tone should be, while you read it, so compelling, and even more odd that it should, in the end, say so little. While it touches on many Big Topics and has a lofty title (which is inexplicably—and in the case of my own understanding, inscrutably—redefined after each chapter) it really adds up to a loudly argued sort of commonsensical optimism: modern science is good, and it's good to keep an open mind. Sure, but for instance, how open is so open that one's brains fall out, as the quote goes? I'm no wiser in that department after reading this book.

It's also odd that one of my favorite books should be a similarly cross-disciplinary, broader-than-thou classic: Hofstadter's GEB. Why do I love that book but mostly shrug Deutsch's off? I guess it helps that Hofstadter is virtuosic with style and analogy; Deutsch is a bit more opinionated/ranty. He clearly advocates for a future of creative, positive, clever works, but his own doesn't exactly strike me as such. ( )
  mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
David Deutschautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Blechman, NicholasIlustradorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Buckley, PaulDesignerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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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"--

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