- David Deutsch's The Beginning of Infinity (2011) is an amazing book. It is so compelling that it's impossible to do justice to it in a brief review. It covers Quantum Theory1 and Social History, cultural evolution and politics, Psychology and Higher Mathematics, Physics and Metaphysics, Linguistics and Genetics, and much, much more.
- Through my Sociology PhD, I became acquainted with the behavioral sciences and with the Philosophy of Science. From that vantage point, it looks to me that Deutsch has written a compelling opus about humanity, our role in the Universe, our future, what is true and what is nonsense among the things we believe, and most importantly, the hope that through science we shall continue to create true knowledge and thus progress ad infinitum. Deutsch is an optimist.
- The author is a Haifa-born British physicist at Oxford. He is an expert in quantum computation. This book follows his widely acclaimed2 The Fabric of Reality (1997) which deals with his "theory of everything."
- Not only is Deutsch a genius. He is also eccentric and pedantic, and he has enormous chutzpah, as some reviewers have noted (e.g. David Albert, New York Times, August 12, 2011). The people he dismisses with sleight of hand as being plainly wrong include Niels Bohr, Jared Diamond, Paul Ehrlich, Immanuel Kant, Gottfried Leibniz, Thomas Malthus, Karl Marx, Plato and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Some of those whose ideas he accepts include Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrodinger and Socrates. Others are criticized, while not rejected altogether, for example Stephen Hawking. One philosopher can do no wrong: Karl Popper, clearly Deutsch's great mentor.
- If this review seems biased3, that's because it is. I happen to share Deutsch's interpretation of truth and knowledge. I find all of this uncannily congruent with my own Science Fiction novel which I completed recently – The Future History of the World, in which I describe the history of humanity over the next 25,000 years. Coincidentally, I even used the expression "Omega point," a term already used by Teilhard de Chardin, and also mentioned by Deutsch (451). (My novel can be accessed at Link.)
Footnote 2: But see the negative "Price (Huw) - Review - 'The Fabric of Reality' by David Deutsch".
- The reviewer is clearly over-enthusiastic, but at least he’s written a very detailed account of the book, which may save me the bother of having to read it!
- Neither the reviewer’s background, nor the journal containing the review, augur well for academic rigour, however.
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