Welcome to the official website of The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch.
Throughout history, mankind has struggled to understand life’s mysteries, from the mundane to the seemingly miraculous.
In this seminal book, David Deutsch, an award-winning physicist and the critically acclaimed author argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe. Explanations have unlimited scope and power to cause change, and the quest to improve them is the basic regulating principle not only of science but also of all successful human endeavour.
This stream of ever-improving explanations has infinite reach: 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 describes the four deepest strands of existing knowledge – the theories of evolution, quantum physics, knowledge, and computation – arguing that they jointly reveal a unified fabric of reality.
Now in The Beginning of Infinity, Deutsch applies that worldview to a wide range of issues and unsolved problems. He takes us on a journey through virtually every fundamental field of science, as well as the history of civilisation, art, moral values, and the theory of political institutions.
In each instance, Deutsch tracks how we form new explanations and drop bad ones, explaining the conditions under which progress can and cannot happen. Errors are common in the pursuit of knowledge, and correcting them will always reveal further and better problems. Problems are inevitable, but they are soluble. And none of the endless stream of problems will ever constitute an impassable barrier to progress.
Uncompromisingly rational and optimistic, this book explores new conclusions about the nature of human choice, scientific explanation, and the evolution of our species and of ideas:
Artificial intelligence is achievable but is still a long way off. The earth’s biosphere is incapable of sustaining human life, because unlike other species, we are sustained by the knowledge that we have to keep creating. Objective knowledge is possible about abstract entities such as numbers, infinities, morality, and aesthetics. Our capacity for creativity co-evolved with memes, not to facilitate progress but, ironically, to prevent it, which is why there was so little of it for so long. AII but the most trivial choices are made not by weighing options but by creating new options and new preferences.
Hugely ambitious, highly original, and persuasively argued, The Beginning of Infinity explores and establishes deep connections between the laws of nature, the human condition, knowledge, and the potential for progress.