The New York Times bestseller: A provocative, imaginative exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge
“Dazzling.” – Steven Pinker, The Guardian
In this groundbreaking book, award-winning physicist David Deutsch argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe—and that improving them is the basic regulating principle of all successful human endeavor. Taking us on a journey through every fundamental field of science, as well as the history of civilization, art, moral values, and the theory of political institutions, Deutsch tracks how we form new explanations and drop bad ones, explaining the conditions under which progress—which he argues is potentially boundless—can and cannot happen. Hugely ambitious and highly original, The Beginning of Infinity explores and establishes deep connections between the laws of nature, the human condition, knowledge, and the possibility for progress.
The idea that there is a finite quantity of knowledge in the cosmos has been advocated by several scientists and thinkers throughout history. This idea is refuted in The Beginning of Infinity. David Deutsch, a theoretical physicist, disproves the notion that humanity will one day possess all knowledge and shows why it is destructive as well as false.
Instead, Deutsch contends that there is no end to knowledge since we constantly produce it through inquiries, investigations, and computations rather than merely "finding" it. And since there is no end to the amount of knowledge we can produce, there is no limit to how much the world can be improved.
Some people become depressed at the scale of the universe, because it makes them feel insignificant. Other people are relieved to feel insignificant, which is even worse. But, in any case, those are mistakes. Feeling insignificant because the universe is large has exactly the same logic as feeling inadequate for not being a cow. Or a herd of cows. The universe is not there to overwhelm us; it is our home, and our resource. The bigger the better.