Non-Fiction Books. About this product Product Information In our search for truth, how far have we advanced? This book explores the furthest reaches of our understanding, taking in the Infinity Hotel, supernovae and the nature of optimism, to instill in us a wonder at what we have achieved - and the fact that this is only the beginning of humanity's infinite possibility.
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Additional Product Features Author s. The author of The Fabric of Reality, he lives in England. Show more Show less. This item has ratings and no written reviews yet. Be the first to write a review. Best-selling in Non Fiction See all. Save on Non Fiction Trending price is based on prices over last 90 days. You may also like. Paperback Books David Walliams for Children. David Walliams Paperback Books. Deutsch extols the philosophical concept of optimism , where although problems are inevitable, solutions will always exist provided the right knowledge is sought out and acquired.
David Albert , a philosophy professor at Columbia University , has described the book in a New York Times review as "brilliant and exhilarating" but presenting, instead of a "tight, grand, cumulative system of ideas," a "great, wide, learned, meandering conversation. But when he tries to apply his ideas to aesthetics, cultural creativity and moral philosophy, he seems on shakier ground and is less commanding as a result. Mr Deutsch argues that decent explanations inform moral philosophy, political philosophy and even aesthetics.
He is provocative and persuasive. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World, Paperback
The Beginning of Infinity Hardcover edition. The Economist. Retrieved 15 September The Independent. How to foster the growth of scientific knowledge: accept that it is limited no matter how definitive it may seem". The Wall Street Journal.
Retrieved 17 September Kirkus Reviews. When properly appreciated, I will suggest, the ideals of the Enlightenment are in fact stirring, inspiring, noble—a reason to live. What is enlightenment? That would be a crime against human nature, whose proper destiny lies precisely in such progress. Problems are inevitable, because our knowledge will always be infinitely far from complete. Some problems are hard, but it is a mistake to confuse hard problems with problems unlikely to be solved.
Problems are soluble, and each particular evil is a problem that can be solved. An optimistic civilization is open and not afraid to innovate, and is based on traditions of criticism. The Enlightenment is conventionally placed in the last two-thirds of the 18th century, though it flowed out of the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Reason in the 17th century and spilled into the heyday of classical liberalism of the first half of the 19th.
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Provoked by challenges to conventional wisdom from science and exploration, mindful of the bloodshed of recent wars of religion, and abetted by the easy movement of ideas and people, the thinkers of the Enlightenment sought a new understanding of the human condition. The era was a cornucopia of ideas, some of them contradictory, but four themes tie them together: reason, science, humanism, and progress. Foremost is reason. Reason is nonnegotiable. As soon as you show up to discuss the question of what we should live for or any other question , as long as you insist that your answers, whatever they are, are reasonable or justified or true and that therefore other people ought to believe them too, then you have committed yourself to reason, and to holding your beliefs accountable to objective standards.
It was reason that led most of the Enlightenment thinkers to repudiate a belief in an anthropomorphic God who took an interest in human affairs. The application of reason revealed that reports of miracles were dubious, that the authors of holy books were all too human, that natural events unfolded with no regard to human welfare, and that different cultures believed in mutually incompatible deities, none of them less likely than the others to be products of the imagination.
Some were deists as opposed to theists : they thought that God set the universe in motion and then stepped back, allowing it to unfold according to the laws of nature. But few appealed to the law-giving, miracle-conjuring, son-begetting God of scripture. Many writers today confuse the Enlightenment endorsement of reason with the implausible claim that humans are perfectly rational agents.
Nothing could be further from historical reality. Thinkers such as Kant, Baruch Spinoza, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, and Adam Smith were inquisitive psychologists and all too aware of our irrational passions and foibles. They insisted that it was only by calling out the common sources of folly that we could hope to overcome them. The deliberate application of reason was necessary precisely because our common habits of thought are not particularly reasonable. That leads to the second ideal, science, the refining of reason to understand the world. The Scientific Revolution was revolutionary in a way that is hard to appreciate today, now that its discoveries have become second nature to most of us.
He believes in werewolves, although there happen not to be any in England—he knows they are to be found in Belgium. He believes mice are spontaneously generated in piles of straw. He believes in contemporary magicians. He believes that a murdered body will bleed in the presence of the murderer. He believes that there is an ointment which, if rubbed on a dagger which has caused a wound, will cure the wound. He believes that the shape, colour and texture of a plant can be a clue to how it will work as a medicine because God designed nature to be interpreted by mankind.
He believes that it is possible to turn base metal into gold, although he doubts that anyone knows how to do it. He believes that nature abhors a vacuum. He believes the rainbow is a sign from God and that comets portend evil. He believes that dreams predict the future, if we know how to interpret them. He believes, of course, that the earth stands still and the sun and stars turnaround the earth once every twenty-four hours. A century and a third later, an educated descendant of this Englishman would believe none of these things.
It was an escape not just from ignorance but from terror. The sea became a satanic realm, and forests were populated with beasts of prey, ogres, witches, demons, and very real thieves and cut throats.
After dark, too, the world was filled with omens portending dangers of every sort: comets, meteors, shooting stars, lunar eclipses, the howls of wild animals. To the Enlightenment thinkers the escape from ignorance and superstition showed how mistaken our conventional wisdom could be, and how the methods of science—skepticism, fallibilism, open debate, and empirical testing—are a paradigm of how to achieve reliable knowledge.
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- Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress!
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