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David Deutsch quotes (showing 1-13 of 13)

“Like every other destruction of optimism, whether in a whole civilisation or in a single individual, these must have been unspeakable catastrophes for those who had dared to expect progress. But we should feel more than sympathy for those people. We should take it personally. For if any of those earlier experiments in optimism had succeeded, our species would be exploring the stars by now, and you and I would be immortal.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“The whole [scientific] process resembles biological evolution. A problem is like an ecological niche, and a theory is like a gene or a species which is being tested for viability in that niche.”
David Deutsch, The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications
“As the physicist Stephen Hawking put it, humans are ‘just a chemical scum on the surface of a typical planet that’s in orbit round a typical star on the outskirts of a typical galaxy’. The proviso ‘in the cosmic scheme of things’ is necessary because the chemical scum evidently does have a special significance according to values that it applies to itself, such as moral values. But the Principle says that all such values are themselves anthropocentric: they explain only the behaviour of the scum, which is itself insignificant.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“an unproblematic state is a state without creative thought. Its other name is death.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Amending the ‘data’, or rejecting some as erroneous, is a frequent concomitant of scientific discovery, and the crucial ‘data’ cannot even be obtained until theory tells us what to look for and how and why.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Feeling insignificant because the universe is large has exactly the same logic as feeling inadequate for not being a cow.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Base metals can be transmuted into gold by stars, and by intelligent beings who understand the processes that power stars, but by nothing else in the universe.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“The ability to create and use explanatory knowledge gives people a power to transform nature which is ultimately not limited by parochial factors, as all other adaptations are, but only by universal laws. This is the cosmic significance of explanatory knowledge – and hence of people, whom I shall henceforward define as entities that can create explanatory knowledge.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“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.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Like an explosive awaiting a spark, unimaginably numerous environments in the universe are waiting out there, for aeons on end, doing nothing at all or blindly generating evidence and storing it up or pouring it out into space. Almost any of them would, if the right knowledge ever reached it, instantly and irrevocably burst into a radically different type of physical activity: intense knowledge-creation, displaying all the various kinds of complexity, universality and reach that are inherent in the laws of nature, and transforming that environment from what is typical today into what could become typical in the future. If we want to, we could be that spark.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“From the least parochial perspectives available to us, people are the most significant entities in the cosmic scheme of things. They are not ‘supported’ by their environments, but support themselves by creating knowledge. Once they have suitable knowledge (essentially, the knowledge of the Enlightenment), they are capable of sparking unlimited further progress.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“So the professor takes the student's point seriously, and responds with a concise but adequate argument in defence of the disputed equation. The professor tries hard to show no sign of being irritated by criticism from so lowly a source. Most of the questions from the floor will have the form of criticisms which, if valid, would diminish or destroy the professor's life's work. But bringing vigorous and diverse criticism to bear on accepted truths is one of the very purposes of the seminar. Everyone takes it for granted that the truth is not obvious, and that the obvious need not be true; that ideas are to be accepted or rejected according to their content and not their origin; that the greatest minds can easily make mistakes; and that the most trivial-seeming objection may be the key to a great new discovery.”
David Deutsch
“Shoddy explanations that yield correct predictions are two a penny, as UFO enthusiasts, conspiracy-theorists and pseudo-scientists of every variety should (but never do) bear in mind.”
David Deutsch, The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications


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The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications The Fabric of Reality
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The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World The Beginning of Infinity
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