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The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch
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The Beginning of Infinity Quotes Showing 1-30 of 70
“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 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
“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
“All fiction that does not violate the laws of physics is fact.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“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
“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
“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
“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
“Good political institutions are those that make it as easy as possible to detect whether a ruler or policy is a mistake, and to remove rulers or policies without violence when they are.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Without error-correction all information processing, and hence all knowledge-creation, is necessarily bounded. Error-correction is the beginning of infinity.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Because we are universal explainers, we are not simply obeying our genes. For”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“It follows that humans, people and knowledge are not only objectively significant: they are by far the most significant phenomena in nature – the only ones whose behaviour cannot be understood without understanding everything of fundamental importance.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“It is a mistake to conceive of choice and decision-making as a process of selecting from existing
options according to a fixed formula. That omits the most important element of decision-making,
namely the creation of new options.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Although, through the vagaries of international politics, Athens became independent and democratic again soon afterwards, and continued for several generations to produce art, literature and philosophy, it was never again host to rapid, open-ended progress. It became unexceptional. Why? I guess that its optimism was gone.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“We never know any data before interpreting it through theories. All observations are, as Popper put it, theory-laden,* and hence fallible, as all our theories are. Consider”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“objective knowledge is indeed possible: it comes from within! It begins as conjecture, and is then corrected by repeated cycles of criticism, including comparison with the evidence on our ‘wall’.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Science is what we have learned about how to keep from fooling ourselves.’ By”
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
“the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“history is the history of ideas, not of the mechanical effects of biogeography. Strategies to prevent foreseeable disasters are bound to fail eventually, and cannot even address the unforeseeable. To prepare for those, we need rapid progress in science and technology and as much wealth as possible.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“The most general way of stating the central assertion of the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is that a population of replicators subject to variation (for instance by imperfect copying) will be taken over by those variants that are better than their rivals at causing themselves to be replicated. This”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“To interpret dots in the sky as white-hot, million-kilometre spheres, one must first have thought of the idea of such spheres. And then one must explain why they look small and cold and seem to move in lockstep around us and do not fall down. Such ideas do not create themselves, nor can they be mechanically derived from anything: they have to be guessed – after which they can be criticized and tested.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Whenever we observe anything – a scientific instrument or a galaxy or a human being – what we are actually seeing is a single-universe perspective on a larger object that extends some way into other universes. In”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“SOCRATES: No, I am not sure of anything. I never have been. But the god explained to me why that must be so, starting with the fallibility of the human mind and the unreliability of sensory experience.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“The scientific revolution was part of a wider intellectual revolution, the Enlightenment, which also brought progress in other fields, especially moral and political philosophy, and in the institutions of society. Unfortunately, the term ‘the Enlightenment’ is used by historians and philosophers to denote a variety of different trends, some of them violently opposed to each other. What I mean by it will emerge here as we go along. It is one of several aspects of ‘the beginning of infinity’, and is a theme of this book. But one thing that all conceptions of the Enlightenment agree on is that it was a rebellion, and specifically a rebellion against authority in regard to knowledge.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Because pessimism needs to counter that argument in order to be at all persuasive, a recurring theme in pessimistic theories throughout history has been that an exceptionally dangerous moment is imminent.”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Sparta has no philosophers. That’s because the job of a philosopher is to understand things better, which is a form of change, so they don’t want it. Another difference: they don’t honour living poets, only dead ones. Why? Because dead poets don’t write anything new, but live ones do. A third difference: their education system is insanely harsh; ours is famously lax. Why? Because they don’t want their kids to dare to question anything, so that they won’t ever think of changing anything. How”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Optimism is, in the first instance, a way of explaining failure, not prophesying success. It says that there is no fundamental barrier, no law of nature or supernatural decree, preventing progress. Whenever”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
“Those two overarching concerns are these: we Athenians are concerned above all with improvement; the Spartans seek only – stasis. Two opposite objectives. If”
David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World

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