"The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch

There are two books I’ve read in the last handful of years that I haven’t stopped thinking about, or quoting. “Enlightenment Now!” by Stephen Pinker and “The Beginning of Infinity”. The books are very different, the former being a collection of distilled and referenced facts about complicated topics. While the latter is a long form argument about the nature of knowledge. But they share the result of expanding my thinking, and at least from inside my qualia broadening my world view.

The Beginning teaches you the difference between bad philosophy and sound philosophy. Thought it is never as easy as that sentence sounds to distinguish between the two. Deutsch has made a significant work of philosophy into a series of easily understood examples, anecdotes, and discussions about reality.

This is not an easy read, not because of the text, but because it challenges your ability to think. I’d recommend this to anyone.

“Progress that is both rapid enough to be noticed and stable enough to continue over many generations has been achieved only once in the history of our species.”

— David Deutsch

“Whenever there has been progress, there have been influential thinkers who denied that it was genuine, that it was desirable, or even that the concept was meaningful. They should have known better.”

— David Deutsch

“The ‘passengers’ metaphor is a misconception in another sense too. It implies that there was a time when humans lived unproblematically: when they were provided for, like passengers, without themselves having to solve a stream of problems in order to survive and to thrive. But in fact, even with the benefit of their cultural knowledge, our ancestors continually faced desperate problems, such as where the next meal was coming from, and typically they barely solved these problems or they died. There are very few fossils of old people.”

— David Deutsch