A brilliant and exhilarating and profoundly eccentric book

David Albert in the New York Times:

ScreenHunter_01 Nov. 15 18.55David Deutsch’s “Beginning of Infinity” is a brilliant and exhilarating and profoundly eccentric book. It’s about everything: art, science, philosophy, history, politics, evil, death, the future, infinity, bugs, thumbs, what have you. And the business of giving it anything like the attention it deserves, in the small space allotted here, is out of the question. But I will do what I can.

It hardly seems worth saying (to begin with) that the chutzpah of this guy is almost beyond belief, and that any book with these sorts of ambitions is necessarily, in some overall sense, a failure, or a fraud, or a joke, or madness. But Deutsch (who is famous, among other reasons, for his pioneering contributions to the field of quantum computation) is so smart, and so strange, and so creative, and so inexhaustibly curious, and so vividly intellectually alive, that it is a distinct privilege, notwithstanding everything, to spend time in his head. He writes as if what he is giving us amounts to a tight, grand, cumulative system of ideas — something of almost mathematical rigor — but the reader will do much better to approach this book with the assurance that nothing like that actually turns out to be the case. I like to think of it as more akin to great, wide, learned, meandering conversation — something that belongs to the genre of, say, Robert Burton’s “Anatomy of Melancholy” — never dull, often startling and fantastic and beautiful, often at odds with itself, sometimes distasteful, sometimes unintentionally hilarious, sometimes (even, maybe, secondarily) true.

More here.