The Beginning of Infinity


Book by David Deutsch. Excerpt from the introduction:

In this book I argue that all progress, both theoretical and practical, has resulted from a single human activity: the quest for what I call good explanations.

My definition of design, influenced by David Deutsch, Rich Hickey and Zach Tellman:

Design is the art of tastefully narrowing the distance between elegant, ergonomic, general tools and effective application in specific context. (left is unnamed, right is Utility is Contextual) (see also The Beginning of Infinity, which heavily influenced this statement) (I think left might be aesthetics & beauty. or elegance.)

My book rating along precise, general, novel:

axis rating
precision 0.99
generality 0.99
novelty 0.90

Meanings of “The Beginning of Infinity” encountered in The Beginning of Infinity

I am absolutely thrilled by multiple aspects of this book. Its clarity, its taste. Its pedagogy.

The book The Beginning of Infinity centers around the term “The Beginning of Infinity”. Each chapter digs deeper, providing more more context, more connections.

But the chapters can be long and complicated. I’m often left encouraged but confused, not sure exactly what I’ve just learned.

Deutsch anticipates this. Chapters begin with a big text, and end with a small conclusion. The main part reads like normal prose. It motivates an idea, defines that idea, and explores its implications. The conclusion is small. It takes a vague “cloud” of an idea and sharpens it. Makes that idea crisp. In that conclusion there is always a list: Meanings of “The Beginning of Infinity” encountered in this chapter.

I loved reading those lists. So much I want to give them more attention than merely reading them. So I list them here :)

Each chapter also contains a list of terms and definitions. I’ll include some of those too.

Chapter 1: The Reach of Explanations

“The Beginning of Infinity” is:

Chapter 3: The Spark.


An entity that can create explanatory knowledge

“The Beginning of Infinity” is:

Appendix A: this article lacks specificity.

Listing up just synthesis without giving motivating examples is not providing value in context. This article would be better — more useful — if I could anchor it. But that’s okay. It’s okay for me to have incomplete stuff on here. It’s for play, after all :)

Note from 2022-10-22 — I’m kind of skeptical to this criticism. This page is missing a proper introduction. An answer to why this is significant to me. See Aphorisms,

5 - Never link to content without enriching the intent of linking with context. Instead, answer “Why do I find this worthwhile?”.


So perhaps this article does not lack specificity, but context, or meaning. It’s quite specific as it is. It’s a book summary with some commentary.