Categories: Book Review

Book Review: What is the Origin of Life, Meaning, and The Universe Itself?

Book: The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself

By Sean Carroll

This book was recommended by Goodreads because I wanted another book like ‘Sapiens' or ‘Homo Deus'.

Nonetheless, this is a complex book that ties together quantum mechanics, the universe, chemistry, biology, human psychology, sociology, and philosophy into one ‘big picture'.

Everything exists for a Natural Reason?

Basically, ‘naturalism' is the “idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world.” (Wikipedia)

The authors hypothesis, from what I understand, says that everything is regulated by quantum mechanics.

But at each step above quantum mechanics (for example: chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, etc.), you need to explain things in that domain.

For example, while you CAN explain a boat through every individual quantum particle that exists, you are more likely to explain the boat from its components (such as the wood or metal that it is comprised of), and its function.

So What is Consciousness Then?

Moving from quantum mechanics, to chemistry, biology, biological life and ultimately humans, you start to fuse another concept called ‘consciousness' and ‘intelligence'.

Consciousness is anything that has the ‘perceived' ability to recognize itself. While high-level intelligence would look as if you are communicating with another human.

This is where the book transitions from a naturalistic explanation of the world, into the idea of ‘free will' and ‘morals' from the perspective of humans.

As well, the author dives into the question, can an artificial intelligence be conscious and intelligent, or does it simply mimic those abilities through programming.

In this case, what is ‘consciousness' and ‘intelligence' if humans can design and create it?

So Do You Need the Big Picture?

I enjoyed the gradual progression connecting the different domains of science, and ultimately ending in psychology and philosophy.

Although, the occasional deep-dive into ‘quantum mechanics' causes the brain to zone out, due to its complexity.

4.5/5 Stars

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll

Quote of the Day

When you think about it, the vast majority of conscious, thinking creatures in this kind of universe will be single individuals who have fluctuated into existence all by themselves—just long enough to think, “Hm, I seem to be all alone in this universe,” and then die.

~ The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll

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