The Beginning and the End: The Meaning of Life in a Cosmological Perspective

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Springer, May 16, 2014 - Science - 379 pages

In this fascinating journey to the edge of science, Vidal takes on big philosophical questions: Does our universe have a beginning and an end or is it cyclic? Are we alone in the universe? What is the role of intelligent life, if any, in cosmic evolution? Grounded in science and committed to philosophical rigor, this book presents an evolutionary worldview where the rise of intelligent life is not an accident, but may well be the key to unlocking the universe's deepest mysteries. Vidal shows how the fine-tuning controversy can be advanced with computer simulations. He also explores whether natural or artificial selection could hold on a cosmic scale. In perhaps his boldest hypothesis, he argues that signs of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations are already present in our astrophysical data. His conclusions invite us to see the meaning of life, evolution and intelligence from a novel cosmological framework that should stir debate for years to come.

 

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Contents

Part I Overview of Worldviews
1
1 The Six Dimensions of Philosophy
3
2 Criteria for Worldview Comparison
13
3 Religious Scientific and Philosophical Worldviews
39
Part II The Beginning of the Universe
58
4 Origins of the Origin
61
5 Capturing Free Parameters
77
6 The FineTuning Conjecture
95
8 Cosmological Selections
161
9 High Energy Astrobiology
201
10 Cosmological Ethics and Immortality
267
Conclusion
311
ShortAnswers to the Big Questions
317
Appendix II Argumentative Maps
325
References
345
Index
375

Part III Our Future in the Universe
147
7 The Future of Scientific Simulations
153

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About the author (2014)

Dr. Clément Vidal is a philosopher with a background in logic and cognitive sciences. He is co-director of the 'Evo Devo Universe' community and founder of the 'High Energy Astrobiology' prize. To satisfy his intellectual curiosity when facing the big questions, he brings together many areas of knowledge such as cosmology, physics, astrobiology, complexity science, evolutionary theory and philosophy of science.

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