THE PHYSICS OF IMMORTALITY

A scientific argument that foresees the evolution of computer intelligence into an equivalent of God is likely to be greeted with skepticism by the majority of readers, and those who wade through this densely argued text are likely to emerge more puzzled than enlightened. Tipler (Mathematical Physics/Tulane) offers a cosmological theory he calls the Omega Point, based on the expansion of intelligent life to fill the known universe. Since the distances between habitable planets are so great, only spacegoing computers can ever hope to colonize the universe, he argues. The constant increase of computer intelligence will allow future computers not only to equal human accomplishments, but to recreate in exact detail all human beings who have ever lived. Tipler's insistence on calling this recreation a ``resurrection'' seems to be overstating his case. Similarly, a universal computer intelligence may be the sort of deity suitable to science fiction, but not one that many church-goers would find satisfactory. As tests of his theory, Tipler makes several predictions, one of which, involving the mass of the top quark, is in agreement with recently obtained experimental data, but most of which the average reader has no way to evaluate. He devotes the concluding chapters to consideration of such traditional theological questions as the problem of evil, the nature of heaven and hell, and a comparison of the Omega Point theory to the views of the world's great religions. An ``Appendix for Scientists'' provides more rigorous presentation of his arguments for those capable of following advanced mathematics. Tipler is wrestling with issues of enormous importance, but in the end his answers seem highly idiosyncratic and unlikely either to convert the skeptics or to satisfy the religious. (20 line drawings) (Quality Paperback Book Club selection; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 1994

ISBN: 0-385-46798-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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