Far-reaching exploration of science, the mind, and the meaning of life.
Yang ambitiously tackles some of life’s biggest concepts, including knowledge, science, and religion, among others. He displays an impressive level of knowledge in an array of fields as well as keen sensitivity toward the topics presented. Despite many positives, the main drawback to Yang’s work is a high level of technical language—a probable put off for lay readers. He begins with a discussion of knowledge and how it is obtained. After this exploration of epistemology, Yang moves to a wide-ranging discussion of science. In fact, a section called “Lights from Science”—featuring quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, nonlinear and complex systems, etc.—is so detailed and expansive that he suggests readers less interested in science skip the chapter or read only the conclusion. Yang moves on to an equally impressive discussion of the human mind, dabbling in biology, psychology, and other aspects of the science behind thought. Eventually, the conversation moves on to applications for this knowledge, namely the philosophies of belief and religion. It is here that Yang gets to the heart of his inquiry, as he invites the reader to consider how knowledge and science are applied to life in all its certainty and uncertainty. However, Yang’s writing often seems too opaque and technical for most audiences. Few will follow along in a discussion about faith that concludes, “These concepts for metareality, either the archetypes in the psyche, or unknown parts of the world, are often collectively referred to in Western culture as God.” Yang avoids judging religion and ends with a look at one of humanity’s most important and intractable questions: what is the meaning of life? Though he doesn’t provide an answer, he invites the reader to continued consideration of the question.
Great depth and breadth for subject matter that calls for nothing less.