This Book Changed the Way I Think
Naval: I was pleasantly surprised a couple of years back when I opened an old book that I’d read a decade ago called The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch.
Sometimes you read a book and it makes a difference right away. Sometimes you read a book and you don’t understand it; then you read it at the right time and it makes a difference.
This time I went through it much more meticulously than I had in the past. Rather than reading it to say I was done reading it, I read it to understand the concepts and stopped at every point where something was new. It started re-forming my worldview. It changed the way that I think.
I credit this book as being the only book in the last decade—except maybe a few of Nassim Taleb’s works and maybe one or two other scattered books—that made me smarter. They literally expanded the way that I think. They expanded not just the repertoire of my knowledge but the repertoire of my reasoning.
People throw around the phrase “mental models” a lot. Most mental models aren’t worth reading or thinking about or listening to because they’re trivial. But the concepts that came out of The Beginning of Infinity are transformational because they very convincingly change the way that you look at what is true and what is not.
Karl Popper laid out the theory of what is scientific and what is not; what is a good explanation and what is not.
Deutsch dramatically expands on that in The Beginning of Infinity. The wide-ranging nature that he covers is incredible. He covers epistemology—which is the theory of knowledge—quantum mechanics, multiverse theory, infinity, mathematics, the reach of what is knowable and what is not knowable, universal explanations, the theory of computation, what is beauty, what systems of politics work better, how to raise your children, and more.
These are all-encompassing, long-range philosophical ideas.