Rating 8/10

My Summary:

Freeman Dyson is a triple threat: scientist, philosopher and great writer. A book that discusses the greater meaning of life.


Boiled down to one sentence, my message is the unbounded prodigality of life and the consequent unboundedness of human destiny. As a working hypothesis to explain the riddle of our existence, I propose that our universe is the most interesting of all possible universes, and our fate as human beings is to make it so.

I look both at scientific and at human problems from the point of view of a lover of diversity. Diversity is the great gift which life has brought to our planet and may one day bring to the rest of the universe. The preservation and fostering of diversity is the great goal which I would like to see embodied in our ethical principles and in our political actions.

Einstein hoped to find a universe possessing what he called “objective reality,” a universe of mountaintops which he could comprehend by means of a finite set of equations. Nature, it turns out, lives not on the mountaintops but in the valleys.

Between matter as we observe it in the laboratory and mind as we observe it in our own consciousness, there seems to be only a difference in degree but not in kind. If God exists and is accessible to us, then his mind and ours may likewise differ from each other only in degree and not in kind.

The science of the academic world tends to be dominated by unifiers, while the science of the industrial world tends to be dominated by diversifies.

When we begin to think about life’s origins we meet again the question which Schroedinger did not ask, Is life one thing or two? And we meet again Von Neumann’s answer, that life is two things, metabolism and replication, and that the two things are logically separable.

We have reached the point where a first-rate inventor is rarer than a first-rate scientist. Inventors are no longer welcomed in most university departments, and even in industrial laboratories pure research is becoming more and more the fashionable thing to do.

The American Constitution is designed to be operated by crooks, just as the British constitution is designed to be operated by gentlemen. Because Hamilton believed that men are by nature crooks rather than gentlemen, he was able to help design a constitution that could deal effectively with President Nixon. If ever a World Government should come into existence, it had better be a government designed to be run by crooks rather than a government designed to be run by gentlemen. Gentlemen are too often in short supply.

Header photo © medium.com
Body photo © amazon.com