Item description for A Beginner's Guide to Reality: Exploring Our Everyday Adventures in Wonderland by Jim Baggott...
Have you ever wondered if the world is really there when you're not looking? We tend to take the reality of our world very much for granted. This book will lead you down the rabbit hole in search of something we can point to, hang our hats on and say this is real. On the way, Jim Baggott examines some of the things that have been said about reality by a few of the world's greatest thinkers-from the philosophers of ancient Greece to modern scientists and social theorists.
Jim Baggott is the author of The Meaning of Quantum Physics and Beyond Measure: Modern Physics, Philosophy, and Quantum Theory, both published by Oxford University Press. He lives in England.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.1" Width: 5.3" Height: 0.8" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2006
Publisher Pegasus Books
ISBN 193364804X ISBN13 9781933648040
Availability 0 units.
More About Jim Baggott
Jim Baggott is a freelance science writer. He was a lecturer in chemistry at the University of Reading but left to pursue a business career, where he first worked with Shell International Petroleum Company and then as an independent business consultant and trainer. His many books include Atomic: The First War of Physics (Icon, 2009), Beyond Measure: Modern Physics, Philosophy and the Meaning of Quantum Theory (OUP, 2003), A Beginner's Guide to Reality (Penguin, 2005), and A Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments (OUP, 2010).
Jim Baggott has an academic affiliation as follows - Freelance science writer Shell International Freelance science writer.
Reviews - What do customers think about A Beginner's Guide to Reality: Exploring Our Everyday Adventures in Wonderland?
great May 1, 2008
i really enjoyed reading this book. its a great metaphysical book for beginners and makes you question what reality really is. for the most part, the author goes about this using reason, but in the last part he goes a bit into quantam mechanics, not to put you off it of course!!! its a great read, even if your not a philosophy major, it written in a very readable way. i would strongly recommend this!!
HS Science teacher's point of view - Not as difficult to read as one might assume... Aug 22, 2007
The author does a wonderful job of incorporating current fictional works (that most people should be familiar with) to make his ideas and thoughts extremely accessable. If you like thinking deep thought or even deluding yourself that you are thinking deep thoughts , this book will be an engaging and enjoyable read.
Fun book! Aug 6, 2007
The bottom line for me with this book was that it was just a great read, really alot of fun. I have always enjoyed science and philosophy, and Baggott mixes them both in a way that is interesting, thought provoking, and humorous. I liked the fact that at the end of the book he doesn't insist that you see reality in the way he does, you must decide that on your own. Very well written I thought.
Alice in Wonderland or breaking down the 3 perspectives Jul 31, 2006
The book provides a lot of knowledge from a lot of sources about reality, and remains objective through out. I think if one thing that is great about this book, is the authors ability to remain objective even though in the end he admits to favor 1 of the 3 perspectives that he provides near the end of the book.
The beginning parts should be easy to understand, a little bit of the philosphy was repetitive to the point where I got lost in what he was trying to say or trying to connect, but pushing through and ignoring those bits didn't hurt the rest.
The physics parts when it came to quantum theory were rather tough, and even got into a little bit of math that seemed weird to me, the percentages of directions for example. But again pushing past the points he was trying to make there, didn't hurt much either, you could just take the provided conclusions and move on with out hurting your brain.
Though I don't think you should skip the rest of the book and go straight to the end of it because there is a lot of value in the whole of the book, the epilogue is one of my favorite parts. It is where he takes most of the knowledge of the book and breaks down the 3 perspectives: empiricism, social constructivism, and scientific realism. These can be said to be similar to being Atheist, Agnostic, and Theist.
Makes you think - just as a book should! Jul 30, 2006
Okay, I'll be honest: perhaps the 5 stars are a bit much. This book is not that revolutionary, and it is not brilliant. Nonetheless, I was fascinated and impressed by the way the author is able to bring many strings in thinking about what "reality" is. And the book is utterly readable.
The book circles around two aspects: that reality has a social and a physical aspect. In the first part of the book, Baggott describes the social dimension of thinking about reality; he takes much from Baudrillard and John Searle. (As I said, the book is not original, except in its bringing together different strands of ideas.) In the second part, Baggott describes how philosophers from the ancient Greeks until the present day have thought about what constitutes reality and how we are able to know it. Here the author describes the ideas of Plato, Descartes, Putnam and Nozick. In the third part, Baggott describes the physics of reality, especially quantum mechanics.
I liked the first and second parts. If you're not a philosopher, these two parts can be considered as introductions into philosophy (or rather metaphysics). Baggott describes philosophical ideas in simple terms and uses concrete examples to make his point. The third part for me was the most boring. Baggott tries to describe the weirdness of the quantum level. He may do a good job in describing quantum mechanics, but there are books and movies (e.g. What the Bleep Do We Know?) on the subject that do a better job.
The conclusion of the book is simply and to some may be disappointing: after having deconstructed the view that reality is independent, logically coherent and that science comes ever closer to the truth about reality, Baggott believes that although there is no justification for this position, scientific realism "is justiried because it is the most natural position - the default assumption - of most working scientists." (239) Yet, scientific realism can only be accepted as an "act of faith". Baggott may be right here (as I think he is), but to many this may not be satisfactory.
I read this book in my vacation, and was thoroughly fascinated by it - despite the critical things I said before. Being a huge fan of the Matrix, this book goes into the philosophy underneath the movies and asks the question, Could it be that we are living in the Matrix? I believe it is possible that we are living in a Matrix, although there is a good chance we will never be able to know it, and this book confirms that conclusion using philosophical arguments. The book is easily readable, but I have read it as a prologue to further study in a truly fascinating subject. This book did what it was supposed to do, it made me think about the unthinkable...