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The Beginning and the End

The Meaning of Life in a Cosmological Perspective

  • Book
  • © 2014


  • A remarkable book that will inform and enlighten all readers interested in where it all came from and where we are going
  • Despite the deep and subtle content the text is easy to follow and a stimulating read
  • Attempts to answer some of the biggest questions posed by humans about themselves and the universe
  • Includes a fascinating and illuminating look at the entire framework with which and within which, these big questions are posed and debated

Part of the book series: The Frontiers Collection (FRONTCOLL)

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Table of contents (10 chapters)

  1. Overview of Worldviews

  2. The Beginning of the Universe

  3. Our Future in the Universe


About this book

In this fascinating journey to the edge of science, Vidal takes on big philosophical questions: Does our universe have a beginning and an end or is it cyclic? Are we alone in the universe? What is the role of intelligent life, if any, in cosmic evolution? Grounded in science and committed to philosophical rigor, this book presents an evolutionary worldview where the rise of intelligent life is not an accident, but may well be the key to unlocking the universe's deepest mysteries. Vidal shows how the fine-tuning controversy can be advanced with computer simulations. He also explores whether natural or artificial selection could hold on a cosmic scale. In perhaps his boldest hypothesis, he argues that signs of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations are already present in our astrophysical data. His conclusions invite us to see the meaning of life, evolution and intelligence from a novel cosmological framework that should stir debate for years to come.


From the book reviews:

“Vidal (Free Univ. of Brussels) offers a large-scale interdisciplinary work packed with interesting and challenging ideas. … Vidal’s book is an impressive work of up-to-date, scientifically informed philosophy. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.” (L. B. McHenry, Choice, Vol. 52 (6), February, 2015)

"In a very beautiful book, The Beginning and the End, published by Springer, Clément Vidal, a young French philosopher, succeeds in synthesizing what is at stake in the programmed disappearance. ... What is the ultimate goal of humanity, of science? For Clément Vidal, the answer to this latter question is clear: the ultimate goal of science is to fight the death of the universe, with the artificial creation of new universes." (quote translated into English, original book review in French language: Laurent Alexandre, Le monde, June 28, 2014)

“An outstandingly clear, comprehensive and systematic investigation of some of the deepest and most speculative questions of all time: How did the universe begin? How will it end? And what is the meaning of life in this cosmic evolution?” (Francis Heylighen, Director of the Global Brain Institute, research professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

“Cutting-edge science is starting to discover a 'big picture' in which humans have the potential to play a key role in the future evolution of life in the universe. If you want your mind to be expanded so that it takes in this wider perspective, Clément Vidal's book is an absolute must read. His book is for everyone who wants to combine hard science with an understanding of the meaning and purpose of life.” (John Stewart, Author of Evolution's Arrow and The Evolutionary Manifesto)

 “This book is a magisterial work, a synthesis of systems theory, philosophy, cosmology, and life science. In a search for his own comprehensive and coherent worldview, Clément Vidal has come to some startling conclusions: evolution and simulation (and I would add, development) appear to operate at every scale within our universe, and can be used as a basis for a universal ethics. What's more, this view yields some surprisingly specific suspicions about the nature and drives of advanced extraterrestrial intelligence: starivores. If we, stewards of Earth, are on the starivore development path, this insight alone will prove as revolutionary as Darwin's 19th century elucidation of human evolution. It is exciting to see the many clues and arguments he presents, and to realize that Vidal's hypothesis can be tested here and now. He also walks his talk, as he has founded with me a research community (Evo Devo Universe) to explore and critique these fascinating ideas. I invite you to join us there. His quest is our quest, to ask and answer our biggest questions with more truth, goodness, and beauty than everbefore.” (John Smart, President, Acceleration Studies Foundation,,; Co-founder,

Authors and Affiliations

  • Centrum Leo Apostel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

    Clément Vidal

About the author

Dr. Clément Vidal is a philosopher with a background in logic and cognitive sciences. He is co-director of the 'Evo Devo Universe' community and founder of the 'High Energy Astrobiology' prize. To satisfy his intellectual curiosity when facing the big questions, he brings together many areas of knowledge such as cosmology, physics, astrobiology, complexity science, evolutionary theory and philosophy of science.

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