It would scarcely be possible, without Hands’s own overarching perspective, to grasp the central reality of contemporary science…an irresoluble tension between the awesome achievement of science in the recent past and the compelling signs that for all that we might learn there is, after all, more than we can know. COSMOSAPIENS is, as Cambridge Professor of Philosophy Tim Crane has commented, ‘a truly remarkable work’ – as indeed it is – dispassionate, even-handed and, informed by the author’s extensive correspondence with more than sixty specialists across the entire range of scientific disciplines, immensely persuasive.
—James Le Fanu, The Tablet
Translation rights in COSMOSAPIENS sold to China, Germany, and Spain.
In this audacious, ambitious, and philosophically completist study, Hands leads an interdisciplinary search through all the current human knowledge that may help answer two burning questions: What are we, and where do we come from?… The result is a pearl of dialectical reasoning between Hands and the most celebrated experts he can find. In today’s age of specialization, readers will welcome this throwback to the days of the well-informed layperson, conversant and opinionated in a variety of topics… Hands grounds his musings in logic and scientific fact to produce a thoughtful treatise for the eternally curious.
—Starred review, Publishers Weekly
Hands has spent the last 10 years assembling a critical overview of scientific orthodoxy in an attempt to answer the fundamental questions ‘what are we?’ and ‘why are we here?’… A compendious work that will intrigue serious readers.
A 700-page description of the state of current scientific knowledge about the origin of matter, life and humanity, plus a bold attempt to assess its limits. It is lucid and intelligible to the non-specialists—Hands was originally trained as a chemist, but has also published three novels. This is a book of astonishing ambition and scope, more like the work of a great Victorian polymath than most popular science books.
—Tim Crane, The Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year
A substantial, sceptical survey of the current state of scientific knowledge of about the most basic questions… (Hands) is always fair, and he writes from what must be the best point of view for a scientist—he is a dispassionate agnostic about everything, except those few things which can fulfil Popper’s falsification principle… An invaluable, encyclopedic achievement.
—A N Wilson, The Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year
From dark energy to the selfish gene, Hands looks at what we know—and what we don’t. An overview of thought on this ever-fascinating subject.
John Hands… argues that mind and matter evolved in unison and, one day, human consciousness and the star-filled universe will be revealed as part of the same cosmic whole. Such ideas were lapped up by the 19th-century followers of Hegel and it is both shocking and invigorating to hear them stated again…in the context of a quantum universe.
—Nicholas Blincoe, The Telegraph Best Science Books of 2015