The Dawn of a Mindful Universe: A Manifesto for Humanity's Future (Hardcover)
An award-winning astronomer and physicist’s spellbinding and urgent call for a new Enlightenment and the recognition of the preciousness of life using reason and curiosity—the foundations of science—to study, nurture, and ultimately preserve humanity as we face the existential crisis of climate change.
Since Copernicus, humanity has increasingly seen itself as adrift, an insignificant speck within a large, cold universe. Brazilian physicist, astronomer, and winner of the 2019 Templeton Prize Marcelo Gleiser argues that it is because we have lost the spark of the Enlightenment that has guided human development over the past several centuries. While some scientific efforts have been made to overcome this increasingly bleak perspective—the ongoing search for life on other planets, the recent idea of the multiverse—they have not been enough to overcome the core problem: we’ve lost our moral mission and compassionate focus in our scientific endeavors.
Gleiser argues that we’re using the wrong paradigm to relate to the universe and our position in it. In this deeply researched and beautifully rendered book, he calls for us to embrace a new life-centric perspective, one which recognizes just how rare and precious life is and why it should be our mission to preserve and nurture it. The Dawn of a Mindful Universe addresses the current environmental and scientific impasses and how the scientific community can find solutions to them.
Gleiser’s paradigm rethinks the ideals of the Enlightenment, and proposes a new direction for humanity, one driven by human reason and curiosity whose purpose is to save civilization itself. Within this model, we can once again see ourselves as the center of the universe—the place where life becomes conscious—and regain a clear moral compass which can be used to guide both science and the politics around it.
About the Author
The first Latin American winner of the Templeton Prize, Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist and a professor of natural philosophy, physics, and astronomy at Dartmouth College. His work ranges from cosmology and applications of information theory to complex phenomena to history and philosophy of science and how science and culture interact. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a recipient of the Presidential Faculty Fellows Award from the White House and National Science Foundation. Gleiser has authored five books and is the co-founder of 13.8, where he writes about science and culture with physicist Adam Frank. He is devoted to the public understanding of science and his books have been published in fifteen languages. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.
"Marcelo Gleiser argues that the only hope we have of addressing the current environmental crisis lies in rethinking our relationship to history and to the entire cosmos. The Dawn of a Mindful Universe is a work of great honesty and daring. Its message couldn’t be more alarming, yet it is ultimately optimistic." — Elizabeth Colbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction and Under a White Sky
“An extraordinary book. Marcelo Gleiser has brought together cosmology, environmentalism, and spirituality in a personal and poetic call to arms that is nothing short of breathtaking. Most of the time I was smiling and nodding as I read it, and occasionally I was moved to tears.” — William Egginton, author of The Rigor of Angels, The Splintering of the American Mind, and The Man Who Invented Fiction
"Marcelo Gleiser is precisely the kind of public intellectual our culture urgently needs: a skilled communicator of complex scientific ideas whose work is animated by a humane and humanistic sensibility. The Dawn of a Mindful Universe, a fascinating and often moving book, is guided by a profound sense of civilizational urgency as it charts a path toward re-enchantment." — Mark O’Connell, author of To Be a Machine and Notes from an Apocalypse
"As James Russell Lowell once put it, ‘new occasions teach new duties; time makes ancient good uncouth.’ We are at a novel and fraught moment in our history as a species, and as this book posits, getting through it will require rethinking who we are and why we are here. Gleiser’s argument will send you off on interesting and fruitful tangents of your own!" — Bill McKibben, author of The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon
"[A] brave, compelling book of great beauty and urgency. ... Gleiser fully understands the transformative power of science. Unlike many, however, he also sees how worldviews that claim to speak for science have led humanity to the brink of ruin through environmental destruction and the desacralization of the world we communally inhabit. Dawn of a Mindful Universe is a call for a deep reinvention of ourselves in ways that don’t abandon the prosperity that science has made possible but realigns our technological prowess with a new moral stance treating Earth as a sacred community whose fate is always our own." — Adam Frank, astrophysicist
"Our future—and whether we have one—depends on us realizing that Earth is the only truly sacred place. Everything flows from our valuation of this miraculous only-known living planet. This book provides that re-framing, that adjustment in attitude and perspective that is so desperately needed now." — Carl Safina, ecologist and author of Alfie and Me
"Marcelo Gleiser’s brilliant book is a major contribution to our understanding of the evolution of the living Earth community. It is a tour de force in activating allegiance to life’s complexity, beauty, and continuity. At once erudite and eloquent, this luminous work deserves to be widely read." — Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-author of Journey of the Universe and co-director of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
"Dawn of a Mindful Universe is a surprisingly accessible exploration of difficult and pressing topics that affect us all. Author Marcelo Gleiser leads us on a thought-provoking (re)assessment of humanity’s place in the cosmos—digging into our deep past and looking at our collective future. At this historic inflection point, such discussions are a vital part of larger conversations on climate change, societal stability, and scientific breakthrough. Gleiser’s work encourages us to create more mindful interactions with our world, its cultures, and economies." — Gregory W. Brown, co-executive producer of the planetarium show God, Science, and Our Search for Meaning at the Boston Museum of Science and composer of Missa Charles Darwin
"Marcelo Gleiser is an accomplished astrophysicist who writes with the heart of a poet. In The Dawn of a Mindful Universe he shines a sharp, critical light on some accepted scientific truisms which have contributed to our dangerously unhealthy relationship with the natural world. He shows how our explorations of the cosmos have brought home the preciousness and uniqueness of our living planetary home, and proposes a necessary re-engagement with the sacred. It is a passionate and moving call for a scientifically informed spiritual reawakening which can help us navigate and transcend the traps we humans have set for ourselves." — David Grinspoon, astrobiologist and award-winning author of Earth in Human Hands
"A lively, deeply considered and deeply impassioned argument for why our species' future must embrace biocentrism. Gleiser’s writing and humanity shines in this tour de force of science and scholarship." — Caleb Scharf, senior scientist for astrobiology at NASA Ames and author of The Ascent of Information
"A passionate appeal for 'biocentric values that reflect our spiritual reconnection with the Earth.'" — Kirkus Reviews