© 2014

The Beginning and the End

The Meaning of Life in a Cosmological Perspective


  • 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 The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxiv
  2. Overview of Worldviews

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-2
    2. Clément Vidal
      Pages 3-11
    3. Clément Vidal
      Pages 13-38
  3. The Beginning of the Universe

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 59-60
    2. Clément Vidal
      Pages 61-75
    3. Clément Vidal
      Pages 77-93
    4. Clément Vidal
      Pages 95-145
  4. Our Future in the Universe

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 147-152
    2. Clément Vidal
      Pages 153-160
    3. Clément Vidal
      Pages 161-199
    4. Clément Vidal
      Pages 201-265
    5. Clément Vidal
      Pages 267-310
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 311-379

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.


Anthropic principles Cosmic selection Cosmological worldview Evolutionary ethics Far-future universe Fine-tuning of physical constants High energy astrobiology Philosophical methodology

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Centrum Leo ApostelVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

About the authors

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.

Bibliographic information


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)