Social Sciences
School of Education & Social Sciences

Immortality Project: Philosophical and Theological Implications

Award Details

Funded by: The University of California, Riverside (supported by the John Templeton Foundation)

Project Duration: Fall 2014 - Summer 2015

What was the research about?

immortality projectThere has been recent growth in interest in the trans-humanist movement, which anticipates the enhancement of human existence via the application of science and technology. Many trans-humanists believe that this will not only make us stronger, healthier and cleverer, but will also deliver us from involuntary death. This one-year project at the University of Hull aimed to explore the philosophical and theological issues that confront the trans-humanist promise of immortality. The project explored three central areas of philosophical and theological enquiry. (A) Embodiment, Identity and Trans-human Survival, which focuses on questions concerning the nature of mind and its relation to the body, which trans-humanism tends to denigrate, and problems concerned with the survival of the person (e.g. can I be sure I survive the procedures trans-humanists recommend?). (B) Desirability and Meaningfulness of Trans-human Survival, which looks at whether extreme life extension is something we should even desire or whether the trans-humanist denial of death is, in fact, a denial of life. Would radical life extension be a good thing or would it end in a tedious mere existence? (C) Technological Eschatologies and Trans-human Survival, which explored the way that technology in trans-humanist narratives is not a mere tool for achieving immortality but is often ascribed and inscribed with (quasi-) religious meanings (e.g. its offer of a form of salvation and means of self-perfection).

Immortality Project website:

Why is it important?

Questions about death, afterlife, and immortality are existential questions. In recent years, radical life extension and the idea of immortality have received a lot of interest in particular through the interest and activities of transhumanists, anti-aging research, or cryogenic freezing. The one-year project aimed to explore the philosophical and theological issues and challenges that confront the trans-humanist promise of immortality, in particular questions of embodiment, the desirability and meaningfulness of immortality, and technological eschatologies.

What did it involve?

As part of the project, we organized a one-day workshop on Trans-human Immortality. Further we hosted a major international residential conference under the title The Philosophy & Theology of Immortality, with an open call for papers and with ‘Immortality and the Trans-human’ as a sub-theme. Three keynote speakers were invited from the list of invited contributors above.

Research Team

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