Immortality Project: Philosophical and
Last updated on 10/21/2016 Print this page
Funded by: The University of California, Riverside (supported by
the John Templeton Foundation)
Project Duration: Fall 2014 - Summer 2015
What was the research about?
There 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: www.sptimmortalityproject.com
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.