Cosmism and Views of Radical Life Extension

A piece on the continuing tradition of Russian cosmism, influential on the transhumanist movement and the modern community that advocates for radical life extension through biotechnology: "According to Dr. Igor Vishev (b. 1933), a distinguished Russian scientist and philosopher, it is likely that there are people alive today who will never die. Just stop for a moment and think about that. Alive today. Never die. ... Vishev's line of thought is a 21st-century variation of Russian cosmism, a philosophical tendency that started with the eccentric 19th-century librarian and thinker Nikolai Fedorov (1829-1903) and continued through the 20th century ... Vishev is convinced that medical technology is advancing so rapidly that sometime later in this century, Homo sapiens will become Homo immortalis. He believes that our current lifespan of up to 90 or, in extreme instances, slightly over 100 years, is not cast in stone or fixed in nature but an evolutionary stage out of which we are now emerging. Genetic engineering, replacement of natural organs with artificial instruments, nanotechnology, and other developing technologies could now extend our lives well beyond today's assumed limits. He proposes that a 200-year-old person is a present possibility, and a person who could live at least as long as a 2,000-year-old redwood tree is certainly imaginable. Such longevity will be self-propelling. New discoveries during the 200-year (or 2,000-year) lifespan would make what Vishev calls 'practical immortality' a fairly safe bet. By 'practical' he means 'realizable' but not absolute. People could still die, accidentally or otherwise, but eventually techniques of 'practical resurrection,' toward which today's cloning is a primitive first step, would be able to restore life to those who somehow lose it. Vishev's philosophy, which he calls 'practical immortology,' is an attempt to shift our entire culture and worldview from one based on the certainty of human mortality to one based on the prospect of human immortality. This shift requires radical new directions not only in science and technology but in economics, politics, morality, ecology, art - everything. Not easy, of course, but he thinks it's possible."

Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-m-young/do-you-want-to-be-immortal_b_17

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