The Immortalization Commission

The Immortalization Commission

Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death

Book - 2011
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Baker & Taylor
A revelatory critique of the modern world's pursuit of scientific immortality examines the worldviews of contributors from philosophers and journalists to politicians and mass murderers to consider how revisionist beliefs are changing the nature of what it means to be human. By the author of Black Mass. 10,000 first printing.

McMillan Palgrave
A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title

At the heart of human experience lies an obsession with the nature of death. Religion, for most of history, has provided an explanation for human life and a vision of what comes after it. But in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such beliefs came under relentless pressure as new ideas—from psychiatry to evolution to communism—seemed to suggest that our fate was now in our own hands: humans could cease to be animals, defeat death, and become immortal.

In The Immortalization Commission, the acclaimed political philosopher and critic John Gray takes a brilliant and frightening look at humankind’s dangerous striving toward a scientific version of immortality. Probing the parallel faiths of Bolshevik “God-builders,” who sought to reshape the planet and psychical researchers, who believed they had evidence of a nonreligious form of life after death, Gray raises fascinating questions about how such beliefs threaten the very nature of what it means to be human. He looks to philosophers, journalists, politicians, charlatans, and mass murderers who all felt driven by a specifically scientific and modern worldview and whose revolt against death resulted in a series of experiments that ravaged whole countries.

An urgent examination of Darwin’s post-religious legacy, The Immortalization Commissionis an important work from “one of Britain’s leading public intellectuals” (The Wall Street Journal).



Book News
In this curious and precisely composed volume, acclaimed author Gray presents a triptych argument on the essential human pursuit of immortality, by means of alternately life after death, high level social engineering, and technology. Illustrating first the Edwardian spiritualists who strove to prove the existence of the afterlife via séance, automatic writing, and other methods; he moves on to the sociopolitical upheaval and reordering of the Soviet post-revolutionary period through the lens of a government spy who was the mistress of H.G. Wells, the godfather of science fiction; and finally weds these disparate tales to each other and to the present in an exploration of contemporary attitudes and attempts at extending life by biological and virtual means. The peripheral involvement of contemporary figures such as Charles Darwin, Walt Whitman, Joseph Stalin and Richard Dawkins are highlighted throughout his exploration. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Blackwell Publishing
In The Immortalization Commission, the acclaimed political philosopher and critic John Gray takes a brilliant and frightening look at humankind's dangerous striving toward a scientific version of immortality. Probing the parallel faiths of Bolshevik "God-builders," who sought to reshape the planet, and psychical researchers, who believed they had evidence of a nonreligious form of life after death, Gray raises fascinating questions about how such beliefs threaten the very nature of what it means to be human. He looks to philosophers, journalists, politicians, charlatans, and mass murderers who all felt driven by a specifically scientific and modern worldview and whose revolt against death resulted in a series of experiments that ravaged whole countries.

Baker
& Taylor

A revelatory critique of the modern world's pursuit of scientific immortality examines the worldviews of contributors from philosophers and journalists to politicians and mass murderers to consider how revisionist beliefs are changing the nature of what it means to be human.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011
Edition: 1st american ed
ISBN: 9780374175061
0374175063
Characteristics: 272 p. : ill. ; 20 cm

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