What Is Immortality?

Immortality, or a state without death, would be meaningless, I shall suggest; so, in a sense, death gives meaning to life.

- Bernard Williams, 'The Makropulos Case', Problems of the Self

Podcast of the Day

Are you an immortality curmudgeon or optimist? If you could live forever, would you? Welcome to the Immortality Project. Lucretius famously said that life is a banquet. After the final course, you have to leave the dining room, for good. For many, this is life in the right proportions. But for some death is never a good option. Meet John Fisher Martin, a distinguished philosopher in charge of a five million dollar immortality project. He’s an immortality optimist to boot.

Listen to The Philosopher's Zone episode on Immortality

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Immortality has gone secular. Unhooked from the realm of gods and angels, it’s now the subject of serious investment – both intellectual and financial – by philosophers, scientists and the Silicon Valley set. Several hundred people have already chosen to be ‘cryopreserved’ in preference to simply dying, as they wait for science to catch up and give them a second shot at life. But if we treat death as a problem, what are the ethical implications of the highly speculative ‘solutions’ being mooted?

Of course, we don’t currently have the means of achieving human immortality, nor is it clear that we ever will. But two hypothetical options have so far attracted the most interest and attention: rejuvenation technology, and mind uploading...

Continue reading Minerva and Rorheim's article: What are the ethical consequences of immortality technology?

Further Reading

Immortality is the indefinite continuation of a person’s existence, even after death. In common parlance, immortality is virtually indistinguishable from afterlife, but philosophically speaking, they are not identical. Afterlife is the continuation of existence after death, regardless of whether or not that continuation is indefinite. Immortality implies a never-ending existence, regardless of whether or not the body dies (as a matter of fact, some hypothetical medical technologies offer the prospect of a bodily immortality, but not an afterlife).

Immortality has been one of mankind’s major concerns, and even though it has been traditionally mainly confined to religious traditions, it is also important to philosophy. Although a wide variety of cultures have believed in some sort of immortality, such beliefs may be reduced to basically three non-exclusive models: (1) the survival of the astral body resembling the physical body; (2) the immortality of the immaterial soul (that is an incorporeal existence); (3) resurrection of the body (or re-embodiment, in case the resurrected person does not keep the same body as at the moment of death)...

Continue reading the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Immortality by Gabriel Andrade

Related Topics

 The Human BodyHuman Nature | Metaphysics | The Soul

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