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Immortality: The Quest To Live Forever and…

Immortality: The Quest To Live Forever and How It Drives Civilisation (edição: 2013)

de Stephen Cave (Autor)

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1075199,677 (3.55)4
A narrative citing the activities of historical figures and leading modern scientists demonstrates how the innate desire to live forever has contributed to humanity's most significant achievements in science, medicine, religion, and art.
Título:Immortality: The Quest To Live Forever and How It Drives Civilisation
Autores:Stephen Cave (Autor)
Informação:Biteback Publishing (2013), 340 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

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Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization de Stephen Cave


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Exibindo 5 de 5
A ghastly superficial book. When he called Islam a "cousin" of Christianity is when I stopped reading. Moron ( )
  alen2379 | Nov 11, 2016 |
This is a very well-written book that discuss the quest of some individuals or even civilizations to immortality. After a brief introduction talking about Nefertiti, the author split his book in four major parts, depending on the approach he is taking to discuss immortality. First part is called Staying Alive, meaning prolonging physical life, through elixirs, medicines, vitamins, etc. He talks about King on Qin, the construction of the Terracotta's Army and the Great Walls of China and other examples. The second part is called Resurrection and it is based on the Christian belief of reborn in the same body (or a glorified body, as is described on the Scriptures). Here the author uses St. Paul and Frankenstein story as examples of trying to conquer death, if I can say so. Third part is called Soul, meaning that the individual consciousness survives the death of the physical body. In this part he uses Dante Alighieri and Beatrice as examples, as well as Dalai Lama. Fourth part of this books is called Legacy, that has to do with immortality through great deeds or descendants. Examples used are of Alexander the Great and Gilgamesh. And he closes his book with a Conclusion chapter that wraps up his whole analysis.
This is a very entertaining reading that I recommend to the permanent library of all readers that enjoys philosophy and wants to think about their own concept of mortality.
This book was written by Stephen Cave and published by Crown Publishers in April, 2012.

Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this book for me through their Vine Program for reviewing and I was not request to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own. ( )
  rmattos | Jan 23, 2016 |
Cave has decided that he doesn't agree with the possible ways of seeking immortality as he understands them, and that they basically do more harm than good anyway. This is not the book described in the cover blurbs. I do wish that people who don't want religion for themselves would just ignore it, rather than insist that it is meaningless. He is so busy with his polemic against religion that he doesn't really get around to how the search for immortality drives culture, even though that is what the book is sold as.

I read this book in the German translation. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Feb 25, 2014 |
Cave claims that the Staying Alive Narrative, the Resurrection Narrative, the Soul Narrative, and the Legacy Narrative exhaustively cover all ideas about achieving immortality. He successively finds all four to be illusionary and ends up trying to advance a Wisdom Narrative for happily living with that fact. I'd say he errs by placing mind uploading under Resurrection (partly because people dying today would have to be cryonically preserved to have a shot at it when and if it becomes possible in the future): As suggested by philosopher David Chalmers in an important 2012 paper in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, a version of uploading that eschewed *copying* the brain/mind in favor of gradually and fine-grainedly *transforming* it into a much more durable form could conceivably quash concerns about personal-identity discontinuity and constitute a non-illusionary form of Staying Alive. Cave is generally too hard on transhumanists, I'd say, and not hard enough on religionists.
  fpagan | Apr 27, 2013 |
A pithy review of this book would be “Immortality: not going to happen” maybe followed by “Deal with it (here are some ways)”. Cave looks at various ideas of immortality and philosophically analyzes them. He finds them all lacking and suggests some alternative life-strategies. I would imagine that there’s not too much new here as Cave ponders ideas of religion, resurrection and the soul. It’s clearly presented and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone interested in the topic though this isn’t a book to get excited over. At times, I questioned his interpretations but they are usually interesting. I hoped Cave would look at pursuits of immortality in various cultures but except for a couple cases, he mainly references Western history, religion and well-known narratives (Frankenstein, Ozymandias). There’s more emphasis on the philosophical and theoretical aspects.

Cave divides “immortality theories” into four distinct ideas – one of literally living forever, one of a physical resurrection, one the existence of an immortal soul and the last the idea of an everlasting legacy. Each section is further divided – often into a religious/spiritual section and a scientific/biological one. Cave associates a historical or fictional story with each chapter. I was hoping there would be more examples but I can’t fault Cave for using history more as an illustration of ideas since that’s clearly what he interests him. Often, he comes off as an enthusiastic professor who really admires certain religions or ideas because of their successful “advertising” while also showing a bit of a stereotypical condescension.

In “Staying Alive”, the author describes the pursuit of the elixir of life by referring to the story of the king of Qin, the first Emperor of China. I wasn’t necessarily convinced that immortality was the driving force of civilization as Cave states in this section. However, this chapter does cover a number of ideas about the elixir which I found interesting. The other half of the idea of living forever looks at the scientific pursuit of immortality, illustrated by Linus Pauling’s attempt to cure his wife with vitamins. Advances in science and medicine that led to the current longevity are discussed, then Cave focuses on the ideas of the transhumanists who believe science will be able to cure aging through genetic engineering, nanotechnology and stem cell technology. He points out the problems with the engineering solution and the fact that longer lives wouldn’t necessarily be healthy ones. It would also create tension between those with access to the technology and could exacerbate overpopulation problems.

In the “Resurrection” and “Soul” sections, Cave looks at Christianity – noting that initially part of its appeal was the idea the that the dead would bodily return but that later the idea of a soul, which had been around long before Jesus, became more popular. He analyzes the idea of the dead being resurrected in detail – as I have not given that too much thought, it was interesting. Some problems – if a cannibal eats you, can you still be resurrected? Will it have to be the exact atoms you had when you were living? Would it be your 5 year old or 20 year old self? The problems, Cave concludes, led to its current unpopularity though bodily resurrection is still a tenet of some religions. Even the idea of digitally downloading your consciousness or cloning, the scientific version, would only create something like an identical twin. The soul has had more traction. Cave reasons that there’s nothing that could be a soul, as the mind and body are inextricably linked, and that specific brain functions are responsible for all of you. The science seemed simplified in some cases, but this is a short book. As for heaven – Cave thinks the current idea of heaven as a family reunion/mall/orgy can’t hold up as no one could take that for eternity and the idea of heaven as nonstop God-worshipping would only be a static disappointment.

I had the most problems with the “Legacy” section as religion and philosophy aren’t my areas but here Cave describes fame-seeking and child-having today. His arguments against looking for fame are that the “you” that survives through fame is not you (this is obvious and Cave goes over this a bit too much), that fame can come at the cost of unhappiness or death, and that those who seek fame often do evil. I thought many of the arguments were hardly as final as Cave claimed and his idea that the side benefits of fame (wealth, power) were negligible doesn’t seem correct in the current environment. Achilles, while not a bad metaphorical example, isn’t the best choice to illustrate Cave’s points as rarely does a person know, as Achilles did, that the choice is between kleos and death or a long, happy life. In pinning our legacy on children, tribe, nation or giant Earth consciousness, Cave notes that a person is barely remembered after a few generations, nationalism can lead to xenophobia and Nazis, and Gaia consciousness doesn’t look likely. Also, the universe is going to end. The idea of becoming a part of something bigger than yourself is also too close to one of Cave’s solutions. Another one – reading Gilgamesh. Other than that, Cave has familiar ideas – life is valuable because it is finite, death is an end but not frightening, self-absorption contributes to death anxiety so cultivating selflessness, gratitude and living in the present moment will help. ( )
2 vote DieFledermaus | Aug 30, 2012 |
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A narrative citing the activities of historical figures and leading modern scientists demonstrates how the innate desire to live forever has contributed to humanity's most significant achievements in science, medicine, religion, and art.

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