The Promise and Peril of Avoiding Death
Humans have all sorts of death defying strategies. We want to preserve ourselves in a literal sense and produce digital images, video or facebook posts in the hope that our legacies will last well after we are gone.
Humans have a long history of trying to overcome death. Everything from holding religious beliefs about the afterlife to the planning of a family might fall into this category. The idea is that even though my body will one day collapse, some part of me might carry on, be it my soul or my genes. We even build structures and create works of art and literature in the hope that our legacies will last well after we are gone. These days we have innumerable means of passing on pieces of ourselves to posterity, such as digital images and video, websites of every imaginable variety, and cryogenics complete with dreams of profound future medical advances.
Philosopher Adam Buben will focus on two main issues when considering this mass of death-defying strategies: the preservation of ourselves in a literal sense, and the preservation of things like our legacy, ideas, mannerisms, and memory for others. How will technological developments impact the ways we relate to the deaths of others, and what are the consequences for morality? If we could actually be immortal, would we still lead fulfilling lives without becoming bored?
Adam Buben is Assistant Professor of Comparative Philosophy at Leiden University College. His research focuses on 19th and 20th century continental philosophy, Asian philosophy, and the philosophy of death.