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John Gray on Immortality

January 15, 2011

I’m a big fan of the philosopher John Gray.  A (very) short (and simple) summary of his ideas is that while progress in science and technology is cumulative, once we know what evolution is, we can’t un-know it.  However when it comes to areas such as human rights, this is not the case – once a country has, say universal suffrage, that needs always to be defended.  He is also a major thinker on what it means to be human.  Anyhow, he’s written a great piece on technology and immortality – which is also a call to caution regarding the hubris that our technologies can often bestow upon us.

The bit that most fascinated me was the idea that dead scientists were working on the other side of life to construct a ‘super-being’ to be born.  Crazy, but fascinating…

Starting early in the 20th century, tens of thousands of scripts [of automatic writing] were produced by different mediums in several countries over a period of more than 30 years. Known as the “cross-correspondences” because they seemed to be linked together, the scripts contained texts claiming to be messages from deceased psychical researchers, including Sidgwick and Myers, which together demonstrated the reality of life after death. As the flow of scripts continued an even larger claim emerged: the dead had taken on the task of saving the world of the living by means of a post-mortem experiment in eugenics. Scientists who had passed to “the other side” were fashioning an exceptional human being, a posthumously designed messiah-child who would deliver humankind from chaos and bring peace to the world.

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