Transitional Humanity – Gilbert Meilaender

In philosophy, science, sociology on May 4, 2012 at 01:00


Transitional Humanity – Gilbert Meilaender – The New Atlantis

The idea is to survive long enough to be around when hoped-for technological advances will make possible indefinite extension of life. Bailey reports that Ray Kurzweil, one of the visionary thinkers committed to this goal, stated at the summit that within roughly fifteen years we may have advanced to a point where we can add “more than one year of longevity per year to remaining life expectancy” — thereby getting out in front of time’s relentless arrow.

We are the creature that hopes,” the political scientist Hugh Heclo writes. The importance — perhaps the necessity — of hope for human life has long been known. The Victorian painter G. F. Watts’s Hope depicts a blindfolded woman holding a broken lyre on which only one string remains; yet that one string is evidently intended to evoke hope in those who view the painting, hope that there is music still to be made. Watts is drawing on classical mythology’s depiction of Pandora’s jar, in which only hope remained after she had released into the world the evils inside it. Whatever precisely the myth means — and it may mean many things — hope can help us to flourish only if it is something other than mere expectation, optimism, or confidence. What we hope for tells us a good bit about who we are.

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