Immortality : Testing Civilisation's Greatest Promise
Who wants to live forever? According to Stephen Cave, we all do - every single one of us. And the evidence is all around. Eluding the Grim Reaper is humanity's oldest and most pervasive wish. It is embedded in our very nature and provides the real driving force behind every aspect of human civilisation: science, agriculture, architecture, religion, the arts, fame and family. From freeing your soul to freezing your brain, all these attempts to defy death fall into four simple categories - the four paths to immortality. Ranging across continents and cultures, from ancient Egypt to cutting-edge laboratories, Immortality raises the curtain on what compels us humans to keep on going. The four paths are ancient, but science is now showing us - for the first time in human history - whether any of them can really lead to infinity. Cave investigates what it would mean for our lives if they can - but also if they can't. If the paths up the Mount of the Immortals lead nowhere - if there is no getting to the summit - is there still reason to live? And can civilisation survive?
- Paperback | 340 pages
- 132 x 200 x 26mm | 334g
- 01 Feb 2013
- Biteback Publishing
- London, United Kingdom
"Informed and metaphysically nuanced...Cave presents his arguments in a brisk, engaging style, and draws effectively upon a wide-ranging stock of religious, philosophical, and scientific sources, both ancient and contemporary." --Weekly Standard "In his survey of the subject, Stephen Cave, a British philosopher, argues that man's various tales of immortality can be boiled down into four basic "narratives..". For the aspiring undying, Mr Cave unfortunately concludes that immortality is a mirage. But his demolition project is fascinating in its own right...If anything, readers might want more of Mr. Cave's crisp conversational prose." --The Economist "A must-read exploration of what spurs human ingenuity. Every once in a while a book comes along that catches me by surprise and provides me with an entirely new lens through which to view the world...Such is the case with Stephen Cave's book "Immortality."..Cave presents an extremely compelling case - one that has changed my view of the driving force of civilization as much as Jared Diamond did years ago with his brilliant book "Guns, Germs and Steel."" --S. Jay Olshanksy, New Scientist magazine "Cave explains how the seeking of immortality is the foundation of human achievement, the wellspring of art, religion and civilization...The author is rangy and recondite, searching the byways of elixirs, the surprises of alchemy, the faith in engineering and all the wonder to be found in discussions of life and death...Luminous." --Kirkus Reviews "A dramatic and frequently surprising story of the pursuit of immortality and its effects on human history." --Booklist "A beautifully clear and entertaining look at life after death. Cave does not shrink from the hard questions. Bold and thought-provoking." --Eric Olson, author of "The Human Animal "and "What Are We? " " " ""Immortality "plumbs the depths of the human mind and ties the quest for the infinite prolongation of life" "Fascinating - a must read." Maria Popova "In Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization, Cambridge University philosopher Stephen Cave explores the inner workings of that ancient impulse, inviting us on a mind-bending, intense, at times unsettling and at times deeply comforting journey into the most cavernous quarters of the human psyche." Maria Popova "Immortality will give food for thought and may even put our attitudes to life and death, past and present, into perspective." Family Tree "Stephen Cave's very readable 2012 book Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization is a fascinating attempt to grapple with this human condition." The Manila Times
About Stephen Cave
Stephen Cave is a writer, philosopher and diplomat. He regularly writes essays and book reviews for the Financial Times.