Title On Not Dying: Secular Immortality in the Age of Technoscience
Author Abou Farman
ISBN 9781517908102
List price USD 30.00
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Hardbound
No of pages 376
Book size 140 x 216 mm
Publishing year 2020
Original publisher University of Minnesota Press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
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“If Bruno Latour once argued that we have never been modern, then Abou Farman shows convincingly that we have also never, really, been secular. On Not Dying challenges we secularists to recognize that distinctions between mind and matter, ghost and machine, religion and science have only ever been provisional grounds for a secular world that is increasingly in question.”

David Valentine, University of Minnesota


“For atheists, death is the end of the human being, but for religious believers, there is an afterlife in another world. Abou Farman describes the ambition of secular immortalists as abolitioning death (assumed to be an intrinsic fact of life) through means of technoscience. In this brilliant study of the cryonics movement, Farman has taken the anthropology of science in a highly original and mind-widening direction.”

Talal Asad, Graduate Center, City University of New York


Immortality has long been considered the domain of religion. But immortality projects have gained increasing legitimacy and power in the world of science and technology. With recent rapid advances in biology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence, secular immortalists hope for and work toward a future without death.

On Not Dying is an anthropological, historical, and philosophical exploration of immortality as a secular and scientific category. Based on an ethnography of immortalist communities—those who believe humans can extend their personal existence indefinitely through technological means—and an examination of other institutions involved at the end of life, Abou Farman argues that secular immortalism is an important site to explore the tensions inherent in secularism: how to accept death but extend life; knowing the future is open but your future is finite; that life has meaning but the universe is meaningless. As secularism denies a soul, an afterlife, and a cosmic purpose, conflicts arise around the relationship of mind and body, individual finitude and the infinity of time and the cosmos, and the purpose of life. Immortalism today, Farman argues, is shaped by these historical and culturally situated tensions. Immortalist projects go beyond extending life, confronting dualism and cosmic alienation by imagining (and producing) informatic selves separate from the biological body but connected to a cosmic unfolding.

On Not Dying interrogates the social implications of technoscientific immortalism and raises important political questions. Whose life will be extended? Will these technologies be available to all, or will they reproduce racial and geopolitical hierarchies? As human life on earth is threatened in the Anthropocene, why should life be extended, and what will that prolonged existence look like?


Preface: Realm of the Possible


Introduction: The Problems of Discontinuity and Indeterminacy in a Secular World

Chapter 1. After Life: Varieties of Immortality in the Secular World

Chapter 2. Immortalism: The History of a Futuristic Movement

Chapter 3. Suspension: Stretching Time between the Finite and the Infinite

Chapter 4. Deanimation: Matter, Materialism, and Personhood beyond Death

Chapter 5. Convergence: Secular Solipsism and the Mind of the Cosmos

Chapter 6. Progress and Despair: The Perverse Dialectics of Immortality as Techno-Civilizing Mission




About the Author:

Abou Farman is assistant professor of anthropology at the New School for Social Research.

Target Audience:

People interested in anthropology.


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