Professor Jeff Pruchnic will deliver a talk entitled “On the Genealogy of Mortals: Rhetoric, Biotechnologies of the Self, and the Ethics of Immortality” as part of the 2006-2007 Humanities Center Brown Bag Colloquium Series. The talk is from 12:30 to 1:30 PM, Wednesday, March 7, in room 2339 of the Faculty Administration Building.
Abstract: This presentation addresses the growing interest (in both scientific and populist realms) in the propsect of “material immortality” – the possiblity that humans might live “forever” in material form through advances in biotechnologies (e.g., organ regeneration, cloning, nanomedicine, and the possible “uploading” of human consciousness into informatic or machinic realms). Although the promise of an immortal soul or eternal life beyond physical existence has historically been a driving force in ethics and politics, it is only in the past several decades that the potential of material immortality has attractted billions of dollars of in venture capital for biotech firms and inspired the organization of thousands of individuals into collective dedicated to the pursuit of earthly immortality. Through engaging past conflicts between immortality and ethics in the early days of Greek philosophy and rhetoric, and the anticipation of the future possiblity of an embodied immortality, this talk also aims to say something about today: a model for thinking through some of the ethical and rhetorical dilemmas of the present moment.