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John Gray and Adam Phillips will be discussing themes raised in Gray’s forthcoming book The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death. In the late 19th century the implication of Darwin’s theories was that humans were animals like any other, alone in an uncaring universe. The refusal to accept this and to insist instead on our immortality resulted in a series of experiments. Gray examines two major examples: the belief that the science-backed Communism of the new USSR could reshape the planet, remaking humanity and freeing us from death (and in the process return Lenin back to life), and the belief among a group of Edwardian intellectuals that there was a form of life after death accessed through mediums and automatic writing. These attempts may seem deluded to us in the 21st century but can we claim to be no longer gripped by the hope that somehow science can make us invincible?
21st February 2011, The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London
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