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Terasem Space Day, July 20: Frank Tipler, Frank White
Omega Point and Overview Effect. Also, new book by by Michel Eltchaninoff on Russian (and Western) cosmism.
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In a previous newsletter I mentioned a new book by Michel Eltchaninoff titled “Lénine a marché sur la lune: La folle histoire des cosmistes et transhumanistes russes” (2022) I hadn’t read the book at the time, so my comments were based on an article published in Philosophie magazine.
Having now read the book, I recommend it (with some caveats, see below) to all readers who speak French.
Eltchaninoff traces the philosophical and cultural history of Russian cosmism and modern cosmism. See chapter “Knocking on Heaven's door: Russian and modern cosmism” in my book “Tales of the Turing Church,” and my recent review of “The Future of Immortality: Remaking Life and Death in Contemporary Russia” by Anya Bernstein.
Eltchaninoff lists me among the representatives of modern cosmism. From my essay “Russian cosmism and Western transhumanism: Friends or foes?,” Eltchaninoff quotes:
“I became a fan of Nikolai Fedorov and other Russian cosmists because they considered universal resurrection as a scientific project for future humanity… I am a cosmist.”
Eltchaninoff also quotes what I told Philosophie magazine editors in an interview:
“Russian cosmism and transhumanism are very close. Transhumanism inherits from Russian cosmism a deep conviction that we’ll advance beyond all limits, expand into space, and resurrect the dead from the past using future science and technology. Technological resurrection is not emphasized by many contemporary transhumanists because (and this is a major difference) many transhumanists reject the religious outlook that was central to the thought of Nikolai Fedorov and many Russian cosmists. I have stopped using the term ‘transhumanism’ to describe my worldview, now I use ‘cosmism’ instead. The writings of the Russian cosmists were not available in translation in the 1980/90s when contemporary transhumanism was developed, but second hand accounts were circulated in the futurist community and, I think, influenced Max [More] and other early transhumanists.”
Like Bernstein, Eltchaninoff elaborates on the affinities but also the conflicts between cosmism and transhumanism on the one hand, and between cosmism and traditional religion on the other hand. Ultra-rationalist transhumanists find cosmism too close to religion, and traditional believers find cosmists heretic when we say that WE will remake the universe and resurrect the dead, and this is not against God’s plan but part of God’s plan.
To me, cosmism is a synthesis of the good aspects of transhumanism and traditional religion, without the bad aspects. And of course, cosmism is a vigorous, action-oriented philosophy of scientific progress and and space expansion.
Eltchaninoff describes the tensions but also the surprising synergies between Russian cosmism and the official Marxist ideology of the Soviet Union. The book is well researched with a lot of references, and made me aware of cosmist thinkers I wasn’t familiar with (e.g. Valerian Muraviev).
One thing I don’t like is that Eltchaninoff chose to end this otherwise brilliant book with cautionary and even defeatist remarks that seem intended to leave the reader with a bad final impression.
Eltchaninoff is also the author of “Dans la tête de Vladimir Poutine” (2015), a book that seems very relevant to today’s news.
Since 2020 I have been co-organizing and running Terasem Colloquia in July and December. Here are the videos of the last three Colloquia, featuring stellar thinkers like Howard Bloom, David Brin, Martine Rothblatt, Max More, and others: 1, 2, 3.
The July Colloquium, aka Terasem Space Day, will take place as usual on the anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon. Terasem Space Day (July 20 from 10am ET to 1pm ET, via Zoom) will cover cultural, philosophical, and spiritual aspects of spaceflight and space expansion.
Frank Tipler participated in the first Terasem event on July 20, 2005 (video). Chapter “Omega Point: Frank Tipler’s physics of immortality and Christianity” in my book “Tales of the Turing Church” is entirely dedicated to Tipler’s ideas. See also my 2016 video interview with Tipler. We were joined by Christian transhumanist Micah Redding at the end. Tipler sits on the Academic Advisory Council of the Christian Transhumanist Association.
Frank White coined the term “Overview Effect” to describe the powerful mind-changing and life-changing impact of seeing the Earth from space, and wrote a series of books starting with the seminal and very infuential “The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution” (first published in 1987). See also “The Cosma Hypothesis: Implications of the Overview Effect” (2018).
White extends James Lovelock’s concept of Gaia, the living Earth, to the whole universe. The universe itself will become a living whole and we are “actively encouraged by larger forces” to expand beyond the Earth and “help the universe become increasingly self-aware.”
See my book “Futurist spaceflight meditations” for my own related thoughts on the ultimate outcome of human expansion into the cosmos at large: we will create, or become part of, universal Mind.
I impatiently look forward to hearing the talks of Frank & Frank on July 20! We are finalizing the program of Terasem Space Day and will announce other speakers soon.
Cover picture from NASA.