Eternalism is a philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time, which takes the view that all existence in time is equally real, as opposed to presentism or the growing block universetheory of time, in which at least the future is not the same as any other time. Some forms of eternalism give time a similar ontology to that of space, as a dimension, with different times being as real as different places, and future events are «already there» in the same sense other places are already there, and that there is no objective flow of time. It is sometimes referred to as the «block time» or «block universe» theory due to its description of space-time as an unchanging four-dimensional «block», as opposed to the view of the world as a three-dimensional space modulated by the passage of time.
The human condition is based on the fact that our time on earth is limited. But perhaps not for much longer: new advances in science and technology aim to create biological and virtual immortality. Research companies such as SENS, Forever Healthy, BioViva but also HelixNano and Google are trying to find ways to undo the ageing process. They treat aging no longer as a characteristic of the human experience, but as a curable disease that can be countered via damage repair processes. At the same time, tech companies are also able to digitally replicate personalities through mass data capture. This type of ‘brain dump’ will enable the creation of a simulated mind that continues to behave and communicate one behalf of it owner after biological death. Some futurists fantasize about mind uploading whereby the self is transferred to a computer.
Whether or not we will actually be able to create eternal life on earth will remain to be seen, but its prospect poses a plethora of new questions. This conference focuses on the relationship between immortality and human memory, and explores the implications for conceptualisation of memory when humans no longer have a definite expiry date.
How do we deal with a purposeless universe and the finality of death? From Victorian séances to the embalming of Lenin’s corpse to schemes for uploading our minds into cyberspace, there have have been numerous attempts to deny man’s mortality. Why can’t we accept the limits of science?