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Becoming Immortal

Combining Cloning and Stem-Cell Therapy

Stanley Shostak

Publication Year: 2002

Providing the philosophical, practical, and theoretical leverage for abandoning evolution and development in favor of engineering human beings, Becoming Immortal examines the directions biological change might take if civilization were to take charge of its own destiny. With the aid of embryonic manipulation, cloning, and stem-cell therapy, immortality would seem within the reach of future generations. The question is, “Do we presently have the wisdom to undertake creating immortal organisms?” The author examines every facet of this question, from theory to practice, and provides an answer through an in-depth analysis of life and death.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page

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pp. iii


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pp. iv


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Expecting to relax during a routine flight home, I casually glanced through the contents of the airline's magazine and practically suffered a heart attack. The first feature article was entitled, ''How to Live Forever''!1 Believing for a moment that Becoming Immortal had been scooped, I tore through the magazine only to find that the article concerned achieving enduring fame not eternal life. Relieved but not soothed, I imagined that others, glancing at the title of my book, might think that I was writing out of narcissism or wishful...

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pp. xi-xii

Looking into my mind's rearview mirror, I see that research for Becoming Immortal actually began when, as a child, like many other children, I was prone to ask ''Why?'' questions. The most burning of these questions was, ''Why do we have to grow up [and die]?'' This question burns with an even hotter flame today but now in a more academic form: Why did life evolve a dynamics in which living things are constantly exchanged? Why didn't a stasis evolve in which living things remained more or less constant? ...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-43

...Nothing it would seem, short of extinction, will stop further change, but, by and large, scientists are not thinking about our present status as a species and are hardly contemplating how we might change in the future. Biologists do not get serious for several reasons about characterizing human life as such and projecting its future. The most compelling reason is that there would be hell to pay from both left and right of the political spectrum. Charges of ''Fascist!'' would roar from the left, and...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 45-80

...But as powerful as it is, evolution cannot harness immortality and turn human beings from a species of mortal Homo sapiens forma mortalis, into one of immortal Homo sapiens forma immortalis. The problem is that evolution places a high premium on reproduction which immortality will not pay. Evolution also relies on the inheritance of genes, and there are no genes for immortality. Immortality cannot evolve because it does not pay obeisance to reproduction and lacks the genetic underpinnings that can be passed on through...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 81-124

Why don't organisms such as ourselves develop immortality? The short answer is that immortality cannot develop because development reproduces mortal human beings not immortal ones. The ''eternal return'' does not have an option. That said, the question is, ''Can anything be done about it?'' Here the answer is ''Not as long as development is left to its own devices.'' What then must be done to develop immortal human beings? Now the answer gets a bit more complicated and lengthy &mdash hence Chapter 3. ...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 125-164

The time has come to turn the tables on impossibilities. Chapter 4 shows how some of our fundamental biological features make immortality a doable goal. Chapters 2 and 3 have only shown that immortality would not emerge in human beings left to the normal courses of evolution and development. But development and evolution are only two of life's key characteristics. Life has other characteristics, some of which would aid immortality and some would even abet it. ...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 165-193

...The means are remarkably short, simple, and straightforward. Human beings can be immortalized by providing them with a new organ, a generator of self-renewing stem-cells derived from a clone. Internalized as a blastocyst in the pre-gonadal tissue of an embryo, the generator will provide an eternal source of exotic stem (es) cells (''exotic'' in the biological sense of not endemic). The immortalized person will be sterile and remain at a preadolescent physiological age forever but otherwise appear and be perfectly normal. ...

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Epilogue: Reprise and Prediction

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pp. 195-208

Becoming Immortal began by examining the biological premises that challenge prospects for making immortal human beings and ended by laying out the technical possibilities for doing just that. In this epilogue, I examine what immortals would be and what life would be like in a world shared with immortals. The immortal human being would resemble extant mortal preadolescent human beings of about eleven years of age, with an individual appearance (phenotype) acquired through the interaction of hereditary material (genotype) with a...


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pp. 209-240


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pp. 241-262


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pp. 263-292


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pp. 293-309

E-ISBN-13: 9780791488416
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791454015
Print-ISBN-10: 0791454010

Page Count: 322
Illustrations: 9 figures
Publication Year: 2002