—Letter to Jacques Dubourg, April 1773 Eternal life may come within our reach once we understand enough about how our knowledge and mental processes are embodied in our brains.For then we should be able to duplicate that information — and then into more robust machinery.
For as early as 250 BCE, Archimedes was well on the way toward modern physics and calculus.
So in an alternate version of history (in which the pursuit of science did not decline) just a few more centuries could have allowed the likes of Newton, Maxwell, Gauss, and Pasteur to anticipate our present state of knowledge about physics, mathematics, and biology.
Thenperhaps by 300 AD we could have learned so much about the mechanics of minds that citizens could decide on the lengths of their lives.
World Peace I'm optimistic about the sustainability of materil progress, but since I'm known for that, I'll refrain.
Instead I want to express optimism about world politics, especially about world peace. There are only minor wars and no present prospect of a major war threatening western civilization and its present extensions to the actually developing countries. Contrast this with the time between 19, when there were serious attempts at world domination accompanied by at least three genocides.
Admittedly something bad and surprising could happen.100 years ago, in 1907, no-one predicted such troubles as happened.Even in April 1914, Bertrand Russell could write: "To us, to whom safety has become monotony, to whom the primeval savageries of nature are so remote as to become a mere pleasing condiment to our ordered routine, the world of dreams is very different from what it was amid the wars of Guelf and Ghibelline.Hence William James's protest against what he calls the "block universe" of the classical tradition; hence Nietsche's worship of force; hence the verbal bloodthirstiness of many quiet literary men.The barbaric substratum of human nature, unsatisfied in action, finds an outlet in imagination.In philosophy, as elsewhere, this tendency is visible; and it is this, rather than formal argument, that has thrust aside the classical tradition for a philosophy which fancies itself more virile and more vital." It is important that the political causes of the 20th century disasters, virulent and militaristic nationalism accompanied by letting one man take power, do not exist in major countries today. The green movement is accompanied by occasional minor violence, but a green Hitler or Stalin seems unnlikely. As Stephen Hawking advocates, humanity would be safer if it expanded beyond the earth. to invent a method of embalming drowned persons, in such a manner that they might be recalled to life at any period, however distant; for having a very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America a hundred years hence, I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country! in all probability, we live in a century too little advanced, and too near the infancy of science, to see such an art brought in our time to its perfection.