The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death by John Gray - review by Raymond Tallis

Raymond Tallis

Happily Ever After?

The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death

By

Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 273pp £18.99 order from our bookshop
 

John Gray, a political philosopher who spent much of his academic career attacking the Enlightenment, has in recent years turned his gaze on his entire species, whom he has renamed Homo rapiens. Since Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, he has held his fellows up to ridicule as deluded self-flatterers whose dreams of progress have had catastrophic consequences not only for mankind but for the planet unfortunate to have been infested by them. Contrary to what they think, humans are ‘not obviously worth preserving’, since ‘human life has no more meaning than the life of slime mould’. No wonder he sees climate change as ‘a mechanism through which the planet eases its human burden’.

His moral revulsion at his fellows is supplemented by mockery of their claims to have objective knowledge, and in his eagerness to prosecute his case he does not shrink from apparent self-contradiction. Darwin, he tells us, has taught us that ‘the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth’,

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