Visions of Immortality

All human beings must confront their own mortality. While science and medicine have helped us to extend the natural length of a human life, they have not yet brought us a way to cheat death. Despite this, many believe that there is something more, that death is not the final end.

In this five-part series, sponsored by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation, we ask some fundamental questions about what it means to live a mortal life, and what an immortal life—be it biological, technological, or spiritual—might be like.

Would we want immortality, of any kind, were it possible? How would living forever change our values, relationships, and priorities? What might the eternal life of the soul actually look like? Do different cultural visions of immortality make different philosophical assumptions about the nature of the self, and what it would mean for it to persist in some form beyond the death of the body? And how does the knowledge that others will live on after we die give our earthly lives purpose and meaning?

Vision of Immortality

Episode Title Guest Related Content

The Lure of Immortality

John M. Fischer, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of California Riverside

Immortality: Hume and Boswell

What's Next? Death and the Afterlife

Richard Swinburne, Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion, University of Oxford

Is There Life (or Anything) After Death?

Reincarnation - Past Lives, Future Selves

Robert Thurman, Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies, Columbia University


The Technology of Immortality

Kevin O'Neill, Professor of Philosophy, University of Redlands

Technological Immortality

Living On Through Others

Samuel Scheffler, Professor of Philosophy, New York University

Collective Immortality: Living on Through Others