Leaving the Body Behind: A History

Bild: Camille Flammarion, 1888; Color : Hugo Heikenwaelder, 1998, wikimedia.org/CC-BY-SA-3.0/ bearb.: bb
Over the past week, Motherboard has tackled the question of whether or not the human body is becoming obsolete from a variety of angles, from immortality to killer robots. The very fact that we are able to realistically pose this question is itself a meaningful sign of the times, indicating that we may  finally be on the threshold of abandoning the natural human body.

By Becky Ferreira|MOTHERBOARD

As I wrote earlier this week, the pursuit of a better body has been going on for at least 40,000 years, and has manifested itself in everything from zoomorphic religious sculptures to the incredible capabilities of modern prosthetics.

Still, even this long and storied history pales in comparison to the quest to abandon our meatbag bodies completely. In fact, achieving total incorporeality is arguably the most persistent preoccupation of our species, whether it takes the form of belief in a spirit-based afterlife, an out-of-body experience, or in the brave new world of the 21st century, uploading our brains into a digital format.

It’s impossible to pin down exactly where this obsession with immateriality originated or why it is such a powerful cross-cultural force. But speculatively speaking, the smart money is that it has something to do with the epic bummer that is mortality.

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