What is the value of being human? And what are the costs of letting that go?
These big questions are what originally inspired UWindsor professor Jeff Noonan to study philosophy, so he was happy to explore them in his book, Embodiment and the Meaning of Life, which will enjoy a public launch Wednesday, April 18.
“I wanted to write a philosophy book that tries to get beyond the present moment,” he says. “I think I got out what I was trying to say.”
In it, he tackles two competing schools of thought — a pessimistic view that it is wrong to bring sentient life into existence because birth inevitably produces suffering, and a more recent development that he terms “technotopianism,” which proposes to escape sickness and death through radical human-enhancement technologies.
In fact, says Dr. Noonan, these are mirror-images of each other
“They both despise what makes mortal life good,” he says.
He argues that having to confront illness and mortality forces humanity to find the goodness in the finitude of life.
“An essential part of what it is to be human is having to cede one’s place,” Noonan says.
The book is timely, he believes, since technology is now approaching new frontiers: “I think we’re becoming seduced by the illusion that what is essentially human can be downloaded into machines. The book tries to show why we cannot.”
The launch event is free and open to the public, Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Sandwich Brewing Company, 3230 Sandwich Street.