Philip Ball 'Unnatural: The Heretical idea of Making People'Activity by Jacqui Colgate | added on Jan 26, 2011 | United Kingdom
This question has been asked for many centuries, and has produced recipes ranging from the homunculus of the medieval alchemists and the clay golem of Jewish legend to Frankenstein’s monster and the mass-produced test-tube babies in Brave New World
This question has been asked for many centuries, and has produced recipes ranging from the homunculus of the medieval alchemists and the clay golem of Jewish legend to Frankenstein’s monster and the mass-produced test-tube babies in Brave New World. All of these efforts to create artificial people are more or less fanciful, but they have taken deep root in Western culture. They all express fears about the allegedly treacherous, Faustian nature of technology, and they all question whether any artificially created person can be truly human. Legends of people-making are tainted by suspicions of impiety and hubris, and they are regarded as the ultimate ‘unnatural’ act – a moral judgement that has its origins in religious thought. In this lecture, Philip Ball delves beneath the surface of the cultural history of ‘anthropoeia’ – the creation of artificial people – to explore what it tells us about our views on life, humanity, creativity and technology, and the soul.
Philip Ball is a freelance science writer and broadcaster. He worked previously at Nature for over 20 years, first as an editor for physical sciences and then as a Consultant Editor. Philip is the author of several popular books on science, including works on the nature of water, pattern formation in the natural world, colour in art, and the science of social and political philosophy. He has written widely on the interactions between art and science, and has delivered lectures to scientific and general audiences at venues ranging from the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) to the NASA Ames Research Center and the London School of Economics. He is also Science Writer in Residence at the Department of Chemistry, University College London.
Ramsay Lecture Theatre, Christopher Ingold Laboratories, UCL, 20 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0AJ
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Lecture is free to attend.