Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov

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Nikolai Fyodorov
Pasternak fedorov.jpg
Nikolai Fyodorov by Leonid Pasternak
Born June 9, 1829
Tambov Governorate, Russian Empire
Died December 28, 1903(1903-12-28) (aged 74)
Moscow, Russian Empire
Era 19th-century philosophy
Region Russian philosophy
School Russian Transhumanism

Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov (Russian: Никола́й Фёдорович Фёдоров; surname also Anglicized as "Fedorov") (June 9, 1829 – December 28, 1903) was a Russian Orthodox Christian philosopher, who was part of the Russian cosmism movement and a precursor of transhumanism. Fyodorov advocated radical life extension, physical immortality and even resurrection of the dead, using scientific methods.

Biography[edit]

Fyodorov's parents were the Rurikid knyaz (noble) Pavel Ivanovich Gagarin and Elisaveta Ivanova, a woman of lower-class nobility.

He studied at the Richelieu Lyceum in Odessa. From 1854 to 1868, he served as a teacher in various small Russian towns. During 1878, he joined the Rumyantsev Museum staff as a librarian. Fyodorov opposed the idea of property of books and ideas and never published anything during his lifetime. His selected articles were printed posthumously with the title Philosophy of the Common Task (also known as Philosophy of Physical Resurrection).

Philosophy[edit]

Fyodorov was a futurist, who theorized about the eventual perfection of the human race and society (i.e., utopia), including radical ideas like immortality, revival of the dead, space and ocean colonization. His writings greatly influenced mystic Peter Uspensky. He also had direct contact with early rocket theorist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky who visited the library where he worked over a 3-year period. He was also known to Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Mankind’s Common Cause[edit]

Fedorov argued that evolutionary process was directed towards increased intelligence and its role in the development of life. Man is the culmination of evolution, as well as its creator and director. He must direct it where his reason and morality dictate. Fedorov noted that mortality is the most obvious indicator of the yet imperfect, contradictory nature of Man and the deep reason for most evil and nihilism of man and mankind. Fedorov argued that the struggle against death can become the most natural cause uniting all people of Earth, regardless of their nationality, race, citizenship or wealth (he called this the Common Cause).

Fedorov thought that death and afterdeath existence should become the subject of comprehensive scientific inquiry. Achieving immortality and revival is the greatest goal of science. And this knowledge must leave the laboratories and become the common property of all: "Everyone must be learning and everything be the subject of knowledge and action".

Two reasons for death[edit]

Human life, emphasized Fedorov, dies for two reasons. First is internal: due to the material organization of a human, his functionality is incapable of infinite self-renewal. To overcome this, psychophysiological regulation of human organisms is needed. The second reason is the spontaneous nature of the external environment, its destructive character that must be overcome with regulation of nature. Regulation of nature, “introducing will and reason into nature” includes, according to Fedorov, prevention of natural disasters, control of Earth's climate, fight against viruses and epidemics, mastery of solar power, space exploration and unlimited creative work there.

Immortality for all[edit]

Achieving immortality and revival of all people who ever lived are two inseparable goals, according to Fedorov. Immortality is impossible, both ethically and physically, without revival. We can’t concede that our ancestors, who gave us life and culture, are left to die, that our relatives and friends die. Achieving immortality for living individuals and future generations is only a partial victory over death, only the first stage. The complete victory will be achieved only when everyone is returned to a transformed immortal life.

Restoring life and making it infinite[edit]

Fedorov tried to plan specific actions for scientific research of the possibility of restoring life and making it infinite. His first project is connected with collecting and synthesizing decayed remains of dead based on "knowledge and control over all atoms and molecules of the world". This idea of Fedorov is related to the modern practice of cloning. The second method described by Fedorov is genetic-hereditary. The revival could be done successively in the ancestral line: sons and daughters restore their fathers and mothers, they in turn restore their parents and so on. This means restoring the ancestors using the hereditary information that they passed on to their children. Using this genetic method it is only possible to create a genetic twin of the dead person (the problem of identity in cloning). It is necessary to give back the revived person his old mind, his personality. Fedorov speculates about the idea of “radial images” that may contain the personalities of the people and survive after death. Nevertheless, Fedorov noted that even if a soul is destroyed after death, Man will learn to restore it whole by mastering the forces of decay and fragmentation.

Transformation of past physical forms[edit]

The revival of people who lived during the past is not a recreation of their past physical form — it was imperfect, parasitic, centered on mortal existence. The idea is to transform it into self-creating, mind-controlled form, capable of infinite renewal, which is immortal. Those who haven’t died will go through the same transformation. The man will have to become a creator and organizer of his organism (“our body will be our business”). In the past the development of civilization happened by increasing human power using external tools and machines — the human body remained imperfect.

Transhumanism[edit]

Fedorov stated that people needed to reconcile the difference between the power of technology and weakness of the human physical form. The transition is overdue from purely technical development, a “prosthetic” civilization, to organic progress, when not just external tools, artificial implements, but the organisms themselves are improved, so that, for example, a man can fly, see far and deep, travel through space, live in any environment. Man must become capable of “organodevelopment” that so far only nature was capable of. Fedorov discussed supremacy of mind, “giving, developing organs for itself” and anticipated V. Vernadsky’s idea of autotrophic man. He argues that a man must become an autotrophic, self-feeding creature, acquire a new mode of energy exchange with the environment that will not end.

Fedorov repeatedly said that only general scientific studies of aging, death, after death condition, only the science that strives to achieve a transformed immortal life, can reveal the means to overcome death.

Fedorov's quotes[edit]

Fedorov's criticism of philosophers: How unnatural it is to ask, ‘Why does that which exists, exist?' and yet how completely natural it is to ask, ‘Why do the living die?‘

Popular culture[edit]

Fedorov's thought is extensively though indirectly referenced in the well-regarded 2010 science fiction novel The Quantum Thief; it is implied that the founders of the post-human collective of uploaded minds called the Sobornost were inspired by Fedorov and other thinkers associated with cosmism.

The 2013 novel Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux imagines Fedorov's ideas of the Common Task being developed by Soviet and post-Soviet research to implant a mind into another body using an encoded lexicon from the original mind and an unspecified, but painful, Procedure.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Nikolai Berdyaev, The Religion of Resusciative Resurrection. "The Philosophy of the Common Task of N. F. Fedorov.
  • Nader Elhefnawy, 'Nikolai Fedorov and the Dawn of the Posthuman', in The Future Fire 9 (2007).
  • Ludmila Koehler, N.F. Fedorov: the Philosophy of Action Institute for the Human Sciences, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 1979. AlibrisID: 8714504160
  • History of Russian Philosophy «История российской Философии» (1951) by N. O. Lossky. Publisher: Allen & Unwin, London ASIN: B000H45QTY International Universities Press Inc NY, NY ISBN 978-0-8236-8074-0 sponsored by Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary.
  • Ed Tandy, N.F. Fedorov, Russian Come-Upist, Venturist Voice, Summer 1986.
  • G. M. Young, Nikolai F. Fedorov: An Introduction Nordland Publishing Co., Belmont, MA, USA, 1979.
  • George M. Young, "The Russian Cosmists: The Esoteric Futurism of Nikolai Fedorov and hos Followers" Oxford University Press, New York, 2012.
  • Taras Zakydalsky Ph.D. thesis, N. F. Fyodorov's Philosophy of Physical Resurrection Bryn Mawr, 1976, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

External links[edit]