Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs
Grant Recipients 
Religion, Progress, and Innovation in the Contemporary World
The Transhumanist Imagination: Innovation, Secularization, and Eschatology
Award Amount: $200,000
PIs: Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and J. Benjamin Hurlbut
Sponsoring Institution: The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, Arizona State University

Summary Observations and Major Outputs

The Project addresses meta-questions posed by the RIHA program by highlighting the connection between reason, religion, and imagined futures. More specifically the Project seeks to accomplish the following goals: expose the transformation of traditional Judeo-Christian motifs in the presumably secularist discourse of transhumanism; highlight the causal relationship between visions of the eschaton and interpretation of technological innovation; explore how the imagination of the future mobilizes human behavior in a given socio-cultural context, especially in regard to innovation; shed new light on the connection between religion and innovation in the modern world; expose the internal contradictions within the transhumanist imagination; and offer a critical vantage point from which to assess the cultural impact of transhumanism and from which to discern the wider cultural and historical moment of which transhumanism is an expression. Transhumanism serves as a particularly noteworthy expression of the postsecular moment, and thus as a fruitful context through which to interrogate the interplay of eschatological vision, projects of technological innovation, and forms of normative imagination in modern secular societies. The expected outcomes include: an international research symposium in Germany; an edited volume of the symposium proceedings; publications of essays in academic journals; and reports in The New Atlantis and Slate.

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson is director of Jewish Studies and the Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism at Arizona State University. She is author or editor of several books, including Happiness in Premodern Judaism: Virtue, Knowledge, and Well-Being (Hebrew Union College Press, 2003) and co-editor of Building Better Humans? – Refocusing the Debate on Transhumanism (Peter Lang GmbH, 2011).

J. Benjamin Hurlbut is assistant professor of biology and society at Arizona State University. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Program on Science, Technology and Society at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is an author of several scholarly articles in scientific journals

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