His ideas to resurrect all the dead people paved the way for the modern exploration of space
Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov. Most inhabitants of planet earth have never heard of the man, but they will eventually.
A polymath and deeply spiritual, this Russian philosopher and resident librarian at the Rumyantsev library had advanced cutting-edge knowledge in many of the hard sciences. Known for his humility and ascetic life-style (he mostly ate dark bread, drank only tea with an occasional slice of cheese and slept on an old chest instead of a bed), Fyodorov was practically idolized by some of the leading minds of the late 19thcentury. Dostoevsky, Soloviev, Berdyaev and Tolstoy were in awe of this visionary. And rightfully so.
Fyodorov “walked the walk”, living his philosophy of life 24/7. Intentionally choosing poverty and chastity so he could focus entirely on knowledge acquisition, his words and actions were consistent, harmonious and always life-affirming.
Death, he said, is the true enemy and must be overcome. We should live forever. We should follow in Christ’s footsteps and defeat death so that all of mankind will live in a heaven on earth. Movements such as “futurism” and “cosmism” were directly influenced by Fyodorov’s ideas.
For quite some time, of course, almost all scientists thought he was – well… bonkers. His reputation, however, is beginning to get a make-over because of wide-spread interest in the medical community on the hot topic of immortality.
After Fyodorov’s death, a number of his followers gathered his notes and published a book entitled “The Resurrection Project”. Here’s a look at some of his main ideas…
Palingenesis: there is a genetic signature that remains in our bodies long after we die. We must – as a global community of loving souls – figure out a way to scientifically “resurrect” the bodies of our fathers, grandfathers and so on. Considered an absurd notion for more than a hundred years, some futurists are now enthusiastically working on this dream with serious research and experimentation.
On evolution: humankind evolved by force of will. We are bi-pedal not because our ancestors needed to “free up their hands” as Darwin believed, but because we “willed” ourselves to stand up-right. Anthropology has discredited Darwin’s theory on bi-pedalism incidentally. Our being, Fyodorov said, involves self-evolution as well as creating new external realities. Nature may have determined our biological make-up in the distant past, but now we are able to determine our own nature and create a new Nature. This notion foreshadowed the current transhumanist movement by more than half a century.
Leo Tolstoy introduced Fyodorov to a very bright young man while at the library. Impressed by the boy’s keen intellect, Fyodorov decided to take him on as a private student. The older scholar imbued and saturated the pupil’s mind with ideas such as: we humans are spiritually repulsed by the harshness, baseness and violence of nature and seek to overcome that which pulls us down towards this baseness. Our aspiration as a species is to rise above the dirt and mud, away from the earth. This is why we willed ourselves to stand up-right and walk on two feet. This is why we build tall skyscrapers – proof of our constant striving to rise above nature and its blind forces. In fact, if we could choose an image of humankind that expresses our true character, it would be a man standing on his toes reaching towards the stars.
By the way… the name of Fyodorov’s private student? It was Konstantin Tsiolkovsky – the father of Soviet rocketry.
The author is Professor of Humanities – Moscow University Touro.
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