Imagine a world where the normal human life span is 150 years, where worn-out vital organs are routinely replaced by spares, where after death you will retain consciousness for eternity in cyberspace, where nanotechnology will enable you to transform a plastic bottle into a filet mignon for you to share with your android spouse. Scientists anticipate such a world within a century. Even now many signs of such biotech "progress" are with us. Accelerating developments in genomics, reproductive biotechnology, bionics, artificial life, genetic engineering, and related fields are compelling us to reexamine our most deeply held beliefs about ourselves and our world. As we do, the figure of Victor Frankenstein and the monster he created looms large: many people today see our predicament through the lens of the Frankenstein story, whose lesson is that humans should not "play God" or tinker with the toolbox of nature, at the risk of tragedy and catastrophe. Yet there is an available alternative both to the Frankenstein vision and to the ebullient enthusiasm of those who anticipate a riskless future.
It is the most famous and influential post-biblical Jewish legend, the story of the golem - the creation of an anthropoid by mystical and magical means. Retold and embellished in twentieth-century literature, art, music, drama, film, science, technology, and popular culture, the golem legend has become a metaphor for our times, a resource for applying the wisdom of the past to the perplexities of the present and the challenges of the future. In Golems Among Us, Byron Sherwin briefly traces the fascinating history of the golem legend in Western culture, then shows what lessons it holds for us in navigating a safe journey - philosophically, theologically, ethically, and in public policy - through the minefield of social and biological engineering in which we now stand.
I enjoyed reading Sherwin's book which provided me with new insight into the foundation for a Jewish perspective of biotechnology. Its style of writing is accessible to lay people as well as scientists and scholars in the humanities. A nice critique of different religion-based approaches to bioethical decisions. -- Lee M. Silver, Ph.D., Author of Remaking Eden; Professor of Molecular Biology & Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Golems Among Us uses an ancient legend as a catalyst for a fascinating journey through laboratories, clinics, and courtrooms as we confront the impacts of cloning, genetic engineering, and the potential merger of man and machine. Byron Sherwin's compassion, humor, and intellect provide a moral compass to help us navigate through astonishing, promising, and sometimes perilous developments in biotechnology. -- Lori Andrews, Author of Future Perfect: Confronting Decisions About Genetics Traces the golem story as a prelude to understanding the ways he finds it relevant to a number of modern issues. Lerner News-Star Fascinating...thoughtful, absorbing treatment... Anyone looking to make intelligent decisions about the future would do well to read his work. The Reporter Sherwin does a valuable service for the reader in presenting these novel parallels between the golem and problems in biotechnology. Foreword Reviews This well-researched book looks at issues with which humanity needs to come to terms, both morally and ethically. CHOICE Provocative because it uses a legend about the creation of new beings as means for assessing all human power and potential. -- Martha B. Holstein and Rabbi Peter S. Knobel Lancet A fascinating example of applied Jewish philosophy... We can find...new language for expressing our commtiment to social justice. Jewish Currents Enchanting... A captivating and significant book that is appropriate for the layperson as well as the scientist. Jewish Book World Fascinating. Judaism.Com An important, unique work. Naturalgenesis.Net Naturalgenesis.Net Naturalgenesis.Net
Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 258
Published: 17th May 2004
Publisher: Ivan R Dee, Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.8
Weight (kg): 0.46