Golems Among Us

Golems Among Us

by Byron L. Sherwin
     
 

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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

The Reporter
Fascinating…thoughtful, absorbing treatment.... Anyone looking to make intelligent decisions about the future would do well to read his work.
Lerner News-Star
Traces the golem story as a prelude to understanding the ways he finds it relevant to a number of modern issues.
Forward Magazine
Sherwin does a valuable service for the reader in presenting these novel parallels between the golem and problems in biotechnology.
Choice
This well–researched book looks at issues with which humanity needs to come to terms, both morally and ethically.
Lancet
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
Jewish Currents
A fascinating example of applied Jewish philosophy.... We can find…new language for expressing our commtiment to social justice.
Jewish Book World
Enchanting.... A captivating and significant book that is appropriate for the layperson as well as the scientist.
Judaism.Com
Fascinating.
Naturalgenesis.Net
An important, unique work.
Foreword Reviews
Sherwin does a valuable service for the reader in presenting these novel parallels between the golem and problems in biotechnology.
CHOICE
This well–researched book looks at issues with which humanity needs to come to terms, both morally and ethically.
ForeWord Reviews
Sherwin does a valuable service for the reader in presenting these novel parallels between the golem and problems in biotechnology.
Judaism.com
Fascinating.
Lee M. Silver
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.
Lori Andrews
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.
Lancet - Martha B. Holstein and Rabbi Peter S. Knobel
Provocative because it uses a legend about the creation of new beings as means for assessing all human power and potential.
Naturalgenesis.Net Naturalgenesis.Net Naturalgenesis.Net
An important, unique work.
NaturalGenesis.net
An important, unique work.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566635684
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
01/28/2004
Pages:
258
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.24(h) x 0.78(d)

What People are saying about this

LEE M. SILVER
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.
Ph.D., PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Martha B. Holstein
...Provocative because it uses a legend about the creation of new beings as means for assessing all human power and potential.
and Rabbi Peter S. Knobel, Lancet
LORI ANDREWS
Byron Sherwin's compassion, humor, and intellect provide a moral compass to help us navigate through astonishing, promising, and sometimes perilous developments in biotechnology.
AUTHOR OF FUTURE PERFECT: CONFRONTING DECISIONS ABOUT GENETICS
Jewish Book World
...Enchanting... A captivating and significant book that is appropriate for the layperson as well as the scientist.

Meet the Author

Byron L. Sherwin is a Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Mysticism at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago. Born in New York City, he studied at Columbia University, New York University, and the University of Chicago, and was ordained a rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is an internationally recognized authority on Jewish theology, ethics, and mystical traditions, and the prize-winning author of twenty-three books, including Crafting the Soul, Why Be Good?, and Jewish Ethics for the Twenty-first Century. He lives in Chicago.

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