Space and Society

Extraterrestrial Intelligence and Human Imagination

SETI at the Intersection of Science, Religion, and Culture

Authors: Traphagan, John W.

  • Raises important questions about how scientific aims and assumptions can be shaped by culture and influenced by religious views
  • Explores the overlap between culture, religion and SETI from the perspective of anthropology
  • Challenges several widely held assumptions within the SETI community concerning the nature of contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence
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  • ISBN 978-3-319-10551-2
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Hardcover $99.00
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  • ISBN 978-3-319-10550-5
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About this book

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) represents one of the most significant crossroads at which the assumptions and methods of scientific inquiry come into direct contact with—and in many cases conflict with—those of religion. Indeed, at the core of SETI is the same question that motivates many interested in religion: What is the place of humanity in the universe? Both scientists involved with SETI (and in other areas) and those interested in and dedicated to some religious traditions are engaged in contemplating these types of questions, even if their respective approaches and answers differ significantly. This book explores this intersection with a focus on three core points: 1) the relationship between science and religion as it is expressed within the framework of SETI research, 2) the underlying assumptions, many of which are tacitly based upon cultural values common in American society, that have shaped the ways in which SETI researchers have conceptualized the nature of their endeavor and represented ideas about the potential influence contact might have on human civilization, and 3) what sort of empirical evidence we might be able to access as a way of thinking about the social impact that contact with alien intelligence might have for humanity, from both religious and cultural perspectives. The book  developed as a result of a course the author teaches at the University of Texas at Austin: Religion, Science, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

About the authors

Dr. John W. Traphagan is a Professor of Religious Studies and Centennial Commission in the Liberal Arts Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Traphagan holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh, an MAR in social and religious ethics from Yale University, and a BA in political science from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.  Dr. Traphagan’s research interests revolve around the intersection between culture and science and have explored issues such as the cultural construction of illness in Japan, concepts of autonomy in biomedical ethics, and the relationship between culture, religion and science in the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence.  He has published numerous articles and chapters in anthropology, medical and religious studies journals and books and is the author of Taming Oblivion: Aging Bodies and the Fear of Senility in Japan (SUNY Press, 2000); The Practice of Concern: Ritual, Well-Being and Aging in Rural Japan (Carolina Academic Press, 2004); and Rethinking Autonomy: A Critique of Principlism in Biomedical Ethics (SUNY 2013).  

Table of contents (6 chapters)

  • Thinking About Religion and Science

    Traphagan, John

    Pages 1-16

  • A Brief History of Thinking About ETI

    Traphagan, John

    Pages 17-33

  • Are We Alone? The Emergence of SETI

    Traphagan, John

    Pages 35-52

  • Culture, Intelligence, and ETI

    Traphagan, John

    Pages 53-71

  • Knowledge Production in the Encounter with Alien Others

    Traphagan, John

    Pages 73-86

Buy this book

eBook $69.99
price for USA (gross)
valid through November 5, 2017
  • ISBN 978-3-319-10551-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-10550-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Extraterrestrial Intelligence and Human Imagination
Book Subtitle
SETI at the Intersection of Science, Religion, and Culture
Authors
Series Title
Space and Society
Copyright
2015
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
Springer International Publishing Switzerland
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-10551-2
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-10551-2
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-10550-5
Series ISSN
2199-3882
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
X, 110
Number of Illustrations and Tables
1 illustrations in colour
Topics