Is Socrates Immortal?

"I don't want immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying." —Woody Allen

It is through the work that we normally think about immortality. What we call immortal are the things, the works, that physically survive. We also consider deeds to be immortal, and these too may exist physically, in that they are written about in books. But deeds also exist in human minds. (Plato wrote about the deeds of Socrates.) Stories of deeds are also passed down by word of mouth, not just in books.
        Yet, both works and deeds are not really what define their creator as immortal. Being alive now is what defines immortality—as Woody clearly preferred. Those we consider immortal are alive in the words and deeds of those living now. The other day on CSPAN, I saw Neil DeGrasse Tyson speak on how his behavior towards students was shaped by Carl Sagan's behavior towards him when he was a student. In this way, among others, Sagan lives on in the deeds of the living.
        This is what digital immortality is all about. The common conception of immortality is that the works are immortal—and that's it. More accurately, the works (if they survive) are the possibility of immortality. It's only if those works affect living people, can they then be called immortal, i.e., living in the words and deeds of those alive now. Digital immortality extends the same possibility of immortality to all who take the extra steps to preserve their work and their words on the Internet. A possible immortality for the many, not the few—and for nearly everyone in modern technological societies.

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