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    Leading Chinese Philosopher’s Brain Cryopreserved in the US

    Unlike most people who opt for cryonics, Chinese enlightenment heavyweight Li Zehou was less interested in resurrection than what study of his brain could mean for science.
    Feb 07, 2024#ethics#science

    The brain of Li Zehou, one of China’s most renowned modern philosophers, has been preserved in a leading cryonics facility in the United States since his death in 2021, his friend has revealed.

    In an article published by academic news outlet Scholar on Saturday, Li’s biographer Ma Quanlin said the late professor’s brain was frozen after his death at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in the state of Arizona, citing information shared with him by Li’s son in December. 

    Li, who died at 91 years old, was known for his work in both Western and Chinese philosophy, including expertise regarding the work of Immanuel Kant. His work in the 1980s, including “The Path of Beauty” on Chinese aesthetics, is considered pivotal to the ushering in of a popular “fever” for culture and aesthetics among young intellectuals during that decade.

    Li expressed his wish to have his brain preserved as early as 2010, when he told domestic media outlet Southern Weekly that he hoped it could be investigated in the future for signs of Chinese culture.

    “If it’s proven that culture impacts the brain, I think it would be a greater achievement than all of my books combined,” Li said at the time.

    Established in 1972, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation hosted 225 humans as of Dec. 31, 2023. The “patients” are stored in extremely low temperatures in the hope that they can be revived one day if the technology to do so is developed.

    The center charges $200,000 for whole-body cryopreservation and $80,000 for cryopreservation of the brain, according to its website.

    In China, there are currently no laws prohibiting cryonics or cryopreservation. The country hosts one of a handful of human cryonics facilities in the world, the Shandong Yinfeng Life Science Research Institute, which carried out the first domestic cryopreservation of a human in May 2017.

    Domestic experts have raised ethical concerns about the practice, including questions about the responsibilities of cryonics providers and the rights of cryopreserved parties.

    Ten patients underwent cryopreservation in China from 2017 to 2022, Shanghai-based media outlet The Paper reported. 

    A graduate of Peking University’s philosophy department, Li spent the last three decades of his life teaching in the United States after leaving Beijing in 1992.

    Editor: Vincent Chow.

    (Header image: Li Zehou in Guiyang, Guizhou province, 2008. VCG)