Archive for the ‘longevity’ tag: Page 12

Apr 12, 2013

Killing Deathist Cliches: “Death Gives Meaning to Life” is Meaningless!

Posted by in categories: ethics, life extension, philosophy

Le Petit Trépas

One common argument against Radical Life Extension is that a definitive limit to one’s life – that is, death – provides some essential baseline reference, and that it is only in contrast to this limiting factor that life has any meaning at all. In this article I refute the argument’s underlying premises, and then argue that even if such premises were taken as true, its conclusion – that eradicating death would negate the “limiting factor” that legitimizes life — is also invalid.

Death gives meaning to life? No! Death makes life meaningless!

One version of the argument, which I’ve come across in a variety of places, is given in Brian Cooney’s Posthuman, an introductory philosophical text that uses various futurist scenarios and concepts to illustrate the broad currents of Western Philosophy. Towards the end he makes his argument against immortality, claiming that if we had all the time in the universe to do what we wanted, then we wouldn’t do anything at all. Essentially, his argument boils down to ‘if there is no possibility of not being able to do something in the future, then why would we ever do it?”.

This assumes that we make actions on the basis of not being able to do them again. But people don’t make decisions this way. We didn’t go out to dinner because the restaurant was closing down… we went out for dinner because we wanted to go out for dinner… I think that Cooney’s version of the argument is naïve. We don’t make the majority of our decisions by contrasting an action to the possibility of not being able to do it in future.

His argument seems to be that if there were infinite time then we would have no way of prioritizing our actions. If we had a list of all possible actions set before us, and time were limitless, we might (according to his logic) accomplish all the small, negligible things first, because they’re easier and all the hard things can wait. If we had all the time in the world, we would have no reference point with which to judge how important a given action or objective is, which ones it is most important to get done, and which ones should get done in the place of other possibilities. If we really can do every single thing on that listless list, then why bother, if each is as important as every other? In his line-of-reasoning, importance requires scarcity. If we can do everything it were possible to do, then there is nothing that determines one thing as being more important than another. A useful analogy might be that current economic definitions of value require scarcity. If everything were as abundant as everything else, if nothing were scarce, then we would have no way of ascribing economic value to a given thing, such that one thing has more economic value than another. What we sometimes forget is that ecologies aren’t always like economies.

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Apr 7, 2013

4 in 5 Americans Don’t Think That Death Exists?!

Posted by in category: life extension

heaven4 This essay was one of Transhumanity’s biggest hits last month, getting about 1200 hits in its first week, as well as 87 up-votes and 93 comments on Reddit within 2 days. A shortened version is currently the 3rd most-viewed article on ImmortalLife

“Our hope of immortality does not come from any religions, but nearly all religions come from that hope.” — Robert Green Ingersoll

Recent polls indicate that 80% of Americans and over 50% of global citizens believe in an afterlife. I argue that conceptions of death which include or allow for the possibility of an afterlife are not only sufficiently different from conceptions of death devoid of an afterlife as to necessitate that they be given their own term and separate designation, but that such afterlife-inclusive notions of death constitute the very antithesis of afterlife-devoid conceptions of death! Not only are they sufficiently different as to warrant their own separate designations, but afterlife-inclusive conceptions of death miss the very point of death – its sole defining attribute or categorical-qualifier as such. The defining characteristic is not its specific details (e.g. whether physical death counts as death if the mind isn’t physical, as in substance dualism); its defining characteristic is the absence of life and subjectivity. Belief in an afterlife is not only categorically dissimilar but actually antithetical to conceptions of death precluding an afterlife. Thus to believe in heaven is to deny the existence of death!

The fact that their belief involves metaphysical, rather than physical, continuation isn’t a valid counter-argument. To argue via mind-body dualism that the mind is metaphysical, and thus will continue on in a metaphysical realm (i.e. heaven), in this specific case makes no difference. Despite not being physical in such an argument, its relation to the metaphysical realm is the same as the relation of physical objects to the physical realm. It operates according to the “rules” and “causal laws” of the metaphysical realm, and so for all effective purposes can be considered physical in relation thereto, in the same sense that physical objects can be considered physical in relation to physical reality.

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Apr 4, 2013

An Open Letter to Death

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, homo sapiens, life extension, media & arts

lifebFreedom fironically found in flesh, not knowing whe’er I’m foul or fowl… tickly bound neath trickly form twisting and more unfresh as dawn upon dawn dies in menstrual skyfire like blood made light — a mocking microcosm of my own transubstantiation from rotting viscera to lightstorm infinity?

Just what sick joke is this? To wake and ache and dream and be and become! – and then to die..? To culminate the very universe itself!.. and then to simply die?! For what I ask you! What! Death… what audacious greed! What reckless squander and heedless extravagance!

Guttural red fringed black a bulbous muck death bastphelgmy! We cannot comprehend the sheer stature of death and so hurriedly cover the unknown with a word to hold it in hand and at a distance, to doubt no doubt.

O pallid heavens! O incessant sun undaunted by my barrenaked finitude! O fetid sanctity wet and redragged as the sickly bloom of jagged flesh! O putrid night sky serene despite my spat fury; as I ebb and ember a’roil withinside my sadness unbelieving and hysteric animal heat that vile sun and auster night jaunt their jeer and mock the rude squall of my panicstrewn death nonetheless.

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Nov 13, 2012

The importance of using the correct terms

Posted by in categories: life extension, transparency

Humans have questioned death, and have searched for immortality since they first became conscious of the finiteness of life. Many modern humans are now confident (or at least hopeful) that it may be possible to achieve immortality, perhaps by using technological advances. This is a myth. It is against the laws of physics (think of entropy) for anyone to become immortal, so it will not happen.

Let me clarify what I mean. The term ‘immortal’ literally means someone who never dies, i.e. lives forever. But ‘forever’ means really forever, more than 50 trillion years, until the end of time. In the foreseeable future (the future which is relevant to us alive today) this is just plain nonsense. If the term is nonsense, then it should not be used. Better terms may be ‘longevity’, or ‘extreme lifespan’ which means to live for many years, without stipulating a number. Extreme longevity, or extreme life extension is not immortality. One may be able to live for 1000 years, and then still die. Another suitable term could be ‘indefinite lifespan’ which is the absence of a sustained increase of mortality as a function of age (i.e. it is the absence of death due to aging). These terms denote something feasible, something that can be achieved with the use of near-term future technology.

Another legitimate term to use is ‘Human Biological Immortality’. This is a strict term used in biology to refer to the decrease of the rate of cellular mortality as a function of age. It is, in other words, similar to the term ‘indefinite lifespan’. Here the emphasis is on indefinite, and not on infinite.

I believe that certain humans will be able to live indefinitely (50 years, 500 years, no a priori limit) and that this will happen after a combination of natural evolutionary events ( enhanced and accelerated by science and technology (…l-brain/). Death by aging will be abolished, and people will only die from accidents, illnesses etc. We will still be mortal.

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