Do We Need Death?

The title of this post is a rhetorical question for many of the readers here. Rainbough Phillips hits most of the necessary points related to this topic in a recent post on healthy life extension:

I take the somewhat Heinlein-ian approach that one who learns to live well can live well indefinitely, and that if one can live well indefinitely then there is no reason why they shouldn't.


I actually came to realize that a far stronger and more reliable impetus for learning and self improvement came from my own desire for growth, and that what I lacked was the belief in myself that I would carry out on that desire without some external pressure to do so.

I think the sentiment that life would be meaningless without death arises from a similar fear. Many individuals think that their friends, neighbors, loved ones, and even their selves will not rise to the occasion and make their lives meaningful and worth living without the certainty of death knocking on the door - as if our natural state is to drift towards a drone-like stupor and only the occasional midlife crisis can knock us out of it. Perhaps this is true for some, but it is not true for all, and I look instead at the valuable amount of time and resources devoted to death.


Without senescence (or rather with negligible senescence) we could save literally billions of dollars per year that is spent on fighting diseases brought on by old-age (various cancers, most type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis etc.).

We could curtail the extremely high prices of funerals, and funerary rituals - when your funeral is a ritual you choose to take on and plan rather than a cost foisted upon a grieving family that simply wants to get it over with, the entire market structure of the industry would change.

We could get rid of the billion dollar industry that sells snake-oil cures to curtail aging. From the makeup that promise to hide "fine lines and wrinkles" to the spa treatments designed to make you look 20 years younger, when senescence is a treatable illness treated by medical professionals instead of a private obsession and a daily gamble on the health and beauty isle, we'll be able to spend more time embracing life rather than searching for a fountain of youth.

These are only a few of the resources we could reclaim from senescence and death and spend instead on living.

Sadly, "do we need death?" is not a rhetorical question for most people. Acceptance, rationalization and defense of what is - no matter how terrible - are very human traits. There can never be too many people hammering on the points that Rainbough Phillips makes, the same points I and many others make. We need to continue to voice the obvious in order to make it widely heard and understood: that healthy life extension, medical research and the fight to cure aging are possible, plausible, necessary, desirable, greatly beneficial and ultimately ethical activities.


i want to death because i hate my self,and i hurt to some one(gowthgaman.a.g)

Posted by: ranju at April 19th, 2013 8:38 AM

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