"Because I Want To" and the Nature of the Era

A good many people don't want to live longer healthy lives. That's their choice and you have to respect it, no matter how they arrived at their present view, or how much you suspect they'll change their tune later once health crumbles and the science of longevity looks even more feasible. One of the most fundamental freedoms is the freedom to wind down your life in the manner of your own choosing - a freedom that's actually sadly lacking these days. If you can't even die on your own terms without government employees hounding you to obey just how deep are the depths of your slavery?

A related aspect of this age of gargantuan, proactive government is that "because I want to" has fallen out of favor as a permissible answer. No-one should feel pressure to provide any other reason for their private, personal decisions. But justifications are the spirit of the era; every personal choice must be justified, or it has no value - with the implied message being that Big Brother will take your toys away if you can't put up a good legal defense of your own decisions. All that is not permitted is forbidden: the totalitarian urge that seeths in every growing system of government.

You see this need to justify in all sorts of debates and dialogs, and it seems to me an inadvertently learned echo of the sort of nonsense that permeates the political sphere. People will trot out any talking point, no matter how nonsensical or debunked, to avoid the appearance of a choice made without "justification." The rot is deep, sadly. I leave it up to you to decide how contributing factors to this behavior are split between evolved human nature (the ape's desire for hierarchy, approval, and walking with the crowd) and the specific culture in which people learn how to be civilized (or "civilized" as the case may be).

So, you see points of view rather like this one I noticed today, a fellow who doesn't want to live longer.

Still, the practical is less important to me than the ethical and theological problems surrounding the death of death; even if we could do this for everyone, would ending illness and death be a good thing?

For humanitarian reasons, I concur with Dr. de Grey: In general, I believe we have a responsibility to alleviate pain and suffering, and I try to live my life around this belief.

But...

The gist of it is that he grasps all the humanitarian arguments for ending the suffering and death of aging, but says "not for me, and not a good idea for anyone else" with the flimsiest of points or unexamined beliefs as cover. It actually covers many of the common items put forward by people who try to justify their instinctive discomfort with change of the magnitude implied by radical life extension, all of which are paper-thin objections.

The lesson to take away here, I think, is that arguments against engineered healthy longevity and elimination of age-related disease are not always what they seem to be at the surface. Sometimes they are sincere, sometimes they are group membership flags, waved to show you're a Malthusian / environmentalist / other form of human being who advocates courses of action that would condemn billions to death, and sometimes they are no more than the unexamined fig leaves grasped by someone who was educated to believe that "because I want to" is unacceptable.

Comments

What's up with the anti-environmentalism, and general right wing lunacy?

Environmentalists 'advocate courses of action that would condemn billions to death'?

Please stick to topic, and leave the crazy winger viewpoints out of it. This site is meant to be about life extension, not your particular political pathology.

Posted by: pretendperson at May 24th, 2009 12:21 AM

See:

http://lemay.ws/Papers/8415.htm

for the sort of thing I'm thinking of when the cost of environmentalism comes up (though written from a political perspective other than my own, and flawed in its own way). Then stretch it out for decades or the rest of the century. Mainstream environmentalism is very much a relinquishment-based philosophy, informed by Malthusian ideals, and requiring co-option of government power to force those ideals upon others.

Relinquishment or even slowing of technological progress is exactly a matter of condemning vast numbers of people to suffering and death that might otherwise have been prevented.

Posted by: Reason at May 24th, 2009 12:50 AM

RIGHT - A recent blog post accused the Methuselah Foundation of being "anti-Death" as though that were an extreme position to take. One only needs to look at the homonym for anti-death to see how weird that is...pro-death? Is there anyone out there who is actively pro-death? How could that be when govt officials secure court orders to force medical treatments on those who wish to forego said treatments? It seems to me that the *official* policy of civilization is anti-death...or am I missing something...

Posted by: David Gobel at May 26th, 2009 8:37 AM

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