Critiquing Postmortal

At Discover Magazine: "The Postmortal is not about a post-mortal society, it is about a post-aging society. Lots and lots and lots of people die in Magary's vision. In fact, he seems to argue that in the absence of death, people will not only seek death but will create circumstances that create death and thereby, create meaning. It is only when Farrell's life is most in peril that he finds purpose in existence. But Farrell is never immortal, no one is. So my question is: is the process of aging as meaningful as the condition of being mortal? This question vexed me, because I know a great many people who have aged with grace. They wear wizened white beards or crinkled smiles that highlight eyes behind inch-thick spectacles. Some people are just awesome at being old. They have custom canes and smoke ivory pipes and say saucy things that only they can get away with. To reference Harry Potter again, Voldemort, Mr.Flees-From-Death himself, is contrasted with Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall, both of whom are walking idealizations of what the aging process should look like. But that's just it, isn't it? They are idealizations. Reality presents a grimmer picture. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and a laundry list of other late-onset diseases savage the body just enough that modern medicine can step in to keep the heart beating and the organs limping along while the mind deteriorates to the point of nothingness. Aging in the modern era is about slow unstoppable loss - of hearing, of memory, of mobility, of continence, of dignity. What part of that process creates meaning in our lives? ... In Magary's mind, the stop of physical aging is the stop of maturation. In this sense, I suspect Magary's indictment is not of those like Aubrey de Grey who seek the end of aging, but of those who resist maturation. Magary's values are essentially conservative. ... Human beings do not settle down because they age anymore than people have quarter-life or midlife or three-quarter life crises because they age. People are content or discontent based on the life they are currently living."

Link: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/sciencenotfiction/2011/09/09/what-would-humanity-be-like-without-aging/

Comments

"I know a great many people who have aged with grace". Yes, but did the author ask these people what they would trade to be young again?

"Human beings do not settle down because they age anymore than people have quarter-life or midlife or three-quarter life crises because they age." I would argue that the midlife and other crises are caused precisely by aging. Obviously, a person who's found a good niche for themselves in the economy may feel it less, but it's equally obvious that the needs of the economy aren't magically adapted to people's proclivities, so most people aren't going to have that perfect job and they're going to panic that they're wasting their limited time. People need to have enough time to both satisfy the needs of the economy and to satisfy their own needs.

Posted by: William Nelson at September 12th, 2011 8:42 AM

Death doesn't give any meaning to life as far as I'm concerned. As for this

"In Magary's mind, the stop of physical aging is the stop of maturation. In this sense, I suspect Magary's indictment is not of those like Aubrey de Grey who seek the end of aging, but of those who resist maturation"

Maturation is a nebulous almost meaningless concept, at most what it really means is that after a certain period of living you shouldn't think a certain way and hold certain beliefs and if you don't than there is something wrong with you. I don't like those ways of thinking anyways so I guess That would make me one of those who resists maturation. I don't think time has any effect on my knowledge anyways, heck in that fictional scenario described in the book I would want to be stopped at 17.

Posted by: J at June 26th, 2020 10:22 AM

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