Striving to Find a Middle Ground that Incorporates Both Deathism and the Urge to Radical Life Extension

A possibly interesting position is put forth in this blog post, an attempt to merge a package of right to end of life decisions and acceptance of death with the urge to extend healthy life through biotechnology - an argument that the present cultural debate that places these two things in opposition is misguided: "People who try to fend off death are being selfish, are in denial, and are pouring money down the drain for cockamamy schemes to preserve their frozen heads for some fingers-crossed future, which will never arrive. At the same time, we shouldn't let people die, particularly (and ironically) if they really want to. Choosing death is untenable. It's against nature. No, death is good only when death decides it's ready for you. Or so go the arguments of many who oppose anti-aging technology. But just because we accept death as good and necessary, that doesn't necessarily mean we have to say the same about aging. Can we argue for anti-aging technology, for 2,000-year lifespans of perpetual youth, and admit death can be good at the same time? Not only can we; we must. We can accept death yet also seek to live vastly longer, healthier, and happier. Death is good, but so too is a long, long, long life. We can attain long lives of quality by rejecting extreme 'life-saving measures,' embracing euthanasia, and accepting that there are just some things we cannot cure. Death has got to be our closest kept enemy if we want to be ageless. Baffling as it may seem, wanting to live to be a thousand years old is inextricably connected to the ability to decide when it's time to give up the ghost." I can't say as I agree with the rush to incorporate acceptance of death, but I'm certainly very much on the side of the right to choose when and how you die. One of the many great and horrible cruelties in our present culture is the sadistic enforcement of prohibition against the choice of euthanasia - not least because it is the source of most of the challenges and costs that attend the organization of a successful cryopreservation.



Grammatical mistakes aside, the 'Discover Magazine' blog post is one of the more thoughtful commentaries on the subject I have read in a while.


Posted by: Anthony at January 17th, 2012 7:57 AM

I always find it kind of funny when people talk about living to 1000 but still not being immortal; isn't it pretty obvious that if we can live to 1000, it means we've cured every possible cause of death? And it's even funnier when people talk about living to 1000 in perfect health, and then suddenly dropping dead. Dead from what?

I do agree that death may be a good thing. But I don't think it's possible to cure aging while still retaining death as anything other than a voluntary option. Ending aging is going to wreak havoc on current social structures, that's just the way it is.

Posted by: Will Nelson at January 17th, 2012 9:11 AM

@Will: "if we can live to 1000, it means we've cured every possible cause of death?"

What about accidents, murder, infectious diseases, suicide, poisoning...

Curing aging doesn't mean the end of death altogether.

Posted by: Nicolai at January 17th, 2012 2:05 PM

I've read that article ages ago. You've painted it as almost a death apologist argument. I didn't get that from the article however. I think apologising for death is answering the wrong question philosophically. The question should be, does one like living? If yes well then, what is one going to do about protecting ones life?

Posted by: Louis Burke at January 18th, 2012 1:02 AM

"Good" is the wrong terminology when describing death or the philosophy there-of. Better to "make peace" with the reality of death, or death is a "reality", or even death is inevitable "on a long enough time scale". Most people in favor of radical life extension and immortality take this philosophical stance. They rarely describe death as "good". To the best of my knowledge immortalists have already thought this over, they already merge the philosophy of death, euthanasia, and radical life extension, without resorting to calling death "good". The author of this blog seems well-intentioned, but a few years behind on the philosophy of the situation.

Posted by: Mind at January 24th, 2012 1:05 PM
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