It’s interesting that in America, we don’t really talk about death much. Our elderly are put in homes where we don’t have to deal with them. We busy ourselves with earthly tasks (a lot of which we simply made up) to distract us from diving deeper into our consciousness. We all share one thing – existence. A primary component of that existence is death. Nobody knows why we’re here and what happens after we die. Humans are so deeply connected by this, yet we allow surface-level differences (skin color, social standing, etc) divide us. How unfortunate that while we’ve evolved so much, we’re still so dismissive of the connection of a conscious existence.
Imagine you’re playing a video game. It’s one you enjoy, but you wouldn’t want to play only that game forever. At the same time, you don’t want someone to come along and shut down your computer while you’re in the middle of it. After reading the article, it seems like the Author sets up a dichotomy of two extremes by excluding suicide as an option for his hypothetical potion of life.
Carry along with the video game analogy, you may enjoy playing the game as it is meant to be played. But imagine if someone forced you to play it by a set of imaginary rules they developed to play the game by. The game simply would not be as enjoyable.
Our lives seem to be like these two examples. We are struck by the fear of our lives being prematurely cut short. It seems we would rather quit playing the game on our own terms. At the same time, our lives are structured almost completely by artifices, playing by rules that don’t seem quite natural.
I would argue that the most desirable form of ‘immortality’ would be one in which the individual has freed their mind from artifices, and can live out their lives as the most ‘genuinely human’ (Zhen Ren, as described in The Zhuangzi) until the individual feels satisfied and ready to move on.
I believe Immortality would be very much bearable to me.
Yeah speak for yourself. I’m going to try immortality and let you know how it goes.
A strong majority of the people in this thread who agree with the OP seem to be making the mistake of talking about *literal immortality* instead of *life extension.* A few examples:
>Astrophysicist here: The universe is expanding and thus most other galaxies are moving away from us too fast to ever reach them. If our models are right, the expansion will accelerate until we only have the milky way, where the stars will die into dimly shining white dwarfs or turn into black holes. Life won’t have many energy sources to sustain itself. The heat death of the universe doesn’t sound like fun in the long run.
>Well, there’s the isolation of being forced to live alone and watch families die, so falling in love would just end up hurting. There’s the obvious “living hundreds/thousands of years and getting so monumentally bored with it all that you want to die” issue to address…
>Yeah, but I think the unbearable part comes in once you follow the thread of immortality through absurd amounts of time. You would live through the sun going nova and destroying the Earth…
The OP contains the most egregious example of this.
>If there were an elixir of life, would you choose to take it? Let’s assume immortality is an attractive prospect. If you wanted to live perpetually as a healthy twenty-year old, for example, then you could; if you wanted your loved ones to be immortal as well, then they would be; or if you preferred to have a never-ending supply of new loved ones, then you could have. But there’s one catch. The elixir isn’t reversible, and suicide isn’t an option. If you choose to take the elixir, there will be no going back. Now would you choose to take it?
Because people would eventually become suicidally bored if they were to live forever, they often argue, it’s better to live out a natural lifespan.
But like u/Kicooi said, this is a false dichotomy. I do think that given the constraints of the human mind, people would probably become suicidally bored long before the heat death of the universe. However, a more realistic option is living for several hundred or thousand years (or maybe more), accomplishing everything you wanted to accomplish and doing everything you wanted to do and maybe more, and then eventually choosing to die after reaching a long-pondered conclusion that life has nothing more to offer you. Having the ability to determine when you die, as opposed to having your life forcibly ended at a point that evolution decided was long enough, seems like an infinitely better option to me.
I mean, there’s even an example of this in the OP.
>The British philosopher Bernard Williams addressed this issue in his article, “The Makropulos Case”, whose title was taken from a play by Karel Čapek. The play is about a woman named Elina Makropulos, who is the beneficiary of an elixir of life. She finds, after some three hundred and fifty years, that “her unending life… has come to a state of indifference, boredom, and coldness.” For Makropulos, though, death remains a possibility if she doesn’t take the elixir again. The play ends with Makropulos welcoming her own death.
This play was cited as an example of why immortality isn’t so great after all. But what if you asked Elina whether she regretted taking the serum when she was 100 instead of 350? What about 150? 200? If it took her in the ballpark of 300 years to become suicidally bored, then presumably she didn’t regret living for the extra 200-plus years before that point (or she would’ve killed herself earlier, since there was ample opportunity to consider the question).
Setting aside practical concerns for the moment (after all, this is a philosophy sub), I don’t think there’s any good arguments in favor of banning or restricting radical life extension. It’s conceivable that some yet-undiscovered part of human psychology will result in everyone becoming suicidal once they reach 150, but given that suicide-driven boredom isn’t a major cause of death among the elderly–it’s probably insignificant–I think the tipping point is likely to be far beyond the limits of our current lifespan.