Do you Want to Be Immortal? Really? – Yes, Really.


In this recent article the Huffington Post author George Young asks a question if we really want to be immortal. He tells the readers about Igor Vishev, Russian philosopher, who believes that the first people to become immortal are likely to be already born today. Igor Vishev is the follower of Russian cosmists, such as Nikolai Fedorov, Vladimir Vernadsky and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

From Fedorov on, a main cosmist idea has been to overcome death. For Fedorov individual immortality was not sufficient; our ultimate task was to bring back to life all humans who had ever lived. A devout if eccentric Christian, Fedorov viewed the resurrection as a human task, the Christ-like duty of the sons and daughters of humanity to restore life to those from whom it had been taken. Children would use future scientific technology to resurrect their parents, who in turn would resurrect theirs, all the way back to Adam and Eve.

And then after telling the story of Russian cosmists the author of the article simply becomes blind all of a sudden and falls into the trap built by shortsightedness and inability to think rationally. He writes:

The important question now may not be whether remaking ourselves and our universe to eliminate limits to present life is possible, but whether it is desirable. For centuries poets have intuited profound value in the mystery of death. As Shakespeare tells us in Sonnet 73, death gives life meaning, and love grows more strong for that “which thou must leave ere long.” Or, as Wallace Stevens wrote in “Sunday Morning,” “Death is the mother of beauty.” Could many of our best intangibles be lost in the transition from human to “transhuman”?

Shakespeare knew nothing about antibiotics and resuscitation. He had no choice but to accept death, otherwise it would be just too hard to live knowing that death is the worst, most horrible thing that can happen. It is so much easier to attribute death some meaning or even positive qualities. It means that we don’t have to fight it or fear it, death is normal, good even and we can get back to our everyday routine. But the reality is 100% different. Death is not the mother of beauty. Death is the mother of worms, eating your rotting body. Death makes your life worth nothing. And it doesn’t matter if you leave your work behind – you won’t care, because there will be no you. Just like every dying pharaoh would trade all the gold and pyramids he owns for another day of life, every lethally sick person would give everything he owns for the cure, just to live one more day, just to breathe for a bit longer.

The question of what death is and how or whether we should attempt to eliminate it won’t be settled here, or anywhere, anytime soon. But if Igor Vishev is right, someone alive today — certainly not the one writing these words, but maybe someone reading them — may be around long enough to know the answer.

I understand why George Young is so against immortality – he doesn’t believe he will be able to use life extension technologies. He is a senior citizen at the moment and this makes him pessimistic. His mind wants to protect him from the frightening thought that some people will become immortal, forever young maybe, but not him. So his mind tries to justify death in his own eyes.

But Mr. Young may be wrong in his assumption that he is not going to benefit from life extension technologies. If the existing life extension results are transferred from model animal to humans, he may well have the chance to live for quite some more time. And during this extra time there’s a good chance some new technologies would be developed to prolong his life even more. We don’t know this for sure, but we have to fight for our lives.

The more optimistic and unbiased articles we have about the possibility of life extension, the greater our chances are to eliminate all the age-related diseases and make people live much healthier and, most importantly, much longer lives.

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8 Comments

Filed under Immortalism

8 responses to “Do you Want to Be Immortal? Really? – Yes, Really.

  1. Will Nelson

    When people make this argument about the “positive intangibles” we might lose by eliminating death, they always fail to recognize the many “negative intangibles” which are already caused by it. Death is a lot more than just suddenly ending your life at a certain point. First one declines, and this starts very early. Professional athletes are done by age 30, 40 at the latest. Health problems tend to start around 40 and sap one’s vitality. Having kids after 40 is very problematic, and romance is more or less over by that time too, since so few people older than that remain physically attractive. And already in the 20’s and 30’s, there is great anxiety about the time passing because one doesn’t really even have 6 more decades, one really only has another decade or so of “good years”. One has to establish a career and also raise a family or decide not to, all in that very short time. Many people hate celebrating their birthday or keep it secret, because they can’t stand getting older. How fun is that? So even the “best years” of life are definitely already compromised by worries related to death. Imagine how much more carefree and happy people could be if they had even a few more good decades to deal with these issues. Yes, there *might* also be some “positive intangibles” which are lost, but one must also fully recognize the negatives of the status quo, and how completely they pervade adult life at all ages.

  2. Sadly, most people think that living forever means having a 90 year old body but being unable to die. Furthermore, studies have shown that people tend to desperately cling to their beliefs, regardless of new evidence to the contrary. Only those that are fit for it will live forever. If you are unable to imagine a long life, then you probably won’t get one.

  3. First off, although the Huffington Post’s heart is in the right place politically, it is notorious as a cesspit of pseudo-science and mushy thinking. It shouldn’t be taken as representing any sort of intellectually-worthwhile opinion.

    Second, bovine passivity in the face of “the will of God” or “how things were meant to be” has been a part of life for centuries, but it has never won out in the end. The first birth-control pills and antibiotics against STDs were opposed by moralists on the grounds that they would encourage “sin”. Airplanes were met with the cliché that “if God had meant us to fly, he would have given us wings”. Even lightning rods were opposed as an attempt to ward of divine judgment. Yet all those things are generally accepted now.

    As life-extension technology moves closer to reality, expect to see a rise in the level of this kind of mush-headed philosophical negativity. If the Republicans get back into power in the US, it could even lead to government obstruction of research, which is why it’s so important that the work be spread out over many countries so no one government can interfere too much.

    The proper answer to such objections is that the work should move forward, and anyone who objects to life-extension technology on whatever grounds will always be free to refrain from using it — as people are free to refuse life-saving medical treatment today.

  4. Thank you for posting this. I believe one of the most important things we can do right now is give as much attention as possible to the pursuit of age management. I am very worried that this won’t come to fruition soon because of all the negative beliefs and opinions. This is the type of research that government and scientists should be doing. Curing aging and managing biological age would make life so much sweeter, and also allow us to live happier, healthier lives. And much longer.

    People need to realize that this is a possibility and start supporting it. Look, almost nobody dies from germs anymore. About a century ago, that was the most feared thing. We went to the moon, connected the world with the internet, made TVs, created airplanes, cloned animals… why would curing aging not be on the agenda? Why do people consider this not to be a possibility? Or perhaps they haven’t even considered it a possibility.

    I’m really pushing for this. I’ve volunteered for telomerase research companies, the send foundation, the foresight institute, and have plans to help out much, much more. I think if we all just pull together, we can solve this real soon… and make life so much more beautiful… and be healthy and around to enjoy it for a long time.

  5. Jimmy Thompson

    I am glad infidel753 wrote: ‘bovine passivity in the face of “the will of God”’ which has led to such passivity and suffering in this world, believing in the Paradise that awaits us in the Great Beyond.

    If we lived for hundreds of years we might make more of an effort to create Paradise right here on earth.

    Jimmy Thompson

  6. enlighten idiot

    another way to become immortal can be “Backup of our DNA/gnome”
    Backup & Restore thing
    for example:
    You Backup your DNA/gnome today. 100’s of copies.
    then 1 year later you put your DNA/gnome
    back in your Body & have your current DNA/gnome
    completely replaced with the one you backed up 1 year ago.

    Wouldn’t it practically make you 1 year younger as you have restored your DNA/gnome to 1 year ago?
    if you repeat it each year, you will stay same age forever (as long as you have backups)

    Now Question is how you will replace all DNA/gnomes in your Body?
    maybe with nano machines, virus or vaccine/protein thingy.
    virus might be the easiest way.

  7. If you want to obtain a great deal from this paragraph then you have to
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