How Open Lifespan changes the political value of time; reading Elizabeth F. Cohen

When I started to study philosophy at the ELTE University in Budapest my first social/intellectual action was to compile a list of classical, modern and contemporary writings about the philosophy of time and then look for other undergrads being interested to seminarise these works. Think about Aristotle’s Physics IV. 10-14, St. Augustine’s Book XI of the Confessions and … the wonderful essay collection on The Philosophy of Time edited by Poidevin/McBeath. Eventually I think it was too nerdy an offering even amongst philosophy students but I stuck with studying these writings a lot. To me  studying the philosophy of time was a huge part of my personal motivation as after studying aging in the years before as a biology student I realised I have a problem understanding what is this ‘time thing’ with respect to biological aging is defined, what are we measuring here …

Philosophy of time and analysis of temporality by conceptual means is a great field and Elisabeth F. CohenAssociate Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University, managed to open a new chapter within this field by writing The Political Value of Time, that was published this very year by Cambridge University Press and I was lucky enough to see it amongst the new offerins at the CUP Bookshop.

I studied this book repeatedly this year, here’s a photo on my annotated copy.

Cohen’s analytical starting point is the tendency to ignore durational time in politics by the social sciences. Hence, most of the study is focusing on the temporal aspects of establishing sovereignty, mostly assumed hidden behind spatial boundaries and then how temporalities like schedules, waiting periods, deadlines are constitutive in the procedures of modern democracies. The main, deliberate subset of examples (‘temporal formulae’) are the age of maturity delimiting children from full citizenship, the probationary period needed for the naturalisation of non-citizens and prison sentences. Continue reading “How Open Lifespan changes the political value of time; reading Elizabeth F. Cohen”

Open Lifespan Book Draft: building the Life Star, one argument a time

I’m pleased to announce that the first draft of my book in progress, called Open Lifespan, is available under a separate page, Open Lifespan: Book Draft. Let’s say it’s version v0.1, ~24,000 words.

What I’ve done so far here is to compile together the existing posts forming the backbone of the book and figure out a larger structure in terms of bigger domains covered. Right now these domains are the following: Continue reading “Open Lifespan Book Draft: building the Life Star, one argument a time”

How many of us are closer to our death than to our birth?

Have you ever wondered how many of us, still breathing, are closer to our death than to our birth already based on our chronological age & average life expectancy? How many of us can wake up every day knowing most of the time ‘allocated’ is gone?

I’m running a poll on Twitter to get a very rough estimation to figure out this ratio. My way of approaching this is to ask you to calculate this quantity (being closer to one’s death/birth) for yourself and the answer the binary poll so we can get to a a first rough estimation.

All you need to do to participate (assuming you have a Twitter account) is to go here  Continue reading “How many of us are closer to our death than to our birth?”

Yuval Noah Harari caught in the Immortality Trap: how to frame Open Lifespan poorly

Several friends of mine, ones I respect a lot, recommended me to read Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. I was told Harari writes about the potential of longevity technologies lengthening healthy lifespan. I decided to give it a go and purchased the book for GBP 6.99.

My main reference is the ‘Immortality’ section of Homo Deus called The Last Days of Death. That is and was plenty enough.

1. Immortality vs Open Lifespan

The last Days of Death chapter opens with:

In the 21st century humans are likely to make a serious bid for immortality.

Stop right there: Harari thinks the term ‘immortality’ captures the human quest of continuously lengthening biologically human, healthy lifespan.

With in opening like this Harari is conceptually instantly closing the serious discussion of this topic by falling into the Immortality Trap.[1] Continue reading “Yuval Noah Harari caught in the Immortality Trap: how to frame Open Lifespan poorly”

Individual Open Lifespan Trajectories as hyperobjects; Temporal Undulation

Let’s continue studying Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects to harness it for Open Lifespan. Earlier I talked about ‘viscosity’ and ‘nonlocality’ and applied them to Open Lifespan trajectories.

Quick recap: Hyperobjects are ‘things that are massively distributed in time and space relative to humans’: think global warming as a paradigmatic case. Now consider a (counterfactual)  individual open lifespan trajectory that is your life lived for hundreds of years: wouldn’t that object qualify for being a hyperobject in the Mortonian sense?

Temporal undulation is the hyperobject characteristic that I was most confused about initially but after couple more careful readings of the corresponding chapter in Hyperobjects it turned out to be the feature where Open Lifespan trajectories can be enlightened and benefit most from Morton’s deep ecological OOO thinking and accompanying superb linguistic forms. Continue reading “Individual Open Lifespan Trajectories as hyperobjects; Temporal Undulation”

Celebrate World Philosophy Day: ideas of philosophers helping Open Lifespan

Let’s celebrate UNESCO’s World Philosophy Day here by listing 6 philosophers (5 still living, 1 dead), whose 6 ideas have been used so far to develop Open Lifespan philosophy further. ‘Ideas’ are meant broadly here including concepts, arguments, theses, all the logical units used by philosophical discussions. Below a quick intro to these philosophers with the particular relevant idea type highlighted in bold. Continue reading “Celebrate World Philosophy Day: ideas of philosophers helping Open Lifespan”

Daily effort: Open Lifespan does not rely on strong anthropocentrism

Anthropocentrism is also known by other names as humanocentrism, human-centeredness or human exceptionalism. It has something to do with attributing a special significance to humans in the universe.
According to the Environmental Ethics entry of Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy strong anthropocentrism only assigns intrinsic value to human beings alone. So intrinsic value, whatever it would be, is captured in absolute terms and applied only to humans.
In weak anthropocentrism value assignment gets relative and quantitative by human beings representing greater amount of intrinsic value than any non-human things.
Ecological thinkers and environmental ethicists have a rather easy job finding traces of anthropocentrism in the works of canonical thinkers of Western philosophy.
Object-oriented ontology also attacks and rejects anthropocentrism and moves away from epistemological approaches.
When working out bits and pieces of Open Lifespan philosophy Continue reading “Daily effort: Open Lifespan does not rely on strong anthropocentrism”

Politics of longevity: 4 current trends to face

The following are edited versions of some of the slides from the second part of my recent Fourth Eurosymposium on Healthy Ageing talk in Brussels, dealing with longevity advocacy. I chose to talk about politics there and turns out several others were focusing on politics too. Not going to over-explain the slides here.

The 4 trends and my slides providing some tips as well mainly through earlier Open Lifespan post titles.

1. ethical tech backlash, social inequality

2.  identity politics

3. sustainability

4.  anti-liberal, anti-globalist trends

And the concluding slide

The concept and reality of a Longevity World Community, reading Jens Bartelson


The immediate focus of this post is to investigate the possibility of a world community centered around longevity. Is there an existing seed of such a community and conceptually what other features make a compelling case for the emergence of an organised Longevity World Community?

The historical apropos is the emergence of such a world-wide longevity community in the last two decades starting in the nineties of the last millennium and the very recent turning of part of this community into a world-wide longevity industry aiming to capitalise on the breakthrough understanding of the biological aging process and interventions counteracting it in order to increase healthy lifespan.

The background context of this mini-study is the question of how longevity can be introduced into politics. One prominent feature of this introduction is informed by the philosophical discussion between Rawls-ian liberalism and its communitarian critics.

The intellectual trigger is Jens Bartelson’s book, called Visions of World Community, published in 2008 by CUP. Continue reading “The concept and reality of a Longevity World Community, reading Jens Bartelson”

Individual Open Lifespan Trajectories as hyperobjects

I am more and more interested in connecting ecological thought and open lifespan longevity philosophy and in this book blog I have so far made 2 direct attempts, please see Open Lifespan & ecological awareness: scaling up to become global humans  and Wanted: a Global Healthy Longevity report a la IPCC study on Global Warming of 1.5ºC .

My current main theoretical inspiration and guide is Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects. Here I need to acknowledge that I am less certain in what I have to say as Morton writes in the style of continental philosophy and draws largely from that tradition, while the knowledge and method base am using mainly comes from analytic philosophy. But I welcome the uncertainty that comes with moving into a stranger territory.

Let’s start with the thought experiment of assuming that Open Healthspan technologies counteracting the biological aging processes have been developed and mature enough to grant individuals Open Lifespans, that is people have open-ended, indefinite lifespans and a fixed low mortality rate.

Consider now an individual open lifespan trajectory that is your life lived for hundreds of years: wouldn’t that object qualify for being a hyperobject in the Mortonian sense? Continue reading “Individual Open Lifespan Trajectories as hyperobjects”