Last time I’ve introduced the principle of life’s default positivity, and the first formula provided was the one used by Thomas Nagel in his Death essay:
It is good simply to be alive.
Another way to phrase this is comparatively
It’s better to be alive than dead.
Let me introduce now a potential counterargument, extracted from the words of one of my favourite fictional characters, Rosencrantz, played by Garry Oldman in Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. Mind you, this is Stoppard’s but not Shakespeare’s Rosencrantz, speaking. How about watching it first:
The thesis or principle I’d like to introduce today is a (possibly) central thesis behind Open Lifespan philosophy and I’ll keep coming back to it throughout this blog and book in the making. I’m going to extract it first from Thomas Nagel’s masterful and dense essay, Death, originally published in Noûs, in 1970 but am actually going to use the edited version published in Mortal Questions, in 1979.
Then I simply try to provide different formulations. So no arguments today, just a start to understand this principle by stating it and have a glimpses at the heavy philosophical concepts behind it.
Nagel’s main problem in the essay is to investigate why and how and when death can be a misfortune (evil, bad) to the persons who died. And it has to do something with bringing ‘to an end all the goods that life contains’.
And in this context the principle is first stated as an ‘allegiation’ that
It is good simply to be alive, even if one is undergoing terrible experiences.
So first formula
1. It is good simply to be alive.
Let’s continue here cause this leads to another formulation of the principle:
I’ve rethought my older post in the light of the dramatic IPCC report on climate change giving humanity a deadline of 2030 to avoid a climate disaster. I think it is important to connect and discuss Open Lifespan in the context of ecological awareness. I saved my earlier hyperobject analysis for another time.
The argument: Humans with Open Lives can act on ecological scales
Imagine the following: you are living potentially not up to 100 years but up to 1000 or 10000 years as a biological being without the accumulated effects of aging related negative processes as Open Healthspan technology lets you to counteract those major declines time to time, resets your physiological age and keeps increasing mortality continuously at bay. In short, you have Open Lifespan and you are living an Open Life.
If your potential lifespan gets so close to the time-scale of many big environmental processes then human ecological awareness might reach a new level as full ecological responsibility can be taken for the things you do. From this point of view Open Healthspan technology can be considered and desired as a mighty enabler of ecological thought as by achieving this aim you get to act on previously unprecedented timescales, you get to act like a fully, environmentally responsible human being. At 1000 year old with a pretty good chance you are going to be amongst the Guardians of the Galaxy. And at 1001 even more so.
Our daily today is posing a heavy philosophical question: can we build a better self without building a better world? For understanding the level of this question one needs to take a moral/ethical concept of the self granted. But we don’t need to dig into the depth of the malleability of personal identity, but mostly focus on our narrative, social construct of our selves that is a prime bearer of moral values and changes and agent of moral decisions. Continue reading “Daily Effort: Can we build a better self without building a better world?”
Here I’m republishing an edited version of my earlier post from this year on my earlier blog. This post expresses an important political position/consequence of the Open Lifespan philosophy.
A quick answer to the post title question
Sure, but only if we know what types of aging we are talking about. My original, more boring but less sensational post title elaborates on this: Counteracting biological aging and neutralising chronological ageism should go hand in hand. (For the record, am not a big fan of using military/aggressive terms such as fighting). We desperately need to use the proper terms and choose the right type of aging we talk about depending on the context we talk about it.
I’m into Open Lifespan/Healthspan since I was 14 and am several decades older now, in early middle age. Since my teenage commitment got me into aging research and science, I became sensitive and appreciative towards the issues that arise with aging so I was sensitised towards the issues of older people early on. I’ve always looked at them as forming the forefront, the avant-garde of experiencing and understanding accelerated biological aging and trying to counteract the biological, physiological decline and metabolic damage that accompanies it. So that meant respect, by default. Continue reading “Fighting aging and fighting ageism: two sides of the same coin?”
Another quick post, from the beach of Lake Balaton, stealing some precious family vacation time, also our train leaves soon for Budapest . On the other hand I’ve been thinking on this topic for a while now. In our last post entitled Open lifespan as a coherent life plan enables super-agency we already mentioned one important concept of John Rawls, the concept of rational life plan. Today we go much deeper into Rawls, behind the life plan concept, at the heart of his foundational justice theory.
Our foreground argumentation deals with the Rawlsian ‘veil of ignorance’ in the ‘original position’: a thought experiment leading to a just society.
Our background deeper question: How would knowing our chronological age impact our impartiality, self-interest and our self-assessment?
Trying a quicker, less detailed blog format now, maybe because I’m writing from the beach, by Lake Balaton, and using family vacation time. The philosophical background of this post is the ‘meaning of life’ question, and I will be dealing a lot later with this question in the context of open lifespan. The foreground is aesthetic, uses analogies from cinematography.
1. Closed Lifespan -> Closed Narrative -> Life as a Feature Length Movie
Perhaps the most frequent, most misleading and hence, most annoying framing problem around biomedically achieved healthy lifespan extension is that the headline making machinery is using the term immortality without any restrictions when only discussing the first detailed technological plans and the articulating will behind breaking the closed lifespan barrier of ~120 years or so. What do I have in mind? Here’s some pointed questions to consider when deciding you might be one of the people tempted to scream immortality too soon: Continue reading “Open or Closed Lifespan: that is the question, not mortality vs. immortality”
One default philosophical question about counteracting biological aging is whether those interventions would qualify as enhancements or medical therapies/medical preventions. The answer to this question depends on the status of biological aging, whether it can be considered as a natural process or an actual broad-spectra disease.
In what follows I sketch a simple, reductio ad absurdum argument to show that disease and biological aging cannot be conceptually separated from each other. I’ll make the connection between the two clearer throughout argumentation. If they are connected through a conceptual continuum then biological aging cannot be considered a natural process so interventions counteracting it cannot be considered enhancements, but medical interventions, either preventive techniques or therapies.