Daily Effort: Why coma is not a good fit for first-person, moral thought experiments?

This is going to be a very dense daily effort as I’m sitting alone in a big reception tent at the Eden Project in Cornwall, tired and it’s getting cold.

Already discussed Nagel’s Death essay twice, now is the 3rd time. In the text, after he has introduced the principle of life’s default positivity he is aiming to conceptually restrict discussion on the value of one person’s life. So he makes the following attempt to dismiss ‘mere organic survival’:

The value of life and its contents does not attach to mere organic survival: almost everyone would be indifferent (other things equal) between immediate death and immediate coma followed by death twenty years later without reawakening.

Nagel is asking us here to do a first-person, moral thought experiment in which we are given 2 options to conclude quickly that mere organic survival (coma being an obvious example of it) is not satisfactory (fit enough) when the value component of the principle ‘it is good simply to be alive’ is being discussed. He knows that coma technically speaking is still being alive so it’s important for him to dismiss it from the discussion.

I think mere organic survival cannot be simply dismissed with a one-sentence thought experiment like this. Here’s quickly why. Continue reading “Daily Effort: Why coma is not a good fit for first-person, moral thought experiments?”

Thomas Nagel and the familiar inner experience of Open Lifespan

The important principle of life’s default positivity was introduced via Thomas Nagel’s Death essay in an earlier post. This essay is a masterful essay of analytical philosophy: dense, full with deep thoughts, yet it is clearly written and most arguments and positions can be recovered with relative ease. On the other hand, it keeps you engaged as it opens up new questions and make you think further. Today my job is to type here almost the complete last section of the essay as it provides a great description of why the assumption of open-ended, indefinite lifespan is a familiar, default and ‘natural’ inner experience of people. As such it can be used as an argument for wanting to actually live an Open Life and push for developing the technology (what I call Open Healthspan) eventually yielding an external experience matching this inner experience. Continue reading “Thomas Nagel and the familiar inner experience of Open Lifespan”

Daily Effort: Thomas Nagel and the principle of life’s default positivity, first take

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:

Continue reading “Daily Effort: Thomas Nagel and the principle of life’s default positivity, first take”