Open Lifespan and the economy of time, part 1: introduction, literature

(Observing) History is funny, in the horror movie sense of funny. Something’s funny going on, either as an external or an internal observation, sensation or impression. This is the second sense of funny, the strange, the odd, the weird. This is not the first sense of funny, the humorous one. The second sense of funny turns full creepy at the time of a crisis. In the current world situation we know exactly what causes this funny feeling, a pandemic that endangers our lives, livelihood, values and default societal structures in yet unknowns ways besides the known ones.

History-making, or changing the course of history by humans on the other hand, is not particularly funny, but can derivatively be, in both senses, when observed from the outside. Making history is … hard, in the first place. But, it can still be simple if the historical problem’s particularity suggest a fix, the universality of which can be recognised along that particular dimension. I believe that the proper reaction to the coronavirus pandemic is conceptually simple, but practically it’s not easy. Simple, but not easy.

In brief, the Coronavirus pandemic is the single most important practical argument I’ve ever seen emerging, to develop a robust healthy longevity technology protecting people of all ages & put that into the centre of human society and politics. In the pages of this book blog, I’ve worked out several such arguments myself but philosophical depth pales in comparison to this single actual biological reason. In my number one professional life, as the Founder of an aging/longevity startup I now work on a combined COVID-19 and immunosenescence targeted proteomics molecular test. Connecting biological survival to healthy longevity.

Apologies for this detour. It does not seem to me a detour anyway, but a way of showing the connection to what follows.

The bulk manuscript notes of the following project has been compiled together during fall/winter season of 2019. Last time I worked on this more seriously was in this January, when I could still afford that in the evenings, as my secret pet philosophy sub-project. It had ~2 readers so far, coming from the specific philosophical tradition, the texts of which my text is using. For many it might seem esoteric, because of the concepts and references. Am just going ahead and break it into parts to be able to share it here and make on-the-fly corrections, addendums, re-writes, logical re-grouping to lighten it up.

Here it goes.

Open Lifespan (OL) is the philosophy of biomedical longevity thinking itself and its limits. Its central part seems to be rooted in political philosophy, but not in the sense of applied ethics, so the task is to re-apply existing concepts in this discipline in order to illuminate its own problematics and in order to seek potential answers to the problems of those pre-OL political philosophies. The original formulation of OL philosophy started within the central and centrist liberal tradition, but now it’s time to look to the left and to the right for further considerations and new angles. At the time of this writing, this means looking into Marxian formulations on the left, and libertarian and perhaps conservative conceptualisations on the right. Generally, political philosophy as a political tradition, as well as an academic discipline ignored health and life expectancy issues actively and down-prioritised the central role these issues play in the life of individuals and institutions, so this tradition has a lot to compensate for.

The rough summary of these notes: Open Healthspan as a Service (Product) completely re-defines production as an activity by re-producing, re-generating indefinitely Open Lifespan bodies, including that of Open Healthspan workers providing this very services. This service leaves no space for alienation anymore. No objectification of labour, no externalisation of work -> no alienation. An Open Life society, with Open Healthspan as the main service product implements the real economy of time by exclusively producing additional healthy human lifetime. It neutralises the logic of capital but not killing it off with a revolution or anything. Just makes it redundant by making abundance in only one dimension by default, that of biological human lives. Leaves scarcity in other dimensions as it is.

The main, underlying literary vehicle of this little study is going to be commentaries. But these are going to be commentaries without the original citations. So instead of showing their commentary-ness, these notes are dressed up as straight applications of what I read with a single focus in mind. At this point it only reflects my unpreparedness to turn this into a standalone study. There are other reasons, too, for instance I did not want to provide any dedicated Marx interpretations, not just because of my unpreparedness in this tradition, but because I don’t think it’s a good idea that would advance the study of Open Lifespan, of which it is just one sub-project. On the other hand, I’m using a particular philosophical tradition of my native city, Budapest, a tradition that is hardly known in bigger circles around the world. It’s a local tradition, a school built around the philosopher Gyorgy Markus, in the late 20th century. This school majored in the post-Marxist tradition and minored in analytical philosophy. It’s something that came to me by the spatiotemporal coincidence of birth. Am turning this coincidence, this contingent component into a constructive one, that works for Open Lifespan. (And yes, I’ve been a bit homesick recently after a decade spent in Cambridge, and not in Budapest, and feel I owe something to these authors of my youth, too. After all, 2 of them, Bence and Kis, have been my thesis supervisors.)

The following texts have been used to make these OL commentaries.

Karl Marx:

  • 1844 Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts
  • Grundrisse
  • Capital

Bence Gyorgy – Kis Janos – Markus Gyorgy: Hogyan lehetseges kritikai gazdasagtan? 1971 Überhaupt (it’s still only available in Hungarian, the result of this work in communist Hungary was that the authors had been removed from their academic positions and forced underground in case of Bence/Kis or to emigration, in case of Markus. The former 2 formed the core of the political liberal/radical opposition of the system in the 70s.).

Gyorgy Markus: Language and Production, 1986.

Gyorgy Markus: A termeles maxi paradigmaja es a hermeneutika p93-137 Kultura es Modernitas. 

William James Booth: Economies of Time: On the Idea of Time in Marx’s Political Economy, , Political Theory 1991

Kis Janos: 1992 Felvilagositok Szepunokaja (HOLMI) (only in Hungarian).

Early on I introduce the Open Lifespan possible world and its basic conceptual starter kit and then apply it to some concepts expressed within the Marxian/post-Marxist tradition.