When I checked psychological research looking into distant self-simulation I’ve found that this philosophical idea can be exploited as a psychological tool. My favourite orienting academic paper was Turning I into me: Imagining your future self. So I contacted the first author, Professor C. Neil Macrae, out of the blue, who then connected me to the last author. The last author, now assistant professor of psychology, Brittany Tausen, then took the idea and turned it into a professional project: surveys were conducted including 700+ people enough for 3 different studies looking at different angles. We had a pretty good manuscript within ~3-4 months calculating from the birth of the idea itself, and that was early 2018. Next comes 2 years of painful peer-review experience at different journals, but eventually persistence, professionalism and innovation won, so here’s the paper, published in Innovation in Aging, and you can read it as free access!!!
Today I would like to introduce a philosophical phenomenon that continue to surprise me to this day, so I still don’t have a settled theory about it. I’m hoping to reach at least a temporary solution though by writing about it. It is related to thought experimentation and offers at least 2 different ways to imagine ourselves being 572 years old and healthy.
Possible worlds and methodology: times, worlds and selves
To briefly put: possible worlds describe possible – largely, but not necessary spatiotemporal – situations that express of something being the case. Possible worlds are accessible from each other through an accessibility relation that can be defined various ways.
When I got back to the philosophical problems and project of healthy longevity in 2017, after defending my philosophy MS thesis about it in 2005 and spending the next long decade in science and bioinformatics, one of the first problems I encountered was that of distant self-imagination. This seemed to me as a core and also a well-defined problem that can be handled with the toolset of analytical philosophy quite well. I’ve found the relevant literature quick and thought and wrote a lot about it, to myself. Then, I realised there’s a relevant branch of psychological research looking into distant self-simulation with interesting results. What I came up with then, was a thought experiment that I turned into an actual little empirical survey as I’ve asked 4 different people (3 friends, 1 philosopher) to do a series of thought experiments. Here’s the informal slides I presented two them, without the results I typed into some tables during the interaction. 2 years later am now ready to write up the philosophical study in subsequent post and also am happy to report that I managed to find actual and great psychologists who have taken up on the idea and did a survey including hundreds of people. I presented some results in Brussels in 2018, and a paper is under peer review.
I was invited to give a talk at the upcoming Fourth Eurosymposium on Healthy Ageing in Brussels, early November, please see abstract below:
For some people, wanting to live longer lives is genuinely motivated by a serious interest in pursuing multiple and different activities in life and realising the strict time constraints current life expectancy imposes on pursuing such a plan. For others, the trigger is coming from the fear of death and disease and the accompanying pain and suffering. Let’s call the former the upbeat, the latter the downbeat path to longevity advocacy. Continue reading “My talk in Brussels: Preparing to live (way) beyond current lifespan”
Open Lifespan is open-ended, indefinite lifespan. I will also call it, simply ‘Open Life’. Open lifespan is based on open healthspan a technological possibility to counteract ongoing biological aging processes in the human body, to keep age-associated functional decline and increasing mortality continuously at bay.
Currently we all live a closed life but let’s assume open healthspan and ask: Instead of ‘Live every day as if it were your last’ how about ‘ live every day as if you were 10x older’?
What do I mean by that? Amongst the things you do during your regular days there should be times planned and spent, relevant and sustainable enough even for your ten times older self. Not the whole day, but parts and portions of it.