Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The Coming of Indefinite Longevity

Will it be a fundamental crisis for philosophy and theology? Or will we need them more than ever? Indefinite longevity will surely be bad for love. I promised to love you for eternity, but I really meant fifty years tops. But mabye love means, first of all, love of self. Living for an indefinitely long time would, presumably, be good for that. I can’t love myself if not I’m not around to love and be loved. Darwinian Larry, not without reason, doubts indefinite longevity is possible. We’ll never be able to control all the ways (evolutionary) nature is out to kill each one of us for the good of the species.

Discussions - 11 Comments

For a feeble, palsied love, it will surely prove a death knell, but for passion, for truth, ----------- it will be as nothing, for true love CRAVES all of eternity to unfold itself.

I hope Darwinian Larry is right. If he isn't and this longevity business is true, I hope medicine also develops neater, more pleasing modes of death, since we look likely to have to take it in our own hands. Maybe it is the appeal of life after death, but I would positively look forward to the event if it wasn't so messy. Maybe that is a housewife's approach. "Don't die and leave mess, please. Be responsible and clean up after yourself."

If life were to be so long as suggested and given that the western world already struggles with boredom, we would take death into our hands. "The right to choose" in that would be something we might all see as a practical matter. How would we manage our finances? If Social Security is in a bad way now, who is going to pay to keep us alive? The heck with worrying about love, what about work? Also, if good health care is a moral obligation of government, does this medical immortality demand cradle to grave national health care?

I met a cryonics saleslady, which is to say, as a part-time job she sold space in a cryogenic facility. On the acquaintance of twenty minutes or so, she was telling me what a good candidate I was for medical immortality - questioning mind, delight in the arts, the usual silly "cultivated self" stuff that is supposed to make life endlessly interesting. She was a true believer, so my questions, which came down to who cleans up the mess if you are wrong, were met with incomprehension. The intended end justified the means.

I am not a good progressive thinker. The perfectibility of man seems so very unlikely. Which is my essential problem with this offer of longevity. If, every day in every way I were getting better and better, and I could see everyone was also getting better and better, this might have appeal. I don't see that.

However, Dan.... If that is where you live, a jolly eternity to you.

Assuming that indefinite longevity comes without prolonged convalesence ( a problem we're facing in some measure today and that Swift anticipated in the 3rd book of Gulliver)I wonder if our dissapearing sense of mortality would undermine the perspective necessary to take seriously much of what is most important in human life--marriage vows would lose their solemnity (who can expect marriage to last 1000 years?), watershed moments get trivialized because mistakes have no lasting value, and our false sense of immortality dulls our already challenged other-worldly longings.

Well, maybe I could actually get a chance to read all those books I've missed...

The problem with these dreams (and are they really any more realistic than Cortes' Fountain of Youth?) is that to the degree that we actually try to put them into practice, we're likely to succeed (at the margins) in some respects and fail in others. So we might do a real nice job of getting new hearts and new knees and hair implants, but fail utterly to get new skin or new brains. Wouldn't that be lovely, our bodies roaring along and as we sit feeble-minded watching Drew Carey in his 50th anniversary show of the Price is Right? No thanks.

Oh and Peter, I've just found our VP pick, because he's recently become available. He's Conservative, he has a dog named Patton, he's an amateur military historian, a well-known name, mentally combative, known for delivering a line to the media, relishes the occasional politically incorrect comment ---------------------- and he endorsed John McCain months ago.

His name is ---------------------------------------------------------------- CURT SCHILLING, and he's popular in Pennsylvania, where he almost led the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series victory over the Toronto Blue Jays way back in the day, in '93.

If we have to go outside the box, ------------------------ let's go outside the box.

Given modern bombs and other destructive technologies, we might also blow ourselves up before we really have to answer these questions.

Curt Schilling . . . That's not a terrible idea, Dan . . . hmmm.

But as to your thoughts on endless life and endless love . . . I'm afraid that this aspiration is probably the effectual cause of too many short lives and too many short loves. Some people ought to be happy with the "paltry" lives and "paltry" loves they actually have instead of pining for a transcendent perfection that they can probably only imagine. Undoubtedly, some reach these lofty heights. But rarely do they reach them without tragedy accompanying them (or, worse, others).

Julie, love doesn't flinch from suffering.

I'm ok w Curt. But what about Dale Murphy?

Apropos to the original post and topic, ya'll should take a look at the debate between, on one hand, Diana Schaub and Daniel Callahan, and, on the other, Ron Bailey and Methusala (sp?) over at "catounbound." It occurred a month or two ago.

The manliness quotient of the Republican ticket of McCain and Schilling would be off the charts. McCain, however, would find it hard to get a word in edgewise. I suppose someone has to break the "pro athelete- to-presidential ticket" barrier at some point.

Peter, does Murphy have a dog named "Patton," and is he an amateur military historian?

I think Schill is the way to go.

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