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QUOTE (argive99 @ May 22 2004, 05:21 PM)

The most any person can do for life extension is lead a healthy life style and hope that the specialists in the area of longevity, ie the scientists and the business that employ them, make serious breakthroughs.

I would add that a person could also contribute financially to help make possible the research that could benefit him in his own lifetime.

Do you really think that letting others, who you have already cited as not tending toward impressive technological invention, carry out a labor, which if not completed will end your life, is a responsible behavior towards the problem of death? A thing one can be most certain about is one's consciousness and capabilities "If you want something done you've got to do it yourself" is not so far off from reality.

Also, Argive, the assertion that we have a max at 120 years doesn't fit in the modern scientific world. You'd do better to look, first, at the longest known life time of homologous creatures to man, which I believe is still a Galapagos Turtle, question what differs between them and how to approach their life span, and second at the basic requirements of continuing life beyond that known threshhold, basically what you would need to do to continue life indefinitely.

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Do you really think that letting others, who you have already cited as not tending toward impressive technological invention, carry out a labor, which if not completed will end your life, is a responsible behavior towards the problem of death?  A thing one can be most certain about is one's consciousness and capabilities "If you want something done you've got to do it yourself" is not so far off from reality.

First, this is least important but I want to get this out of the way: I have absolutely no idea why you would say that in regard to those working in the field of biological aging that I "have already cited [these] as not tending toward impressive technological invention." Please provide such a cite.

More importantly, not only do I find your continued assertions strange, I am befuddled why you continue with them when others have so adequately already addressed your concerns. To briefly summarize:

-- Not everyone has the ability to learn what is necessary in order to do meaningful research in biological aging.

-- A productive society is based on a division of labor, and everyone benefits from others doing what they do best.

-- Some bake bread, some design cars, and some do scientific research.

-- There is more to life than simply life-extension. There are quality of life considerations.

Now, you suggest that "responsible behavior towards the problem of death" is "something ... you've got to do ... yourself." It appears that instead of some baking bread and some designing cars, you would like all to be more responsible and work on solving the problem of death. I find that to be bizarre.

(Afterall, at the least, who would bake the bread? Life without a rosemary or garlic baguette just ain't worth living!) :D

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Sorry, the citation remark was to argive99, further to address your concern, I'm wondering how anyone can come to grips with their own death and not decide to make that their goal or at least their primary goal. I'm not talking about society here, yes baking bread is one activity which not everyone needs to do, but if no one were baking bread and you really needed bread, I'd question why you weren't doing it yourself. The same applies to life extension, no one is looking out to extend your life specifically, while businesses may want to extend life as soon as possible so they can get richer, they don't necessarily see it as imperative that they do it before you, individually, are dead. This is a problem which every individual must solve in their own way, I'm still not sure how anyone can believe that their death isn't something to try to control with the utmost effort, by working on the problem with everythng they have. Standard of living isn't so much of a concern, if I had to relegate my pleasures or standard in the first 50 years of my life so that I was rewarded with perpetually sustainable life, the quality of life during the initial researching period would be of no concern to me.

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As an example, consider someone who inherits 500 million dollars at a young age. This person has no 'life sustaining' need to work or produce for the remainder of his existence - he has more money than he will ever be able to spend. The concept of 'maintaining his life' simply does not apply here - this person has all the food, shelter, security and medical aid that money can buy. If your argument were correct, there would be no need for this heir to be productive, and he would just spend his days snorting cocaine off the bellies of hookers. In reality, this is obviously not the case. Why?

Because even though he has 500M$, he still must act to further his life using this money, but also his knowledge and values.

Supposed he didn't have 500M$, but automatic health, and immortality that required no action on his part.

What could possibly be of value to him? What could make him happy?

Happiness is not an irreducible fact. It depends on what one values. And what one values rationally depend on the things that promote one's life.

But nothing CAN promote one's life, if immortality is the given.

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Actually Ash, if you are saying that the Objectivist ethics argues againt a rationally conceived immortality, or as Betsy pointed out, perpetual life extension, I would respectfully disagree. I think this thread has underscored my point that any discussion of immortality has as its premise the false view that if you remove the spectre of death, human life becomes meaningless. That I can't agree with...

Please do not put words in other poster's mouths when replying to their posts. It is, at best, bad form--and at worst, dishonest.

Obviously I am not against indefinite life extension (though I would strongly object to calling it "immortality")--but that extension would have to be achieved by an active process that takes effort, in the face of the alternative of death if one failed to take the necessary actions. Perhaps you should re-read that essay as well if you disagree that that is the Objectivist position. You may disagree with that position, but then just be honest and say that you disagree with what Objectivism says on this issue.

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Also, Argive, the assertion that we have a max at 120 years doesn't fit in the modern scientific world.  You'd do better to look, first, at the longest known life time of homologous creatures to man, which I believe is still a Galapagos Turtle, question what differs between them and how to approach their life span, and second at the basic requirements of continuing life beyond that known threshhold, basically what you would need to do to continue life indefinitely.

I don't know what you mean by this. 120 years is the scientific, theoretical max. It seems pretty standard science. To reach it though would be a feat. It would probably take a lifelong commitment to calorie restriction which from my reading has been documented to extend the lives of almost any lab animal its been tried on. (Amongst many other things it minimizes damage done by free radicals.) It would also probably require maintaing optimal muscle mass through lifelong inelligent resistance exercise and also the reduction of as many stressors as humanly possible (to minimize cortizol levels). Hell, from what I've read, it might even require castration (or its female equivalent).

Also, on the pschyo-somatic (or probably more accurately called the neuro-somatic) side of things, such longevity would most likely require a "happy", mentally active person with a really good attitude (which pretty much rules me out). A miserable person probably just wouldn't live that long. And of course the most important factor would probably still be genetics.

Living such a restricted, bland life (especially with the privation involved) probably wouldn't be worth the extra years it bought you. Until such time as science can actually alter DNA erosion (ie talomere shortening), the 120 year number probably wont change.

Which is why I say that a possible marketing tool for Objectivism might be to link reason, egoism, and capitalism with more life. Let the liberals, conservatives, and libertarians die at 70.

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Obviously I am not against indefinite life extension (though I would strongly object to calling it "immortality")--but that extension would have to be achieved by an active process that takes effort, in the face of the alternative of death if one failed to take the necessary actions.

Nothing I have said disagrees with this. Of course death would remain the alternative for failure to maintain human life. But I don't see how that differs if your lifespan is 70-100 or if its indefinite. Indefinite life extension alters nothing said in the Objectivist Ethics. Life is still the standard of value and death is still the opposite of life.

I can conceive, however, of a culture where indefinite life would be the expected and where failue to maintain that life and allow "nature to take its course" would be unthinkable; sort of the way its unthinkable for a hygienic man to not take at least one daily shower. (best analogy I could come up with on such short notice)

As for accidental deaths, etc. Look, if we're going to imagine a culture that has the technological capacity to achieve 'immortality' (and I actuall have no problem with that term; I'd like to see it rescued from the mystics the way I'd like to see 'selfish' rescued from the altruists), then I can't but believe that 'accidents' would themselves be nullified (or at least minimized to a negligable threat). Use your imagination. How do you prevent your computer's system data from being accidently errased? You back it up. I imagine in time, human conciousness will be able to be similarly stored and transferred.

To be honest. I'm more than a little shocked at the level of resistance I'm getting for arguing that man, the problem solver, will in time be able to solve the 'problem' that has haunted him since his earliest moments. I would expect this from a Bible-Story-Of-The-Month club. But on this forum I would think man's rational capacity would never be doubted. Maybe I've read too much science fiction, but I have confidence in human ingenuity and human will.

Call me crazy.

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It would probably take a lifelong commitment to calorie restriction which from my reading has been documented to extend the lives of almost any lab animal its been tried on.

I'm not arguing that we can normally, without technological assistance, extend life to beyond the bounds of our species, I'm talking about scientific investigation which would seek to obliterate the single cause of death, cessation of neural activity. Yes, there are efforts you need to take to "live right" if you wanted to live to the full potential without these technologies, but with them, your life wouldn't be infringed upon by "castration" for instance.

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As for accidental deaths, etc. Look, if we're going to imagine a culture that has the technological capacity to achieve 'immortality' (and I actuall have no problem with that term; I'd like to see it rescued from the mystics the way I'd like to see 'selfish' rescued from the altruists), then I can't but believe that 'accidents' would themselves be nullified (or at least minimized to a negligable threat). Use your imagination. How do you prevent your computer's system data from being accidently errased? You back it up. I imagine in time, human conciousness will be able to be similarly stored and transferred.

Have you considered the immediate problems which seem to flow from this idea? Would the backup actually be 'you'? Consider, for instance, that you got lost in the woods one day and your family, assuming that you had died, decide to restore 'you' from the backup. Howver, since you were only lost and not dead, you find your way home one day, only to be confronted with 'yourself'. Can we really say that this backup 'you' is actually you? If your family decides that it only wants one argive99 and agrees to kill you and keep the backup, can we really say that 'you' havent died?

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I agree with what in my opinion Betsy implied earlier in the discussion - if you invest too much time and energy trying to extend your life, you'll miss out on really living it. Certainly I am doing what I can to live a healthier, longer life, but I'm more concerned with quality than quantity. I will say that for me personally, knowing that I won't live forever does remind to me to savor life. As far as immortality is concerned, I make my impression on the world and thereby live on in my own way by living and loving well.

Humbly,

Sabine

Sabine's Garden

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Have you considered the immediate problems which seem to flow from this idea? Would the backup actually be 'you',? Consider, for instance, that you got lost in the woods one day and your family assumed that you had died, and thus decided to restore 'you' from the backup. Howver, since you were only lost and not dead, you find your way home one day, only to be confronted with 'yourself'. Can we really say that this backup 'you' is actually you? If your family decides that it only wants one 'you' and agrees to kill you and keep the backup, can we really say that you havent died?

Look, I'm not going to get lost in the minutiae. My point is a very broad one. If we hypothesize a society that can develop the means to transfer consciousness or whatever method they use to extend life, we can assume they have worked out all the details and have tested protocols to insure agianst all the contingencies you can think of.

As for multiple identities of the same individual, it seems complicated to us from our context of knowledge. But to a culture that was capable of it, I imagine there wouldn't be a problem.

Again, such resistance.

You'd think I was arguing for an increase in the capital gains tax.

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Look, I'm not going to get lost in the minutiae. My point is a very broad one. If we hypothesize a society that can develop the means to transfer consciousness or whatever method they use to extend life, we can assume they have worked out all the details and have tested protocols to insure agianst all the contingencies you can think of.

I dont think it's so much a case of 'minutiae', as it is a very strong arguement against the 'uploading and transferral of a human' ever being theoretically possible. I agree with you that the ability to 'not die but by one's own hand 'should certainly be something to strive for, but I have serious philosophical objections to proposals which revolve around treating consiousness as if it were nothing more than an incredibly complex computer program, simply because of the vast number of apparent paradoxes such an idea appears to create.

Would the computer containing this backup copy of 'you' actually be conscious? If we could write a program where someone could sit at the computer have a conversation with your stored consciousness, would we say that you 'are' 'actually' the computer? I recall reading about a thought-experiment proposed by Douglas Hofstadter involving a very large book containing a complete description of Einstein's brain. Anyone reading the book could theoretically ask einstein any question they desired, simply by flicking through the book and following the instructions provided. Would we say that book was self-aware or conscious?

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I'm wondering how anyone can come to grips with their own death and not decide to make that their goal or at least their primary goal.  [...]  This is a problem which every individual must solve in their own way, I'm still not sure how anyone can believe that their death isn't something to try to control with the utmost effort, by working on the problem with everythng they have. 

Hey Howard, what are you doing wasting your time designing buildings? Don't you realize you're going to DIE?

You don't care? You just want to spend your whole life doing what you love to do just because it makes you happy? How irresponsible!

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I agree with you that the ability to 'not die but by one's own hand 'should certainly be something to strive for, but I have serious philosophical objections to proposals which revolve around treating consiousness as if it were nothing more than an incredibly complex computer program, simply because of the vast number of apparent paradoxes such an idea appears to create.

You're making this a discussion about a rational philosophy of mind and voicing complaints about possible materialist implications about uplaoding/downloading consciousness, etc. That's not necessary here. If its not consciousness transfer, it will be something else.

Again, big picture argument is cessation of life seems to me something an advanced culture would scoff at and obsolete.

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Which is why I say that a possible marketing tool for Objectivism might be to link reason, egoism, and capitalism with more life.

That's misleading advertising. Objectivism can't deliver an increased lifespan because that is a job for scientific researchers, not philosophers.

Objectivism can, however, deliver on marketing which links reason, egoism, and capitalism with better, happier, more successful life.

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To be honest. I'm more than a little shocked at the level of resistance I'm getting for arguing that man, the problem solver, will in time be able to solve the 'problem' that has haunted him since his earliest moments. I would expect this from a Bible-Story-Of-The-Month club. But on this forum I would think man's rational capacity would never be doubted.

Man's rational faculty is not in doubt, but it is understood. Man's rational faculty is volitional.

That means that even if technology allows a man to live as long as he wants, he can choose not to take advantage of technology or be careless about it. People can even deliberately choose to die for pretty much all they same reasons they commit suicide today. Men will always be free to make bad choices and mess up their lives. If a man's life is wretched, why would he want to live forever?

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That's misleading advertising.  Objectivism can't deliver an increased lifespan because that is a job for scientific researchers, not philosophers.

Well, but Objectivism can create the environment where scientific research and the resulting entrepreneurial activity that would surround it can flourish. I think it can be argued that even today with our current level of technology, vastly longer lifespans could be reached and that the major obstacle is philosophical/political not scientific. By that I mean if people were slightly more rational and they demanded more economic and poliltical freedom, current corporate bio-sicience might be able to double the lifespan within a generation.

Objectivist intellectuals can't offer a cure for cancer. But they can say "abolish the capital gains tax, the progressive income tax, the FDA, and all restraints on voluntary scientific research and a cure will be the likely result."

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I did say "if" that was your position.

Yes, you did--but if you had read the post to which I was referring, it would have been clear that that was not my position. Even with the "if," your post was misleading and could have made a less careful reader (perhaps one such as yourself?) think that I was espousing that position.

I should not have to correct you because you put words in my mouth. I do not want it to happen again.

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Nothing I have said disagrees with this. Of course death would remain the alternative for failure to maintain human life. But I don't see how that differs if your lifespan is 70-100 or if its indefinite. Indefinite life extension alters nothing said in the Objectivist Ethics. Life is still the standard of value and death is still the opposite of life.

And nothing I have said disagrees with this. Has anyone really argued against your broad claim here? As far as I can tell, other posters have only striven to point out, for the sake of clarity, that no matter how far man's life is extended it is a result of self-generated self-sustaining process with death as the alternative, objected to loosely throwing around philosophically dubious terms like "immortality," and questioned some of your more arbitrary hypotheses.

It seems to me that you were the one that questioned whether the alternative of life or death is what gives rise to values. Do you think it is, or don't you? If you don't, you can argue for that position but don't claim that it is the more "Objectivist" one--because it isn't.

Edited by AshRyan
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  • 2 weeks later...
My life is my ultimate measure of all value, without it I can not value.

My life is terminable, when life is gone, nothing else is possible.

To continue valuing, I must endeavor to make my life interminable.

So why isn't everyone out there searching for the "fountain of youth"?

We are limited by our genetic potential, at least with current technology. Even the genetically best humans are limited to 90 to 130 years or so no matter how healthy they live.

But we can try to achieve or approach our genetic potential.

The goal of living healthy is not to live long but to be healthy while we are alive. (Altho that tends to add a few years as a bonus.) Some people live long and are in very bad condition but in such a way that doesn't kill them. For example one does not die of blindness or of deafness or of senility.

For me energy is more important than longevity. For example I can accomplish more in two hours with energy than in two months without energy. This is not an exaggeration.

Some people do in one lifetime what some very capable people would take 10 very productive lifetimes to do. Energy (of body and of mind) is a very important factor in productivity and enjoyment of life and everything that you might want to do with your life.

An old man 100 years old was the oldest employee in Canada. He was asked for advice how to live long. His advice was: "Don't die." :D

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An old man 100 years old was the oldest employee in Canada.  He was asked for advice how to live long.  His advice was: "Don't die."  :D

That's cute, but my favorite, from the United States, does one better. Harold Fisher is a 100 year-old American architect who recently cut back his work schedule, from seven to just five days a week! Fisher says that most men die when they retire, because they are "bored to tears." He sums himself up with "I'm never bored. I'm always thinking. I've always got problems to solve. Well, I'm just -- I'm happy."

You just have to love this guy.

This info was back in 2001, from a CNN interview. They still have the transcript at http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0112/16/sun.13.html

I'd love to have a current update on Harold Fisher, should anyone know.

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