Living Forever – an absolutely abhorrent aberration?

I’m currently reading Bryan Appleyard’s 2007 book “How to Live Forever or Die Trying” – half way in and so far it’s been mainly philosophical about the meaning of life, what “I” means to someone who can’t remember most of what they have done and whether the quest for immortality is morally correct.

Generally I don’t focus on these subjects for the Live Forever Club as it is aimed at people who have already decided they do want to and are looking for useful tips on how to make it possible. However I was chatting with a friend last night who falls into what I would call the “totally normal” camp. The term “radical life extension” means nothing to him, he’s not religious, and so has no preconceived views on living forever so I was very interested in his reaction on me setting up the club.

We went through the usual steps of is it possible, who would want to, but what if it was with your 20-something body, etc. After a few moments where I thought I’d tempted him he concluded that it would just not be right… an aberration of nature was the term he used. Basically to most people I’ve spoken to it doesn’t seem right that people might live forever.

But being a totally normal person, he also raised a couple more interesting points.

1. Many people, including non-religious ones, believe there is something after death and therefore aren’t trying to prevent it. I suggested that that is a big gamble as you don’t get a second chance, however he pointed out that I am also taking a gamble that there is not something beyond death which immortalists will never discover.

2. Are we already past the moral argument of radical life extension? Compared to the average life expectancy just  a few hundred years ago we already are. In the future will there be 200 year old people saying it’s immoral to live past 1000 even though they’re already benefiting from medical and technological improvements to have lived past the “natural” 100-ish years biological limit.

And his final parting comment – having said all that, ask me again when I’m on my death bed, as then it’s no longer a hypothetical argument.

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