Immortality Quotes (647 quotes)
The Psychological Strain of Living Forever
But death takes us all no matter our preference. Most cultures have some version of this mythos, built to teach us that death is a duty, and aging is a means of learning the resolve to face our grave obligation with dignity. Sabretooths, gangrene, common colds: Death was always just around the corner. It therefore made good sense to sugarcoat and proclaim the nobility of passing on to the next world, the next body, or simply blinking into nothing. What do you see? Probably your loved ones milling about, right?
Anyone who's passed the age of 35 knows that we're not built to last. Many of us will slog it out to 76 years, the expected lifetime for American males -- females get two thousand extra days -- but even when young, our bodies barely work, and that marginal situation only worsens as the decades drone on. It's worth noting that a lifetime of four-score and seven is a new problem for our species. If you lived in Egypt two hundred generations ago, perhaps with a gratifying job as stone chiseler in Giza, you wouldn't worry much about career burnout. You'd be dead by age forty. The up-side was that the Pharaoh didn't have problems with social security.
If humans became immortal, the species would be at a biological disadvantage, says evolutionary biologist Andre Martins of Brazil's University of Sao Paolo. In a computer simulation which pits an immortal species against one which prunes its population, the species that grows old "can drive immortal competitors to extinction," writes Martins. When there is change and mutation, each generation is slightly better adapted to the new conditions. What are the prospects for immortality? Futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that computer technology will advance far enough by that human minds will be uploaded onto servers, thus achieving a kind of body-less immortality.
Living forever: Is it worth it?
Become a Friend of Aeon to save articles and enjoy other exclusive benefits. - The research is happening, and it's something the science is moving toward. Where did we get the idea that the longer life is, the less meaningful it becomes?
In Oscar Wilde's novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," the main character barters his soul for eternal youth but becomes wicked and immoral in the process. Leon Kass believes humanity risks striking a similar Faustian bargain if it pursues technology that extends life spans beyond what is natural. If our species ever does unlock the secrets of aging and learns to live forever, we might not lose our souls, but, like Dorian, we will no longer be human either, says Kass, a bioethicist at the University of Chicago and a longtime critic of life-extension research. For Kass, to argue that life is better without death is to argue "that human life would be better being something other than human. Kass' position is controversial, but it gets at some of the central issues surrounding the life extension debate: What is aging? Is it a disease to be cured or a natural part of life? If natural, is it necessarily good for us?
Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment lived to the age of eating pounds of chocolate a week, riding a bicycle until age and smoking until a few years before her death. Life expectancy has been increasing over the last several decades, and some have even argued that there is no limit to how long humans could live, especially given modern advances in health and technology. But the researchers — Dr. By focusing on the oldest age at death in France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — all of which have the largest recorded numbers of people aged and older — they found age at death had been increasing rapidly until the mids, at which point the measure plateaued. Related: The cost of living longer -- much longer. The findings were supported by other types of analysis from the database, as well as data from another old age database run by the Gerontology Research Group, according to the study.