Reason, at fightaging.org, wrote a commentary that I want to share with you. Very insightful food for thought… and amazing information. I wish everyone in the world could read this. Here it is:
Live or die: why does it matter to you? Why strive, why bother? The first stoics long ago pointed out that dead is dead; fear dying by all means, but do not fear being nothing. Or, from Epicurus, we have the epitaph “I was not, I was, I am not, I care not.”
I recently engaged in a passing conversation with a young lady on the topic of the progress of medical science towards enhanced longevity.
She recognized that medicine was improving but chose to do nothing to improve the odds for her own future – to be a person who will take advantage of future medical advances when they arrive, but who is content to live whatever life and life span falls out of chance and the actions of others.
One wonders if the many people who think and act this way have an accurate picture of the suffering involved in being aged, frail, and decrepit, but it is a common viewpoint.
These folk head towards death in the distance, but feel no urgency, no urge to do anything but die alongside the rest of the herd. Yet when the damage of aging presses its claws in, these are the very same people who, decades from now, will reach out for the best medical help available.
It is a puzzle to me, the absolute contradiction of individuals who intricately plan out finances and life courses for the decades ahead in all matters except helping to build the better medicine that will ease their future.
Their view of technological progress is passive, that it is something that just happens, perhaps.
But why be different, why bother? Why survive at all, given the stoic view? Why live? Why put in all this effort for a shot at a life span far longer than the measly four score or so years that is all that most of us would get in the environment of today’s medical technology?
That is a question with no answer but the one you fill in yourself, alongside the meaning of life and the laundry list of goals you feel you are here to achieve. It is self-determination all the way down.
In the case of rejuvenation research, there are obvious and compelling reasons to work on technologies to halt and reverse degenerative aging even absent a will to avert death. Rejuvenation treatments are the only long-term reliable solution to prevent the great suffering, pain, and cost that comes with aging while still alive.
Preventing the breakdown of the body is a worthy, useful, and rational goal regardless of your position today on when you’d like to die.
Many young people express the desire to die on the same timescale as their parents, but few are ready to volunteer for heart disease, chronic pain, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease if the question is put to them.
Cryonics and plastination, the preservation of the brain and the mind it contains against a better-equipped future in which restoration is a possibility, has a different dynamic.
Because euthanasia is illegal in much of the world – a squalid state of affairs, in which disinterested bureaucrats force you into an undignified and horrible end simply because they can – cryonics cannot be used to bypass the suffering of aging. Instead the motivation here must be survival, pure and simple. The desire to live and act and see tomorrow’s news.
Here’s a post on this topic from one of the folk involved in the Brain Preservation Foundation, a group that favors plastination as an approach but runs a technology-agnostic research prize for the best contending approaches, presently vitrification and plastination. It is a reminder that there are as many views on survival as there are people willing to survive: