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Killing Immortality - Leon Kass :: Simon Smith


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#31 kismet

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 01:29 PM

None of these benefits stands up to scrutiny.

I disagree. These benefits make sense from a humanist point of view as well as Christian. I know a 90 year old man - extremely healthy and very sharp, who will vouch for the first one listed. He simply no longer has the interest in anything he once did. All points Kass makes here can be supported with ease.

Where Kass goes wrong is in wanting to control people's actions in striving toward immortality. If the God he believes in is the God of the Christian bible, does he really think that God will allow this endeavor to go one millimeter past where he wants it to go? It is a classic case of barking up the wrong tree. This tree (human-created immortality) is not the tree of God, ergo it is the wrong tree, and it is far too tall to ever make it to the top. Anyone attempting the climb will fall down in every attempt, and hopefully eventually turn his attention to the right tree, the "Tree of Life", and find true immortality. No different than any other endeavor born from misplaced energy - just another lesson to be learned.

Don't try to stop people from learning lessons, unless they impose upon another person's right to learn his own lesson.


Then do bring on the arguments to support them! "You just said he's right because _", but you did not fill in the blank.

I know a 90 year old man - extremely healthy and very sharp, who will vouch for the first one listed.He simply no longer has the interest in anything he once did.
--- I know a 94 year old man who loves to live and exercise vigorously, he is an iconic figure, you may  have heard about him! However, one's own experience (n=1) a valid theory does not make.

No death, no meaning
---  No God, no meaning I would agree. No death, no meaning? Never. Think about it that way: WHATEVER you do it has no meaning, because eventually you die, whether you were a murderer, pedophile and rapist, a pastor or monk. Where's the meaning?

Interest and engagement: The pleasures of life wouldn't increase proportionately to years, Kass believes. "Would professional tennis players really enjoy playing 25% more games of tennis?" he asks
--- The shelf-life of professional player is already short enough, you can't even make money all your life with the sport, no matter how much you love it. If you understood one's passion for sport you would not say that. Do you do any serious sports? Do you know the feeling a heavy deadlift gives you - I could enjoy that, maybe not forever, but I'd prefer to enjoy it longer than just decades. BTW without transhumanism world record progression comes to a halt and professional sport becomes boring.

Seriousness and aspiration: We can't aspire or be serious without (ahem) a deadline, he says
--- The deadline is still here and it is more serious then ever: Neutron decay and heat death is a paramount problem!

Beauty and love: Like a sunset, Kass suggests, life is beautiful because it has an ending!
--- Repetition a point does not make.

Virtue and moral excellence: Mortality means that we can give our lives to higher causes, says Kass
--- lovely, I really love this argument! Can you image how much more noble it is when a quasi-immortal person gives his or her life for someone else?

Ok, now it's your turn.

PS: I sincerely thank you for your tolerance, something he and many others lack.
"Don't try to stop people from learning lessons, unless they impose upon another person's right to learn his own lesson."

Edited by kismet, 30 August 2008 - 01:33 PM.


#32 kismet

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 01:59 PM

Finally some sense. Cheers for Kass.

A man of few words, I like that. If you could express arguments with that few words, not just disapproval, you would be an unrivaled genius. I hope one day you will elaborate why we are Nazis and why again we are wrong and doomed? I hope this will happen in a coherent fashion for once.
Keep up the good work, if our task was easy we'd be already immortal.

Thank you Mind for the quote. Let's take it apart!

Thanks to genetic, robotic, information, and nano technologies—collectively known by the ironic acronym GRIN—mankind is poised for what some call “engineered evolution.” Nigel warns that the very technologies that can “help us restore function to the disabled and fight disease, can also be used to bring in the ‘Brave New World’—in which what it means to be human, made in the image of God, is fundamentally lost.”

Sometimes I feel intimidated  by the ideas myself. Mostly Kurzweil & co. Mind uploading, humans become obselete - yes this may happen one day, but in the 21st century? That's dystopian! Anyway Kurzweil is too "optimistic" so it won't happen anytime soon. People got used to everything over time, paleolithic man would get crazy in our modern world too. That's part of evolution.
"Oh, brave new world, that has such people in it!", easily could be the reaction of any cryopreserved man brought back to life in two thousand years, this is not unexpected.
The Amish solution you proposed Mind is perfect and would make everyone happy.

Not only will the results of this “evolution” be unprecedented, but so will the speed at which it happens. “Pain vaccines,” “memory pills,” and “gene doping,” which may turn even the scrawniest kid into a Hercules, are being tested as I speak.

The "evolution" is already taking place, the speed is ever-accelerating. “Pain vaccines,” “memory pills,” and “gene doping,” are so yesterday! Thus they won't turn anyone into a Hercules, they can only improve an existing foundation.
Main point being, it's too late,  you can't stop the "evolution" anymore without abandoning all knowledge and science (extinction of mankind?). One can slow it down - killing hundreds of millions of people in the process, who therefor won't become immortal - but it will happen in the near-term future, if mankind survives.

The real, darwinian evolution came to a halt long ago. The last attempt to enforce darwinian evolution was called eugenics. It failed miserably as far as history is concerned. There's no need for it anyway "evolution" is better than evolution.

But who will enjoy the fruits of such enhancements? As Nigel writes, developments in “blending human nature and machine nature through such means as the implanting of brain chips for memory, skills, or communication . . . could compound both the intelligence and the wealth of a small segment of society.” This could lead “to a new feudalism, in which power of all kinds is concentrated in the hands of ‘enhanced’ persons.”

The new old feudalism. This is already reality, where have you been? It always took time until new drugs became available to the mainstream.

Worthless BS as ever. Give me a real challange naysayers!

Edited by kismet, 30 August 2008 - 02:02 PM.


#33 grazan

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 10:36 PM

[quote name='kismet' date='30-Aug 2008, 09:29 AM' post='260314']
[quote name='grazan' post='260285' date='30-Aug 2008, 04:52 AM']
None of these benefits stands up to scrutiny.

I disagree. These benefits make sense from a humanist point of view as well as Christian. I know a 90 year old man - extremely healthy and very sharp, who will vouch for the first one listed. He simply no longer has the interest in anything he once did. All points Kass makes here can be supported with ease.

Where Kass goes wrong is in wanting to control people's actions in striving toward immortality. If the God he believes in is the God of the Christian bible, does he really think that God will allow this endeavor to go one millimeter past where he wants it to go? It is a classic case of barking up the wrong tree. This tree (human-created immortality) is not the tree of God, ergo it is the wrong tree, and it is far too tall to ever make it to the top. Anyone attempting the climb will fall down in every attempt, and hopefully eventually turn his attention to the right tree, the "Tree of Life", and find true immortality. No different than any other endeavor born from misplaced energy - just another lesson to be learned.

Don't try to stop people from learning lessons, unless they impose upon another person's right to learn his own lesson.

Then do bring on the arguments to support them! "You just said he's right because _", but you did not fill in the blank.

I know a 90 year old man - extremely healthy and very sharp, who will vouch for the first one listed.He simply no longer has the interest in anything he once did.
--- I know a 94 year old man who loves to live and exercise vigorously, he is an iconic figure, you may  have heard about him! However, one's own experience (n=1) a valid theory does not make.

Sorry to give the impression that this example was meant as proof as related to the above point. Obviously one example proves nothing. It was simply an illustration.

No death, no meaning
---  No God, no meaning I would agree. No death, no meaning? Never. Think about it that way: WHATEVER you do it has no meaning, because eventually you die, whether you were a murderer, pedophile and rapist, a pastor or monk. Where's the meaning?


Seriousness and aspiration: We can't aspire or be serious without (ahem) a deadline, he says
--- The deadline is still here and it is more serious then ever: Neutron decay and heat death is a paramount problem!


Where to start here? Imagine if every human being from the start of time lived forever? How many people would be on this planet now? It has been fairly well established in the psychological realm that humans tend to devalue other people as population increases. If one equates value with meaning, then meaning derived from other people would decline (at a much faster rate than exists currently with our "natural" lifespan).
And again, assuming value equals meaning, the past actions of deceased persons have great meaning... would you actually require proof of this? Even if you were not to accept my theory that value equals meaning, do you not see that the actions of a pedophile (your example), dead or alive, have great meaning for his victim?
Those were in response to your points. As for my proof, I believe that the knowledge that we are certainly going to die someday colors and shapes every action and decision we make in life. This knowledge forces us to grow, to evolve. If we knew that we would never die, we would have no impetus to mature past the point of comfort. We would have all the time in the world to do anything, which would remove any sense of urgency to accomplish anything for reasons other than comfort or ego gratification. We would feel free to hurt others because they would not die, and we would have all the time in the world to make amends. After all, where would compassion be learned? A person writhing on the floor, bleeding, in great pain - what a shame, but don't worry... he'll be fine in the end.

There is no meaning in a life of existence only; meaning comes from sacrifice, achievement, and greatness. These would not be sought without the time limit imposed by death.


Interest and engagement: The pleasures of life wouldn't increase proportionately to years, Kass believes. "Would professional tennis players really enjoy playing 25% more games of tennis?" he asks
--- The shelf-life of professional player is already short enough, you can't even make money all your life with the sport, no matter how much you love it. If you understood one's passion for sport you would not say that. Do you do any serious sports? Do you know the feeling a heavy deadlift gives you - I could enjoy that, maybe not forever, but I'd prefer to enjoy it longer than just decades. BTW without transhumanism world record progression comes to a halt and professional sport becomes boring.


If you only knew :) Suffice to say I am female, and unless you are a competitive male powerlifter, I feel comfortable challenging your deadlift. And I am the last person you have to convince that transhumanism has transformed many sports, in particular mine. For my last competition I used at least sixteen different chemical substances. I am also beginning a fascination with nootropics, and will experiment with those after more research. My thoughts and beliefs regarding chasing immortality vs. Christianity don't necessarily coincide with my actions. I'm one of those people climbing the wrong tree. I'm just aware of it. As for the passion - passion by its very nature is transient. Passion is defined as strong or intense emotion. Emotions are not designed to stay strong or intense. Passion is simply nature's (God's?) way of motivating us to start something. It stems from ego gratification. We lose the need for ego gratification as we evolve. Some people don't evolve at the same rate as others and retain strong ego needs into old age. I had extreme passion for my sport when I started. I still have some, but it is waning. I continue for practical reasons and probably still some ego gratification.

Beauty and love: Like a sunset, Kass suggests, life is beautiful because it has an ending!
--- Repetition a point does not make.


This idea is not one that can be proved or disproved, based as it is on the subjective. Nevertheless, I would submit that for something to be truly beautiful it must stir some emotion. I do not believe emotion can be ignited by anything that will live forever.

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#34 cyborgdreamer

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 05:43 AM

From the article:

But, of course, countering Kass's opinions isn't that easy: He is dead-set against life extension. "This is a question in which our very humanity is at stake, not only in the consequences but also in the very meaning of the choice," he says. "For to argue that human life would be better without death is, I submit, to argue that human life would be better being something other than human."


If being human means suffering under the flaws and limitations of the human condition, than I don't want to be human. (Of course, I'd still want to keep the positive aspects of humanity.) If Kass feels differently, no one's going to hold him down and force immortality treatments on him.

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#35 kismet

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 12:30 PM

None of these benefits stands up to scrutiny.

I disagree. These benefits make sense from a humanist point of view as well as Christian. I know a 90 year old man - extremely healthy and very sharp, who will vouch for the first one listed. He simply no longer has the interest in anything he once did. All points Kass makes here can be supported with ease.

Where Kass goes wrong is in wanting to control people's actions in striving toward immortality. If the God he believes in is the God of the Christian bible, does he really think that God will allow this endeavor to go one millimeter past where he wants it to go? It is a classic case of barking up the wrong tree. This tree (human-created immortality) is not the tree of God, ergo it is the wrong tree, and it is far too tall to ever make it to the top. Anyone attempting the climb will fall down in every attempt, and hopefully eventually turn his attention to the right tree, the "Tree of Life", and find true immortality. No different than any other endeavor born from misplaced energy - just another lesson to be learned.

Don't try to stop people from learning lessons, unless they impose upon another person's right to learn his own lesson.

Then do bring on the arguments to support them! "You just said he's right because _", but you did not fill in the blank.

I know a 90 year old man - extremely healthy and very sharp, who will vouch for the first one listed.He simply no longer has the interest in anything he once did.
--- I know a 94 year old man who loves to live and exercise vigorously, he is an iconic figure, you may  have heard about him! However, one's own experience (n=1) a valid theory does not make.

Sorry to give the impression that this example was meant as proof as related to the above point. Obviously one example proves nothing. It was simply an illustration.

No death, no meaning
---  No God, no meaning I would agree. No death, no meaning? Never. Think about it that way: WHATEVER you do it has no meaning, because eventually you die, whether you were a murderer, pedophile and rapist, a pastor or monk. Where's the meaning?


Seriousness and aspiration: We can't aspire or be serious without (ahem) a deadline, he says
--- The deadline is still here and it is more serious then ever: Neutron decay and heat death is a paramount problem!

Where to start here? Imagine if every human being from the start of time lived forever? How many people would be on this planet now? It has been fairly well established in the psychological realm that humans tend to devalue other people as population increases. If one equates value with meaning, then meaning derived from other people would decline (at a much faster rate than exists currently with our "natural" lifespan).
And again, assuming value equals meaning, the past actions of deceased persons have great meaning... would you actually require proof of this? Even if you were not to accept my theory that value equals meaning, do you not see that the actions of a pedophile (your example), dead or alive, have great meaning for his victim?

--- As the rapist's victims, judges and acquaintances die his crimes are forgotten, if he did not commit crimes of historical relevance. Time heals all the wounds. Death makes it easier to forget, immortality would only help to remember and punish the crimes.

Those were in response to your points. As for my proof, I believe that the knowledge that we are certainly going to die someday colors and shapes every action and decision we make in life. This knowledge forces us to grow, to evolve. If we knew that we would never die, we would have no impetus to mature past the point of comfort. We would have all the time in the world to do anything, which would remove any sense of urgency to accomplish anything for reasons other than comfort or ego gratification. We would feel free to hurt others because they would not die, and we would have all the time in the world to make amends. After all, where would compassion be learned? A person writhing on the floor, bleeding, in great pain - what a shame, but don't worry... he'll be fine in the end.

--- We're not even close to true immortality, not in the least. Most often we're talking about stopping aging and the resulting quasi-immortality. I'm not really concerend with true immortality for now. I know you people need drama and that it is a powerful argument indeed. A life without drama (death) becomes boring. However, we're not taking away your drama. Hatred, hypocrisy, depression, angst, loneliness, pain, heartbreak and all the other dramatic feelings are here to stay. Accidents, death, war, genocide, homicide, torture, racism, discrimination and rape  aren't solved by life extensionists and immortalists (sadly?). Oh, you'll get enough pain and death. If you've lived hundreds of years and then die, it would just magnify the drama and people still could learn compassion.
Those quasi-immortal would still try to accomplish things, but they'd try to accomplish much bigger things in their lifetime. Things that require more time like understanding quantum physics, the human body, design processors and other ICs or build planes which on their own might take a regular lifetime.

There is no meaning in a life of existence only; meaning comes from sacrifice, achievement, and greatness. These would not be sought without the time limit imposed by death.

Interest and engagement: The pleasures of life wouldn't increase proportionately to years, Kass believes. "Would professional tennis players really enjoy playing 25% more games of tennis?" he asks
--- The shelf-life of professional player is already short enough, you can't even make money all your life with the sport, no matter how much you love it. If you understood one's passion for sport you would not say that. Do you do any serious sports? Do you know the feeling a heavy deadlift gives you - I could enjoy that, maybe not forever, but I'd prefer to enjoy it longer than just decades. BTW without transhumanism world record progression comes to a halt and professional sport becomes boring.

If you only knew :-D Suffice to say I am female, and unless you are a competitive male powerlifter, I feel comfortable challenging your deadlift. And I am the last person you have to convince that transhumanism has transformed many sports, in particular mine. For my last competition I used at least sixteen different chemical substances. I am also beginning a fascination with nootropics, and will experiment with those after more research. My thoughts and beliefs regarding chasing immortality vs. Christianity don't necessarily coincide with my actions. I'm one of those people climbing the wrong tree. I'm just aware of it. As for the passion - passion by its very nature is transient. Passion is defined as strong or intense emotion. Emotions are not designed to stay strong or intense. Passion is simply nature's (God's?) way of motivating us to start something. It stems from ego gratification. We lose the need for ego gratification as we evolve. Some people don't evolve at the same rate as others and retain strong ego needs into old age. I had extreme passion for my sport when I started. I still have some, but it is waning. I continue for practical reasons and probably still some ego gratification.

--- As my passion for the deadlift or strength sports in general declines I've many other passions to go. Just to name a few; I like squats, presses, olympic lifts, chin-ups, dips, odd-object lifting, sleds, sprints, HIIT and tabatas, plyometrics, explosive training and strength endurance training! I love volleyball, basketball, tennis, table-tennis, track and field, diving, mountain biking, MMA and boxing. Each of these exercises and sports are comparable to art and require years of practise. I suppose I can't learn many of those sports in my petty lifetime. Not only sports, but I'd like to accomplish a thorough understanding of physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, engineering and micro electronics. If you need at least one decade to achieve some level of mastery in those disciplines, do you think I'll get to understand them all in my lifetime?
Even if I did, it's not getting boring, as this is only an extremely small subset of all knowledge! I don't mind if I wind up saying: "Da steh ich nun, ich armer Tor, und bin so klug als wie zuvor", because I do not believe in a meaning of life anyway.

Beauty and love: Like a sunset, Kass suggests, life is beautiful because it has an ending!
--- Repetition a point does not make.

This idea is not one that can be proved or disproved, based as it is on the subjective. Nevertheless, I would submit that for something to be truly beautiful it must stir some emotion. I do not believe emotion can be ignited by anything that will live forever.

--- To me it is nothing more than repetition of his other points. I can counter with some of my own repetition - I do have to admit this is diffcult to understand when I simply toss arounds those terms - we're not getting immortal any time soon. First we'd have to somehow beat the laws of thermodynamics and outlive heat death of the universe and neutron decay! Let me quote the  At the gates: All life ends!
Immortality, though, is not out of the question, it is just very, very unlikely at this very moment





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