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Why is everyone so afraid of death?

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#1 Soma

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 04:41 PM


As I have said before, I came this forum for health information, not for indefinite life extension. I am and have always been more interested in health-span than life-span, though they are obviously correlated.

On the whole though, I cannot see why anyone would want to indefinitely extend their lives. Biological life is, on the whole, a most unfortunate accident. It is a terrible accident because it led the evolvement of self-consciousness, and in turn endless suffering. I think that suffering is instrinsic to conscious existence. To be is to suffer. The more aware, the more suffering. They are directly proportional. A sea slug suffers little, a highly sensitive human being suffers much.

I am one who thinks that suffering is far worse than nonexistence.

The purpose of implicating healing strategies is an attempt to reduce suffering, in both current and future states. The realist knows that he can never eradicate suffering, in his own life and others, and the more honest he becomes with himself, the more he knows that he can actually do very little to mitigate it at all.

We are already alive, so we might as well try our best to limit suffering, but why would anyone want to extend suffering. I must assume that there is an undue amount of utopanism involved with this pursuit. The fairy tale that all will be well in the future. We will have extended our lives in a world where there are no problems. Ah yes, the future perfection...which is somehow always just around the corner.

I find that life extensionists, futurists, and utopianists are not unlike religious believers in this respect. They are all well aware of our present state of suffering but somehow project perfection on the future. They all have what amounts to the same "faith" that the religious fundamentalist have.

I do not have that faith. The carrot is forever out of reach of our donkey-mouths.

I do not actively seek death, but I will welcome it when it inevitably comes. It will be its own blessing - the final, irrevocable end of everything...most importantly suffering.
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#2 Brafarality

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 07:58 PM

Fascinating, I mean fascinating viewpoint, Soma. I don't think I am afraid of death, though I would know for sure when confronted by it head-on, but that is because consciousness is mysterious enough, and has enough quirks that don't jibe with known natural laws, for me to believe that death may not be the end of everything. It defies both extremes, and ameliorates them at the same time-

 

Viewpoint 1: The brain and consciousness seem so inextricably linked that there is no way that the brain is not generating it. Also, our memories and experiences seemed directly tied to our experiences as humans, and only go as far back as when the brain developed enough to allow for higher experience. As we know, ingesting mind-altering substances of any kind (from alcohol to prescription meds to LSD) affects brain chemistry which, in turn, clearly affects consciousness. Also, areas of the brain can be stimulated affecting perception, memory, orientation and more. Seems so interwoven that it's just second nature that they are opposite sides of the same coin.

 

Viewpoint 2: There are too many things that suggest that the brain cannot possibly generate consciousness.

There is continuity: I sleep, I am gone, I wake up, I am back. Where was I in the interim? If the brain is not generating consciousness at any given moment (as when knocked out), then it is just a wet organ. The 'me' is gone from the universe and has to be regenerated when the brain syncs back up. But, when I am gone and back, it seems like I am the same entity, and not some new creation.

There is parsimony: If you recreate a brain, thread by thread, nerve by nerve, you end up with an exact duplicate that functions just as our own. It appears to violate parsimony to add an additional property such as consciousness to this extremely complex biological machine (found this angle on the Wikipedia Consciousness entry. Seems to tie into the problem of other minds)

There is non-locality: Just what exactly is consciousness? It definitely cannot be explained by current knowledge. There is no singular line of theory/science/logic that leads from basic natural laws and starts with organic molecules and cells and leads to consciousness. There is an understanding gap. It may be filled, but it will be by some bizarre unknown property of the universe.

 

That is just my 2 cents on consciousness.

 

Returning to death-

I don't have death anxiety, so why am I on these forums? The subject of life extension is fascinating. And, I don't believe that physical life is always about suffering. It is bestial and primitive sometimes, but I embrace that aspect. I like tuning down my consciousness and trying to live in the moment. Sometimes, I get caught up in neurotic fretting and worries, but am sometimes able to detune enough that I feel freer than at any other time.


Edited by Brafarality, 16 May 2014 - 08:01 PM.

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#3 Florin

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 09:33 PM

If a person enjoys their life, why would they want it to end?



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#4 Lewis Carroll

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 12:09 AM

What a very interesting  post, Soma. Though I tend to disagree with your opinion, I definitely understand your reasoning. Now, I realize both our views are simply our own subjective opinions; however, I feel that you are picking the more pessimistic of the two viewpoints. I tend to view life.. living.. existing.. extremely optimistically. I love living!

 

"On the whole though, I cannot see why anyone would want to indefinitely extend their lives."

 

I need go no further then restate what Florin Clapa has already posted; "If a person enjoys their life, why would they want it to end?".

 

"Biological life is, on the whole, a most unfortunate accident. It is a terrible accident because it led the evolvement of self-consciousness, and in turn endless suffering."

 

In The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker refers to this 'accident' as the "Existential Paradox". The human species is similar to the rest of the animal kingdom; however, we are also very different. We are similar due to the fact that we cannot deny our animalistic nature - our natural, programmed instincts. We are different in that we are sentient, aware beings. So yes, sea snails and other animals are saved from the suffering regarding the anxiety that comes with the realization of our impending doom. I guess it's a trade-off. We experience life to a far greater extent then other animals; however, there is also the downside of realizing the true nature of our temporary existence.

 

 

"I am one who thinks that suffering is far worse than nonexistence."

 

A very extreme stance. Have you ever thought that maybe suffering is needed as a way to truly enjoy and appreciate? (Not that I personally feel that suffering is needed to enjoy and appreciate - just food for thought, I suppose)

 

"We are already alive, so we might as well try our best to limit suffering, but why would anyone want to extend suffering."

 

You seem to have very Eastern Philosophical-esque views. I understand why religions such a Buddhism came about in the distant past; however, I don't see how one could now feel that life is solely suffering. Violence is going down. Quality of living is going up. People are becoming more open minded and accepting. New technology is constantly being discovered. New understanding regarding the nature of humanity and the Universe is constantly being made. I feel that life is constantly improving. I, for one, am already thoroughly enjoying living at the present moment. If the world and life in general is becoming better and better, why wouldn't  I want to continue to live... it would only get better and better.

 

"I find that life extensionists, futurists, and utopianists are not unlike religious believers in this respect. They are all well aware of our present state of suffering but somehow project perfection on the future. They all have what amounts to the same "faith" that the religious fundamentalist have."

 

Yes, I do feel that imminists and futurists are a bit similar to traditional religious believers. This similarity is in that we all have hopes and dreams as to what the future holds. The difference is that the majority people on this site are relying on science, technological advancement, logic, and reason to reach their desired future. Religious followers are relying solely on faith (blindly following). We are working for it; they are hoping for it. Nanotechnology, automation, basic income, life extension, and human upgrades are all quickly manifesting from ideas into reality. Now, I am realistic in that I know this future will not be some "fairy tale"/"perfect utopia"; however, I do think it will be exponentially better then the present. 

 

"I do not actively seek death, but I will welcome it when it inevitably comes. It will be its own blessing - the final, irrevocable end of everything...most importantly suffering."

 

I feel that this may just be your way of subconsciously coping with the anxiety of death... The problem is not death. Suffering is the problem. Life is suffering. Life is the problem. Therefore death > life.

 

I am happy to hear you are not actively seeking death. This post has brought much enjoyment to my life  ;)



#5 Soma

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 04:38 PM

Viewpoint 2: There are too many things that suggest that the brain cannot possibly generate consciousness.


Not many contemporary scholars (neuroscientists, consciousness researchers, philosophers) give that viewpoint much credibility.

It seems to me that the idea that consciousness can survive the death of the brain is principally a disguised hope for immortality. I have read many books that supposedly offer the best evidence for such and have been left entirely unconvinced. Personally, I find it untenable.

Ultimately, the notion of a life that doesn't end is just as meaningless as a life that does.

And, I don't believe that physical life is always about suffering.


I feel that biological existence is characterized primarily by struggle and hardship, at every level. Everything is desperately struggling to survive and protect itself in some way. Flip on any nature documentary and it is on full display.

The more conscious the animal, the more aware they are of their struggle to stay alive. The more aware they are of all of the manifold dangers that await them. At the human level, we are acutely aware of the abject futility of being at all. Usually this is too difficult to acknowledge directly, so we psychologically evolved religion as an existential-anxiety coping mechanism. Now, some twist science to make it look as though consciousness is some immaterial specter that lives forever. Or, like the people on this site, put their faith that science itself will one day make us immortal. It all has the same origin.

#6 Soma

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 05:04 PM

I feel that you are picking the more pessimistic of the two viewpoints.

There is a fine line between pessimism and realism.

 In The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker refers to this 'accident' as the "Existential Paradox".

It is rather ironic that you mention Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death. I am well acquainted with Becker. The neurosis of thinking one will or can cheat death and unfathomably dire ramifications that ensue on a civilizational/cultural level, were what the book was about. The more apropos paradox that he describes is that one can only live fully when the complete accept their mortality.

Ultimately, the philosophy that most espouse here is entirely antithetical to his position. Longecity may be a perfect distillation of an extreme example death-anxiety neurosis...in action.

Have you ever thought that maybe suffering is needed as a way to truly enjoy and appreciate?

No, I don't think that follows. Appreciation doesn't depend on the experience of suffering. This is the same idea that is propagated in spiritual circles as a way of justifying the existence of unfathomable degree of evil (read:suffering) within existence.


The difference is that the majority people on this site are relying on science, technological advancement, logic, and reason to reach their desired future.

Yes, but you missed the point. In order to rely on science/technological advancement you must have faith that it can achieve those goals. I have witnessed science/technology generate as much human atrocity and disaster as human improvement. At best, it has been neutral, but I have a hard time believing science/technology is going to be able to clean up a planet that science/technology also destroyed. Science and technology are tools, and as such are neutral. Human nature (read: greed, hubris, lack of foresight) has led to the misapplication of technology. I do not feel that human nature can or will transform fast enough to extricate the human race from the problems it has created for itself. I am not a man of faith.

Edited by Soma, 18 May 2014 - 05:19 PM.


#7 Brafarality

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 06:09 PM

 

Viewpoint 2: There are too many things that suggest that the brain cannot possibly generate consciousness.


Not many contemporary scholars (neuroscientists, consciousness researchers, philosophers) give that viewpoint much credibility.
 

True, but every last one acknowledges that they haven't solved the mystery yet. It remains an unanswered question/problem.

 

Most just 'believe' that the progressive increase of our understanding of the human body, the nervous system, the brain and natural laws will eventually crack the mystery of how brain activity gives rise to subjective experience. But, there are more than a few who see it as a possibly intractable problem. And, these are not necessarily spiritualists and nor are they Deepak Chopra and David Chalmers, two I admire. That is, they don't believe that there is a mystical aspect to it. Rather, they just believe that the human mind will prove incapable of grasping that which gives rise to itself.

 

Currently, there is a causal gap between brain processes and consciousness. Many emergent properties can be described from the basic components up to the emergent phenomenon, fully bound by natural laws, completely coherent line of causation from the basics to the emergence. That is not the case with consciousness. The understanding gap between brain and mind is still there.

 

Anyway, I can't get enough of this topic, so please forgive me if I am verbose!


Edited by Brafarality, 18 May 2014 - 06:10 PM.


#8 Florin

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 10:05 PM

 On the whole though, I cannot see why anyone would want to indefinitely extend their lives.

Ultimately, the notion of a life that doesn't end is just as meaningless as a life that does.

 
My initial reply should have clarified these issues. Basically, a person which enjoys their life will want for it to continue at least as long as they enjoy it. Consequently, an endless life has the potential to produce endless enjoyment; a finite life will always produce a finite amount of enjoyment. If a literally endless life continues to be a physical impossibility as the current consensus in cosmology indicates, a life that is much longer than it is today also has the potential to produce more enjoyment than our current lifespan allows.

 

We are already alive, so we might as well try our best to limit suffering, but why would anyone want to extend suffering. I must assume that there is an undue amount of utopanism involved with this pursuit. The fairy tale that all will be well in the future. We will have extended our lives in a world where there are no problems. Ah yes, the future perfection...which is somehow always just around the corner. 

I feel that biological existence is characterized primarily by struggle and hardship, at every level.

 
This may be true in the wild, but for many humans, it is not. At the very least, pleasure outweighs pain for them. Since the future may be as enjoyable or even more so than it is today, it is quite rational to want this enjoyment to continue for as long as possible. Claiming that life is worth living only if it is perfect and free of any suffering is a red herring; life is worth living if pleasure outweighs pain.

 

But since no one knows for certain whether the future will be filled with pain or pleasure, we should be able to decide whether to live or die at any point in time. Unfortunately, these choices are progressively taken away from us the longer we live. Eventually, death is forced upon us whether we like it or not. This lack of choice is what we want to mitigate as much as possible.
 

At the human level, we are acutely aware of the abject futility of being at all.

 
Pleasure is a sufficient reason to appreciate being alive.

 

 The difference is that the majority people on this site are relying on science, technological advancement, logic, and reason to reach their desired future.

Yes, but you missed the point. In order to rely on science/technological advancement you must have faith that it can achieve those goals. I have witnessed science/technology generate as much human atrocity and disaster as human improvement. At best, it has been neutral, but I have a hard time believing science/technology is going to be able to clean up a planet that science/technology also destroyed. Science and technology are tools, and as such are neutral. Human nature (read: greed, hubris, lack of foresight) has led to the misapplication of technology. I do not feel that human nature can or will transform fast enough to extricate the human race from the problems it has created for itself. I am not a man of faith.

 

It is a fact that longevity has increased for most people, not an article of faith.

 

Barring a technological apocalypse, I see little reason to deny that medicine will eventually be unable to eliminate every disease. In fact, projects such as SENS seem to suggest that biological immortality is not an impossibility or as distant as it may seem.


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#9 PWAIN

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 12:18 AM

Death is a waste of what has been created. We grow our bodies, fill them with knowledge and experiences and then when we die, all that is just thrown away, lost forever.

 

I think the whole suffereing thing is way over done. I don't feel I suffer at all. I have good and bad in my life but 90% of it is good and the bad is easily manageable. If the 'suffering' ever got too much, I could always kill myself but I doubt that will happen because whatever the suffering, there is usually a time later that the suffering is gone, replaced by happiness. With a very long life, the opertunity for happiness in the future increases.

 

As for the anticipation of a utopian future, we have history as a guide. Pretty sure if you took an average person from 2000 years ago and let them live as an average person in todays society, they would think they are well on their way to Utopia. There is no reason to think that this will not continue into the future and since the improvements seem to have followed an exponential path up until now, the future should see a world very different to the one we are in now. The differences are likely to be positive since this is where we concentrate our research, things like medicine, automation, human rights and even defence.

 

I don't need a purpose or some meaning to live. Being able to observe, enjoy and marvel at the universe is good enough for me.

 

To be honest, the OP sounds a lot like someone suffering depression.



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#10 Soma

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 12:58 AM

This may be true in the wild, but for many humans, it is not.

Spoken like a true first-worlder.

Anyways, I find that it is almost universally true. There is always another anxiety to replace one that has vanished. Sure, we aren't running from saber-toothed tigers anymore but the list of anxiety endemic to modern life and endless...

life is worth living if pleasure outweighs pain.

Personally, for me it doesn't...and hasn't for most of my life. I have dealt with chronic illness my whole life, the most conspicuous being mysterious and intractable skin condition that has affected my entire body. I'm not going into it now (I've gone into extensively on these forums) but suffice it to say that my life was ruined quite some time ago. Today I am still ravaged by infection, severe skin scaling over my entire body and as well as disfiguring scarring all over my face.
 

Pleasure is a sufficient reason to appreciate being alive.

what happens when there is no pleasure or when it ceases and is replaced by endless pain.
 

It is a fact that longevity has increased for most people, not an article of faith.

But are they happier?
 

Barring a technological apocalypse, I see little reason to deny that medicine will eventually be unable to eliminate every disease.

Forgive me but I wholeheartedly disagree. We can't even cure the common cold. Technology can't even remove skin scarring and you tell me we are just around the corner from eliminating all diseases. I find this to be unmitigated nonsense.

In fact, projects such as SENS seem to suggest that biological immortality is not an impossibility or as distant as it may seem.

Well, good luck. Climate change, environmental destruction, pollution, etc will almost surely eradicate our species well before biological immortality is even close, should it be anything other than hypothetical in the first place.

In addition, human nature simply will not allow for us to utilize technology to avert disaster. Human beings are far to individually selfish and short-sighted for that to ever happen.

Edited by Soma, 19 May 2014 - 01:03 AM.


#11 Lewis Carroll

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 02:33 AM

"There is a fine line between pessimism and realism."

 

There most definitely is indeed. A "realist", in regards to our discussion, would be one who realizes that there is the possibility of negative and positive. You are pessimistic in that you are only looking at the negative. The fact of the matter is that there is a whole lot of positive out there, and you are simply choosing to overlook it in favor of the portion that is wrong/negative. The question is why?.. I am guessing, as someone else already pointed out, an underlying bit of depression. With so much to enjoy and experience, why get overly caught up in the bad/negative? Life/living is only continuing to get more and more enjoyable. I love life. Therefore, why wouldn't I want to continue to live? Death will come eventually but not yet. So for now I will choose to be optimistic and look at all that is good. And let me tell you, there is an overwhelming amount of good. Luckily with future technology, which is quickly becoming a reality, I will get to experience a lot more of it (hopefully 200-500 years worth). However, if death were to come sooner - so be it. But I still see no reason not to work towards radical life extension and such.

 

"It is rather ironic that you mention Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death. I am well acquainted with Becker. The neurosis of thinking one will or can cheat death and unfathomably dire ramifications that ensue on a civilizational/cultural level, were what the book was about. The more apropos paradox that he describes is that one can only live fully when the complete accept their mortality.

Ultimately, the philosophy that most espouse here is entirely antithetical to his position. Longecity may be a perfect distillation of an extreme example death-anxiety neurosis...in action."

 

Once again, I feel that you're just putting a negative twist on the subject. Why can't one accept their mortality but still work towards longevity?  I am spiritual, and I'm quite 'excited' for the possible adventure that awaits me after death. (Yes, I realize this thought process as well as my spirituality may be subconscious coping mechanisms) However, I still don't see why one who loves/enjoys life should not work to extend life and therefore extend enjoyment as well. And now that longevity and life-extension is quickly becoming a reality, how could one whose enjoying life not reasonable want to take advantage of this new technology to live longer? Regardless of whether or not they have "completely accepted their mortality"... And regardless of whether there is a 'next stage' after death...

 

"No, I don't think that follows. Appreciation doesn't depend on the experience of suffering. This is the same idea that is propagated in spiritual circles as a way of justifying the existence of unfathomable degree of evil (read:suffering) within existence."

 

My original post that you were responding to: "Have you ever thought that maybe suffering is needed as a way to truly enjoy and appreciate? (Not that I personally feel that suffering is needed to enjoy and appreciate - just food for thought, I suppose)"

 

As I mentioned in my original response post, I am not saying that the two are directly correlated 100% of the time. I am saying that one often appreciates an accomplishment a lot more when they've shed blood, sweat, and tears in the process. As an athlete, I can attest to this. However, appreciate and enjoyment do not necessarily require suffering.

 

"Yes, but you missed the point. In order to rely on science/technological advancement you must have faith that it can achieve those goals. I have witnessed science/technology generate as much human atrocity and disaster as human improvement. At best, it has been neutral, but I have a hard time believing science/technology is going to be able to clean up a planet that science/technology also destroyed. Science and technology are tools, and as such are neutral. Human nature (read: greed, hubris, lack of foresight) has led to the misapplication of technology. I do not feel that human nature can or will transform fast enough to extricate the human race from the problems it has created for itself. I am not a man of faith."

 

There is still a huge difference. We have a track record to base our future aspirations on. We can look at past scientific/technological advancements as a way to predict future ones using logic and reason. We are not hoping and treading blindly by faith as religious believers are. As I stated before, we are working for a very feasible future; they are hoping. Look how far the world and humanity has come in the last hundred or thousand years (in regards to all the good/positive that has come).

 

Yes, science/technology is indeed a double edged blade of sorts. It can be used for good, and it can be used for evil. So yes, as you stated, technology is technically neutral until given good or bad purpose. Human nature/choice has, at times, led to the misapplication of technology, but one can not deny all the proper/positive applications that technology has resulted in. Since I am obviously very optimistic, though I remain realistic, I believe that humanity will use future scientific/technological advancements for great good. 

 

However, I do see and fully understand the point you are making. I just view humanity/human nature more optimistically. Yes, we as a race have made some poor decisions, but we have also made lots of good decisions. I feel that as time goes on, people become more educated, and people become more aware; that these good decisions will heavily out weight the bad ones. Also, I do feel that our "human consciousness" is going to continue to rise which will only aid in my optimistic views for the future. With tools/technology like the Internet, I believe more and more people will continue to wake up and realize we are all in this together.



#12 Lewis Carroll

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 02:39 AM

Florin Clapa, on 18 May 2014 - 6:05 PM, said:

 

Pleasure is a sufficient reason to appreciate being alive.

Soma said:

 

what happens when there is no pleasure or when it ceases and is replaced by endless pain.

 

 

 

 

 

How on Earth can you claim to be anything but pessimistic!

 

I would go far enough to say that:

one pleasurable event I've experienced and all the suffering > never exisiting and never experincing any suffering



#13 Soma

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 03:59 AM

How on Earth can you claim to be anything but pessimistic!

That was prompted by the fact that I have three family members who live in chronic, intractable, drug-resistant pain. One of them describes the pain as 9/10. Another family member is tormented by a severe headache disorder that has been unresponsive to therapy. It can come on without warning and debilitate her where ever she is. She lives in constant fear.

Add to this, two other family members who are dying with terminal cancer. Both had conventional treatment which was an utter failure. Beyond failure actually, as soon as treatments began, they each took an immediate nosedive and never recovered. They are now both on hospice

I love all of the talk of "proven" cancer therapies. Proven? All that "proven" cancer therapies have proven is that they are as inconsistent and unreliable as any other form of treatment.

All of the wonderful, amazing, spectacular technology of the 21st century has failed to help any of these people.

You'll find out about how wonderful our medical technology if and when you become severely ill. I think your childlike optimism will be quelled rather quickly.

I would go far enough to say that:
one pleasurable event I've experienced and all the suffering > never exisiting and never experincing any suffering

If I were somehow go back before birth and have the choice whether to live or not, I would undoubtedly choose nonexistence. It my case, it would have been much better to have never existed. My life has been a very sad and painful one.

This whole universe is an unfortunate accident. If there is another "big bang" after the collapse of this universe, hopefully it won't end up evolving conscious life.

Edited by Soma, 19 May 2014 - 04:05 AM.


#14 Lewis Carroll

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 03:59 AM

 

 

 

Soma, after reading your last response post to Florin Clapa (Edit: and last response post to me), I realized what this was really all about. This is a personal, subjective issue. You just need to keep in mind that everyone is battling their own personal demons. Oh, and you think you got it bad? Just take a look at these TED talk speakers. You choose to be happy. Reality is a subjective experience that you have complete control over. Control your life/thoughts, don't let your life/thoughts control you.


Edited by MajinBrian, 19 May 2014 - 04:05 AM.


#15 PWAIN

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 04:56 AM

Soma,

 

Your first post here, you say:
 

 

On the whole though, I cannot see why anyone would want to indefinitely extend their lives. Biological life is, on the whole, a most unfortunate accident. It is a terrible accident because it led the evolvement of self-consciousness, and in turn endless suffering. I think that suffering is instrinsic to conscious existence. To be is to suffer. The more aware, the more suffering. They are directly proportional. A sea slug suffers little, a highly sensitive human being suffers much.

 

 

What you seem to think is that all sentient life or even the vast majority of it is suffering. What you are referring to here is a personal set of circumstances and then extrapolating it to everyone else. Sure you know a handful of people who are 'suffering' but I can just as easliy say I know thousands of people who are not suffering and actually love life. Perhaps you should have put your comments in the context of your personal situation and I don't think anyone would have disagreed with you. I am sorry that you are suffering and I hope someday something will come along to stop the suffering. If your circumstances were different, I am sure that you would see it differently.

 


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#16 Florin

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 07:48 PM

This may be true in the wild, but for many humans, it is not.

Spoken like a true first-worlder.

Anyways, I find that it is almost universally true. There is always another anxiety to replace one that has vanished. Sure, we aren't running from saber-toothed tigers anymore but the list of anxiety endemic to modern life and endless...

 
If life was so bad for most people, they would start killing themselves off in droves, but this isn't happening even in the developing world.
 

life is worth living if pleasure outweighs pain.

Personally, for me it doesn't...and hasn't for most of my life. I have dealt with chronic illness my whole life, the most conspicuous being mysterious and intractable skin condition that has affected my entire body. I'm not going into it now (I've gone into extensively on these forums) but suffice it to say that my life was ruined quite some time ago. Today I am still ravaged by infection, severe skin scaling over my entire body and as well as disfiguring scarring all over my face.

For you, the pain of living may outweigh the pleasure, but for most people it does not seem to.
 

Pleasure is a sufficient reason to appreciate being alive.

what happens when there is no pleasure or when it ceases and is replaced by endless pain.

 
To quote myself: "...we should be able to decide whether to live or die at any point in time."
 

It is a fact that longevity has increased for most people, not an article of faith.

But are they happier?

Absolutely. Most people would not prefer to die during childbirth or as an infant or of a common infection or of an age-related disease. Nor would they like to die before age 30, the average lifespan of most of our 100 billion ancestors.
 

Barring a technological apocalypse, I see little reason to deny that medicine will eventually be unable to eliminate every disease.

Forgive me but I wholeheartedly disagree. We can't even cure the common cold. Technology can't even remove skin scarring and you tell me we are just around the corner from eliminating all diseases. I find this to be unmitigated nonsense.

 
Your skepticism is understandable, but claiming that medicine will never ever eliminate all disease is plain cynicism that ignores what we can do today and what is being developed in labs across the world. No, we can't cure the common cold yet, but we can prevent and cure many deadly infections. Medical technology such as DRACO may cure most or even all viral infections including the common cold. Simple, lab-grown tissues such windpipes and veins have been successfully implanted into patients. Various complex organs have been grown in the lab such as beating rat hearts, inflating rat lungs, and functional rat livers. Some of these organs have been implanted and work in rats for brief periods of time. If nothing else eliminates cancer (which is probably the hardest disease to eradicate), it is nearly certain to be 100% preventable by WILT. Yes, technology can't do many things today but that doesn't mean it will never be able to. Otherwise, there would be little reason to support medical research and any potential cures would never be developed. That would be an unmitigated tragedy.

 

If bio-based medicine will continue to disappoint, drexlerian nanobots, mind uploading, and cryonics could be used as fallbacks.
 

In fact, projects such as SENS seem to suggest that biological immortality is not an impossibility or as distant as it may seem.

Well, good luck. Climate change, environmental destruction, pollution, etc will almost surely eradicate our species well before biological immortality is even close, should it be anything other than hypothetical in the first place.

In addition, human nature simply will not allow for us to utilize technology to avert disaster. Human beings are far to individually selfish and short-sighted for that to ever happen.

 
If nothing is done about it, age-related disease will continue to kill more people than anything else including environmental degradation. The stats are sobering: out of the 150,000 people that die every day, age-related disease kills 100,000. In the developed world, 90% of deaths are due to age-related disease. There's no way that environmental degradation will ever come close to this level of destruction.
 
If human nature was such an impenetrable barrier to progress, the modern world would not exist.



#17 Soma

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 09:10 PM

If life was so bad for most people, they would start killing themselves off in droves, but this isn't happening even in the developing world.

This is not necessarily true. People can live entire miserable lives without killing themselves. For most with depression, the fear of death outweighs the impulse to end their lives. The fear of nonexistence for nonbelievers is usually greater than the horror of existing in pain, as strange as that may be. Couple this with hyper-syperstitious religious traditions in most underdeveloped nations. Remember, most of the world is religious. There is much fear-mongering superstition surrounding suicide in every religious tradition. It's hard to imagine how many people have kept from killing themself due to ideas about hell from the judeochristian tradition, alone. Religion also affects people by giving them the illusion that their suffering has some sort of meaning- that they are being refined, developed, strengthened, etc...and that they will be eternally rewarded for overcoming their circumstances with patience.

If nothing is done about it, age-related disease will continue to kill more people than anything else including environmental degradation. The stats are sobering: out of the 150,000 people that die every day, age-related disease kills 100,000. In the developed world, 90% of deaths are due to age-related disease. There's no way that environmental degradation will ever come close to this level of destruction.

I wasn't referring to what is killing more people now. The point was that there will never be enough time for all of the miraculous technology to be developed. Climate change and especially enviromental degradation is accellerating at a mind- blowing pace. When the entire human race is struggling for the basics to survive and fighting wars over water, people will not be in labs tweaking cancer genes. That will be off of the list of priorities. It comes back maslow's hierachy of needs. Revisit them.

 If human nature was such an impenetrable barrier to progress, the modern world would not exist.

Not all of human nature, but a fair portion of it, yes. Otherwise, problems like cancer would have been eradicated long ago.

Just using one example: war. Here's a small statistic: We spend 1.7 trillion dollars on year on military defense. Think of all of the time, money, and manpower that goes into killing our fellow human beings or protecting ourselves from being killed by our fellow human beings. If just those resources alone were diverted into disease research, povery, hunger, etc...we would have made huge strides long ago. War is a direct result of an deficient human nature: driven almost exclusively be greed and fear. And no, we do not have enough time for these human propensities to be transformed. We have at best decades, not generations.

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."
-Albert Einstein

A change of consciousness on a planetary level would have to begin with intensive education of our youth, away from education as training in service to the economic machine to learning about our immediate predicaments and that we are in this together and all we have is each other.

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of time. I have spent years reading about the culminating crises on this planet and can tell that it is infinitely far worse than you likely assume.

Edited by Soma, 19 May 2014 - 09:11 PM.


#18 Florin

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 11:51 PM

If life was so bad for most people, they would start killing themselves off in droves, but this isn't happening even in the developing world.

This is not necessarily true. People can live entire miserable lives without killing themselves. For most with depression, the fear of death outweighs the impulse to end their lives. The fear of nonexistence for nonbelievers is usually greater than the horror of existing in pain, as strange as that may be. Couple this with hyper-syperstitious religious traditions in most underdeveloped nations. Remember, most of the world is religious. There is much fear-mongering superstition surrounding suicide in every religious tradition. It's hard to imagine how many people have kept from killing themself due to ideas about hell from the judeochristian tradition, alone. Religion also affects people by giving them the illusion that their suffering has some sort of meaning- that they are being refined, developed, strengthened, etc...and that they will be eternally rewarded for overcoming their circumstances with patience.

The suicide rate is certainly an imperfect measure of life satisfaction for the reasons you mentioned, but it isn't necessarily useless either. If most people really did suffer high and constant amounts of pain, it is reasonable to assume that the suicide rate would be much higher regardless of their religious inclinations or fear of death.

Perhaps a better measure of life satisfaction is the fact that surveys of subjective well-being consistently show that most people are happy.

Do you have any real evidence that most people are unhappy?
 

If nothing is done about it, age-related disease will continue to kill more people than anything else including environmental degradation. The stats are sobering: out of the 150,000 people that die every day, age-related disease kills 100,000. In the developed world, 90% of deaths are due to age-related disease. There's no way that environmental degradation will ever come close to this level of destruction.

I wasn't referring to what is killing more people now. The point was that there will never be enough time for all of the miraculous technology to be developed. Climate change and especially enviromental degradation is accellerating at a mind- blowing pace. When the entire human race is struggling for the basics to survive and fighting wars over water, people will not be in labs tweaking cancer genes. That will be off of the list of priorities. It comes back maslow's hierachy of needs. Revisit them.

 
I'm not aware of any scientific consensus or credible theory which suggests that environmental degradation is likely to revert civilization back to the Stone Age.
 

If human nature was such an impenetrable barrier to progress, the modern world would not exist.

Not all of human nature, but a fair portion of it, yes. Otherwise, problems like cancer would have been eradicated long ago.

Perhaps, but my point is that human nature can not stop progress. In fact, progress since the Industrial Revolution has accelerated exponentially, and there's little reason to suspect that it will stop or slow down dramatically in the near future. Even so, it is certainly true that some problems aren't resolved overnight, especially biological ones, but it is absurd to assume that they will never be solved given the ever-increasing ability of technology to solve problems that are theoretically tractable.
 

Just using one example: war. Here's a small statistic: We spend 1.7 trillion dollars on year on military defense. Think of all of the time, money, and manpower that goes into killing our fellow human beings or protecting ourselves from being killed by our fellow human beings. If just those resources alone were diverted into disease research, povery, hunger, etc...we would have made huge strides long ago. War is a direct result of an deficient human nature: driven almost exclusively be greed and fear. And no, we do not have enough time for these human propensities to be transformed. We have at best decades, not generations.


We already spend more on healthcare than on war. So, I'm not sure that simply spending more money will have much of an effect on speeding-up medical progress. Trillions have been spent in the past few decades on medical research with little to show for it! What's needed more than money is potentially revolutionary ideas of how to spend it more effectively. I've mentioned some of them in my earlier replies.
 

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."
-Albert Einstein

A change of consciousness on a planetary level would have to begin with intensive education of our youth, away from education as training in service to the economic machine to learning about our immediate predicaments and that we are in this together and all we have is each other.


I'm not too worried about this; the Internet is a great educational equalizer.



#19 Soma

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 03:35 PM

[quote name="Florin Clapa" post="663553" timestamp="1400543496"]I'm not aware of any scientific consensus or credible theory which suggests that environmental degradation is likely to revert civilization back to the Stone Age. [/quote]

I didn't say stone age. I referenced a hierarchy of needs- i.e., the priorities of life. If there is a global water crisis alone, humanity is not going to be worried about cancer telomeres. And that is just one global problem we are rapidly approaching.

You're not aware of the numerous water conflicts that occurred on the planet already, the fact that they are increasing and projected to reach increase to a global crisis level. You are truly unaware of this?


Perhaps, but my point is that human nature can not stop progress.


Ok, just answer this...

We have the potential to eradicate human life many times over with just a portion of the nuclear weapons that we have on earth. Would that stop progress?

What about a planet that is no longer able to support human life due to climate change, depletion of and irrevocably mismanaged natural resources, chemical/biological/nuclear pollution, etc? Would you concede that this has the potential to stop progress?

As already stated, propensities within our nature (read: greed, shortsightedness, etc) have set us up for these potentials, the latter problem being less theoretical than the first.

So yes, human nature has the very real potential of permanently thwarting progess.

The fact alone that this aline goes unnoticed is overtly disturbing.


We already spend more on healthcare than on war. So, I'm not sure that simply spending more money will have much of an effect on speeding-up medical progress.[/quote.]

I wasn't just talking about money.

[quote name="Florin Clapa" post="663553" timestamp="1400543496"]
I'm not too worried about this; the Internet is a great educational equalizer.


If you're relying on the internet...i would be worried. Very worried.

Edited by Soma, 20 May 2014 - 03:45 PM.


#20 addx

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 06:09 PM

Soma, I have had a poll topic open trying to prove ageing to be a monumental and irreplaceable mechanism crafted by evolution without which life would not exist. Evolution when correctly explains actually predicts ageing. My theory on evolution predicts that without ageing life would mostly be "plant like", lacking activity, focusing on survival, timeless form, armour, avoiding everything that is unsafe, static. The nervous system would never have had the "pressure" to evolve if the animals didnt die within a certain time span. Ageing causes selection to work on "offsprings per fixed time span" while without ageing selection works on "offsprings per life time - whatever that may turn out to be". If you're immortal and can survive as a spore or some static form, you are in no hurry to risk your life for reproduction or feeding or simply "looking lively". Without ageing evolution is free to select a gene offering a +20% longevity and -10% reproduction rate. The gene will increase the population number and so increases fitness. But a series of such genes leads to immortality and no reproduction. This fact is also naturally computed subjectively - as selfishness or being equal to gods.

Anyway, the discussion is deep and wide, but it shows rational explanations why ageing is there and how important it is. It also explains why they can't find a random ageing gene but in fact explains ageing as the complementary part of the maturing process. Each maturing process (of tissues, organs) in the body is goverened separately in cascade and hierarchical fashion via various proteins and mechanisms. They are also modulated by the active experience of the organism during maturing through opioid signalling. Tissue is grown(matured) and then it is used(aged).

http://www.longecity...n-in-evolution/

Edited by addx, 20 May 2014 - 06:11 PM.


#21 Florin

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 07:36 PM

I'm not aware of any scientific consensus or credible theory which suggests that environmental degradation is likely to revert civilization back to the Stone Age.


I didn't say stone age. I referenced a hierarchy of needs- i.e., the priorities of life. If there is a global water crisis alone, humanity is not going to be worried about cancer telomeres. And that is just one global problem we are rapidly approaching.

You're not aware of the numerous water conflicts that occurred on the planet already, the fact that they are increasing and projected to reach increase to a global crisis level. You are truly unaware of this?

 
If medical research stops forever due to war, that would be a strong indication that everyone lives under stone age conditions.
 
Water conflicts or any other environmental problem that I'm aware of seems unlikely to be a catalyst for the beginning of a new stone age.
 

Perhaps, but my point is that human nature can not stop progress.


Ok, just answer this...

We have the potential to eradicate human life many times over with just a portion of the nuclear weapons that we have on earth. Would that stop progress?

 
If humanity is annihilated, that would stop progress by definition, but that's not the issue. The issue is this: barring human extinction (which environmental degradation is unlikely to bring about), can progress be stopped by human nature? If history is any guide, the answer is "no."
 

What about a planet that is no longer able to support human life due to climate change, depletion of and irrevocably mismanaged natural resources, chemical/biological/nuclear pollution, etc? Would you concede that this has the potential to stop progress?


This is highly unlikely to happen anytime soon.
 
In a worst case scenario, human nature could overwhelm any kind of technological solution if population growth continues to grow exponentially (i.e., a fertility rate of above two children per normal lifespan or above one child per indefinite lifespan). Within a few thousand years, all of the Earth's mass would be turned into people. Clearly, that would be unsustainable. The good news is that population growth is likely to stabilize within this century.
 

We already spend more on healthcare than on war. So, I'm not sure that simply spending more money will have much of an effect on speeding-up medical progress.


I wasn't just talking about money.

You're hairsplitting. You stated that diverting more resources (e.g., money which is could be used as a proxy for time and human resources) from war preparations to medical research would lead to significant progress. This is what I disputed.
 
The fact that we spend more on healthcare than on war may indicate a certain degree of social progress.
 

I'm not too worried about this; the Internet is a great educational equalizer.


If you're relying on the internet...i would be worried. Very worried.

Quite the opposite. The Internet is well-suited for this kind of discussion.



#22 forever freedom

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 03:08 AM

Soma,

 

Your first post here, you say:
 

 

On the whole though, I cannot see why anyone would want to indefinitely extend their lives. Biological life is, on the whole, a most unfortunate accident. It is a terrible accident because it led the evolvement of self-consciousness, and in turn endless suffering. I think that suffering is instrinsic to conscious existence. To be is to suffer. The more aware, the more suffering. They are directly proportional. A sea slug suffers little, a highly sensitive human being suffers much.

 

 

What you seem to think is that all sentient life or even the vast majority of it is suffering. What you are referring to here is a personal set of circumstances and then extrapolating it to everyone else. Sure you know a handful of people who are 'suffering' but I can just as easliy say I know thousands of people who are not suffering and actually love life. Perhaps you should have put your comments in the context of your personal situation and I don't think anyone would have disagreed with you. I am sorry that you are suffering and I hope someday something will come along to stop the suffering. If your circumstances were different, I am sure that you would see it differently.

 

 

 

I second this. No need for future tech, life is beautiful and awesome right now.



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#23 N.T.M.

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 03:28 AM

Interesting perspective, but I think it quickly leads to contradiction. If you're opposed to extending life because it involves suffering, then why are you alive now? Why not just die? It sounds like you're having your cake and eating it, too. 



#24 addx

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 08:57 AM

You are proposing that our emotions about this are "logical" from the perspective of an individual. They are not. They are, however, extremely logical from the perspective of life, social group, gene pool etc. And those entites did infact craft our mind-bodies and guide evolution. These entities are the "designers" in teleologic speak. They are "organizations for future life improvement" - they provide selection of what is better and kill of what is worse or outdated.

Suffering only exists in order to provide evolutionary pressure/incentive, in order to cause activity that will make future of the family, group, specie and life itself stronger and with less suffering, but the mind-body always adapts in order to cause constant pressure/incentive.

If one succesfully figures out what such life bettering activities are and if one succesfully accomplishes them and then most importantly if one witnesses the resulting improvement in practice he knows then he has done his part and can die in peace knowing that he has paid his dues to all the previous

There is no contradiction, the mind-body is only a pawn of life and evolution. As such it has an expiry date to do life/evolutions bidding. And it is rewarded with a pleasant death or it is punished by an inpleasent refusal of death or prolonging of suffering. It has long been known that people can't leave this world without finishing their business. While most people make ghost stories out of this I am quite convinced that actually having unsettled matters delays death physiologically.

#25 forever freedom

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 03:32 PM

 It has long been known that people can't leave this world without finishing their business. While most people make ghost stories out of this I am quite convinced that actually having unsettled matters delays death physiologically.

 

Well what a great thing then, because my business is beating death. I should be around this Earth for quite a while then.



#26 Soma

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 04:24 PM

If humanity is annihilated, that would stop progress by definition, but that's not the issue. The issue is this: barring human extinction (which environmental degradation is unlikely to bring about), can progress be stopped by human nature? If history is any guide, the answer is "no."

This is irrelevant precisely because humanity has never possessed the capacity for self-annihilation that it does now. This has not been made possible until the modern era, so using history as a guide is faulty. It's a little difficult to initiate a species-wide extinction with technology that consists of slings and arrows and irrigation ditches.

We have never had the capacity to alter the planet on a global level as we do now. Our technologies of war, energy, and convenience have disrupted the balance of the planet. When a species starts producing types of waste that actually alter the weather patterns of an entire planet, it may be time to take note.

We already spend more on healthcare than on war.

I cited war in regards to the self- stultifying propensity of human nature, but in terms of spending I was speaking of military spending versus medical research spending. You have turned this into healthcare and war spending.

This is a difference between disease research spending versus overall healthcare spending just as there is a difference war expense and general global military spending. Each is a subcategory of the other.

The fact that we spend more on healthcare than on war may indicate a certain degree of social progress.

Here we go again. I was specifically talking a disease research, not healthcare spending. There is a distinction.

Anyways, even citing "healthcare" spending within a profit-based system as evidence of an altruistically progressing species is hardly convincing. The exorbitant costs of modern healthcare that have inflated expenditure statistics are more of a reflection of insatiable corporate greed than humanity's selfless outpouring of support.

How much money do we spend on non-profit humanitarian programs. How much does the world spend and anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs.

When non-profit humanitarian spending exceeds global military spending and the self-seeking profiteering of the private sector...maybe that would signify evidence of real human progress.

Edited by Soma, 21 May 2014 - 05:24 PM.


#27 Soma

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 04:55 PM

Soma, I have had a poll topic open trying to prove ageing to be a monumental and irreplaceable mechanism crafted by evolution without which life would not exist. Evolution when correctly explains actually predicts ageing.


This is an interesting theory that I'll have to look into more.

#28 Soma

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 05:08 PM

If you're opposed to extending life because it involves suffering, then why are you alive now? Why not just die?

If you remember what I said in the first post: "We are already alive, so we might as well try our best to limit suffering..."

It sounds like you're having your cake and eating it, too. 

What exactly is the cake that I am having and eating too?

If we go back to the original thrust of the topic, it was about the fear of death. Is the urge in the direction of wanting to extend life indefinitely driven more by a desire to prolong the pleasurable experiences of life or by a fear of nonexistence. I would contend that it is driven more the the latter though not self-acknowledged and sublimated into the "rationalization" of the former.

Getting back to death as non-existence, the end of experience: what is there to be afraid of?

"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." - Mark Twain

Edited by Soma, 21 May 2014 - 05:09 PM.

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#29 Soma

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 05:17 PM

This thread by a longtime contributor at the longecity forum is a good example of what I am talking about:

"Lifelong fear of death has made me extremely depressed and anxious"
http://www.longecity...ed-and-anxious/

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#30 addx

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 05:30 PM

Soma, I have had a poll topic open trying to prove ageing to be a monumental and irreplaceable mechanism crafted by evolution without which life would not exist. Evolution when correctly explains actually predicts ageing.


This is an interesting theory that I'll have to look into more.


By the way, the "suffering that is life" has been recognized by many philosophers but in fact was probably most thoroughly understood and explained by buddha (he called it dukkha) and is in fact completely in line with my view of evolution of the body-mind which explains the very nature of suffering as an evolutionary incentive inbuilt to sustain life and even more importantly to sustain and accelerate evolution (in the full sense, including humans and human evolution of knowledge). All such suffering(emotion/mental pain/physical pain) is in fact modulated practically exlusively by opioidergic signalling on top of serotonergic-dopaminergic state->behaviour schemas and on all levels (physical, mental).





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