Re: Phil: The VALUE of life & individualism vs self-sacrifice.

J. de Lyser (
Fri, 14 Feb 1997 21:55:54 +0100

At 10:09 14-02-97 +0000, you wrote:
>But isn't wanting to "stay around" to look after one's family firmly in
>line with what Nature (our genes) want us to do?

oh sure, it was just the only reason i could imagine. I'm however still
young and i suppose at a certain age, when one has learned how to deal with
things such as emotions more effectively, and once one has aquired oneself
a comfortable position, life clears up a little ? and becomes worth
preserving ?

>For me, much of life's attraction stems from the belief that the universe
>can be a wonderful place to experience and interact with. Is this selfish,
>in the bad sense of the word?

Oh i don't think so, if life itself is good, then wanting to preserve it is
quite rational. Question is, is life good ? Something that can only be
answered by the individual. To me personally, life isn't all that i've been
told it was, but then again at least it is something, whereas in death
there lies nothing, very unpractical... :-)

>few would argue that a 50 year-old who has raised
>his/her children to maturity is selfish for wanting to live another 30
>odd years.

I know many who would argue, saying that such people would have lost their
productive function to society, and have become, to use some negative term
'social parasites'. Most of these people are my age, and i watch as their
numbers grow. I acknowledge the problem they point out, however i haven't
come across a sensible solution...

This is why i pointed out we might better focus on quality of life, and
with that, the possibility for people to provide for themselves longer,
before we start talking about increasing lifespans, less we want it to only
be for a select few, or less society gets to carry the increasing burden of
humanities desire for eternal life...

>That being said, if I were some sort of vampire-like creature that had to
>kill or hurt innocent people in order to survive, then accusations of
>selfishness would be better-founded.

What about pensions, state funded health care etc ? The real problem is
that the idea of eternal life, is so strongly rooted in our culture, that
it might well be accepted as a basic human right. With which i don't have a
problem, as long as its not going over the backs of those that are (still)

>But if someone continues to interact
>with others in a manner that is acceptable to those involved, why >shouldn't
>they be able to strive for an indefinite life span?

As i said, i see a big change in young peoples attitudes towards the
elderly taking place. (of which i have to admit i am no exception) Maybe it
is a conflict of selfishness between generations...

Whereas i agree with the ideal that everyone who would wish to, should be
able to live forever, the person in question should also carry the
responsability and costs of such a decision.

Something that goes much further in scope than i think most people imagine.

This discussion took a direction, i din't really want to see it taking (at
least not yet), but i guess it was unavoidable, as it is one of the other
problems i have with life extension.

My views on this are that life extension cannot go without social change,
and whereas i'm sure most of you will agree with me in that, i'm also
pretty sure that such a social change will take a little longer than
possible breakthroughs in life extension, which has been an ongoing process
for some time i think...

Who knows, maybe one will be the catalyst for the other ?

J. de Lyser