Re: "...Death is an evil" (Sappho 630 BC)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Oct 02 2001 - 08:52:35 MDT

On Tue, Oct 02, 2001 at 10:14:45AM -0400, Alex F. Bokov wrote:
> Whatever the cause of aging, infectious, genetic, or thermodynamic, it
> IS a disease.

BANG! "Captain, our semantic shields took a serious hit but the hull
appears intact." "Lt. Korzybinsky, activate the E-Prime generator!" :-)

Be careful where you point loaded words like that. The definition of
health, disease and illness is a tricky business, and quite important to
do right if we want to win over the mainstream to our way of thinking.
While it is effective to proclaim something to be a disease, it is also
risky since it may open the door to allow anything to be declared a
disease ("Drapetomania, the irrational desire of slaves to run away" -
common mental disease in the 18'th century).

I suggest looking up Frietas' _Nanomedicine_ for an accessible
discussion of how we can define health/illness. I think he makes a great
point about his volitional normative disease model, where health is
defined as optimal functioning according to our own personal ideas -
that would make aging a disease *to those seeing it as undesirable*. It
has a subjective component, which is fair (I'm not certain I would want
to be cured from the Gourmand Syndrome if I got it) and provides a
deeper foundation for arguing that aging is something we should rid
ourselves off. Having a good health/illness model to base our arguments
on, we can argue both for morphological freedom and immortalism based on
the same medical philosophy, and the attackers will have to deal with
the central model rather than just take potshots at individual
transhumanist projects.

We are going to need firm foundations when we get into the mainstream
discussion. Related issues are already hotly debated when it comes to
various controversial illnesses like ADHD, the push to declare
age-related memory impariment an illness and what health care services
to provide. Messy, dirty but important business if we want to live

> What we need is a separate, and well-defended nation founded on
> rational principles and governed in an anarcho-capitalist manner so we
> can all move there and carry on our work, giving the rest of humanity
> some time and space to catch up.

Ah, this seems to be the solution to *every* problem here on the list.

"Captain, the irony unit is overheating!" "Quick, drop some paperwork on

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:11 MDT