Re: Desirability of immortality

Anders Sandberg (
17 Feb 1998 17:59:22 +0100

Damien Broderick <> writes:

> Nor is appeal to myth and legend altogether as stupid as it might seem.
> These *are* the distilled repositories of cultures' hopes, fears,
> statements-of-what-cannot-be-said-directly... Maybe transhumanist thinkers
> need to look more carefully at Tithonus and his buddies and learn what the
> implicate order of those stories might have to tell us. (Possibly nothing.
> Maybe just outdated night terrors. But maybe there's some stuff there we
> could benefit from.)

Yes, I was reflecting on that when I wrote my posting. The Tithonus
story, for example, shows that just immortality isn't what we want, we
want eternal youth (plus it contains a clear example of why one should
think through one's wishes carefully before implementing them).

Many of the other anti-hubris stories aren't really about the futility
of hubris, but rather of the form "look out for the Powers That Be,
they don't like competition", i.e. hubris works perfectly well, but be
prepared that some people will try to stop you. Prometheus, for
example, clearly knew that the gods would punish him for his deed but
accepted that and still went along with his plan (besides, to an
immortal titan a few millennia of agony before a remote relative
(Hercules) frees him might be a rather small piece to pay for giving
fire to the humans). Gilgamesh lost his immortality because he didn't
guard it well, Phaeton didn't see the limits of his competence and
Arachne foolishly challenged a sore loser who she knew was
significantly more powerful than herself.

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