Re: >H Hayflick on death and immortality

Michael Nielsen (
Sun, 31 May 1998 09:32:03 -0600 (MDT)

On Sat, 30 May 1998, Daniel Fabulich wrote:

> On Sat, 30 May 1998, Michael Nielsen wrote:

I notice that you did not respond to the rest of my post.

> > How does it fail to meet this criteria?
> Simple: when you choose not to extend your life, you choose to die. When
> you are dead, you are unable to pursue your own interests (barring
> afterlife presumptions). Therefore, when you choose to die, you choose to
> contradict the rest of your value system, if your life has any use at all
> in bringing about that which you value.
> Since I doubt that Hayflick would like it if I offered to kill him, we may
> presume that he values his own life or that his life is extrinsically
> useful in bringing about that which he DOES value. Whichever it is, if
> immortality is possible then he necessarily contradicts his own value
> system by refusing it.
> This may not be true if for some reason his life ceased to be
> extrinsically useful in bringing about what he valued. However, it is
> probably false to presume that it never could given lots of time. So even
> this case is not sufficiently strong to endorse suicide.

I agree with your entire post, excepting part of the first paragraph. The
post is not really related to my original comment, though. Recall that the
comment I made was a caveat, which I do not seriously expect to apply in
many instances. For example, it was not intended to apply to Hayflick. I
was merely pointing out that it is possible to hold a consisitent
philosophy which leads one to conclude that immortality is a bad thing.

As a counter-example to your first paragraph, I offer euthanasia, which I
believe is sometimes justified. This is not a counter-example to your
conclusions, incidentally, but to your assumptions: this is a situation
in which your life may have no use to you in bringing about the things
you value.

Michael Nielsen

"I know the answer! The answer lies within the heart of all mankind!
The answer is twelve? I think I'm in the wrong building."
- Charles Schulz