Is immortality desirable


When I wrote this post many moons ago, I argued contra the author that life is worth living without the gods.

So today when I commented on this post by Jim and asked whether life without end would be worth living, a clever person asked why I am asking that silly question.

However, the clever person is not too bright. Have you imagined what it would be like to have no end in sight? That your favourite cake doesn’t end, that you don’t need to love deeply because it doesn’t end. That you don’t have to work hard at anything because there is always time? What type of life would that be?

But more to the point, does anyone who wants another life elsewhere live this one we have fully? Do they love totally and completely? Do they take risks? Do they do stupid things? Like laugh in the rain, cry in the rain because no one will know you are crying, have sex in the car because tomorrow is not guaranteed or just do silly stuff.

Life with immortality is a cruel thing. This is just me. Maybe some of you are not content with one life time of whatever years and want to live forever, all the power to you.

May the force be with you.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

65 thoughts on “Is immortality desirable

  1. Mordanicus says:

    Life is worth something because it’s finite. If we would live forever, we could procrastinate everything forever or put simply: if we were immortal nothing would accomplished ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d think boredom would set in after a couple of centuries.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Barry says:

    Mak, I wonder if you will be of the same opinion when you reach my age.

    The average life expectancy of a Kiwi male is around 80 years, and the average life expectancy for an autistic person in NZ is around 60 years. I just 10 years short of one and 10 years over on the other. Which ever way you look at it, time is running short.

    I have yet to complete a fraction of those things on my to do list, and I really would like to tick of a few more before my last breath. Another thousand years might do it. It probably would be doable in that time if a cure for migraine could be found by the end of this century, and if society was more accommodating to the needs of the neurodivergent community. Otherwise it’ll be necessary to add at least another 500 years.

    Like many autistics, I find executive functioning fails when under pressure and I totally suck at multitasking. What you might be able to achieve in a day probably takes me a week. On the other hand, give me a single task with absolutely no interruptions, and I can complete it quicker, more accurately and to a higher standard than just about anyone else. Unfortunately, the non-neurodivergent world forces us to live by their standards, so we really need a few extensions to out life tickets, instead of being issued with a time penalty of around 20 years.

    Then there’s all the time I loose with chronic migraine. I estimate approximately a third of my waking time is seriously affected by that, and about a third of what’s left is spent in recovery mode. I want that to be compensated for as well.

    So Mak, if you get bored too soon and wish to take an early ticket out, kindly pass any unused time my way 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • makagutu says:

      Barry I must admit you have made an excellent case for a long life but not for eternity.
      I, too, would want a few more hundred years to finish reading a few books here. To travel the world. And maybe find me a new hobby.
      Grant me a few more years but not eternity. And if possible, tell me the due date

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Arkenaten says:

    Maybe we need to define immortal a little better?

    There is every reason to believe that humans will one day eradicate disease on this planet and some form of nano-technology may develop to the point where we are self-regenerating organisms.
    Sounds all very science fiction,but so was the cell phone fifty years ago.

    If we reach a stage where we are virtually indestructible as an organism this does not necessarily preclude the option of developing a sort of safety valve – a method of bringing our existence to an end if we so choose to do so.
    I realise this opens up a can of ethical worms but imagine the possibilities of a life that could continue for many millions of years?

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Well, there are geneticists who are working to cure aging. They want aging to be seen as a disease so money can be made available for research into how to cure it. So what you are saying here is really not unthinkable. Whether we will live eternally is another matter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Arkenaten says:

        Is there such a thing as eternity?
        A question I cannot answer.
        Of course, if were were bored we could always put ourselves in stasis for a few millennia.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          Well, for the peddlers of heaven and hell. It means forever + a day.

          Like

        • basenjibrian says:

          Iain M. Banks (R.I.P. I actually teared up when I heard he had passed) “Culture” novels addressed this very issue and this very option. Of course, the Culture had solved the other magical technological “problems” as well…they had FTL travel, no money (a post-scarcity economy), and vastly powerful artificial intelligences that largely kept things going, with human beings in some respects now “pets” to the AIs.

          He also proposed “ascension” where a bored or tired or just ready for something new culture could “upload” itself into a higher plane of existence. A bit like Star Trek’s Q Continuum, perhaps?

          Fascinating series of novels. I wish someone would pick the world view up and write more!

          Like

  5. Just to be wild, Mak, I once had sex WITH a car. All I can say is this. “OUCH!”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. maryplumbago says:

    I wouldn’t want this life to continue forever, but I do like the idea of reincarnation, though I don’t believe it happens. But to have a long series of various lives in different time frames, different sexes, different countries etc. would be nice for quite a long time. But once life on earth got too dangerous or hard with climate change, wars or too much of a mix with AI, then I’d be done.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. If I was ever offered immortality, I would take it, but I’d want to option of ending it when I decided I’d had enough. Forced immortality could eventually (think trillions of years from now) be a hell worse than anything any religion ever conceived of.

    Liked by 3 people

    • makagutu says:

      Trillions? I think even 1000 years would just be too much for me. What does one do with 1000 years?
      I recall a movie where there was this fellow who couldn’t die and he is telling some child that of all the things he would want, key among them is being able to die.
      In Last Mile there is a prison warden who has seen all his friends die and other people come to the care home and live him there. From their perspective, a loooong life is only worthwhile if everyone else is not dying.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. renudepride says:

    Immortality is a fate much worse than death. Imagine having to live, and live and then live some more. I’d make myself crazy! 🙂 Naked hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nan says:

    When one is comparatively young and, most of all, healthy … “forever” life tends to beckon. But as the aches and the pains and the myriad of other by-products that come with growing old begin to affect one’s quality of living, one’s perspective related to that “eternal life” tends to undergo a transition.

    As Jonathan Swift said, “Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.”

    Liked by 2 people

  10. keithnoback says:

    We are not equipped for eternity, and I think that anyone who claims that they have a working concept of eternity is full of it. But we are fit for what we have got, and a complete appreciation of our lives is possible, and as good as it gets. More than good enough.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      I think that anyone who claims that they have a working concept of eternity is full of it.

      and i agree with you on this

      Like

    • basenjibrian says:

      I’ve mentioned this trilogy before, but once scene in the Werewolves of London trilogy* by Brian Stableford has the “transcendent entities” offering their human allies various versions of “heaven” and “eternity”…all of which were utterly awful and rejected by the protagonists.

      *Nothing to do with that silly Warren Zevon song. A very interesting trilogy.

      Like

  11. Swarn Gill says:

    I’m of the same mind as Self Aware Patterns and too an extent Barry. I think I would simply like to decide for myself when I was done living, whenever that might be. If I simply couldn’t die, then I would likely agree with you wholeheartedly. I also don’t think you are the first person to believe this to be the case. I know at least that both Isaac Asimov and Tolkien have looked at this issue. The Lord of the Rings offers a nice comparison between the short-lived men, the long-lived Ents and the immortal elves…who do die, but do not age. Their natures are very different and I think is representative of their outlook on time.

    And in Isaac Asimov’s Robot series he compares human colonized planets where they live as long as 4 centuries to Earth which still has normal life spans and asserts that the sort of risk taking and recklessness is lost. If life is always short lived one is more likely to take risks, where as a life of 4 centuries might prevent one from really exploring and taking chances given how much there is to lose.

    It’s hard to know for sure. Looking at how life spans have increased in human history seems to have already lead to philosophies of not just having one career, not just having one long lasting relationship. I think that if we did live much longer this might change our value system, but not necessarily in all the worst ways. We’d also be able to pass down knowledge across far more generations than we did as early humans, which is one of our evolutionary advantages. We’d also be able to observe change on much longer time scales which might make us more likely to do things about climate change, or worry less about short term problems. It’s an interesting question to philosophize about.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Even in this short life, there are a number of people who have chosen when to go. Kurt Vonnegut comes to mind and many others. You make a good point that were our lives to be longer, say 4 centuries longer, we may have a different value system. Maybe people will adopt a one child policy or the population upper limit will be set as suggested in 2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut.

      Looking at how life spans have increased in human history seems to have already lead to philosophies of not just having one career, not just having one long lasting relationship.

      I don’t think the changes are absolute. There are a number of people who lived to old age even in classical times so while medicine has improved a great deal, human beings remain petty, obsessed with short term goals and all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Swarn Gill says:

        I mean yeah you can choose to go in this life…but it’s such a short life…it seems sadder to waste some extra time you might have had. But honestly I do contemplate picking them time myself anyway…I think my wife would kill me if I did something like that. Of course killing for trying to kill myself would probably actually help. 🙂

        Certainly there have always been a lucky few who have lived a long time, but I think humans as a group make decisions based on what is expected. The fact that in some societies you can literally expect to live about 20 years longer than you could 150 ysears ago has an impact on I think both personal and societal values. I wonder if anybody has actually studied this question more rigourously.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          I think my wife would kill me if I did something like that. Of course killing for trying to kill myself would probably actually help.

          This is so funny.
          We regret to announce the death of prof Swarn who died in the hands of his wife. She killed him when he attempted to kill himself. The widowed wife presented herself to the police and will remain in police custody.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Swarn Gill says:

            LOL…Agreed…that would be a good headline…except I would be sad if my wife went to jail for that. lol Maybe we could add to the story – His last words were “Thank you, this is much easier than trying to do it myself.” 🙂

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            I think it would be best if you leave the police a note. My wife should not be arrested, I was going to off myself anyway

            Liked by 1 person

  12. basenjibrian says:

    Life while (continuing to) decay and decline would be horrible. If I could be preserved at age, say, 22, that would be worth a century or two or three.

    Like

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