Thursday, 17 June 2021

Worse than a sentimental illusion

From the Grauniad.

Ageing process is unstoppable, finds unprecedented study

Research suggests humans cannot slow the rate at which they get older because of biological constraints

Immortality and everlasting youth are the stuff of myths, according to new research which may finally end the eternal debate about whether we can live for ever.

Backed by governments, business, academics and investors in an industry worth $110bn (£82.5bn) – and estimated to be worth $610bn by 2025 – scientists have spent decades attempting to harness the power of genomics and artificial intelligence to find a way to prevent or even reverse ageing.

That the end of life should be death may sound sad: yet what other end can anything have? The end of an evening party is to go to bed; but its use is to gather congenial people together, that they may pass the time pleasantly. An invitation to the dance is not rendered ironical because the dance cannot last for ever; the youngest of us and the most vigorously wound up, after a few hours, has had enough of sinuous stepping and prancing. The transitoriness of things is essential to their physical being, and not at all sad in itself; it becomes sad by virtue of a sentimental illusion, which makes us imagine that they wish to endure, and that their end is always untimely; but in a healthy nature it is not so.

George Santayana - Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy Five Essays (1933)

Santayana was right of course, but abolishing death is a nightmare illusion too. Imagine President for Eternity Tony Blair. Or indeed thousands of other ghastly possibilities, although this one could be real - 

Covid-19 the Eternal Disease.


Sackerson said...


Sam Vega said...

"the eternal debate about whether we can live for ever."

Well, if it is an eternal debate, at least we know that it won't be the same participants.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - seems to be the great hope.

Sam - and that's something to be eternally thankful for.