The Reality of Radical Life Extension

In case this blog is seeming a bit too frivolous lately, here's a short quote from Simon Critchley's brilliant Book of Dead Philosophers, from his entry on Lucretius. (Something for Aubrey de Grey, Ray Kurzweil and other modern techno-immortalists to think about.)

To run away from death is to run away from oneself, to succumb to the desire for immortality, against which Lucretius offers a mathematical argument: the amount of time one is alive is not going to reduce the eternity of one's death:

So an unquenchable thirst for life keeps us always on the gasp. By prolonging life, we cannot subtract or whittle away one jot from the duration of our death. However many generations you may add to your store by living, there waits for you nonetheless the same eternal death.
What is a year or a decade more or less in comparison to the length of time spent dead? Viewed from the standpoint of eternity, what Spinoza calls sub specie aeternitatis, life's brevity or longevity is nothing in comparison to the eternity of our death. Moreover, this eternity is nothing to fear, but is the basis for contentment and calm.

Critchley takes as his starting point in this book the saying from Cicero, echoed by others through the ages, that "to philosophize is to learn how to die."

Leave a Comment