A Journal for Western Man
The Advantages of Immortality
G. Stolyarov II
Issue LX- May 28, 2006
George is a regular wage laborer,
industrious, but somewhat frail and easy to tire. Thus
George is unable to put in 18 hours every day for running a
small business or generating a vast fortune quickly. Had he
lived the average human lifespan, he would likely have died
owning only a small home and having a fairly marginal
In the minds of those who think that immortality will only bring boredom, stagnation, and a lack of moral stimulus to succeed, the hypothetical case of George is inconceivable. But why? It has just been conceived of before the reader’s eyes; George begins as a “common man” with fairly common upward ambitions. What differentiates him from the “common man” today is time; George has time to work, save, and accumulate money and skills. Because he will live much longer than people today, he can afford to have longer time horizons; he can make investments that will mature in 200, 300, or 5000 years—knowing that he will be around to enjoy the rewards. If he wishes to succeed in business, he will also need to compete with other immortals who have similarly long-term time horizons and who have accumulated a similarly impressive array of skills. George cannot afford to stagnate; he must move ever upward in a world where technology, wealth, and human faculties grow exponentially.
Time is man's
sole true limitation. Any other resource can be compensated
for by an individual's effort. If one has been bankrupted or
experiences political persecution, one always has the chance
of regaining one's funds or assuring enforcement of one's
rights over time, so long as one is alive. But,
when time saps the very energy needed to live—the very
vitality of youth—from a man’s organism, such pursuits
become ever more inconceivable. Contrary to the mainstream
culture, senescence is not "normal." It is a gradually
increasing severance of one's intellectual and fysical
capacities from the external reality. When this severance is
complete, death results. And one cannot compensate for
resources when dead!
Religious opponents of
immortality contend that immortality in this world would
prevent one’s soul from achieving immortality in the next.
As a man of reason, I respond that immortality in a world
which we are certain exists is superior to the uncertain
promise of immortality in another world of which we have no
evidence. The primary ethical difference between
a man of reason and a man of faith is that the man of reason
seeks to eventually create a perfect life in this world,
whereas the man of faith sees the perfect life as ultimately
given "elsewhere" and thus sees this world doomed to
inadequacy and imperfection. Certainly, the status quo is
far from perfect, but this does not mean that it is not
Every man’s life is not doomed to an eventual ultimate failure; a solution is possible in this world. I contend that any peril can be technologically remedied eventually. This means that sometime in the future—given the requisite economic and political freedoms—man will develop solutions to every known problem plaguing our time. Every disease and potential cause of accident known to us today will someday be cured. If new diseases or causes of accident should arise, they will someday be cured as well.
One might ask: is there not an infinite possibility of diseases or causes of accident? Since the nature of existence does not permit simultaneous infinities, I do not see how this can be the case. If my premise—presented in “Mistakes Concerning Infinity”—is granted, there is only a finite amount of perils that can ever afflict man. Given that man’s conscious faculty is capable of perceiving and interacting with all of reality, there is no reason why it inherently cannot someday devise cures to the entirety of possible perils.
Thus, it is possible that man may someday be indestructible, literally, as a result of employing his own reason. The individuals that devise cures to these perils may make permanent contracts with customers like George, whose invincibility will thus be guaranteed him, without him having to do anything but allow advertisements to be played in his head for a few hours.
Some opponents of immortality might contend that this type of indestructibility is undesirable, for it would do away with the need to maintain a rational morality in order to survive. Yet this need would not be nullified by the advent of immortality.
How would immortality alter the nature of morality if reason was required to devise all these protections? It is impossible to consistently embrace a state of being while rejecting those attributes that brought it about. It is, for example, impossible to reject capitalism while embracing economic prosperity, or to reject individual liberty while embracing moral actions. Once one takes away the prerequisites, the consequences collapse like a skyscraper without a frame or foundation. This was the mistake made by the socialists—who sought to redistribute wealth that free commerce created—and by “progressive” moralists—who sought to impose certain moral actions on people while abolishing the chosen nature of such actions, which renders them moral. Both prosperity and morality collapsed once the socialists and “progressives” had their way.
Any indestructibility obtained through technological immortality would still be conditional upon individual reason—upon the reason of the individuals who invent, maintain, and distribute this life-perpetuating treatment, as well as upon the reason of the individuals who receive it. These individuals must still rationally recognize that life is a value and that they want to have it forever; they must then rationally decide to initiate or continue the life-perpetuating treatment. The moment they genuinely reject reason, they will reject the treatment and will again remain susceptible to the elements. Only a rational morality would make it possible for them to even agree to be immortal and to take the necessary steps to maintain their immortality.
Immortality would by no means render morality or the pursuit of values meaningless; it would amplify the need for morality and the ambition with which men pursue their values—encouraging men to have longer time horizons and higher levels of productivity in a greater diversity of occupations. The advantages of immortality are as numerous as the time it will add to individuals’ lives.
G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre, Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at email@example.com.
This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.
Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.