I adopted the philosophy of transhumanism in the summer of 2015.
What is better? To be healthy, or to be sick? It is easy to know the correct answer: to be healthy. If you friend was seriously ill and you had a cure that would save him, would you give it to him? Of course you would. But what if said friend was 90 years old? Is it still correct to give him the cure? Many people consider this question difficult or think there is no one correct answer. But it’s just as easy as the last one: of course it’s good to cure him.
If you saw a child, or a young adult, bound to railroad tracks, and you could – without taking any risk – free him from the approaching train, you would do it. But what if it was a 120-years-old elder, begging for your help, “I still want to live,” he’d have said, “please free me, I don’t want to be destroyed by the train”. Would you answer “you’ve already lived long enough, now it’s better for you to die” or would you help him?
Transhumanism is a philosophical – ethical – position that claims it would be nice if everybody could live as long as they want to. It is a very simple idea, but still the very opposite of it is rooted in our society, that yes, it’s good to live but only up to a certain moment, and that once you turn eighty, it’s better to die. But why eighty? How convenient that the right lifetime is exactly the one that was permitted by the technology of our age.
One of the speakers at Skepticon said on this topic:
“Let me be honest with you, my friends, I am against death. My opinion on this subject is not complicated, I think it is bad. Sometimes life doesn’t have to be complicated. What does two plus two equal? Four. What does two plus two really, ultimately, truly equal? Four. It’s still four even if you speak the question in a deep pretentious tone of voice. There’s this tendency to think that if you speak a question in a sufficiently pretentious tone of voice that it requires this clever counter-intuitive answer, which a lot of things don’t.
So…Life is good, death is bad, health is good, sickness is bad, if you can live to 70 years, living to 80 years is better, living to 500 years is even better, living to 1 million years is even better than that, and when people ask me “but would you want to live forever” I say “Well I don’t really know, forever’s a long time” “Pick any finite number you like, forever is longer than that” I don’t know if it’s physically possible, the current laws of physics say no.
Transhumanism is not complicated. Everybody should have the possibility to choose for himself when does he want to stop existing. Death should not be forced upon him, neither by a fellow human nor by nature.
Some say that “God wanted us to live only a short while; to live longer is blasphemy” but God does not exist so that idea is meaningless. Some say “a human should live as long as he does; such is the cycle of life”. But these “wise” words have no deep truth to them. Injuries, physical trauma, diseases and genetic defects are things we fight against. The fact that we didn’t succeed completely, that we didn’t invent vaccines against all diseases, that we did not eradicate all forms of cancer, that we can’t prevent car crashes, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
It’s the same with physical aging. As a human lives, his body is being damaged, and the probability keeps increasing that he will be annihilated by a trivial illness or injury that he would laugh off while young. Yet physical aging is nothing but another problem of the human body, just as its vulnerability to cancer of infectious diseases is a problem. Aging is like a dragon that eats eighty thousand people daily. But it is not a law of physics nor is it an insurmountable problem.
Yes, it’s not an easy task to get rid of it. It’s quite possible we won’t stop aging in our generation. But the question of ethics is merely this – whether, if death was optional, we would actually want to stop dying. Transhumanism said that yes, we shouldn’t be forced to die, no matter our age.
I’m happy that I live.
I would be happier if I could live for as long as I wanted to, in full health or with only trivial illnesses that would be unable to cause me significant damage.
It really is… quite simple.