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Deathism

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Priorities

Deathism a type of bio-fatalism, is a widely held believe that death is natural, inevitable or even desirable.[1][2] In social psychology the idea is sometimes known as 'terror management theory'. Even amoung those to who research longers healthspans, many will suggest "compressed morbidity" a quick and painless death to follow.[3]

Transhumanist commentary

Apparently there are humanists who felt some dissatisfaction with the rather comfortable nature of modern humanism. And the other half were very dug in on 'no, death is good for us' or 'death is natural' and just by its meaning we need to accept these limits. So I think it's interesting that humanists that can be quite strongly and explicitly atheistic, can actually agree quite strongly with most religious people in defending the idea that death is a good thing, a part of human nature and it should stay that way - Max More[4]

Aubrey de Grey has characterised dominant social attitudes to death as a 'pro-aging trance'.[5]

In society

Deathism

Certain atheistic perspectives attribute the influence of religion as the cause of deathism.[6] Despite this assertion, many secular humanists share a comparable attitude towards the acceptance of death.

Acceptance and even glorification of death is popular in all kinds of media be it song,[7] film,[8] often as a critique of immortalism.

Popular memes include:[9]

  • Global Decay - overpopulation and severe environmental issues
  • Relative Time - suggesting memories will decay in time
  • Mental Decay - such as dementia, but this is why we need to increase our healthspan and well as lifespan
  • Severe Social Divides - oligarchy
  • No Value - devaluation of time-bound human experiences
  • Monotony - the idea that we won't be able to find infinitely creatively things to do and kill ourselves
  • No Social Progression - freezing of current social norms
  • No Retirement or Welfare - probably a fair point on the retirement front. But what if we have universal basic income and make it to a post scarcity society?
  • Useless Criminal Punishments - implying today's punishments are useful
  • Violent Death - discounting posthuman transhumanism

A Less Wrong essay defends deathism for the benefits of:[10]

  • The association of the wisdom of senescence
  • Association with risk taking and
    • Desire for outdoorsy activities
    • Desirable competitive behaviour
    • Incentive for socialisation

In medicine

Currently, it is commonplace to withhold certain medical treatments and utilise 'do not resuscitate' orders in accordance to patients wishes or with chronically ill or the elderly in exceptionally poor heath, toeing a line on euthanasia.

Some medical professionals have labelled investment in cancer research as a 'waste', relative sudden or painful deaths from organ failure or dementia.[11]

Responding to deathism

"If death is so great, why are you still here?" Despite an abundance of perfectly good bridges to jump off of, highways to play in, and the wide availability of drain opener, the people who wax poetic about how wonderful and natural death is seem to be just as keen as anyone else to continue their own lives. Deathism, then, takes on an air of hypocrisy: the deathist considers it to be the moral obligation of other people to die, while they themselves seem to have no interest in checking out anytime soon.

Some people who adhere to the religion of Christianity may argue that death is necessary in order to move on to a better realm of existence (i.e. heaven). However, this line of thinking is not consistent with the teachings of Christianity which state "...behold, the Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21) which would imply that our true state of joy is not to be found in some afterlife only accessible after death, but is instead an innate part of our nature, waiting to be tapped into. This idea has been further expounded by the spiritual teacher, Yogiraj Gurunath Siddhanath, who made the case that, "If your mind is like heaven, but your body is in hell, then you are in heaven. If your mind is like hell, but your body is in heaven, then you are in hell." The underlying idea behind this is that true happiness can be experienced anywhere at anytime and that one does not need to undergo death in order to transition into a different realm (heaven in this case) in order to experience it.

Below is a more poetic argument against deathism and in favor if rejuvenation.

"Perhaps when humankind masters the laws of nature to such an extent that it is able to indefinitely prolong its life, then perhaps humankind will find within that new life, a more complete and perfect death than what nature would have otherwise provided."

See also

External links

This one is actually satire from The Onion

References

  1. Is "Deathism" a Useful Term?
  2. Transhumanism as Simplified Humanism
  3. Silicon Valley’s Quest to Live Forever - Can billions of dollars’ worth of high-tech research succeed in making death optional?
  4. Max More - Transhumanism and Virtue
  5. Old People Are People Too: Why It Is Our Duty to Fight Aging to the Death
  6. To Ensure a Future of Transhumanism, Atheists Should Confront the Deathist Culture Religion Has Sown
  7. Blue Oyster Cult - (Don't Fear) The Reaper 1976 Studio Version
  8. City of Angels (film)
  9. 10 Terrifying Downsides to Immortality
  10. http://lesswrong.com/lw/jop/a_defense_of_senexism_deathism/
  11. Cancer is the 'best death' – so don't waste billions trying to cure it, says leading doctor