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By Sam Zanahar (2002)
I am a rational person, and as such, have a biological view of life. I will still live for a few years, and in the moment of my death, all will be finished. No afterlife, no rebirth. Just gone.
Mankind will achieve individual immortality. This means that sooner or later, there will be humans who can be killed in accidents or by intention, but will not die because of having reached a certain age, or because of physiological failure.
Unfortunately, mankind will reach this stage only at a time when I personally will already be dead.
This is unfortunate because the aspect of having at hand a technology that could indefinitely prolong my individual life would afford me a completely different outlook. Currently, my outlook is defined by the fact that I may still have a 20 or 30 years of a decent life, and after that a few years of old age, but this time frame is so limited that it's not worth to plan much for the future. By and large, I feel like in a rented apartment, the lease of which will expire next month. Changing broken light bulbs? Never mind. Painting a room? For what? I'll be out of here in no time.
If the technology for immortality would already exist, I would want to live in a society where it were accessible, and I would have a good reason for accumulating wealth, as this technology would be expensive. Apart from that, with an outlook to live for hundreds or thousands of years, it would make good sense to build up some savings.
Alas, I wouldn't bet a single dollar on me being able to benefit from the life extension technologies of the future.
I therefore have to decide what to do with my life, based on completely different considerations.
I can expect 20 or more years during which my physical condition will allow me to do pretty much what I like to do, provided I have the means.
I have to admit that I cannot see much meaning in anything else but the moments of optimal sexual satisfaction. Everything else in this world really isn't worth living for.
However, viewed rationally, the modern, rational world is NOT the best possible environment in which a rational man could find optimal sexual satisfaction.
I can achieve optimal sexual satisfaction only when I'm with a female member of my species of whose beauty I am genuinely convinced. This really excludes females who look beyond a certain age.
For optimal sexual satisfaction, it is not sufficient that the female grants me access to and use of her body. For optimal sexual satisfaction I require that so-called love be involved... a high degree of mental attachment.
While we are far from engineering immortality, we do, indeed, already have the technology to engineer apparent youth, primarily through cosmetic surgery.
And just as our whole thinking will change once we reach a mode of production at which we can engineer immortality, our outlook also changes once we reach a stage of our mode of production that allows us to appear as young men and women until a fairly high age.
In practical terms, it means that if we, men and women, have a realistic chance to look 30, even when we are double that age, then we will have a completely different outlook.
If we cannot appear to be the same age as our 30-year old competitors, we will favor a world in which the sexual market value of younger people is restricted, so that our own value will not diminish too far.
But if we have a realistic chance to maintain a sexually appealing appearance even beyond the fault line at which we would traditionally be viewed as goners, we can favor a world in which the value of older people does not have to be enhanced artificially. And I can proclaim: medical technology has reached a stage at which it is a realistic perspective to maintain an appearance as if we were 30 to well the double age. The key really is cosmetic surgery. Which is why I have been stating in other articles that cosmetic surgery has a philosophical, even metaphysical dimension.
The whole context proves, once again, that our opinions are an outgrowth of our modes of production, as analyzed brilliantly by Karl Marx in his political economy.
Quote from the preface of Karl Marx? "Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy" written in 1859:
"The general conclusion at which I arrived and which, once reached, became the guiding principle of my studies can be summarized as follows. In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."
In the original German version, the above quote reads like this:
"Das allgemeine Resultat, das sich mir ergab und, einmal gewonnen, meinen Studien zum Leitfaden diente, kann kurz so formuliert werden: In der gesellschaftlichen Produktion ihres Lebens gehen die Menschen bestimmte, notwendige, von ihrem Willen unabhaegige Verhaetnisse ein, Produktionsverhaeltnisse, die einer bestimmten Entwicklungsstufe ihrer materiellen Produktivkraefte entsprechen. Die Gesamtheit dieser Produktionsverhaeltnisse bildet die oekonomische Struktur der Gesellschaft, die reale Basis, worauf sich ein juristischer und politischer Ueberbau erhebt und welcher bestimmte gesellschaftliche Bewusstseinsformen entsprechen. Die Produktionsweise des materiellen Lebens bedingt den sozialen, politischen und geistigen Lebensprozess ueberhaupt. Es ist nicht das Bewusstsein der Menschen, das ihr Sein, sondern umgekehrt ihr gesellschaftliches Sein, das ihr Bewusstsein bestimmt.?
The following paragraphs were written before we assumed that we do have the technology to engineer almost lifelong youth. We maintain it as an indication of what our thought might be if cosmetic surgery would not allow us almost lifelong youth.
Western society is too rational, and too rich, to provide a man of advancing age with the opportunities he longs for. In a rational, and democratic, society as the standard Western European one, the value of a partner in a sexual relationship heavily depends on his age, or at least the age he looks, and there is very little he can do about this. And yes, this discrimination is very much based on rationalism, the same rationalism that is the basis of my own thinking.
This discrimination is also based on general, democratic wealth. In a poor society, or, even better, in a dead-poor society, the age of a potential sexual male partner is not the main aspect on which it depends whether a young woman is willing to attach herself mentally to him (genuine love). The poorer a society, the more will the attachment potential of a young women depend on factors of a man's wealth.
If he is filthy rich, and she is just filthy, there is a lot he can offer her. And she can fall in love with him just for the prospects of a future he can provide her with, even if he is old enough to be her grandfather.
Yes, for metaphysical and practical reasons I'd like the world to be a poor place. In poor societies, the value of a man as sexual partner does not depend on his age.
Therefore, as I am getting older, I'd like the world to be an irrational place, one where metaphysical and mystical qualities are attached to people. Even though I myself am rational and completely non-religious, I can see advantages for myself in societies with strong non-abstract religious beliefs.
The emphasis here is on non-abstract. I have the least sympathy for modern Protestant Christianity because both are so rational that their mystical content has largely diminished. Modern Protestant Christianity really no longer needs a god, just an abstract idea of a god, which is but an incorporation of rational opinions on ethical matters.
I can have a great time among people whose religious beliefs still include a strong animistic element. People in such societies live in a different mental universe. Their psychological attachment processes, or should I say: the psychological attachment processes of their young women (as this is what I care about) depend on so many irrational factors (like horoscopes and other hocus-pocus of the same kind) that the rational factor of a man's age becomes a negligible parameter.
And if the irrational society is a poor one at the same time (which is likely), the only rational consideration that may creep in is of an economic nature.
But clearly being wealthier than the average man in poor societies, economic rationalism is something I can live with.
For the above reasons, even though I'm a descendent of modern Western society, and even though I am myself totally rational, I find fault with rational Western society. (le*n)
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Copyright Sam Zanahar