Saturday, March 27, 2004

Defending Mortality

If the smartest new journal on the Canadian intellectual scene is the Western Standard, as Collin intimates below, then the smartest new journal on the American intellectual scene is the New Atlantis. The most recent issue is dedicated to Beyond Therapy, the latest report by the much-maligned President's Council on Bioethics. It also contains an essay by Paul Cantor on what poetry can teach modern science.

The best entry point to the issue may be Diana Schaub's essay, "Methuselah and Us", a reflection on Beyond Therapy's discussion of "ageless bodies." Schaub defends human mortality by discussing two dystopias, resulting from the quest for immortality, presented in the original Star Trek series. cover I'm no "Trekkie," but Schaub's is a compelling review, arguing that if mortality or death itself is not obviously good, it's certainly the foundation for other good things. Among the questions Schaub raises (via Star Trek) are: What would our attitude be to subsequent generations if we were immortal? And which stage of life would we like to prolong?

This is must reading for all libertarians who defend the pursuit of science fanatically, and forget about potential misanthropic consequences. The libertarian arguments about these matters are virtually non-existent; libertarians posture about the freedom of science and seek to paint those who raise philosophic questions like these as neanderthals or religious zealots. But these libertarian accusations are not arguments; they are just a form of angry name-calling, resulting from the pain of having their faith in science questioned on rational grounds, where they arrogantly and ignorantly assume they are invulnerable.


Post a Comment

<< Home