Should We Live Forever: The Ethical Ambiguities of Aging

Should We Live Forever: The Ethical Ambiguities of Aging

Should We Live Forever: The Ethical Ambiguities of Aging

Should We Live Forever: The Ethical Ambiguities of Aging

Synopsis

In Should We Live Forever? Christian ethicist Gilbert Meilaender puzzles over the implications of the medical advances that have lengthened the human life span, wrestling with what this quest for living longer means for our conception of living well and completely. As he points out in his introduction, "That we often desire, even greedily desire, longer life is clear; whether what we desire is truly desirable is harder to say."

The six chapters of this book take multiple perspectives on issues surrounding aging and invite readers to consider whether "indefinitely more life" is something worth pursuing and, if humans are created for life with God, whether longer life will truly satisfy our underlying hunger.

Excerpt

Science continues to be a channel for magic — the belief that for the
human will, empowered by knowledge, nothing is impossible
.

John Gray, The Immortalization Commission

Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
forsake me not when my strength is spent….
till I proclaim thy might
to all the generations to come
.

Psalm 71:9, 18b

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to receive a grant from the University of Chicago’s New Science of Virtues Project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation. the focus of my project was to be virtue (and virtues) in relation to anti-aging research; and, at least initially, I believe I was thinking in terms of a rather standard bioethical exploration of ongoing research into age-retardation and extension of the life span. It was not long, though, before it became apparent to me that the project could not be done in a metaphysically neutral way. Inevitably, religious beliefs kept creeping in. I have not so much tried to defend those beliefs as to explore their significance for human aging and attempts to retard it. That we often desire, even greedily desire, longer life is clear; whether what we desire is truly desirable is harder to say.

The classical understanding of virtue referred to what philosophers in recent decades have come to call human flourishing — the excellence that realizes and expresses the full potential of our human nature. Because that nature is an embodied one, we might suppose that, whatever human flourishing involves, it must include the aging and decline that characterize bodily organisms. Since, how-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.