May 24, 2006

Living Forever as Leon Kass

Time again for the biannual screed by Leon Kass that anything humans do to lengthen their lives is at best a Faustian bargian; soon we'll let our pursuit of long life make us Dorian Gray. Doubtless you've read one of these pieces before, even if by accident, but as usual this one leads the reader to conclude that indeed, Leon Kass is right that he would not enjoy living forever, or that he might be less tolerable human if he were to live an artificially long life. But as always, Kass begs all the important questions about why being human is challenged by technologies that would let one be human longer. As Dan Callahan puts it,
"His view is that the fact that we're going to die makes us think more seriously about our life," Callahan said. "I don't know if that's necessarily true. I'm 75 now, and that certainly hasn't been my experience." Callahan also questions the idea that our humanity is somehow tied to our sense of finitude. "I don't think one can make our humanity dependent on the length of our life," Callahan told LiveScience. "Even if we live to be 500, we'll still be human beings."

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