Spoilers Does mortality give life meaning?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Picard' started by Felderburg, May 16, 2020.

  1. Felderburg

    Felderburg Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I know that it may be hard on the TrekBBS (:p), but I'm hoping to have this discussion without the specifics of character motivations/events of Picard season 1 brought in, since they're discussed elsewhere on these boards. I'm just curious as to what people think about the idea that mortality gives life meaning.

    I started thinking about it as soon as I finished Picard, and I thought it was a pretty interesting take on immortality. Most fiction I've seen/read that has immortality seems, to me, to be making it seem bad only because in real life we can't get it. "No no, you don't want immortality – it's actually a good thing humans can't have it!" Just a way to make people feel better that they can't live forever by highlighting all this (supposedly) bad stuff that happens to immortals.

    But Picard didn't go down that simplistic route. Rather than saying that immortality is inherently bad (as a way to make viewers feel better about the fact that are mortal), it went and said that mortality is what gives meaning to life. But... is it? I assume that reading Tragic Sense of Life would give some insight (and maybe starting a readalong thread wouldn't be out of place here, since it is available: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14636/14636-h/14636-h.htm) but I just wondered what people's thoughts are on the idea. So... does mortality give meaning to life?
     
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  2. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think life is defined by its existence, not just by it's end or its beginning. The state of its existence, what happens during experiences. The longer you live, the more textured your life can become.

    But I'd say that mortality doesn't give meaning to life in the context of Star Trek because then you'd be arguing that there's no meaning to life of the Q. Quinn might think that but not everyone in the Continuum did. So it's really just one facet, not the whole thing.
     
  3. Leathco

    Leathco Commander Red Shirt

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    I can see where the phrase comes from in a way. If you were immortal, and had limitless time, does it matter if you go to Disneyworld now or wait a few years (when you might not be around)? Will you have the willpower to write that book you want to write, or put it off because you have all the time you want? Will it even be the same book, as it would be written under an entirely different frame of mind?

    Than we have the mental effects of immortality. Watching anyone you care for grow old as you stay young, watching them die and having to part with them all, only to do the same over and over again to new people. Beginning to not protect yourself because hey, you're immortal, and suddenly not protecting yourself injures or kills someone else because you were focused on you, not the ones around you. Sure, you would think of others for awhile, but as the years, decades, and centuries go by, can you really stay vigilant every moment? Or even worse, perhaps even learn to disdain those who are not immortal? It's not just your life that's precious, but that of everyone around you as well.

    @Lord Garth, bringing up the Q, look at how they treat others, as if they are lower than them and don't matter. It's obvious only the Q played by John DeLancie has any real thought on humanity, and even than he treats the species more like a pet than an equal. Their existence had meaning, but to most of Q, humanity did not.
     
  4. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think there are Humans who look down on other Humans as if they don't matter too. Doesn't change the fact that these people who look down on the rest of us have meaning to their life. I just don't like what that meaning is. But I don't think that's somewhere I want to go in this forum.
     
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  5. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I believe that the finite nature of all things gives them meaning.

    Christmas is special to my kids because it only happens once per year

    Football is special because the season has a beginning, middle and end.

    My boys are only grade schoolers once...so enjoying them at this age is crucially important to me.

    Life is precious because we all die. It's the one shared human experience. The one thing you can count on.
     
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  6. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    As the wise May (Not that May.) once asked:

    Who wants to live forever?
     
  7. gblews

    gblews Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I definitely do not believe that mortality gives meaning to life. That seems like a concept we use to comfort ourselves because we know we’re only going to get 60 - 80 years here, and that’s nothing in the large scheme of things.

    Think of a fly that lives only 24 hours. From the fly’s perspective, it gets a substantial amount of time — because it doesn’t know anything else. We’re no different from that fly in our acceptance of our short lives. To say that our lives are enhanced by their shortness, seems to me to be kind of insulting to who we are as beings.

    Humans are the highest life form on this planet, yet we’re outlived regularly by trees, sharks, turtles, etc. No way am I accepting of this to the point that I see only being given 80 - 86 years as a “blessing.”
     
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  8. Replica Picard

    Replica Picard Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    There are repeating patterns to life that I can see already at the age I am now that make me think that while mortality might not exactly "give life meaning", at some point, different for each of us, there would probably come a point where we'd just get sick of this shit and want to be done. I mean, sure there'd be new tech (and new technological horrors), new music (that's not as good or derivative of the music from when you were young), etc, but all the news stories about the colonies in the new galaxy humanity just started colonizing sound the same as from the last galaxy, and your great-x24-granddaughter is almost an identical jerk to the one your great-x4-granddaughter was, and her kids aren't interesting, and probably wouldn't come visit you even if they were. I think we'd better hope we could at least choose to kick off at that point, because I could see some people becoming colossal trolls up to and including terrorist acts just to try to keep things interesting.
     
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  9. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    Best expressed by Voltan.
     
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  10. Makarov

    Makarov Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Warden Miller:
    So tell me Rico, what is the meaning of life?

    Rico:
    It ends.

    - Judge Dredd
     
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  11. SolarisOne

    SolarisOne Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  12. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Imagine how differently we'd approach life if we knew we had infinite time to do anything.
     
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  13. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Being mortal does not give meaning.

    It just makes mortality that much more miserable.
     
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  14. rahullak

    rahullak Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It can give life focus.

    You want to make the best of the time that you have, in the phase that you are currently in life, if you were mortal with limited time.

    If you had infinite time, apart from the initial growth, puberty, adulthood phase changes, would there be any meaning in saying that there any further phases?

    Reminds me of that great movie The Man from Earth.
     
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  15. FredH

    FredH Captain Captain

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    In answer to the thread subject question: No, not in the slightest. But we frequently insist otherwise, in our art and elsewhere, to make ourselves feel better about the fact that we can’t do anything about it. We invent supernatural afterlives, and assure ourselves, with 100% confidence and 0% evidence or theoretical mechanism, that they exist — for exactly the same reason. The last thing we want to admit is that death is literally for nothing, other than being nature’s blind method of population control.

    (I can certainly see not wanting to live forever simply because all right already after a certain point, but that’s a separate issue.)
     
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  16. FredH

    FredH Captain Captain

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    Sure — I’d start and do a whole hell of a lot more, now that I knew I’d actually have the time to see through even hugely long-term projects.
     
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  17. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well put.
     
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  18. Captain pl1ngpl0ng

    Captain pl1ngpl0ng Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    is it possible for the brain to remember stuff in your life for thousands and thousands of years... hundreds of thousands of years... millions of years? would you live forever if you could only remember the last bit?
     
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  19. Leathco

    Leathco Commander Red Shirt

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    Even Data has a finite amount of storage, mentioned in one of the TNG episodes. Not sure if his storage could be upgraded, as they did some tinkering in his hardware head.
     
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  20. gblews

    gblews Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Some people appear to view death as the only cure for boredom. :lol: With all due respect to The Good Place, I disagree.