Discussion in 'Star Trek: Picard' started by Felderburg, May 16, 2020.
I dunno if I'd put it the same way Picard did, but it made for a good scene.
THANK YOU. You said what I wanted to, but would have gone into a rant over (thus the rolled-eyes emoji post).
To misquote a certain line from the Terminator franchise: "there is no meaning but what we make."
I think Picard handled it best...oddly
It's hard to say. My memories fade but I have certain bedrock memories that don't go away. I still remember when I was playing with my dog when I was four, then he wrapped his chain around me, then pounced on me, when the playing got carried away, then I was terrified for my life. I don't remember much else from when I was four, but I still remember that.
I can remember stuff I said in the cafeteria in high school, but anything I said during lunch on a given day a few months ago (before Covid-19), I couldn't tell you.
Memory works in strange ways. I don't think there's any real correlation between time and memory. I think it has more to do with how potent a memory is than how long ago it was. I remember the first extended argument I ever got into with someone on TrekBBS in 1999. Ironically, it was about "Unity in the Quadrant" (and how all the major powers of the Alpha Quadrant came together to fight the Dominion). But some random argument from 2003 from some thread in some forum? I couldn't tell you.
It is a basic fact of existence that scarcity tends to increase the value of something.
I think there's as good an argument for mortality ROBBING life of meaning as there is for its giving life meaning.
I'd lean towards no, but I think it's important to distinguish between the absence of aging and true immortality.
I mean, consider if we could rejuvenate and/or halt aging in place so that we didn't get older. Most people would live much, much longer. However, this wouldn't be universal - some people would be taken at a young age due to infectious disease, murder, accidents, etc. I believe the real death rate of someone in their early 20s is around 1 in 1,000, which would mean it would take roughly 700 years for half of an "ageless" population to die. Probably quicker than that, to be honest, because just because you've dealt with cellular aging doesn't mean you can fix every aspect of wear and tear on the body. Note that this was the sort of "immortality" Data had anyway. His life was indefinite, but never infinite.
The other option - genuine immortality - is kinda terrifying to think about. Consider living so long that you get to see all the stars go dark, for example. But given how we actually experience the flow of time as conscious entities, I'm not sure it would matter that much on a day-to-day level. We'd adapt, and find new routines.
In general, I think we give our lives their own meaning, which can happen if life is finite, indefinite, or infinite. That said, the decision made sense for Data, who wanted to experience life as a human would, which included experiencing death.
I wouldn't want to live forever.
Not on Earth, anyway.
Think of your job for five hundred years, or being unemployed because you don't have a minimum of a century on the window washing detail. Why would the 1% even let the proles have such longevity? Circumvent a lot of trouble that way. Until the revolution anyway.
I think... I've come around to the view that mortality is not what gives life meaning per se. Yes, anything that is finite or transient is special, because it is unique and limited. But even an immortal person is unique, and can fill a long life with unique and limited experiences... Mortality may give extra impetus to ensure that our uniqueness and finite time are spent "well" and have meaning, but it is not the inherent thing that gives meaning, and I don't think that immortality would stop anyone from seeking meaning.
The idea that we make our own meaning in life isn't necessarily restricted to pro- or anti-mortality thinkers... and I think it holds true either way. Yes, there is certainly something to be said for thought experiments about how differently we might approach life if we had the potential to live forever; however, the same could be said of life right now: the "woulda coulda shouldas" of life won't change. And there will likely be people who make their immortal life meaningful by cramming it full of "doing" stuff, and others who take a more lackadaisical approach. But this is true even of people now. There are a number of different ways people find meaning in a mortal life, and I don't see any reason why an immortal life would be any different in that regard.
Regarding the "uniqueness" aspect of why transient experiences have meaning... it seems like there is a line of thought among some of the pro-mortality thinkers that eventually, all experiences will just become bland, running together endlessly. But every individual experience is unique, and special, even if it's a recurring event. Take the Christmas and football examples above: those happen every year (dozens or hundreds of times a year, if you count individual games) and yet, somehow, no one thinks that they should have happened only once and then never again. There's no reason that repeating experiences can't be cherished in the individual moment of that specific experience... and then cherished again the next year it comes around.*
Is there any reason to believe you would stop cherishing them right now if you were immortal? Or, let's say you lived long enough to have another child(ren) decades from now. Would you cherish that experience any less because you'd already experienced your current boys as grade schoolers?
Lots of people. It's probably worth noting that two of the more notable famous variations on that quote are military leaders trying to get a bunch of soldiers to think "screw it, we're gonna die, might as well be gloriously for our cause right here and now." I'm not sure using mortality as motivation for killing other folks is a good argument in favor of how it gives meaning to life.
That phrase is also pretty much the encapsulation of the view I outlined in the OP, that most "anti-immortality" is a simplistic rejection of it only because we can't have it. I think FredH and gblews are more correct in their views (https://www.trekbbs.com/threads/does-mortality-give-life-meaning.304366/#post-13396271) (https://www.trekbbs.com/threads/does-mortality-give-life-meaning.304366/#post-13395697).
* I guess, in a very very technical sense, Christmas (as in "the birth of Jesus") did only happen once
Being unable to die and starving for a thousand years might put a dent in that optimism.
Because it changes your perspective. If I have more of something then I am less likely to worry about where it is and were it is going.
I'm not anti-immortality because we don't have it. I'm more of a being aware of the moment type of a person, and I think that applies whether mortal or immortal. And I think humans define themselves by their limits and pushing past them.
I think that's just what mortals tell each other in order to give their mortality meaning.
I think humans need massive Societal level Genetic Engineering to live a bit longer and have functional youthfullness in form and function along with a few other benefits.
This way you can live your life "To the fullest" and have more time to enjoy more, learn more, experience more, etc.
Imagine after massive human societal Genetic Engineering by 2501 that your average human life span is a minimum of 136 years old. Near the end of your Genetically Enhanced human life span at 136 years of age, the average person would only look like a 68 year old 21st century human in good condition and internally have the body function of a healthy average 45 year old 21st century human in good condition. You could live more fruitful, mobile lives with less encumberence and down sides.
With more genetic enginering, future generations would live just a bit longer down the line.
By 3300, the average minimum life-span of Genetically Enhanced humans would be 160 years, the average person would only look like a 53.3 year old 21st century human in good condition, and internally have the body function of a healthy 40 year old 21st century human in good condition.
We'd live ever longer, appear younger for longer periods of time, and functionally have younger bodies at it so that we can maximize the enjoyment of life.
This kind of "Living Longer" Genetic Enhancements will be gradually introduced, tested, and further Enhanced with each generation.
Ok, but "what's the meaning of life if we just die at the end" vs. "what's the meaning of life if we're just miserable forever" doesn't seem to me to be proof that mortality gives life meaning. It just means that humans will go about finding meaning in different ways (or finding different ways to be pessimistic?).
But even today, there are (mortal) people who miss out on things because "oh, it'll happen again next year," ...and then it doesn't. No reason that immortal people wouldn't worry about missing a one-time event, just because they have more time overall. You explicitly say that being aware of the moment is something that applies regardless of mortality. Some people worry about the time they have even now, and some don't. Why does that mean that mortality, by itself, gives life meaning?
And... we cannot answer this question, as we cannot truly imagine how it would feel like being immortal.
As others have alluded to the idea of scarcity is often given by humans as having more value, more meaning.
Do I think that answers the question? I don't think so, as my response below to @ThreeEdgedSword
No, we cannot. We can only accept reality as it is. We are mortal...earth shattering revelation, I know.
But, it is part of the reason why I think Picard was given a mortal aspect to his new body. Because humanity defines itself by those current limits.
Kinda wish they did make Picard immortal so that this change in perspective could be explored. And so that he would have time to start a family
If you’re thinking about selling it, sure. But let’s say, oh, I really, really love General Tso’s Chicken and could happily eat it twice a day for the rest of my life (as is the case). If everyone on Earth magically gains the ability (and inclination) to also have General Tso’s Chicken every day forever, that doesn’t lessen its value for me. (I imagine it would become cheaper, of course, but that’s not the kind of “value” the thread topic is about.)
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