Are we really immortal?

Philosophical Answers - What If We Were Immortal?

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Death, this ultimate insult: Philipp Tingler takes a philosophical look at immortality.

What if we were immortal? Is the question really that counterfactual? Some people are almost immortal. For example, Joan Collins. Or Prince Philip. There are two different models: with and without agelessness.

Because the next question is, if you were immortal, would you be ageless? After all, we live in the late modern era with its technical possibilities to perfect the body raw material in the service of social imperatives.

Philipp Tingler

Writer and philosopher

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Philipp Tingler is a writer and philosopher. He did his doctorate on Thomas Mann and Transcendental Idealism and moves in the criticism team of the SRF literature club with the same winning competence as among the guests of Donatella's garden party at Fashion Week.

Web series "Steiner and Tingler"

Said technology, together with a psychosocial beauty ideal of youthful flawlessness, already produces a cohort of people between 40 and 70, whose surgically optimized faces do not look young, but also not old, but rather like a frightened goldfish.

On the other hand, there are 12-year-olds who finance their parents with make-up tutorials for the so-called Insta Face on Youtube and look like 35. And then there are places in the world, such as Beverly Hills or St. Moritz, where hardly any are now Teenager is younger than 40.

And what's the philosophical problem with that? I'll tell you: we are losing the occidental topos of body-mind duality. In other words: The fixation on the body stirs up an illusion of immortality, physical immortality, which devalues ​​the immaterial immortality that the mind has previously been able to claim for itself.

Immortality vs. Agelessness

Let's elaborate a little. Eternal youth seems within reach, and the downside is: death. This ultimate mortification. Humans, born with the intuition of mortality, have (with a few exceptions) never been a big fan of death.

In the course of cultural history he has tried various projects here and there to deny it: religion, art, politics, consumption. Philosophy too. The contemporary project is called: Self-optimization. Self creation. Everything in this world. In godless transcendence and tending to be infinite. Because it can always be better.

But people shy away from talking about immortality. People prefer to talk about agelessness or prolonged youth, with the option of eternity. Eternal youth seems to stand for eternal happiness - and that is precisely that: being happy is, in addition to health and sustainability, a value that the late modern multinational society can just about agree on.

Physically immortal, eternally unhappy

But all eternal states have something unbearable about them. Eternal happiness too. It is impossible for people to experience any being extrapolated to infinity as being happiness-inducing - no matter how pleasant it is in its limitations.

After all, it only makes sense to set priorities against the background of a limited time horizon. Values ​​get meaning through limitation. The mind needs a limited horizon so that the importance of the material does not get out of hand.

Think about the last shirt. It is well known that it has no pockets. But what if there is no last shirt left? Greed would be limitless.

So the answer is, if we were physically immortal, we would be eternally unhappy. But I have some consolation. First: You can be immortal even though you have been dead for a long time. Second: Mortality can also be reconciled with the existence of a soul.

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