Tag Archives: philosophy of biology

Extreme longevity: The Series – Part I: The Will to Live


English: Black coloured infinity sign in circl...

The Will to Live

I am of the belief that a good thesis requires a sturdy foundation. Moreover, I would suggest that a Cartesian foundation, being a truism or otherwise self-evident idea, is the best of foundations. For, such a bottom-most building block assures that the entire proposal is at least based upon something solid and without contention. With a self-evident belief as the foundation, we can then build whatever we might want. Ideally, we shall build up a thesis with pieces that follow from the foundations that lie below them. Additionally, the more self-evident or self-justifying beliefs that are used as foundation, the more room there then is to expand, importantly, with confidence. So, I will start with a foundation that I believe is truly one of the most self-evident truths of the Universe as it is understood by humans, particularly those that are familiar with the life sciences, no matter what level in the hierarchy.

The foundation: That which is alive, wants to stay alive.

This is of course referred to as the will to live. This might not be so self-evident as “I think, therefore I am“, but I do believe it is on the same level as an oversimplified variant of the Anthropic Principle, “Humans evolved on Earth because the Earth was perfect for evolving Humans”.

I must of course address the naysayers who will want to talk about the suicidal. From a purely biological standpoint, individuals that feel this way are not rational living beings and thus must actually be categorized as separate from the otherwise uncategorized “alive”. One who is suicidal is not solely “That which is alive”. They must be considered differently as “That which is alive, but does not want to be”. This is a completely separate state of being from simply “alive”. That which is alive, is simply alive. It takes its life as a given and accepts it. These beings that are alive, want to stay alive.

That which is alive, but does not want to be either does not take its life as given or it does, but rejects it. These beings are not alive, per se, but are conditionally alive, in that, they do not want to be.Another way to demonstrate the contrast is in the dichotomy of “To be” or “Not to be”. “To be” is to be that which is alive. “Not to be” is to be that which is not alive, or to be alive without wanting to be.

Those that be continue to be while those that not be do not.

To summarize, this can be represented as a simple transposition:

That which is alive (A), wants to stay alive (W).
or, If A, then W (A -> W)

That which is alive, but does not want to be (~W), is not alive (~A)
or, If ~W, then ~A (~W -> ~A)

Thus, because “That which is Alive, wants to stay alive” is self-evident, then “That which is alive, but does not want to be, is not alive” is also self-evident. Therefore, “That which is Alive, wants to stay alive” cannot be ruled as fallacious by simply invoking the existence of the suicidal.

(The apathetic are an interesting case. However, for the sake of brevity, that which does not make an effort to not be is still alive. To be considered that which is alive, but does not want to be requires a will to not be. To be alive does not require a will to be, but instead is equal to that will.)

And… we have my self-evident Cartesian foundation. Oh yes, this whole post was simply to establish that my foundation was self-evident. That’s the thing with the “self-evident”. It’s only self-evident after being demonstrated that it is. I might suggest that this is a bit ironic, yes?

So what thesis am I building a foundation for? Stay tuned for Part II… (a teaser)

Dear World, Give me a million (or so) dollars, and I will cure aging. Yes, you. And yes, me, CURING AGING. Let us end mortality.

The path to extreme longevity for Homo sapiens is not one that begins in the far and distant future. No; this path will be revealed as soon our resources  are put in the right place.

Here, I will convince you of the above truth. I will concurrently demonstrate that I am the right person to lead us into this frontier.



Edward Osborne “E. O.” Wilson, father of sociobiology, likes cake

E. O. Wilson once gave a talk at my undergrad university about Charles Darwin. I don’t really completely remember why Professor Wilson was talking about Darwin. I think it might have to do with his contribution to a collection of Darwin’s works, From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin’s Four Great Books (Voyage of the Beagle, The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals). As an aside, Florida State University is notable for keeping a pretty solid relationship with Wilson. If I remember, Wilson either said something about it being the most beautiful campus or that he really liked that it was full of ants and flip-flop wearing college kids who often get attacked by ants; probably the former. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wilson did a semi-retired professorship at FSU. Professors such as Sir Harry Kroto (good ol Knight of buckyball)
like to do that because of the weather and genuine beauty of the place.

Anyway, his birthday was the same week that he gave the talk. A lifetime friend of mine, we’ll call her Mensing-san, caught wind that there was a party at some professor’s house. So, being the rebellious undergrads we were, we obviously had to crash it and ask him lots of questions about the evolution of consciousness and crayfish.

I took this picture of him receiving his cake in all his joyousness. The cake is, of course, decorated by the very ants his lab first genetically modified to permit growth to cosmic sizes in order to more easily extract pheromones for societal studies. I shook his hand and told him I studied biochemistry and he told me he knew people who studied biochemistry. We then talked about how much we both think flip-flops are like the contaminating RNase of footwear and how those college kids with eaten up feet are undeserving of sympathy… maybe. Definitely the first part is true, about him knowing people who studied biochemistry, but that didn’t really stick out to me as being noteworthy enough for ending a paragraph.

In any event I still feel that this is truly a picture worth appreciating, of course. Who would have thought that famous philosophers of biology might be the sort to get so excited about cake?

Oh yeah, then he read an excerpt from his novel, Anthill: A Novel. I think it’s sort of like a pseudo-autobiography with a Frog-man and some kid that is obsessed with ants.