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Topic: Immortality (Read 723 times)
January 16, 2010, 03:07:28 PM »
This thread is based on the Major Spoilers Podcast #169. I didn't see it posted in the podcast forum (though it may be soon) but, either way, it was a great topic.
It is somewhat relevant for myself as well. "What?" you say. "Navarre is an immortal?!? That explains why he feels he has all the time in the world to post on internet forums."
No, I'm not an immortal nor would I want to be. But I have posted a lot on my D&D game and the plot deals with immortality. Without immediately derailing my own thread, let me give you the premise and then open it into the immortality discussion.
My main antagonist has a well-intentioned scheme to force the world's population into closer proximity with each other to the point that resources are not too limited but where individuals will encounter each other enough to have a high degree on interaction. Then he intends to make the entire population sterile and immortal.
His belief is that people tend to get wiser and have a truer perspective on life as they get older but they cannot give that perspective to the younger generation (though they may try). Then the older generation dies off even as the younger generation repeats many of the same mistakes.
His goal is to create a world where people will gain the wisdom most people do over time and the race will come to live in peace.
Would-be criminals would have a difficult time pursuing crime because the threat of death has been removed. Likewise, incarcerating criminals for long periods of time would be pointless as that time has little meaning in the scope of immortality.
Therefore, people will eventually learn to live together. It is something of the reverse of the podcast question about if you were the only immortal in a world full of mortals.
Most of the people to whom I have told the scheme scoff and says it would never work. I suspect they are correct but I was trying to provoke an examination of how mortality affects the way people go about their lives.
Therefore, it relates entirely to an examination of the concept of immortality itself. So, trying to do so as well as build on what may be (imo) the best podcast concept yet:
What would the world be like if
Last Edit: January 16, 2010, 04:52:33 PM by Navarre
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High Inquisitor, Keeper of the Fro
Reply #1 on:
January 16, 2010, 04:08:07 PM »
Haven't listened to the podcast yet, but I plan to.
The biggest thing with everyone being immortal is that the penalty of punishment by death becomes irrelevant. But, on the other hand, the crime of committing murder also becomes irrelevant. What's the proper punishment for someone who is immortal? 100 years in jail isn't really a big deal considering how long forever is. Law, crime and punishment in a wolrd full of only immortals is so interesting.
Learning and working also makes things interesting. Take a woodsmith for example. He'll probably train as an apprentice for 5-10 years, maybe less. If you're immortal you could train with someone for hundreds of years. Someone who has been doing this job for...who knows? millenia??? Then that woodworker apprentice himself would do his art for millenia and train others and so on and so on. Now apply that to just about everything else: Imagine Thomas Edison still coming up with grand ideas and how he would be able to use all of that knowledge gathered over centuries instead of having to learn everything all over and understand things fully (which takes a newbie years to get) it would be amazing.
What about war? What's the point of fighting if no one on the other side will ever die and therefore you can't win? Or, do these immortals measure success in war by keeping the opposition under their foot? The only way to do that would be to make sure there were more of us then them. Rapid population explosion would be the result. But that don't matter much either, cause they wouldn't need food or water, only ground to stand on. So I also see these immortals leaving the Earth rather quickly because everyone would have to stand in one spot after too long. But that would be ok too, cause they wouldn't age and space travel would be easy.
In reality though, after a few thousand years, if you were immortal, you'd be so bored this gift of immortality would be a curse, a fate worse than death.
Extremes are always wrong.
Reply #2 on:
January 16, 2010, 05:12:58 PM »
Your comment about population explosion is why my fictional character was going to make the race not only immortal but sterile. Otherwise, you're right, we'd have a bunch of immortals who aren't dying from lack of resources but eventually would be packed shoulder to shoulder and worse.
As for crime determent, I don't particularly ascribe to the belief that the best way to prevent a criminal from committing future crimes is to punish them. At the very least, I don't think incarceration, in and of itself, is an effective crime deterrant.
If the only reason one doesn't commit a crime is because they don't want to receive more punishment then that person hasn't been reintegrated as a contributing member of society; they are just afraid. But, anyway, maybe that's a separate topic.
As for immortality being a curse, perhaps but I'm not sure.
We are often led to believe it would seem like a curse through the media we have experienced. The emo vampire and the sulking Highlander have exemplified that approach.
But in most cases this is based on one of two problems: Everyone you love grows old and dies (and repeats endlessly) leaving you feeling alone and/or the immortal becomes listless over time because the pursuit of what most mortals pursue has become hollow and unfulfilling.
Both would be true in a world where the immortal exists in a population of mortals. But what if everyone was immortal?
Your loved ones wouldn't grow older either. You could experience their love forever, having a long and enriching life.
I think people would not concern themselves with getting married soon, or perhaps not at all, however because without the "till death do you part" line a marriage would last millenia and most people can't even make it 10 years now.
I think instead people would be together simply because they are happy being that way. Monogamy could still exist but slowly cultural ideas toward marriage would change as people integrated the idea of sharing time with each other for infinity.
This then would also change the second aspect we are often shown in immortality, the listlessness. The immortals would hopefully change this materialistic, work-oriented approach to living we have now to instead realize that none of that matters.
People would seek out pursuits that they find enriching. This might be woodsmithing for 1000 years or learning every language on Earth or whatever they want.
No one would have to worry about working at Wal-Mart because we wouldn't need all of that stuff, not even the food. The intelligent people could work together to find efficient ways to provide a certain level of creature comfort (since being immortal doesn't mean you wouldn't freeze your ass off in the winter without heat) but I don't think we'd ultimately care if we were driving a Cadillac or a Chevy Aveo.
Hopefully, over time (perhaps a long period of time from our current perspective but not long in the new immortality) we would instead stop this idea of war over land, resources, and power and simply come to exist for the sake of living, learning, and loving.
Time would give us perspective on what matters; the same sort of perspective an 80 year old person has when they look back on life and realize the only thing that ever really matters were their friends and family. Perhaps life in a world of immortals would be only about the living of it.
Reply #3 on:
January 19, 2010, 09:51:12 AM »
Navarre I think you have shown that you believe that there is good in everyone with this post. However, I am a little more jaded. I think if everyone on earth right now were to become immortals than the world would collapse into chaos. People would quit working, infrastructure would begin to fall a part b/c the trash men wouldn't pick up the trash. There would be looting similar to what happens after a major disaster. Everyone would be looking out for themselves and no one else.
Eventually things might start to turn around but in the end people live their life because they know it won't last forever. If they were to know that it wouldn't end then what would they live for. Would everyone blissfully live without anything b/c they need nothing? I don't think so. It is human nature to want and that will not go away if everyone were immortal.
Here is another question that I would like to bring up about the idea of immortals. It is understood that immortals can't die, but can they be killed? Also does an immortal need food and water to survive like a vampire needs blood?
Lastly, I personally would not like to be immortal, but I would prefer to live for hundreds of years like elves or dwarfs.
Herald of the Navarre Dominion
Reply #4 on:
January 19, 2010, 01:15:25 PM »
I guess it depends on whether we define "immortal" as ageless, self-sustaining, or impervious to death.
Ageless immortals would always look youthful but would need sustenance (like vampires).
Self-sustaining immortals wouldn't need anything but could be killed by some means (Wonder Man?)
Impervious immortals would laugh at physical hardship because they just will not die. (Mr. Immortal)
Whichever is true, I sadly admit you are probably right about the state of the world in the face of immortality. I'd like to think that over time people would come to be wiser and learn to live in harmony but so much of our perceptions of the world are ingrained in from childhood.
I guess there would be some people (probably more than I wish) who would just stop caring about the law or even morality and would just try to take what they could get for themselves.
Ageless or self-sustaining immortals would still fear death or other physical punishment though. Maybe criminals in such a world would then be isolated in prisons or in some remote, barricaded place.
But a world of impervious immortals would perhaps be a frightening concept.
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