Oct 4, 2017

Why a Longer Life Does Not Mean Longer Decrepitude

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

Whenever the topic of increasing human lifespan is discussed the concern is sometimes raised that a longer life would mean a life spent frail and decrepit. This is sometimes known as the Tithonus error and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the aims of rejuvenation biotechnology. The concern is based on the ancient Greek myth of Tithonus which might be thought of as a cautionary tale warning seekers of an eternal life of its alleged inherent dangers.

The myth of Tithonus in brief

Tithonus, the story goes, was a mere mortal who was in love with Eos, the beautiful titan of the dawn. His feelings were requited, but, unfortunately, their idyll was not destined to last. Being a titan, Eos was also a deity and thus immortal, unlike Tithonus, who one day would die of old age if not of some other cause. Eos thus turned to Zeus and asked him to make Tithonus immortal as well. Zeus granted Eos’ wish, but even this did not solve the two lovers’ problem; the father of the gods had granted Tithonus immortality, not eternal youth.

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