Sunday, February 22, 2009

Longevity and the Cruelty of Nature

(Della Francesca ca. 1550)

In a post below I mention that Nature can be cruel although describing Nature in this way is an anthropomorphism. Of course Nature like God isn’t a sentient being so ascribing such qualities to it is more poetic than actual. What is more correct is to say that Nature appears to be cruel. One of these cruel things is the way the body just seems to give up and start falling to bits as the years pass by until we are left with a barely functioning, spotty, wrinkled old sack of bones in place of the magnificent creature we once were.

The truth is Nature just doesn’t really care about you once you could theoretically be a great grand parent which is around 45 to 50. Once this age is reached the downward spiral to decay and destruction appears to be swift. A man in his forties is still in his prime and possibly into his fifties but once the sixties are reached he could be justifiably referred to as an old man. Yet ‘not caring’ is quite different to deliberate cruelty. If Nature doesn’t care if you live or die then you might as well live – makes no difference to nature. We are not deliberately programmed to die in the way that we are programmed to reproduce. We have been selected to reproduce but we are not necessarily selected to age and die, it just happens because we are neglected, not cared about.

This means that Nature doesn’t care if we fiddle with things and drink from the fountain of youth. Humans can change things, make things better for themselves. We have the potential to live far longer than we do.

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