Is there an ethically right response to growing old? Should we accept ageing as an intrinsic part of the human condition, or should we aspire to longer lives, to maintaining an active and healthy life for longer, even to immortality? The biologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote in Bully for Brontosaurus (1991):
It has become, in my view, a bit too trendy to regard the acceptance of death as something tantamount to intrinsic dignity. Of course I agree with the preacher of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to love and a time to die – and when my skein runs out I hope to face the end calmly and in my own way. For most situations, however, I prefer the more martial view that death is the ultimate enemy – and I find nothing reproachable in those who rage mightily against the dying of the light.
What are the social, political and ethical implications of a desire for ever longer lives? How is contemporary anti-ageing medicine lengthening lives, and what is its potential for lengthening them still further?
In this month’s Cafe on 19 July, we will explore these and other issues, with the assistance of Prof. David Kipling (Medicine, Cardiff University) and Prof. Joanna Latimer,(Social Sciences, Cardiff University).
As usual, the Cafe takes place in The Gate, starting at 8.00pm.