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In a throw-away society is longevity of littl


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#1    coberst

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 10:46 AM

In a throw-away society is longevity of little value?

For a period of some two hundred years America had an every moving new frontier. One of the appeals of this ever-present frontier was the sense that there was always a place for the rugged individualist. A place existed for the individual who was enthused about the prospect of uninhibited growth where each individual could test his or her capacity to be all they could be. No one had an edge over the other person beyond character and motivation.

Darwin’s theory teaches us that mating and reproduction is the means whereby the species adapted to a changing environment and thereby created the possibility for survival of the species. Generally speaking the human species stops this procreation process before the age of fifty. Biological evolution generally provides no means for adaptation in our species beyond fifty years of age.

Human instrumental rationality has created a technology that continually increases the longevity of individuals of our species. Instrumental rationality is the ability to determine and execute the best means for reaching an established goal. We have determined the goal of ever extending life to be a valuable goal and are constantly extending human longevity.

Simultaneously with an extended life span we are continually shortening the social value of longevity. Like the rest of our commodities we have a throwaway culture for long-lived persons. Our society seems to mimic biological evolution in placing fifty years as the end of adaptability concern. Biological evolution terminates concern for those beyond the age of reproduction and our culture terminates concern for those beyond the age of commodity production.

Biological adaptation has abandoned us after fifty, our instrumental rationality is responding to our unexamined desire to prolong life; how do we manage to survive as a species if we do not find a rational means to engage this challenge? The challenge is to improve the societal value of human life after fifty.

Where is the ever-moving frontier of expectations for the man or woman beyond the age of fifty? Is age beyond fifty to remain a throw-away social value?

I claim that longevity can provide a greatly needed value for our culture, provided that each of us begin developing an intellectual life after our school daze are over.  That is to say, if by mid-life we have prepared our self to provide to society an intellectual sophistication that this society badly needs we can then donate a great deal of sophisticated intellectual energy to our culture in those long years that are presently devoted to little constructive activity.  This intellectually sophisticated energy can prove to be very beneficial to a culture that is badly lacking in this very important ingredient.

Our society badly needs a cadre of men and women who have grown in intellectual sophistication while growing old in years.  Such individuals can provide the Dutch uncles and Dutch aunts to serve the function that village shamans provided to more primitive societies.



#2    Mr Walker

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 12:54 AM

While i agree with your two basic principles, I dont think they are connected. Throw away goods and attitudes come from economics rather than a philosophical or attitudinal position.
First, it is çheaper to produce many goods these days than to repair them. Second, many goods have a limited life because technology is adapting so quickly. For example i kept one perfectly good cell phone for 4 years, then i had to throw it away because all the networks went digital.
Third, and connected to the first point, the sophistication in production of many goods means it is difficult for even experts to repair them. Training and updating of professional expertise in the craft skills is a long time proposition and not easy to up date quickly(for example it is often still tied into the old apprenticeship style of learning.)

In modern societies the "äpprentice" may have a more up to date technical knowledge than the "master"
Still, the position is not hopeless. Many goods are of high quality((or at least actually last many Years) For example i kept games consoles and played them continuously for more than two decades. Boththe games and the consoles lasted easily that long.Our colour TV lasted over 20 years. I still have and use 9along with more modern ones) a toshiba laptop made in 1998 it is stil working well and functional within its purpose and limitations.

Also, I buy a lot of second hand things. We got a excellent solid wooden kitchen table for 40 dollars from a second hand shop. A new one would have been 1000 dollars. And more to the point it would have requiresd a nother tree to be felled and energy to be used in its construction.
I buy second hand clothes which are clean and of excellent quality. A good shirt is 3.50 rather than 60 dollars or more, a pair of shoes is 5 dollars instead of up to 100. Our micro wave is probably 30 years old, but i can still get bits for it, and it still does an excellent job.. Our caravan was built in 1974 and is still in excellent condition. I paid 2000 dollars for it in 2005 and it is fully functional and fit for its purpose.

So the condition of planned obsolence is not absolute. I think that, as resources get shorter and energy costs rise, people wil be forced back into both building more lasting products, and perhaps even back into a culture of make and mend. If goods are not too complex, one can often repair them oneself, as i have done for many things, from cars to washing machines and hot water services/plumbing.

Ps im approaching 60 and i dont see myself as throw away , nor do others around me. I believe i have more knowledge, ability and potential now, than ever before. This will continue until either my physical or my mental faculties begin to fail me. If my parents and grandparents are any guide, that will not be until well into my eighties or even nineties.

Indeed i am almost past being an uncle . One of my important roles is great uncle or grandfather to both real relatives and young people in general. Like my grandparents, one of my roles is to provide them with knowledge of, and  sense of oontinuity with, the past its people and its culture.
I also have a lot to offer as i have more time, to groups like school and hospital boards, and volunteer groups.

This is in part a pleasure, but also a reciprocal duty imposed by the education and experience others have given to me.

Edited by Mr Walker, 09 October 2009 - 01:07 AM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#3    Fitter

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 09:31 AM

You only have to look as far as the majority of the Asian civilizations such as the Chinese and Japanese to find cultures who hold their older citizens in high regard and raised social standing.

It's a very Western trait to dis-respect and disregard the old.

F


#4    coberst

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 01:42 PM

View PostFitter, on 09 October 2009 - 09:31 AM, said:

You only have to look as far as the majority of the Asian civilizations such as the Chinese and Japanese to find cultures who hold their older citizens in high regard and raised social standing.

It's a very Western trait to dis-respect and disregard the old.

F

I get the feeling that you never read beyond the title of the OP.


#5    Fitter

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 05:02 PM

View Postcoberst, on 09 October 2009 - 01:42 PM, said:

I get the feeling that you never read beyond the title of the OP.
I get the feeling you don't understand the point I've made.

Edited by Fitter, 09 October 2009 - 05:40 PM.





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