Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization
© 1975-1979, 2008 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved.
Robert A. Freitas Jr., Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization, First Edition, Xenology Research Institute, Sacramento, CA, 1979; http://www.xenology.info/Xeno.htm
Recalling Medawar’s assertion about human nature cited earlier, can we be as certain that aliens too "would rather be alive than dead"?
Maybe not. Consider the alternative forms of sentience discussed in Chapter 14. Beings with genetic sentience -- "intelligent ants" -- may harbor no desire for personal immortality whatsoever. Since they aren’t aware of their individual selves, they could never sympathize with Ionesco’s very human lament: "Why was I born if it wasn’t forever?" Since the society of these creatures would be virtually immortal, genetic-sentient ETs may have no use for the concept of (effectively) perpetual personal existence.
Similarly, beings with communal sentience (visceral social awareness) may be able to take solace in the comparatively eternal character of society. It may be that the appetite for immortality displayed by many humans is a hunger unique to brain-sentient species. Only among these races must the individual deal with personal death in the absence of any strongly-felt, well-internalized and supportive societal framework.
Of course, even among brain-sentient extraterrestrial species there may be cultural, psychological, or biological reasons why the drive for immortality might be suppressed. Yet the basic survival instinct must be very deeply ingrained in many alien races. This, in concert with a sophisticated biotechnology, provides both motive and opportunity for the development of immortality among extraterrestrial civilizations.
Last updated on 6 December 2008