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DEBATE FORUM: When Immortality is attained, will people be more - or less - interested in Sex?

Posted: Sun, March 17, 2013 | By: DEBATE



Sigmund Freud and Michel Foucault believed Death and Sex are deeply intertwined - the carnal act is infused with the death instinct — this is signified in the French idiom la petit mort, “mini-death.”

With death eliminated, will the self-forgetfulness we presently enjoy in cathartic climax… just seem silly? 

Will removing our fear of death - wipe out our need for distraction, via libido?

Or will we be… hornier than ever - because we’re not stressed out about the Grim Reaper?

Will romantic relationships increase, or decrease - because we might be more relaxed? 

Or… is the notion that Immortality will eliminate stress… incorrect?  

Will anxiety remain at today’s levels?

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Comments:

sex is likely the best way to sell ordinary people on the benefits of extreme longevity…..a body free of weakness and frailty will be verile and like the boomers who have discovered viagra the superlongevity wave will desire the best sex of their lives more than they ever did in their youth….so yes if one is promoting healthspan and lifespan this is the best place to start.

By morris johnson on Mar 17, 2013 at 9:13am

I believe that sex will remain. Freud is partially incorrect in today’s day and age. Once upon a time we relied on sex to reproduce so our species wouldn’t go extinct, while it is still partially used for the act of reproduction, it’s mainly used for pleasure. With a population of well over six billion, extinction through low birth rate is highly unlikely, our own love of greed, war, and hate is more likely to cause our extinction. When we reach indefinite life extension, sex may possibly ONLY be used for pleasure. I am still curious as to whether or not we will continue reproducing at that time, and if we do, would we reproduce using gene therapy and genetic engineering in peri dishes? Or will we continue using the archaic method of birthing? I prefer to lean towards designer babies IF we even continue reproducing. But I am convinced sex will take an even greater recreational role than it has now with no fears of STDs or unwanted pregnancies, but I am also inclined to agree with Rich Lee that technology itself will enhance the act of sex to as of now unimaginable levels of euphoria.

By Brandon King on Mar 17, 2013 at 9:37am

I would argue that sex would become a thorny social issue.As a society we have embraced monogamy as the norm but I would argue that"indefinite life extension"will slowly lead people to rethink their attitudes towards intimate relationships and in many cases lead to polygamous groupings.

By Tom Mooney on Mar 17, 2013 at 11:10am

Considering that 99.99+% of all sex is for recreation, not procreation, I doubt there will be any change.  Unless the method of achieving long life adversely affects the sex drive. 

Then, I doubt that many will opt for the treatment until they are well into old age if that is an option.

By James Smith on Mar 17, 2013 at 1:02pm

Well, there seems to be unanimity on this issue so far! And I am in agreement with it. The only comment I really disagree with is Brandon’s “Freud is partially incorrect in today’s day and age”, which strikes me as an understatement! Freud’s theories were insightful to a degree, but many if not all have turned out to be false.

I’m not saying that sex and death are not linked. They are linked in the evolutionary sense that the whole (evolutionary) purpose of sexual reproduction (which is to allow species to adapt faster by combining genes in unique ways) only works if individuals die. And they are linked in the sense that sex can be and frequently is seen as a way of having children, which is a kind of replacement for immortality. But to think that this is the only reason people have sex one has to be VERY committed to that idea and essentially have one’s eyes and ears closed.

The question as to whether immortality will eliminate stress deserves its own separate thread. Personally I think not, in fact the idea that it will - which however appears to be quite common amongst longevity activists - seems to me as silly as thinking that it will eliminate the sex drive. Both anxiety and the sex drive are vestiges of our evolutionary past,, and if we want to get rid of them we will have to engineer them away, it won’t happen just as a by-product of indefinite life extension. Furthermore, it will not be safe to eliminate anxiety until we have managed to develop adequate, non-anxiety-based risk management strategies. None of us like anxiety, but we also know we couldn’t live without it.

By Peter Wicks on Mar 17, 2013 at 2:28pm

Depends on the advancement of beings. Even a rank layman such as I can see right-off:
the farther a being advances, the less hominid the desires. As you all know, there’ll be so much else to do besides sex for a greatly expanded being.
Now, sex may v. well be the best life has to offer in the meatworld; but we want to move beyond the meatworld—you can of course take it from there…

By Alan Brooks on Mar 17, 2013 at 3:37pm

In my opinion, the need for sexuality is a basic instinct in everyone of us. I doubt Immortality would change this.

On the topic of anxiety, I think that in most cases it is not caused by fear of death but by other factors that won’t be affected by Immortality. Accordingly, I believe the anxiety level will remain the same.

By G. Champagne on Mar 17, 2013 at 4:17pm

Most people have not scratched the surface!

...Let me show you how to use your nails properly…

By Khannea SunTzu on Mar 17, 2013 at 5:10pm

These comments are very encouraging. I’ve come to think the future can’t be predicted, so go with the flow—not knowing where it is the Flow… Go.

By Alan Brooks on Mar 17, 2013 at 9:30pm

James, where did you get that 99.9% statistic from?

By ptittle on Mar 21, 2013 at 12:04am

@ptittle Like 78.6% of all other statistics, I made it up as I typed.  Based on my personal experience, it’s pretty accurate, though.  :D

I know, “a single data point and yada yada yada…”  but it’s the only data I have.  Of course, if someone would like to fund a study…  wink

By James Smith on Mar 21, 2013 at 6:07am

@James - If 99.99% of all men engage in sex for recreation, then why do less than 50% (http://www.nationalsexstudy.indiana.edu/condomgraph.html) not use a condom?

If 99.99% of all men engage in sex for recreation, then why do 10-35% (http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/10/22/1060431/americans-expanding-access-to-birth-control/?mobile=nc) not support expanding access to female contraception?

Unless, of course, 99.99% of all men consider impregnating a woman to be ‘recreational’.

Which, given that 99.99% of all men rape women, is, I guess, likely.

By ptittle on Mar 22, 2013 at 10:44am

@ptittle

I shall assume that “99.99% of all men rape women” was not intended to be more than a generalised expression of anger.

But for the rest, let’s try to get at least a bit of a grasp on reality.

Why do less than 50% of men use a condom? (I assume the “not” was a mistake?) Perhaps because we are irresponsible idiots. Perhaps because we assume the women will take care of that kind of thing. Lots of reasons are possible. That men are actually expressing a deep-seated desire to procreate seems one of the less plausible.

Similarly, why do 10-35% of Americans not support expanding access to female contraception? Because they have been infected by various religious or small government memes, I would guess. Again, hardly evidence that the desire to procreate plays a significant role in most incidences of sex.

So I think James’ comment stands in the sense that he meant it (i.e. as a rhetorically colourful by basically accurate description of reality). Do you seriously disagree with it?

Or are you one of those who insist on believing that humans are inherently rational beings, despite the reams of evidence to the contrary, or perhaps prefer to just pretend we are, and then rail against any evidence to the contrary? If so, I suggest you are shooting the messenger.

By Peter Wicks on Mar 22, 2013 at 11:49am

No, my last statement was intended to make a point about making up statistics.

“...let’s try to get at least a bit of a grasp on reality.”  Don’t patronize, Peter.

I don’t consider the ‘deep-seated desire to procreate’ at all implausible.  Read The Selfish Gene.  I’m not saying it’s a conscious desire.

No, I do not insist on believing that humans are inherently rational; that’s consistent with my belief that they ARE ‘intending’ to procreate (despite many rational reasons not to), and they are no doubt not aware of it.

Combine that with society’s relentless conditioning along the lines of being a parent means you’re mature, and progeny is a sign of virility, I think it plausible indeed that many men—certainly more men than women—DO want to procreate. 

Add increasing misogyny and the emotional accompaniment (celebratory, conquistadorial) to men’s brags of having “knocked her up” suggest that they DO intend to impregnate.

By ptittle on Mar 22, 2013 at 3:07pm


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