X-Message-Number: 23359
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 08:38:10 -0500
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #23351 - #23357

HI everyone!

Some further comments for Paul Wakfer and others:

It's not that I LIKE my point about the distinction between cryonic
suspension and suspended animation. I still hold to it because I
think it's true.

Some added comments: I would be the last to say that this issue is
the only problem facing cryonics. It's easy to think of others. 
However I do think that the problem that the patient (who will be
THEMSELVES, if they join up with cryonicists) will be "dead" 
does and will continue to occur. Cryonic suspension is by definition
a last resort. It's what you do when no other choice is open to 
you. If you remain alive, then it will be tempting to believe that
you will continue to remain alive. If you are alive but unconscious,
your relatives, even if they're cryonicists, will be tempted to
believe that you still have a chance at recovery.

We may very well (and likely, I think) have suspended animation for
cases in which the issue of death does not arise at all. Interstellar
space travel provides a good example: even if you expect to live 
for hundreds of years, spending 50 years on a small starship with
about as much space as you have on a First Class airline flight
is bound to bore most people.... so they will want to sleep the
whole of their journey. 

However, even if you're very sick, the hope of recovery will remain.
And so it will continue until one day you "die", hardly deliberately,
and so, if you've got your cryonics arrangements in place, you 
are put into cryonic suspension.

Even now in many cases, especially with a cryonics team on hand,
short term revival remains possible. The basic problem here is
that we're taken over by the notion of "death" itself, and fondly
believe that when push comes to shove, we'll manfully (or bravely,
not to be sexist) decide for our suspended animation. I just said
that short term revival often remains possible: in that sense,
even now cryonic suspension is done on the "living".

But thinking about this situation, and how many cryonicists will
feel when they too become very ill, I think that the whole notion 
of death itself deserves some criticism both for its imprecision
and its dependence on technology. Put ourselves forward several
thousand years: we'll come to a time when anyone can be revived
even if their brain and body have disappeared. Why? Because we
always leave remains of many kinds, in the memory of our friends
(and enemies!), the memory of those who were indifferent to us
but still remember us for one occasion or another, what we have
written or said publicly: not just those remains, but what can
be inferred from such remains. Shall we then reconstruct such 
a lost person? Note that I said that (in my book of stories
TALES OF SKASTOWE) a political, moral, scientific argument
developed, not over the POSSIBILITY of reviving such people, 
but whether doing so would really be to their interest. Not
whether they were "dead" or not, but whether they would benefit
from revival. The particular story is called "Travelling", and
tells the feelings of an American Indian who is revived from
a few pieces of brain found in a swamp. He remembers only one
thing, watching as his father speared a fish. But then he
meets others, each of whom has grown so old that they have
completely forgotten their first 100 years. Mike Perry had 
something to say on this; I don't agree with him completely, but
do think that someday the entire notion of "death" will be
considered superstitious and primitive. "Death" is not in the world,
it is in our heads.

So did this Indian benefit from his revival? 

         Best wishes and long long life to all,

             Thomas Donaldson

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