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Immortal Life Argument

In life, there is no single denotation of it that represents all of us or any of us, and trying to put words into the meaning of life is quite complex. However, this should not be misinterpreted with the notion that life has no meaning since it has. Additionally, there is no single definition of life because it is diverse for everybody. Finding the meaning of life may be difficult but it is necessary. When the question of immortality is posed to people, there are mixed reactions, with some opting to live an immortal life while others choose otherwise. These responses depend on aspects such as how people understand the meaning of life and personal beliefs. This paper examines whether there is meaning or not in living an immortal life with reference to the meaning of life according to various people. While some people may argue that immortal life is meaningful, it would not be worth living.

According to Williams, most people who desire to lead an immortal life are compelled by the fear of death (Williams, TMC, 1). On the other hand, individuals who may not prefer to live an immortal life believe that it is of no essence because life does not end after death (Williams, TMC, 1). The latter believe in eternal life and accept that death is part of life. According to them, there is no life without death and there is no death without life. However, this does not mean that we should not fear death. Most people who would prefer an immortal life believe that death is evil (Williams, TMC, 2). They have not accepted that just as they were born, a day must come for them to die. According to Williams, the belief that death is evil is not enough reason for them to choose an immortal life (Williams, TMC, 2). Consequently, Williams introduces the concept of categorical desires to explain that immortal life is meaningless.

Williams explains that categorical desires are those desires that give us the purpose to stay alive (Williams, TMC, 5). These could be personal academic objectives, or professional or even social goals. He argued that categorical desires give us the reason to stay alive for a long period of time (Williams, TMC, 5). This is because it takes time to achieve these goals and one may not wish to die before they get there. However, the big question is what then happens after one has achieved these goals, is the desire to continue living still there? At this point, Williams talks about exhaustible desires because they have been satisfied (Williams, TMC, 8). For instance, an employee who desires and is determined to work his way up to become the manager of an organization will want to stay alive to satisfy that desire. After becoming the organization’s manager, he has satisfied his desire and the goal is no longer there to give him the reason to stay alive. Categorical desires can also be exhausted by a loss of interest in them. Considering the same employee who aspires to be the manager of an organization, if he is not promoted to that position, it will give him a reason to stay alive at least until he dies. Supposing the person is immortal and keeps on working for many years to get promoted without succeeding, he is likely to lose interest. Since this was the main reason for him to stay alive, he may no longer wish to live.

According to Williams, any categorical desire would either be satisfied or lose its meaning over a period of time. If someone is immortal, he has the chance to live long enough to either satisfy or lose interest in the categorical desire (Williams, TMC, 10). Williams argued that it would be boring to continue living forever with nothing else to aim at achieving. As a way to deal with boredom, one may opt to have new categorical desires whenever the former ones are exhausted, although human beings are limited to certain desires in life (Williams, TMC, 14). Different people have diverse categorical desires which may be specific to the professional path they have chosen. With this factor remaining constant, it is most likely that categorical desires will always be exhausted even with the option of choosing new ones. At this point, an immortal life without purpose would be completely meaningless.

Susan Wolf believes that to have a meaningful life, one must actively participate in the project of success and good value. She used these three parts of her definition to exclude life that she described as meaningless. By saying that life must be fully integrated, Wolf dismissed what she described as the disarray of life. This kind of life is sitting on a sofa, drinking alcohol, and not doing other things. Using the second part of his commentary, Success, Wolf expounded on the concept of bankruptcy. Individuals in this unit have set up a company throughout their lives to care for their children but ended up bankrupt before taking over the company. A bankruptcy life can also be described as working on a scientific project for many years, and before you have a solution, someone else solves it first. Bankruptcy is a life of seriousness, but the result is a total failure (Wolf, MLWM, 204). The third part of Wolf’s definition of a meaningful life, which is a project of positive value, does not include the meaningless life she describes. The lazy rich who inherit money without working, or the CEOs of companies whose sole purpose is to make as much money as possible are examples of people who live a meaningless life (Wolf, MLWM, 204). Without these three parts described by Wolf, human life would be meaningless.

Wolf solved the problem concerning the purpose of life, hoping to differentiate between attributes and arguments that give sense to life. Concerning Susan`s about the significance of life, “I would say that meaningful life is a life of active engagement in projects of worth… two key phrases, ‘active engagement’ and ‘projects of worth'” (Wolf, MLWM, 205). According to Wolf, these motivations and examples of thinking allow us to engage in activities that enrich our lives and give us reason to continue living. Wolf solves these problems and focuses on exposing the unique attributes of the causes and motivations that give us significance in life. She argues that “meaningful lives are laws of active engagement and projects of worth” (Wolf, MLWM, 206). It is recommended that whenever an individual is fully involved in something, he or she will feel alive and have a better life. Despite this, Wolf explained that neither religion nor science is enough to live a meaningful life, claiming that if you choose to indulge your emotions, a life of passion can ruin the search for happiness. It is recommended to work on goals that are more important than yourself. If you do not have any interest or connection with this, this can be a difficult task. According to Wolf, the elements involved are vital to a significant life and result in active participation in certain activities that people love. In addition, just clinging to valuables is not enough to make sense. The hunch of contentment comes when “one is doing what one loves, or when one is engaging in activities by which one is gripped or excited” (Wolf, MLWM, 207). Generally, Susan believed that finding the purpose for life gives one joy, happiness, and a desire to continue living.

In conclusion, it is clear that immortal life is not worth living. Williams argues that the desire to continue living is based on other categorical desires that people have. Whenever the desires which are in the form of goals and objectives are exhausted, then life becomes boring. In immortal life, categorical desires will always be exhausted no matter how many times one renews them. On the other hand, Susan Wolf’s description of a meaningful life agrees with what Williams says about exhausting categorical desires and living a life without purpose. From the arguments of both scholars, it is evident that purpose gives life meaning and that is the reason why an immortal life is not worth living.


Williams, Bernard. “The Makropulos case: reflections on the tedium of immortality.” (1973): 82-100.

Wolf, Susan. Meaning in life and why it matters. Princeton University Press, 2010.


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