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The Rejection of the Practical-Moral Dichotomy in Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” (2004) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The Rejection of the Practical-Moral Dichotomy in Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” (2004) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 19, 2014
Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2004 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 19, 2014
Howard Roark was never a man to conform to “mainstream” attitudes. At the Stanton Institute of Technology, Roark refuses to design Tudor chapels and French opera houses, instead exercising his individual reasoning in the creation of aesthetic features that fortify the individual integrity of his buildings. Upon entering the professional field, Roark signs building contracts on one crucial condition; that he be permitted to erect his structures exactly as he had devised them. At first, it seems that Roark is treading a path destined to ruin his career and prospects for success, for his acts counter the conventional “wisdom” that man can either be practical or moral, “flexible” or principled, fulfilled in body or in spirit, but not both. He is expelled from Stanton, and attracts few clients to his office. However, in Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead, Roark’s ultimate triumph demonstrates a staunch rejection of the practical-moral dichotomy and the possibilities that liberation therefrom can bring the individual creator.

Roark’s success is rooted in a proper identification of practicality and morality. Roark refuses to superfluously ornament his buildings at the expense of structural efficacy. He recognizes unique qualities to every building material and refuses to make “copies in steel and concrete of copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood,” not wishing to blindly follow the obsolete techniques of the past like sacred doctrine (24). When Roark develops the Heller House, he endows the building with elements that blend together its function and appearance, including no false pillars or deceptive facades. Roark thinks that “a house can have integrity, just like a person, and just as seldom” and Heller agrees that every slightest routine performed in such a consistent dwelling is filled with “dignity and honesty.” (136) Roark’s notion of practicality is one of strict purpose and reason. He crafts his buildings giving objective consideration to all the facts and tools at his disposal. His Monadnock Valley Resort, for example, seems a natural extension of its landscape. Roark employs his brilliant skills in mathematics and structural engineering to bring forth sensible structures that captivate their residents. Though the Monadnock Valley Resort had been intended to fail by the firm that contracted Roark, from its very opening, it is filled for a year in advance. Despite initial difficulties, Roark’s perseverance enables him to find clients who appreciate his love of coherence and principle. Jimmy Gowan and John Fargo request that Roark create a gas station and store, buildings which would attract consumers as a result of their originality and convenience. Roger Enright, a self-made businessman, offers Roark to construct his home, and is immensely pleased with the results. Eventually, even the great newspaper magnate, Gail Wynand, selects Roark to build those structures that represent Wynand’s actual values and individual character, his home, which is meant as a tribute to Wynand’s wife Dominique, and the Wynand Building, “a monument to [his] life” (593).

Roark’s architectural career is ultimately a grand triumph due the fortitude of Roark’s moral principles and approach toward work. Roark is a staunch egoist and individualist. He summarizes his philosophy: “I’m never concerned with my clients, only with their architectural requirements.” (578) He builds not for the sake of appeasing the public, or gathering prestige, or riding the accomplishments of others as does the second-hander, but rather due to his ardent devotion to the creation itself. He recognizes that “to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences. The work, not the people. Your own action, not any possible object of your charity.” (578) In his moral quest, Roark pursues the fulfillment of his ego’s designs; everything else is a means to this end. Thus, Roark refuses to modify his designs for the sake of pandering to others’ petty whims and blind tradition-worship. When the government initiates a low-rent housing project for the poor, Roark sees no inherent nobility in sacrificing public funds for such an endeavor. However, he is interested in the problem of cost-efficient homes and yearns to see his solution materialized. He therefore strikes an agreement with his ex-competitor, the second-hander architect Peter Keating, in which he allows Keating to turn in Roark’s work as Keating’s own, if Roark is promised that Cortlandt Homes will be designed exactly as planned. Despite Keating’s best efforts, however, the arch-collectivist Ellsworth Toohey, who informally controls the project, transforms it into a “cooperative job,” allowing two more architects to meddle with Roark’s design and rob it of much of its efficacy by adding costly, useless ornamentation. This is a colossal moral infraction that Roark cannot sanction. He responds to the desecration of his work by detonating the entire building complex.

Justifying his action at his trial, Roark states that “the form was mutilated by two second-handers who assumed the right to improve upon that which they had not made and could not equal.” (683) He is outraged at those who would sacrifice a creator’s autonomy for any “greater purpose,” who would turn a mutually profitable exchange into the enslavement of one for the sake of others. His entire prior career, his selective approach toward clients preserved his freedom to build intact, but when the pseudo-morality of altruism attempts to turn him into a vehicle for the whims of collectives, Roark responds with a forthright affirmation of his right to exist for his own sake and no one else’s. He is exonerated and, because of his unequivocal, firm approach to both practicality and morality, able to win in both matter and spirit. Enright purchases the Cortlandt site for Roark so that Roark’s design can indeed come into existence. The book ends with Roark atop the Wynand Building, at the highest point in New York, symbolic of his triumph over all obstacles and his attainment of the most exalted success and happiness possible, standing upon the work of his own mind.

For Roark, practicality is reason and morality is egoism; the two are compatible and mutually reinforcing. This unity does not exist in the minds of most of the other characters in the book. Peter Keating believes that practicality is conformity. He surrenders his personal aspiration to become an artist to his mother’s urgings that he enter architecture. His entire career rides on borrowing others’ borrowed elements for his buildings or borrowing Roark’s originality. Keating’s greatest “accomplishment”, the Cosmo-Slotnick Building, is built in the Renaissance style (to please Ralston Holcombe, one of the judges, who appreciates only Renaissance buildings) and employs Roark’s structural features. Keating is autonomous neither in his engineering nor in his aesthetics. While with Roark, these disciplines are an inseparable alloy drawn from his mind, with Keating, they are a haphazard mix of something from everything and nothing in particular. At the twilight of his architectural career, the defeated Keating confesses that he has never built anything original in his entire life. Whereas for Roark, morality is forthright pride, for Keating, it is guilty appeasement. Whereas Roark knows his own worth, Keating must constantly find it in the reassurance of others, especially his confidant, Ellsworth Toohey. He is glad to hear that he as an individual is unimportant and that his true purpose is servitude to others and a sacrifice of everything, including his own happiness. For Keating has, through his endless pandering and borrowing, surrendered his ego for absolutely nothing, to be brushed aside by the collectives to whom he paid tribute as soon as “modern architecture” replaces his classical eclecticism. When Toohey finally bares the monstrous essence of altruism before Keating and reveals his true intent to rule the world and crush the human spirit, Keating is horrified, but can do nothing to oppose Toohey or resist his manipulations. While Keating, the “practical” man in the conventional sense of the term, has given up his convictions for fleeting prestige, he left the field of the moral to the sadists of the soul.

In the beginning of the novel, Dominique Francon does not believe that the moral and the practical can be reconciled. She tells of a time when she destroyed a beautiful statue because she thought it incompatible with the essential nature of existence-pain, distortion, and suffering. She appreciates genuine talent in Roark’s buildings, but deems them “too perfect” to exist in a world where every tainted member of the multitudes would desecrate them with his presence. Therefore, she prefers to side with Roark’s persecutors, as she views ultimate power to be in the hands of the immoral. She attempts to sacrifice herself to Peter Keating, the man she would love least, by intentionally marrying him and performing physical favors for others in order to get him commissions. Then she surrenders herself to Gail Wynand, a man who is a moral egoist in his private life but a vehicle for mob sentiments in his public. Though she does not love Wynand, she finds in him an appreciation for her as a woman who recognizes true beauty and morality, even if she views it to be doomed to defeat. Dominique’s outlook changes as she witnesses Roark’s perseverance in the face of societal pressures. Though Wynand loves to break men of integrity for sport, Roark eventually wins Wynand’s devotion, his quest for the right to use his mind, and Dominique’s hand in marriage.

Just as Dominique recognizes that both the moral and practical can triumph in a man of firm convictions, so does The Fountainhead demonstrate the insight that Rand would later express as a groundbreaking discovery in Objectivist ethics: “The practical is the moral.”

Responses to an Inquiry on Ethics, Human Purpose, and the Future of Humanity – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Responses to an Inquiry on Ethics, Human Purpose, and the Future of Humanity – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 5, 2013

A recent philosophical exchange with reader Elu Sive on TRA’s “About Mr. Stolyarov” page was sufficiently interesting and constructive that I have decided to post it here for a general audience. Elu Sive raised ten points of view and requested my feedback, which I subsequently provided. Here, I will cite each of the points and my response.

Elu Sive Point 1: “There is an objective reality.”

My Response: I agree in full.

Elu Sive Point 2: “The purpose of democracy is mainly a means of fighting corruption and promoting the interests of the people as opposed to those in power. It is not a valid method to select the correct answer among alternatives and should never be used as such.”

My Response: I agree. The will of the majority does not determine truth, nor does it necessarily coincide with good policy. Moreover, most decisions should be left up to individuals to implement, so long as such implementation can be done non-coercively. Democracy is only useful in the highly limited context where conflicts of preference are unavoidable and necessarily involve some people’s preferences being overridden. For instance, if only one person can be the neighborhood sheriff, then it makes sense to put the issue to a majority vote. However, even then, the powers of the neighborhood sheriff should be highly limited to the protection of individual rights, and not their violation.

Elu Sive Point 3: “Science is the best method we have for evaluating what is true and not.”

My Response: I agree, especially when science is defined broadly to include logic and mathematics. More generally, rational inquiry based on real-world observation and logical deduction therefrom is the best method we have for evaluating what is true and not.

Elu Sive Point 4: “Our human existence is only meaningful in our social contexts, to our selves and to future generations (our existence is not meaningful in universal or spiritual fashion).”

My Response: Here I disagree. Our existence is meaningful per se and as the antecedent to all meaning and value. My video series “Life as the Basis of Morality” (see Part 1 and Part 2) explains my reasoning. I agree with Ayn Rand’s statement: “I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.”

Elu Sive Point 5: “We should place a greater emphasis on our social context and future generations than on our selves. We should favor altruism over self-reliance.”

My Response: Here I also disagree. While I advocate considering the future and taking a longer-term view of one’s actions, as well as considering one’s impact on the world and on others, all of this should be done to promote one’s own enlightened, rational self-interest, particularly in the continuation of one’s own life and flourishing. Each individual is, by nature, best suited to promote his own well-being. In promoting his own well-being, the individual should be concerned about the well-being of others and should seek ways to exchange values with others to promote mutual flourishing. Complete autarky is impossible and undesirable; we can gain great values and improve our lives tremendously by interacting with others. However, each individual’s moral self-reliance – in the sense of thinking for oneself, acting out of one’s own initiative, and valuing one’s own productive work and independence from subjugation to the arbitrary dictates of others – is paramount for creating a world where human flourishing is maximized to the extent possible.

Elu Sive Point 6: “What classifies as common good depends on circumstances and must be continuously re-evaluated.”

My Response: What is good for people does depend on the specific context, but it is still rooted in objective requirements of human survival and flourishing. As a simple example, there are some items that can give our bodies energy if we consume them, while there are others that would poison us. The objective requirements of human survival and flourishing depend on the laws of nature, which are universally valid, though their applicability will differ based on the context. The correct answer in a given situation is like the correct choice of tool for constructing a building; it depends on what part you are working on, with what materials, in what setting, and for what goal (in terms of the values you are trying to realize). Multiple answers will be good enough for a particular problem, but some answers are clearly superior to others in achieving human survival and flourishing. That being said, it is important to continually use one’s rational faculty to evaluate the soundness of possible approaches on a case-by-case basis.

Elu Sive Point 7: “Our social context is only meaningful in the long-term context of supporting and improving human civilization, or a possible post-human civilization.”

My Response: I agree with the goal of improving human and possibly post-human civilization (though I prefer the term “transhuman”, since I think that technological transformations will amplify and supplement our humanity, enabling us to transcend existing limitations, rather than take our humanity away). I think that human societal interactions can serve multiple valuable purposes both in the immediate term and in the long term. In the immediate term, it is certainly good that grocery stores exist in one’s vicinity to enable one to obtain food and other conveniences. The shorter-term interactions, as long as they are compatible with long-term perspectives and values, can certainly be of value as well.

Elu Sive Point 8: “The defining character of our age as judged by future civilization will be: short-shortsightedness and extreme individualism.”

My Response: I agree that there is considerable short-sightedness in our era, though it is probably less than in previous eras, when the average human lifespan was several times shorter than today. The extreme individualism, though, is not a phenomenon that I observe. I see all too many people bound by thoughtless traditions and norms, while refusing to think about matters on principle (instead of being attached to the concrete institutions and thought patterns that are fed to them by “opinion leaders” and the surrounding culture). The true individualist, who takes charge of his own life and is willing to engage in innovative thinking which transforms the world, is quite rare still. If asked to characterize our era, I would describe it as a time when the knowledge to solve many of the world’s problems is already available and accessible, but the willpower to solve these problems and overcome the constraints of obsolete institutions is lacking. I also see our era as characterized by a race between accelerating technological progress and increasingly outrageous authoritarian intervention.

Elu Sive Point 9: “We should practice future-oriented altruism: just as we care for others in our immediate vicinity in order to create a better life for everyone, we should care for our [descendants] as predecessors have, or we wish them to have had.”

My Response: I agree that we should look forward into the future and consider how life would be then, and how our current actions would affect future living conditions. I do not think that our focus should solely be on future beings, though. I hope to personally see a better future, and to structure my actions to maximize my chances. I am, though, happy to have been born into a world where the many generations of humans before me have already created an infrastructure of knowledge and capital to enable a relatively comfortable way of life. The great challenge of our time is to secure our lives against the still-omnipresent forces of ruin, death, and decay.

Elu Sive Point 10: “We should aim to replace humanity with post-human beings, remedied from most of the flaws that plague the human psyche and physiology today and in the past.”

My Response: I agree with remedying existing human flaws and transcending human limitations, with the important caveat that I consider such actions to be consistent with and to amplify humanity. Importantly, I think that we ourselves should be the beneficiaries of these improvements, through new medical treatments and augmentations (especially radical life extension), as well as the eventual integration of biological and non-biological components.

Thoughts on Zoltan Istvan’s “The Transhumanist Wager” – A Review – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Thoughts on Zoltan Istvan’s “The Transhumanist Wager” – A Review – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Zoltan Istvan’s new novel The Transhumanist Wager has been compared to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. But to what extent are the books alike, and in what respects? In this review, Mr. Stolyarov compares and contrasts the two novels and explores the question of how best to achieve radical life extension and general technological progress for the improvement of the human condition.


– The Transhumanist Wager Official Page
– “Thoughts on Zoltan Istvan’s ‘The Transhumanist Wager’: A Review” – Article by G. Stolyarov II
Guilio Prisco’s Review of The Transhumanist Wager
– “Larry Page wants to ‘set aside a part of the world’ for unregulated experimentation” – Nathan Ingraham – The Verge – May 15, 2013
Zoltan Istvan’s Reddit AMA

Thoughts on Zoltan Istvan’s “The Transhumanist Wager”: A Review – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Thoughts on Zoltan Istvan’s “The Transhumanist Wager”: A Review – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
May 18, 2013

Zoltan Istvan’s new novel The Transhumanist Wager has been compared to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. (See, for instance, Giulio Prisco’s review.) But to what extent are the books alike, and in what respects? To be sure, the story and the writing style are gripping, the characters are vivid, and the universe created by Istvan gave me an experience highly reminiscent of my reading of Atlas Shrugged more than a decade ago. Even this alone allows me to highly recommend The Transhumanist Wager as a work of literary art – a philosophical thriller. Moreover, the didactic purpose of the novel, its interplay of clearly identified good and evil forces, and its culmination in an extensive speech where the protagonist elaborates on his philosophical principles (as well as its punctuation by multiple smaller speeches throughout) provide clear parallels to Atlas Shrugged.

Giulio Prisco calls the philosophy of The Transhumanist Wager’s protagonist, Jethro Knights, “an extreme, militant version of the radically libertarian formulation of transhumanism”. However, this is the area where I perceive the most significant departure from the parallels to Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism (which she did not like to be called “libertarian”, though it was in essence) has the principle of individual rights and the rejection of the initiation of force at its ethical core. Galt’s Gulch in Atlas Shrugged was formed by a withdrawal of the great thinkers and creators from the world of those who exploited and enslaved them. However, there was no active conquest of that world by Rand’s heroes; rather, without the men of the mind, the power structures of the world simply fell apart on their own accord.

Jethro Knights creates his own seasteading nation, Transhumania, a fascinating haven for innovation and a refuge for transhumanist scientists oppressed by their governments and targeted by religious fundamentalist terrorism. The concept of an autonomous bastion of innovation is timely and promising; it was echoed by the recent statements from Larry Page of Google in favor of setting aside a part of the world to allow for unbridled experimentation. Transhumania, due to its technological superiority, spectacularly beats back a hostile invasion by the combined navies of the world. It is when the Transhumanians go on the offensive that the parallels to Galt’s Gulch cease. Instead of letting the non-transhumanist world crumble or embrace transhumanism on its own accord, Jethro Knights conquers it, destroys all of its political, religious, and cultural centerpieces, and establishes a worldwide dictatorship – including some highly non-libertarian elements, such as compulsory education, restrictions on reproduction, and an espousal of the view that even some human beings who have not initiated force may not have an inviolate right to their lives, but are rather judged on their “usefulness” – however defined (perhaps, in the case of Transhumania, usefulness in advancing the transhumanist vision as understood by Jethro Knights). Jethro Knights permits a certain degree of freedom – enough to sustain technological progress, high standards of living, and due process in the resolution of everyday disputes – but, ultimately, all of the liberties in Transhumania are contingent on their compatibility with Jethro’s own philosophy; they are not recognized as absolute rights even for those who disagree. John Galt would have been gentler. He would have simply withdrawn his support from those who would not deal with him as honest creators of value, but he would have left them to their own devices otherwise, unless they initiated force against him and against other rational creators of value.

The outcome of The Transhumanist Wager is complicated by the fact that Jethro’s militancy is the direct response to the horrific acts of terrorism committed by religious fundamentalists at the behest of Reverend Belinas, who also has considerable behind-the-scenes influence on the US government in the novel. Clearly, the anti-transhumanists were the initiators of force for the majority of the novel, and, so long as they perpetrated acts of violence against pro-technology scientists and philosophers, they were valid targets for retaliation and neutralization – just like all terrorists and murderers are. For the majority of the book, I was, without question, on Jethro’s side when it came to his practice, though not always his theory – but it was upon reading about the offensive phase of his war that I came to differ in both, especially since Transhumania had the technological capacity to surgically eliminate only those who directly attacked it or masterminded such attacks, thereafter leaving the rest of the world powerless to destroy Transhumania, but also free to come to recognize the merits of radical life extension and general technological progress on its own in a less jarring, perhaps more gradual process. An alternative scenario to the novel’s ending could have been a series of political upheavals in the old nations of the world, where the leaders who had targeted transhumanist scientists were recognized to be thoroughly wasteful and destructive, and were replaced by neutral or techno-progressive politicians who, partly for pragmatic reasons and partly arising out of their own attraction to technology, decided to trade with Transhumania instead of waging war on it.

Jethro’s concept of the “omnipotender” is a vision of the individual seeking as much power as he can get, ultimately aiming to achieve power over the entire universe. It is not clear whether power in this vision means simply the ability to achieve one’s objectives, or control in a hierarchical sense, which necessarily involves the subordination of other intelligent beings. I support power in the sense of the taming of the wilderness and the empowerment of the self for the sake of life’s betterment, but not in the sense of depriving others of a similar prerogative. Ayn Rand’s vision of the proper rationally egoistic outlook is extremely clear on the point that one must neither sacrifice oneself to others nor sacrifice others to oneself. Istvan’s numerous critical references to altruism and collectivism clearly express his agreement with the first half of that maxim – but what about the second? Jethro’s statements that he would be ready to sacrifice the lives of even those closest to him in order to achieve his transhumanist vision certainly suggest that the character of Jethro might not give others the same sphere of inviolate action that he would seek for himself. Of course, Jethro also dismisses as a contrived hypothetical the suggestion that such sacrifice would be necessary (at least, in Jethro’s view, for the time being), and I agree. Yet a more satisfying response would have been not that he is ready to make such a sacrifice, but that the sacrifice itself is absolutely not required for individual advancement by the laws of reality, and therefore it is nonsensical to even acknowledge its possibility. Jethro gave his archenemy, Belinas, far too much of a philosophical concession by even picking sides in the false dichotomy between self-sacrifice to others and the subjugation of others to oneself.

Perhaps the best way to view The Transhumanist Wager is as a cautionary tale of what might happen if the enemies of technological progress and radical life extension begin to forcefully clamp down on the scientists who try to make these breakthroughs happen. A climate of violence and terror, rather than civil discourse and an embrace of life-enhancing progress, will breed societal interactions that follow entirely different rules, and produce entirely different incentives, from those which allow a civilized society to smoothly function and advance. I hope that we, at least in the Western world, can avoid a scenario where those different rules and incentives take hold.

I am a transhumanist, but I am also a humanist, in the sense that I see the advancement of humanity and the improvement of the human condition as the desired aims of technological progress. In this sense, I am fond of the reference to the goal of transhumanists as the achievement of a “humanity plus”. Transhumanism is and ought to be, fundamentally, a continuation of the melioristic drive of the 18th-century Enlightenment, ridding man of the limitations and terrible sufferings which have historically been considered part of necessary “human nature” but which are, in reality, the outcome of the contingent material shortcomings with which our species happened to be burdened from its inception. Will it be possible to entice and persuade enough people to embrace the transhumanist vision voluntarily? I certainly hope so, since even a sizable minority of individuals would suffice to drive forward the technological advances which the rest of humanity would embrace for other, non-philosophical reasons.

In the absence of a full-fledged embrace of this humanistic vision of transhumanism, at the very least I hope that it would be possible to “sneak around” the common objections and restrictions and achieve a technological fait accompli through the dissemination of philosophically neutral tools, such as the Internet and mobile devices, that enhance individual opportunities and alter the balance of power between individuals and institutions. In this possible future, some of the old “cultural baggage” – as Jethro would refer to it – would most likely remain – including religions, which are among the hardest cultural elements for people to give up. However, this “baggage” itself would gradually evolve in its essential outlook and impact upon the world, much like Western Christianity today is far gentler than the Christianity of the 3rd, 11th, or 17th centuries. Perhaps, instead of fighting transhumanism, some representatives of old cultural labels will attempt to preserve their own relevance amidst transhuman-oriented developments. This will require reinterpreting doctrines, and will certainly engender fierce debate within many religious, political, and societal circles. However, there may yet be hope that the progressive wings of each of these old institutions and ideologies (“progressive” in the sense of being open to progress, not to be mistaken for any current partisan affiliation) will do the equivalent work to that entailed in a transhumanist revolution, except in a gradual, peaceful, seamless manner.

Yet, on the other hand, the immense urgency of achieving life extension is, without question, a sentiment I strongly identify with. Jethro’s experience, early in the novel, of stepping on a defective mine has autobiographical parallels to Istvan’s own experience in Vietnam. A brush with death certainly highlights the fragility of life and the urgency of pursuing its continuation. Pausing to contemplate that, were it not for a stroke of luck at some prior moment, one could be dead now – and all of the vivid and precious experiences one is having could one day be snuffed out, with not even a memory remaining – certainly motivates one to think about what the most direct, the most effective means of averting such a horrific outcome would be. Will a gradual, humane, humanistic transition to a world of indefinite life extension work out in time for us? What can we do to make it happen sooner? Can we do it within the framework of the principles of libertarianism in addition to those of transhumanism? Which approaches are the most promising at present, and which, on the other hand, could be counterproductive? How do we attempt to enlist the help of the “mainstream” world while avoiding or overcoming its opposition? For me, reading The Transhumanist Wager provided further impetus to keep asking these important, open, and as of yet unresolved questions – in the hopes that someday the ambition to achieve indefinite life extension in our lifetimes will give rise to a clear ultra-effective strategy that can put this most precious of all goals in sight.