Walter Hinteler wrote:
I would be interested what you (or better: who) considers, what a "meaningful" life is.
I prefer the "who" part better for some reason and I don't know that there can be any true definition to "meaningful life"
Case in point....Stephen Hawking. World renowned Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. Incredibly brilliant! But this man has, for the last 41 years of his life lived with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) aka Lou Gehrig's Disease, a slow, yet non painful wasting and degeneration of the brain and spinal cord. The motor cells (neurones) control the muscles that enable us to move around, speak, breathe and swallow. With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. Its symptoms may include muscle weakness and paralysis, as well as impaired speaking, swallowing and breathing. In most cases it does not affect intellect, memory or the senses.
Progress is relentless and generally rapid, with a life expectancy of between two and five years from the onset of symptoms. How Professor Hawking has managed to survive for 41 years after being diagnosed at the age of 22 still amazes me.
Setting his mental ability aside for a moment, to look at this man, you would simply see a very, very physically wasted human being, unable to breathe, unable to eat, unable to speak, unable to move on his own, except for eye contact.. Again, setting his mental ability aside, it doesn't look like a very meaningful life, does it?
But once we factor in his incredible mind and intelligence, which is never lost with those with ALS, all of a sudden his life becomes more meaningful. He is a contributor to mankind and to science. Are those other folks with ALS, who do not have so much to contribute, less meaningful? Would we pull the plug so to speak , on them? Vital brain, completely destroyed body that can absolutely nothing for themselves.
Or do we simply wait out the 2 to 5 years with these other folks, thinking they might die within that time frame. And what if they don't? Surely each of them has thoughts on how they would want their own lives to end, but without the technology that Professor Hawking has at his disposal, to electronically speak and make his voice heard, I know many ALS patients at some point will either die on their own or be disconnected by loved ones who believe they are acting in the best interest of the ALS patient.
I would like to think the person afflicted would be able to decide for themselves, although I know first hand that this is not the case.
I don't know that there can be or ever will be a collective agreement on what constitutes a meaningful life.
I guess I had no relative contribution to your statement after all, Walter.