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Forgetting in Immortality

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


In the philosophical debate about the desirability of immortality it is argued that immortality could never be desirable, since it requires us to either take on a life where none of our projects or interests stimulate us anymore, or else to loosen our connections to our past selves and no longer survive. I argue that both concerns can be met by considering the role that partial forgetting of past experiences would play in the immortal life. One who loses some non‐essential memories of their past stands to be able to enjoy experiences that have grown tiresome with age. My contribution is to clarify how partial forgetting of only the non‐essential memories allays concerns about our potentially loosened connections to our earlier states. I then consider an objection to my account, that since the standards governing collective memory might be more demanding than those governing individual memory, immortal people might sacrifice aspects of their collective lives to render their own immortal lives enjoyable.