Immortality Essay

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Ever since the dawn of humanity, death has been the most feared and dreaded concept for the human race. As a solution to combat this end, humans have searched for immortality, whether it is from the Fountain of Youth or from a magical stone. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero Gilgamesh seeks immortality from the long-lived Utnapishtim to avoid the seemingly dark and bleak end that his friend, Enkidu, met. On the other hand, in “Passing On” by Bill McKibben, McKibben explores the drawbacks and consequences immortality may have on our lives. Although some may side with Gilgamesh in that immortality is to be sought after, I stand with McKibben and agree that immortality could be a bad thing.
Immortality can void our humanity. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, immortality is the main prize that Gilgamesh tries to attain. However, it was his mortality that kept him human. Gilgamesh was part god and part man and already had trouble relating to his people. His godlike abilities isolated him from his mundane subjects and caused him to be lonely until he met an equal, Enkidu. If Gilgamesh had attained immortality and lived forever, he would have given up his human nature and become a god. As a god living among mortals, he would not only be as lonely as he was at the beginning of the epic, he would be that way for eternity. Despite his divine powers, Gilgamesh was the hero of the epic because of his human characteristics. If Gilgamesh had been immortal, he would have never worried about leaving a legacy or being remembered by his people. Gilgamesh would have never cared about Enkidu, gone to kill Humbaba, or sought Utnapishtim. In essence, there would not have been an epic written about him.
Immortality would get rid of time. As immortal beings, humans would cease to keep track of, or even measure, time. As explained in “Passing On”, an immortal life would be one without any remarkable periods of time. In fact, an immortal life would not have time. The common...

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