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Immortality – Wikipedia

Immortality is eternal life, being exempt from death, unending existence.[2] Some modern species may possess biological immortality.

Certain scientists, futurists, and philosophers have theorized about the immortality of the human body, with some suggesting that human immortality may be achievable in the first few decades of the 21st century. Other advocates believe that life extension is a more achievable goal in the short term, with immortality awaiting further research breakthroughs. The absence of aging would provide humans with biological immortality, but not invulnerability to death by disease or physical trauma; although mind uploading could solve that if it proved possible. Whether the process of internal endoimmortality is delivered within the upcoming years depends chiefly on research (and in neuron research in the case of endoimmortality through an immortalized cell line) in the former view and perhaps is an awaited goal in the latter case.[3]

In religious contexts, immortality is often stated to be one of the promises of God (or other deities) to human beings who show goodness or else follow divine law. What form an unending human life would take, or whether an immaterial soul exists and possesses immortality, has been a major point of focus of religion, as well as the subject of speculation, fantasy, and debate.

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Life extension technologies promise a path to complete rejuvenation. Cryonics holds out the hope that the dead can be revived in the future, following sufficient medical advancements. While, as shown with creatures such as hydra and planarian worms, it is indeed possible for a creature to be biologically immortal, it is not known if it is possible for humans.

Mind uploading is the transference of brain states from a human brain to an alternative medium providing similar functionality. Assuming the process to be possible and repeatable, this would provide immortality to the computation of the original brain, as predicted by futurists such as Ray Kurzweil.[4]

The belief in an afterlife is a fundamental tenet of most religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Judaism, and the Bah’ Faith; however, the concept of an immortal soul is not. The “soul” itself has different meanings and is not used in the same way in different religions and different denominations of a religion. For example, various branches of Christianity have disagreeing views on the soul’s immortality and its relation to the body.

Physical immortality is a state of life that allows a person to avoid death and maintain conscious thought. It can mean the unending existence of a person from a physical source other than organic life, such as a computer. Active pursuit of physical immortality can either be based on scientific trends, such as cryonics, digital immortality, breakthroughs in rejuvenation or predictions of an impending technological singularity, or because of a spiritual belief, such as those held by Rastafarians or Rebirthers.

There are three main causes of death: aging, disease and physical trauma.[5] Such issues can be resolved with the solutions provided in research to any end providing such alternate theories at present that require unification.

Aubrey de Grey, a leading researcher in the field,[6] defines aging as “a collection of cumulative changes to the molecular and cellular structure of an adult organism, which result in essential metabolic processes, but which also, once they progress far enough, increasingly disrupt metabolism, resulting in pathology and death.” The current causes of aging in humans are cell loss (without replacement), DNA damage, oncogenic nuclear mutations and epimutations, cell senescence, mitochondrial mutations, lysosomal aggregates, extracellular aggregates, random extracellular cross-linking, immune system decline, and endocrine changes. Eliminating aging would require finding a solution to each of these causes, a program de Grey calls engineered negligible senescence. There is also a huge body of knowledge indicating that change is characterized by the loss of molecular fidelity.[7]

Disease is theoretically surmountable via technology. In short, it is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism, something the body shouldn’t typically have to deal with its natural make up.[8] Human understanding of genetics is leading to cures and treatments for a myriad of previously incurable diseases. The mechanisms by which other diseases do damage are becoming better understood. Sophisticated methods of detecting diseases early are being developed. Preventative medicine is becoming better understood. Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may soon be curable with the use of stem cells. Breakthroughs in cell biology and telomere research are leading to treatments for cancer. Vaccines are being researched for AIDS and tuberculosis. Genes associated with type 1 diabetes and certain types of cancer have been discovered, allowing for new therapies to be developed. Artificial devices attached directly to the nervous system may restore sight to the blind. Drugs are being developed to treat a myriad of other diseases and ailments.

Physical trauma would remain as a threat to perpetual physical life, as an otherwise immortal person would still be subject to unforeseen accidents or catastrophes. The speed and quality of paramedic response remains a determining factor in surviving severe trauma.[9] A body that could automatically repair itself from severe trauma, such as speculated uses for nanotechnology, would mitigate this factor.Being the seat of consciousness, the brain cannot be risked to trauma if a continuous physical life is to be maintained. This aversion to trauma risk to the brain would naturally result in significant behavioral changes that would render physical immortality undesirable for some people.

Organisms otherwise unaffected by these causes of death would still face the problem of obtaining sustenance (whether from currently available agricultural processes or from hypothetical future technological processes) in the face of changing availability of suitable resources as environmental conditions change. After avoiding aging, disease, and trauma, you could still starve to death.

If there is no limitation on the degree of gradual mitigation of risk then it is possible that the cumulative probability of death over an infinite horizon is less than certainty, even when the risk of fatal trauma in any finite period is greater than zero. Mathematically, this is an aspect of achieving “actuarial escape velocity”

Biological immortality is an absence of aging. Specifically it’s the absence of a sustained increase in rate of mortality as a function of chronological age. A cell or organism that does not experience aging, or ceases to age at some point, is biologically immortal.

Biologists have chosen the word “immortal” to designate cells that are not limited by the Hayflick limit, where cells no longer divide because of DNA damage or shortened telomeres. The first and still most widely used immortal cell line is HeLa, developed from cells taken from the malignant cervical tumor of Henrietta Lacks without her consent in 1951. Prior to the 1961 work of Leonard Hayflick, there was the erroneous belief fostered by Alexis Carrel that all normal somatic cells are immortal. By preventing cells from reaching senescence one can achieve biological immortality; telomeres, a “cap” at the end of DNA, are thought to be the cause of cell aging. Every time a cell divides the telomere becomes a bit shorter; when it is finally worn down, the cell is unable to split and dies. Telomerase is an enzyme which rebuilds the telomeres in stem cells and cancer cells, allowing them to replicate an infinite number of times.[10] No definitive work has yet demonstrated that telomerase can be used in human somatic cells to prevent healthy tissues from aging. On the other hand, scientists hope to be able to grow organs with the help of stem cells, allowing organ transplants without the risk of rejection, another step in extending human life expectancy. These technologies are the subject of ongoing research, and are not yet realized.[11]

Life defined as biologically immortal is still susceptible to causes of death besides aging, including disease and trauma, as defined above. Notable immortal species include:

As the existence of biologically immortal species demonstrates, there is no thermodynamic necessity for senescence: a defining feature of life is that it takes in free energy from the environment and unloads its entropy as waste. Living systems can even build themselves up from seed, and routinely repair themselves. Aging is therefore presumed to be a byproduct of evolution, but why mortality should be selected for remains a subject of research and debate. Programmed cell death and the telomere “end replication problem” are found even in the earliest and simplest of organisms.[19] This may be a tradeoff between selecting for cancer and selecting for aging.[20]

Modern theories on the evolution of aging include the following:

There are some known naturally occurring and artificially produced chemicals that may increase the lifetime or life-expectancy of a person or organism, such as resveratrol.[23][24]

Some scientists believe that boosting the amount or proportion of telomerase in the body, a naturally forming enzyme that helps maintain the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, could prevent cells from dying and so may ultimately lead to extended, healthier lifespans. A team of researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Centre (Madrid) tested the hypothesis on mice. It was found that those mice which were genetically engineered to produce 10 times the normal levels of telomerase lived 50% longer than normal mice.[25]

In normal circumstances, without the presence of telomerase, if a cell divides repeatedly, at some point all the progeny will reach their Hayflick limit. With the presence of telomerase, each dividing cell can replace the lost bit of DNA, and any single cell can then divide unbounded. While this unbounded growth property has excited many researchers, caution is warranted in exploiting this property, as exactly this same unbounded growth is a crucial step in enabling cancerous growth. If an organism can replicate its body cells faster, then it would theoretically stop aging.

Embryonic stem cells express telomerase, which allows them to divide repeatedly and form the individual. In adults, telomerase is highly expressed in cells that need to divide regularly (e.g., in the immune system), whereas most somatic cells express it only at very low levels in a cell-cycle dependent manner.

Technological immortality is the prospect for much longer life spans made possible by scientific advances in a variety of fields: nanotechnology, emergency room procedures, genetics, biological engineering, regenerative medicine, microbiology, and others. Contemporary life spans in the advanced industrial societies are already markedly longer than those of the past because of better nutrition, availability of health care, standard of living and bio-medical scientific advances. Technological immortality predicts further progress for the same reasons over the near term. An important aspect of current scientific thinking about immortality is that some combination of human cloning, cryonics or nanotechnology will play an essential role in extreme life extension. Robert Freitas, a nanorobotics theorist, suggests tiny medical nanorobots could be created to go through human bloodstreams, find dangerous things like cancer cells and bacteria, and destroy them.[26] Freitas anticipates that gene-therapies and nanotechnology will eventually make the human body effectively self-sustainable and capable of living indefinitely in empty space, short of severe brain trauma. This supports the theory that we will be able to continually create biological or synthetic replacement parts to replace damaged or dying ones. Future advances in nanomedicine could give rise to life extension through the repair of many processes thought to be responsible for aging. K. Eric Drexler, one of the founders of nanotechnology, postulated cell repair devices, including ones operating within cells and utilizing as yet hypothetical biological machines, in his 1986 book Engines of Creation. Raymond Kurzweil, a futurist and transhumanist, stated in his book The Singularity Is Near that he believes that advanced medical nanorobotics could completely remedy the effects of aging by 2030.[27] According to Richard Feynman, it was his former graduate student and collaborator Albert Hibbs who originally suggested to him (circa 1959) the idea of a medical use for Feynman’s theoretical micromachines (see biological machine). Hibbs suggested that certain repair machines might one day be reduced in size to the point that it would, in theory, be possible to (as Feynman put it) “swallow the doctor”. The idea was incorporated into Feynman’s 1959 essay There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.[28]

Cryonics, the practice of preserving organisms (either intact specimens or only their brains) for possible future revival by storing them at cryogenic temperatures where metabolism and decay are almost completely stopped, can be used to ‘pause’ for those who believe that life extension technologies will not develop sufficiently within their lifetime. Ideally, cryonics would allow clinically dead people to be brought back in the future after cures to the patients’ diseases have been discovered and aging is reversible. Modern cryonics procedures use a process called vitrification which creates a glass-like state rather than freezing as the body is brought to low temperatures. This process reduces the risk of ice crystals damaging the cell-structure, which would be especially detrimental to cell structures in the brain, as their minute adjustment evokes the individual’s mind.

One idea that has been advanced involves uploading an individual’s habits and memories via direct mind-computer interface. The individual’s memory may be loaded to a computer or to a new organic body. Extropian futurists like Moravec and Kurzweil have proposed that, thanks to exponentially growing computing power, it will someday be possible to upload human consciousness onto a computer system, and exist indefinitely in a virtual environment. This could be accomplished via advanced cybernetics, where computer hardware would initially be installed in the brain to help sort memory or accelerate thought processes. Components would be added gradually until the person’s entire brain functions were handled by artificial devices, avoiding sharp transitions that would lead to issues of identity, thus running the risk of the person to be declared dead and thus not be a legitimate owner of his or her property. After this point, the human body could be treated as an optional accessory and the program implementing the person could be transferred to any sufficiently powerful computer. Another possible mechanism for mind upload is to perform a detailed scan of an individual’s original, organic brain and simulate the entire structure in a computer. What level of detail such scans and simulations would need to achieve to emulate awareness, and whether the scanning process would destroy the brain, is still to be determined.[29] It is suggested that achieving immortality through this mechanism would require specific consideration to be given to the role of consciousness in the functions of the mind. An uploaded mind would only be a copy of the original mind, and not the conscious mind of the living entity associated in such a transfer. Without a simultaneous upload of consciousness, the original living entity remains mortal, thus not achieving true immortality.[30] Research on neural correlates of consciousness is yet inconclusive on this issue. Whatever the route to mind upload, persons in this state could then be considered essentially immortal, short of loss or traumatic destruction of the machines that maintained them.[clarification needed]

Transforming a human into a cyborg can include brain implants or extracting a human processing unit and placing it in a robotic life-support system. Even replacing biological organs with robotic ones could increase life span (e.g. pace makers) and depending on the definition, many technological upgrades to the body, like genetic modifications or the addition of nanobots would qualify an individual as a cyborg. Some people believe that such modifications would make one impervious to aging and disease and theoretically immortal unless killed or destroyed.

As late as 1952, the editorial staff of the Syntopicon found in their compilation of the Great Books of the Western World, that “The philosophical issue concerning immortality cannot be separated from issues concerning the existence and nature of man’s soul.”[31] Thus, the vast majority of speculation regarding immortality before the 21st century was regarding the nature of the afterlife.

Immortality in ancient Greek religion originally always included an eternal union of body and soul as can be seen in Homer, Hesiod, and various other ancient texts. The soul was considered to have an eternal existence in Hades, but without the body the soul was considered dead. Although almost everybody had nothing to look forward to but an eternal existence as a disembodied dead soul, a number of men and women were considered to have gained physical immortality and been brought to live forever in either Elysium, the Islands of the Blessed, heaven, the ocean or literally right under the ground. Among these were Amphiaraus, Ganymede, Ino, Iphigenia, Menelaus, Peleus, and a great part of those who fought in the Trojan and Theban wars. Some were considered to have died and been resurrected before they achieved physical immortality. Asclepius was killed by Zeus only to be resurrected and transformed into a major deity. In some versions of the Trojan War myth, Achilles, after being killed, was snatched from his funeral pyre by his divine mother Thetis, resurrected, and brought to an immortal existence in either Leuce, the Elysian plains, or the Islands of the Blessed. Memnon, who was killed by Achilles, seems to have received a similar fate. Alcmene, Castor, Heracles, and Melicertes were also among the figures sometimes considered to have been resurrected to physical immortality. According to Herodotus’ Histories, the 7th century BC sage Aristeas of Proconnesus was first found dead, after which his body disappeared from a locked room. Later he was found not only to have been resurrected but to have gained immortality.

The philosophical idea of an immortal soul was a belief first appearing with either Pherecydes or the Orphics, and most importantly advocated by Plato and his followers. This, however, never became the general norm in Hellenistic thought. As may be witnessed even into the Christian era, not least by the complaints of various philosophers over popular beliefs, many or perhaps most traditional Greeks maintained the conviction that certain individuals were resurrected from the dead and made physically immortal and that others could only look forward to an existence as disembodied and dead, though everlasting, souls. The parallel between these traditional beliefs and the later resurrection of Jesus was not lost on the early Christians, as Justin Martyr argued: “when we say… Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propose nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you consider sons of Zeus.” (1 Apol. 21).

The goal of Hinayana is Arhatship and Nirvana. By contrast, the goal of Mahayana is Buddhahood.

According to one Tibetan Buddhist teaching, Dzogchen, individuals can transform the physical body into an immortal body of light called the rainbow body.

Christian theology holds that Adam and Eve lost physical immortality for themselves and all their descendants in the Fall of Man, although this initial “imperishability of the bodily frame of man” was “a preternatural condition”.[32]Christians who profess the Nicene Creed believe that every dead person (whether they believed in Christ or not) will be resurrected from the dead at the Second Coming, and this belief is known as Universal resurrection.[citation needed]

N.T. Wright, a theologian and former Bishop of Durham, has said many people forget the physical aspect of what Jesus promised. He told Time: “Jesus’ resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return. Part of this will be the resurrection of all the dead, who will ‘awake’, be embodied and participate in the renewal. Wright says John Polkinghorne, a physicist and a priest, has put it this way: ‘God will download our software onto his hardware until the time he gives us new hardware to run the software again for ourselves.’ That gets to two things nicely: that the period after death (the Intermediate state) is a period when we are in God’s presence but not active in our own bodies, and also that the more important transformation will be when we are again embodied and administering Christ’s kingdom.”[33] This kingdom will consist of Heaven and Earth “joined together in a new creation”, he said.

Hindus believe in an immortal soul which is reincarnated after death. According to Hinduism, people repeat a process of life, death, and rebirth in a cycle called samsara. If they live their life well, their karma improves and their station in the next life will be higher, and conversely lower if they live their life poorly. After many life times of perfecting its karma, the soul is freed from the cycle and lives in perpetual bliss. There is no place of eternal torment in Hinduism, although if a soul consistently lives very evil lives, it could work its way down to the very bottom of the cycle.[citation needed]

There are explicit renderings in the Upanishads alluding to a physically immortal state brought about by purification, and sublimation of the 5 elements that make up the body. For example, in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (Chapter 2, Verse 12), it is stated “When earth, water fire, air and akasa arise, that is to say, when the five attributes of the elements, mentioned in the books on yoga, become manifest then the yogi’s body becomes purified by the fire of yoga and he is free from illness, old age and death.”

Another view of immortality is traced to the Vedic tradition by the interpretation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi:

That man indeed whom these (contacts)do not disturb, who is even-minded inpleasure and pain, steadfast, he is fitfor immortality, O best of men.[34]

To Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the verse means, “Once a man has become established in the understanding of the permanent reality of life, his mind rises above the influence of pleasure and pain. Such an unshakable man passes beyond the influence of death and in the permanent phase of life: he attains eternal life… A man established in the understanding of the unlimited abundance of absolute existence is naturally free from existence of the relative order. This is what gives him the status of immortal life.”[34]

An Indian Tamil saint known as Vallalar claimed to have achieved immortality before disappearing forever from a locked room in 1874.[35][36]

The traditional concept of an immaterial and immortal soul distinct from the body was not found in Judaism before the Babylonian Exile, but developed as a result of interaction with Persian and Hellenistic philosophies. Accordingly, the Hebrew word nephesh, although translated as “soul” in some older English Bibles, actually has a meaning closer to “living being”.[citation needed] Nephesh was rendered in the Septuagint as (psch), the Greek word for soul.[citation needed]

The only Hebrew word traditionally translated “soul” (nephesh) in English language Bibles refers to a living, breathing conscious body, rather than to an immortal soul.[37] In the New Testament, the Greek word traditionally translated “soul” () has substantially the same meaning as the Hebrew, without reference to an immortal soul.[38] Soul may refer to the whole person, the self: three thousand souls were converted in Acts 2:41 (see Acts 3:23).

The Hebrew Bible speaks about Sheol (), originally a synonym of the grave-the repository of the dead or the cessation of existence until the resurrection of the dead. This doctrine of resurrection is mentioned explicitly only in Daniel 12:14 although it may be implied in several other texts. New theories arose concerning Sheol during the intertestamental period.

The views about immortality in Judaism is perhaps best exemplified by the various references to this in Second Temple Period. The concept of resurrection of the physical body is found in 2 Maccabees, according to which it will happen through recreation of the flesh.[39] Resurrection of the dead also appears in detail in the extra-canonical books of Enoch,[40] and in Apocalypse of Baruch.[41] According to the British scholar in ancient Judaism Philip R. Davies, there is little or no clear reference either to immortality or to resurrection from the dead in the Dead Sea scrolls texts.[42] Both Josephus and the New Testament record that the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife,[43] but the sources vary on the beliefs of the Pharisees. The New Testament claims that the Pharisees believed in the resurrection, but does not specify whether this included the flesh or not.[44] According to Josephus, who himself was a Pharisee, the Pharisees held that only the soul was immortal and the souls of good people will be reincarnated and pass into other bodies, while the souls of the wicked will suffer eternal punishment. [45] Jubilees seems to refer to the resurrection of the soul only, or to a more general idea of an immortal soul.[46]

Rabbinic Judaism claims that the righteous dead will be resurrected in the Messianic Age with the coming of the messiah. They will then be granted immortality in a perfect world. The wicked dead, on the other hand, will not be resurrected at all. This is not the only Jewish belief about the afterlife. The Tanakh is not specific about the afterlife, so there are wide differences in views and explanations among believers.[citation needed]

It is repeatedly stated in Lshi Chunqiu that death is unavoidable.[47] Henri Maspero noted that many scholarly works frame Taoism as a school of thought focused on the quest for immortality.[48] Isabelle Robinet asserts that Taoism is better understood as a way of life than as a religion, and that its adherents do not approach or view Taoism the way non-Taoist historians have done.[49] In the Tractate of Actions and their Retributions, a traditional teaching, spiritual immortality can be rewarded to people who do a certain amount of good deeds and live a simple, pure life. A list of good deeds and sins are tallied to determine whether or not a mortal is worthy. Spiritual immortality in this definition allows the soul to leave the earthly realms of afterlife and go to pure realms in the Taoist cosmology.[50]

Zoroastrians believe that on the fourth day after death, the human soul leaves the body and the body remains as an empty shell. Souls would go to either heaven or hell; these concepts of the afterlife in Zoroastrianism may have influenced Abrahamic religions. The Persian word for “immortal” is associated with the month “Amurdad”, meaning “deathless” in Persian, in the Iranian calendar (near the end of July). The month of Amurdad or Ameretat is celebrated in Persian culture as ancient Persians believed the “Angel of Immortality” won over the “Angel of Death” in this month.[51]

Alcmaeon of Croton argued that the soul is continuously and ceaselessly in motion. The exact form of his argument is unclear, but it appears to have influenced Plato, Aristotle, and other later writers.[52]

Plato’s Phaedo advances four arguments for the soul’s immortality:[53]

Plotinus offers a version of the argument that Kant calls “The Achilles of Rationalist Psychology”. Plotinus first argues that the soul is simple, then notes that a simple being cannot decompose. Many subsequent philosophers have argued both that the soul is simple and that it must be immortal. The tradition arguably culminates with Moses Mendelssohn’s Phaedon.[54]

Theodore Metochites argues that part of the soul’s nature is to move itself, but that a given movement will cease only if what causes the movement is separated from the thing moved an impossibility if they are one and the same.[55]

Avicenna argued for the distinctness of the soul and the body, and the incorruptibility of the former.[56]

The full argument for the immortality of the soul and Thomas Aquinas’ elaboration of Aristotelian theory is found in Question 75 of the First Part of the Summa Theologica.[57]

Ren Descartes endorses the claim that the soul is simple, and also that this entails that it cannot decompose. Descartes does not address the possibility that the soul might suddenly disappear.[58]

In early work, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz endorses a version of the argument from the simplicity of the soul to its immortality, but like his predecessors, he does not address the possibility that the soul might suddenly disappear. In his monadology he advances a sophisticated novel argument for the immortality of monads.[59]

Moses Mendelssohn’s Phaedon is a defense of the simplicity and immortality of the soul. It is a series of three dialogues, revisiting the Platonic dialogue Phaedo, in which Socrates argues for the immortality of the soul, in preparation for his own death. Many philosophers, including Plotinus, Descartes, and Leibniz, argue that the soul is simple, and that because simples cannot decompose they must be immortal. In the Phaedon, Mendelssohn addresses gaps in earlier versions of this argument (an argument that Kant calls the Achilles of Rationalist Psychology). The Phaedon contains an original argument for the simplicity of the soul, and also an original argument that simples cannot suddenly disappear. It contains further original arguments that the soul must retain its rational capacities as long as it exists.[60]

The possibility of clinical immortality raises a host of medical, philosophical, and religious issues and ethical questions. These include persistent vegetative states, the nature of personality over time, technology to mimic or copy the mind or its processes, social and economic disparities created by longevity, and survival of the heat death of the universe.

Physical immortality has also been imagined as a form of eternal torment, as in Mary Shelley’s short story “The Mortal Immortal”, the protagonist of which witnesses everyone he cares about dying around him. Jorge Luis Borges explored the idea that life gets its meaning from death in the short story “The Immortal”; an entire society having achieved immortality, they found time becoming infinite, and so found no motivation for any action. In his book Thursday’s Fictions, and the stage and film adaptations of it, Richard James Allen tells the story of a woman named Thursday who tries to cheat the cycle of reincarnation to get a form of eternal life. At the end of this fantastical tale, her son, Wednesday, who has witnessed the havoc his mother’s quest has caused, forgoes the opportunity for immortality when it is offered to him.[61] Likewise, the novel Tuck Everlasting depicts immortality as “falling off the wheel of life” and is viewed as a curse as opposed to a blessing. In the anime Casshern Sins humanity achieves immortality due to advances in medical technology; however, the inability of the human race to die causes Luna, a Messianic figure, to come forth and offer normal lifespans because she believed that without death, humans could not live. Ultimately, Casshern takes up the cause of death for humanity when Luna begins to restore humanity’s immortality. In Anne Rice’s book series The Vampire Chronicles, vampires are portrayed as immortal and ageless, but their inability to cope with the changes in the world around them means that few vampires live for much more than a century, and those who do often view their changeless form as a curse.

In his book Death, Yale philosopher Shelly Kagan argues that any form of human immortality would be undesirable. Kagan’s argument takes the form of a dilemma. Either our characters remain essentially the same in an immortal afterlife, or they do not. If our characters remain basically the samethat is, if we retain more or less the desires, interests, and goals that we have nowthen eventually, over an infinite stretch of time, we will get bored and find eternal life unbearably tedious. If, on the other hand, our characters are radically changede.g., by God periodically erasing our memories or giving us rat-like brains that never tire of certain simple pleasuresthen such a person would be too different from our current self for us to care much what happens to them. Either way, Kagan argues, immortality is unattractive. The best outcome, Kagan argues, would be for humans to live as long as they desired and then to accept death gratefully as rescuing us from the unbearable tedium of immortality.[62]

If human beings were to achieve immortality, there would most likely be a change in the worlds’ social structures. Sociologist argue that human beings’ awareness of their own mortality shapes their behavior.[63] With the advancements in medical technology in extending human life, there may need to be serious considerations made about future social structures. The world is already experiencing a global demographic shift of increasingly ageing populations with lower replacement rates.[64] The social changes that are made to accommodate this new population shift may be able to offer insight on the possibility of an immortal society.

Although some scientists state that radical life extension, delaying and stopping aging are achievable,[65] there are no international or national programs focused on stopping aging or on radical life extension. In 2012 in Russia, and then in the United States, Israel and the Netherlands, pro-immortality political parties were launched. They aimed to provide political support to anti-aging and radical life extension research and technologies and at the same time transition to the next step, radical life extension, life without aging, and finally, immortality and aim to make possible access to such technologies to most currently living people.[66]

There are numerous symbols representing immortality. The ankh is an Egyptian symbol of life that holds connotations of immortality when depicted in the hands of the gods and pharaohs, who were seen as having control over the journey of life. The Mbius strip in the shape of a trefoil knot is another symbol of immortality. Most symbolic representations of infinity or the life cycle are often used to represent immortality depending on the context they are placed in. Other examples include the Ouroboros, the Chinese fungus of longevity, the ten kanji, the phoenix, the peacock in Christianity,[67] and the colors amaranth (in Western culture) and peach (in Chinese culture).

Immortality is a popular subject in fiction, as it explores humanity’s deep-seated fears and comprehension of its own mortality. Immortal beings and species abound in fiction, especially fantasy fiction, and the meaning of “immortal” tends to vary. The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the first literary works, is primarily a quest of a hero seeking to become immortal.[6]

Some fictional beings are completely immortal (or very nearly so) in that they are immune to death by injury, disease and age. Sometimes such powerful immortals can only be killed by each other, as is the case with the Q from the Star Trek series. Even if something can’t be killed, a common plot device involves putting an immortal being into a slumber or limbo, as is done with Morgoth in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion and the Dreaming God of Pathways Into Darkness. Storytellers often make it a point to give weaknesses to even the most indestructible of beings. For instance, Superman is supposed to be invulnerable, yet his enemies were able to exploit his now-infamous weakness: Kryptonite. (See also Achilles’ heel.)

Many fictitious species are said to be immortal if they cannot die of old age, even though they can be killed through other means, such as injury. Modern fantasy elves often exhibit this form of immortality. Other creatures, such as vampires and the immortals in the film Highlander, can only die from beheading. The classic and stereotypical vampire is typically slain by one of several very specific means, including a silver bullet (or piercing with other silver weapons), a stake through the heart (perhaps made of consecrated wood), or by exposing them to sunlight.[68][69]

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Immortality – Wikipedia

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Teitoku Kakine (A Certain Magical Index) achieved a form of immortality by creating a human tissues (and a new body) out of his Dark Matter.

Ladylee (A Certain Magical Index) is an immortal, in that when she grew weary of living, she sought to use powerful magic to kill her, which did not work.

Tenzen Yakushiji (Basilisk) having his symbiote “eat” away his wounds and restoring any ravages of time or battle, even reattaching his head by sealing the cut.

10 years after Tenzen’s death, Joujin (Basilisk) gained the symbiote that was Tenzen’s spirit, “eating” away any wounds aging the same way Tenzen’s symbiote did.

Skull Knight (Berserk) is the mysterious 1,000 year old enemy of the God Hand and Apostles.

Nosferatu Zodd (Berserk), the 300 year old “God of the Battlefields and Combat”.

Wyald (Berserk), the 100 year old leader of the Black Dog Knights.

Behelits (Berserk) are stone fetishes of unknown supernatural origin said to govern the fate of humanity. They are used primarily for summoning the angels of the God Hand, at which point their owners are granted a wish in exchange for a sacrifice.

Creed Diskenth (Black Cat) possesses the God’s Breath nano-machines within his body, regenerating even fatal wounds in seconds and maintaining his youth, thus granting him immortality aside from any brain damage being irreparable.

Ssuke Aizen (Bleach) gained immortality after fusing with the Hgyoku.

C.C (Code Geass) is immortal.

V.V (Code Geass) is immortal.

Due to the contradiction caused by the fusion of the absolutely immortal Zamasu and the mortal Goku Black, Merged Zamasu (Dragon Ball) has imperfect immortality.

Zeref (Fairy Tail) was cursed by Ankhseram with his contradiction curse which gives him uncontrollable Death Magic and Immortality.

Kager (Flame of Recca) using a forbidden spell that opens a time portal, but it traps her outside of space-time, rendering her completely immortal.

The Truth (Fullmetal Alchemist) is invincible, immortal and invulnerable.

Utsuro (Gintama) possesses immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Earth to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases.

Kouka (Gintama) possessed immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Kouan to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases. However, when she left the planet for good, she weakened overtime and died.

China (Hetalia) is the only nation stated to be truly immortal.

Yta (Mermaid Saga) is a 500 years old immortal since unwittingly eating mermaid’s flesh.

Mana (Mermaid Saga) is a 15 years old immortal since being fed mermaid’s flesh.

Masato (Mermaid Saga) is an 800 years old immortal since eating mermaid’s flesh.

Ban, the Undead (Nanatsu no Taizai) acquired immortality after drinking the Fountain of Youth.

Meliodas (Nanatsu no Taizai) was cursed with the immortality by the Demon King.

Orochimaru (Naruto) considers himself immortal with his Living Corpse Reincarnation to transfer his soul to another body and his Cursed Seals as anchors of his conscious.

Hidan’s (Naruto) main advantage is his inability to die by physical damage, though he is vulnerable to death by lack of nutrient.

Kakuzu (Naruto) attained a form of immortality (though he denies to think of it as such) by tearing hearts out of others and integrating them into himself, extending his lifespan. He kept five inside him at all times.

Madara Uchiha (Naruto) claims he has achieved complete immortality due to hosting the Shinju, as he regenerated form his torso being blown apart. Only when the tailed beasts were all pulled out of him did he die.

Kaguya tsutsuki (Naruto) is immortal, in that she has tremendous regenerative powers, and that the only way to defeat her is to seal her person away by splitting her chakra into the nine tailed beasts.

Gemma Himuro (Ninja Scroll) putting his severed body parts back together, even his head is possible, rendering him immortal.

Due to her race, Jibril (No Game No Life) has reached 6407 years of age, she also has incredibly vast knowledge and high magical abilities, in two words; she gathers many old and new knowledge, in other words; she can no longer age or die.

Yume Hasegawa (Pupa) is an immortal monster incarnated into human form, possessing regenerative abilities that rendered her very difficult to kill.

Utsutsu Hasegawa (Pupa) has been fed the flesh of her immortal “sister”, giving him tremendous regenerative powers that made him more or less immortal.

Rin Asogi (RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~) is immortal, due to a magic spore from Yggdrasil.

Free (Soul Eater) is a werewolf from the Immortal Clan, and therefore, immortal. He can only be harmed and killed by the “Witch-Hunt”.

Koj Akatsuki (Strike the Blood) is revealed to be immortal, even by vampire standards after regenerating from complete decapitation.

Tta Konoe (UQ Holder) cannot regrow limbs unless they are completely destroyed, but otherwise is immortal and can reattach any of it, including his head.

Karin Yki (UQ Holder) has one of the highest ranked forms of immortality, stating that she’s “not permitted to get hurt or die”.

Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) stated that his regenerative powers enables him from dying. This prevented him from dying from Kurama’s torturous Sinning Tree.

The Pillar Men (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part II Battle Tendency)

Dio Brando (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure) become a vampire and gain immortality by using the Stone Mask.

Through the unknown power of his Stand or since merging with DIO’s flesh bud, Nijimura’s Father (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part IV Diamonds Are Unbreakable) is effectively immortal and possess extraordinary healing capabilities.

The Stone Mask (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Parts I Phantom Blood and II Battle Tendency).

Setsuna F. Seiei (Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie – A wakening of the Trailblazer)

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The Illusion of Immortality: Corliss Lamont, John Dewey …

In clear and unflinching language, Dr. Corliss Lamont states the case for human mortality–the finality of death. But, he argues, the illusion of immortality is an affirmative vision, not a negative one.

“Extraordinarily complete and well informed…worthy of the serious attention of all thoughtful persons.” (John Dewey)

Born in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1902, Dr. Lamont graduated first from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1920, then magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1924. He did graduate work at Oxford and at Columbia, where he received his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1932.

He was director of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1932 to 1954, and is currently chairman of the national Emergency Civil Liberties Committee. A leading proponent of the individual’s rights under the Constitution, he has won famous court decisions over Senator Joseph McCarthy, the CIA, and in 1965 a Supreme Court ruling against censorship of incoming mail by the U.S. Postmaster General.

Dr. Lamont has long been associated with Humanism, and authored the standard text on the subject, The Philosophy of Humanism, in 1949. He taught at Columbia, Cornell, and Harvard Universities, and at the New School for Social Research. Corliss Lamont is currently honorary president of the American Humanist Association.

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The Illusion of Immortality: Corliss Lamont, John Dewey …

Semi-Immortality | Superpower Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

China (Axis Powers Hetalia) is 4000+ years old, but appears much younger due to being the only country that is truly immortal.

Washio (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which makes him an ageless life-form, with immunity from diseases, making him very hard to kill.

Papillon (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which stops him from aging, and even prevents him from dying from his mortal disease, making him very hard to kill.

Kinjo (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which stops him from aging and immune to any mortal diseases and very hard to kill.

The Four Founders of Eden (Code:Breaker) are all Dignified Power users, and thus mastered their life force to the point of ceasing their aging.

Kouji (Code:Breaker) is a Dignified Power user, and has ceased aging for a long time.

Prime Minister Fujiwara (Code:Breaker) has mastered his life force like the Dignified Power users, and stopped aging.

Road Kamelot (D.Gray-man) hasn’t aged in 35 years, keeping her preteen appearance forever.

Shinigami (Death Note) will remain eternal, so long as they continuously use their Death Notes to extend their own lifespan when necessary.

Artificial Humans (Dragon Ball) such as 17 and 18 ceased to age since they are altered at a cellular level, while 16 is synthetic from the start.

Artificial Human 19 (Dragon Ball) is a synthetic creation of Dr. Gero who will not age.

Dr. Gero (Dragon Ball) converted himself into an Artificial Human, thus escaping old age for the sake of eternal life.

Master Roshi (Dragon Ball) eats constantly Paradise Grass, which prevents him from dying of old age.

Tomiko Asahina (From the New World) restores the length of her telomeres, allowing her to extend her life indefinitely.

As one of the first generation of Angels, Michael (Highschool DxD) is over 10,000 years old , having lived since the time of the Biblical God.

As one of the first generation of Angels, Gabriel (Highschool DxD) has lived for over 10,000 years.

Kakuzu (Naruto) tears still-beating hearts out of his victims and integrates them into his own body, extending his lifespan so long as he continues this process when necessary.

Hidan (Naruto) is the successful product of the Jashin religion’s experiments of immortality, and cannot die of injuries, but can die of hunger; in essence, he’s the inverse of a typical semi-immortal.

Sasori (Naruto) converted himself into a puppet, escaping old age and sustenance intake necessity; the only way to kill him is to attack his core of living flesh.

Madara Uchiha (Naruto) linked himself to the Gedo Mazo, extending his lifespan indefinitely so long as he remains hooked up to this life support. However, this did not stop him from aging.

Zetsu (Naruto) are ageless, as Black Zetsu is an artificial human created from Kaguya’s materialized will, while White Zetsu are mutated humans.

Brook (One Piece) possesses eternal youth since his second life is supported by his Devil Fruit ability, and his living cell tissues have already rotted off before he came back to life.

The power of the Hobi Hobi no Mi has given Sugar (One Piece) eternal youth. Despite her appearance, she is actually 22 years old.

Archie (Pokemon Adventures) wearing the armor Eternity, which grants him eternal life as the inside has its own timezone.

Kurousagi (Problem Children are Coming from Another World, Aren’t They?) is no longer aging and has lived for over 200 years and still has the appearance of a 18 years old.

Younger Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) and his older brother wished to become demons, preventing them from aging.

Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) and his younger brother wished to become demons, preventing them from aging.

As the incarnation of the natural world, Lala-Ru (Now and Then, Here and There) hasn’t aged in over 600,000 years.

Muromi (Muromi-san) is completely ageless, having been alive since Pangaea over 300 million years ago.

The Golden Tyrant/Judas Iscariot (Seikon no Qwaser) has lived for over two thousand years since the time of Jesus Christ.

The Ancient Dragon (Seiken Tsukai no World Break) is the most ancient metaphysical of them all, as he has lived completely unchanged by the passage of time for countless ages.

Demi-goddess Rory Mercury (GATE) retains the appearance of a 12 years old girl, despite being 964 years old.

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THE AGEBEATERS and Their Universal Currency for …

“The Agebeaters” book review by Dr. James a. Kholos The strenght of this book lies in its scholarship on the subjects of man’s relationship to minerals and evolution. In a comparable treatment of animal studies with clinical outcome from human trials, the authors paint a broad spectrum of pathological illness increasingly bedeviling modern civilizations around the world. One culprit is the failure of man’s mismanagement of soil conservation. Many other nations around the world are equally unable to maintain adequate wood-ash mineral content; therefore, as a consequence wood energy replacement with electricity and nuclear power reduces human uptake of vital minerals causing deficiency, disease and death. To rebalance what ancient man wrought by hand tools, meagerly surviving against climatic changes, we have sunken into an age of diminishing resources, from the ignorance of mineral deficiency now threatening survival itself. The authors advocate changing our lifestyles, by examples from pioneers in history who like Luigi Cornaro, born in Venice, Italy in 1464, refocused his intentions from living glutinously near death at 37 to fulfilling his quest for a healthy long life, adding 66 robust years remaining industrious to the very end, dying peacefully in 1567 at 103. Other detailed information on plants, minerals, history-philosophy and nutrition is for the serious student, as its readability may be a bit high for the unfamiliar. The gift of the authors is in the wisdom that what we don’t know defines what we are certain about. The same themes repeat throughout the text so the message is driven home regarding calorie restriction increasing immortality through nutrition and supplementation. Worth reading and inspirational! Dr. Wallach’s remarkable contribution highlights naturopathic research from herbal holistic medicine from the past to the present. –Book Review by Dr. James A. Kholos

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THE AGEBEATERS and Their Universal Currency for …

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Teitoku Kakine (A Certain Magical Index) achieved a form of immortality by creating a human tissues (and a new body) out of his Dark Matter.

Ladylee (A Certain Magical Index) is an immortal, in that when she grew weary of living, she sought to use powerful magic to kill her, which did not work.

Tenzen Yakushiji (Basilisk) having his symbiote “eat” away his wounds and restoring any ravages of time or battle, even reattaching his head by sealing the cut.

10 years after Tenzen’s death, Joujin (Basilisk) gained the symbiote that was Tenzen’s spirit, “eating” away any wounds aging the same way Tenzen’s symbiote did.

Skull Knight (Berserk) is the mysterious 1,000 year old enemy of the God Hand and Apostles.

Nosferatu Zodd (Berserk), the 300 year old “God of the Battlefields and Combat”.

Wyald (Berserk), the 100 year old leader of the Black Dog Knights.

Behelits (Berserk) are stone fetishes of unknown supernatural origin said to govern the fate of humanity. They are used primarily for summoning the angels of the God Hand, at which point their owners are granted a wish in exchange for a sacrifice.

Creed Diskenth (Black Cat) possesses the God’s Breath nano-machines within his body, regenerating even fatal wounds in seconds and maintaining his youth, thus granting him immortality aside from any brain damage being irreparable.

Ssuke Aizen (Bleach) gained immortality after fusing with the Hgyoku.

C.C (Code Geass) is immortal.

V.V (Code Geass) is immortal.

Due to the contradiction caused by the fusion of the absolutely immortal Zamasu and the mortal Goku Black, Merged Zamasu (Dragon Ball) has imperfect immortality.

Zeref (Fairy Tail) was cursed by Ankhseram with his contradiction curse which gives him uncontrollable Death Magic and Immortality.

Kager (Flame of Recca) using a forbidden spell that opens a time portal, but it traps her outside of space-time, rendering her completely immortal.

The Truth (Fullmetal Alchemist) is invincible, immortal and invulnerable.

Utsuro (Gintama) possesses immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Earth to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases.

Kouka (Gintama) possessed immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Kouan to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases. However, when she left the planet for good, she weakened overtime and died.

China (Hetalia) is the only nation stated to be truly immortal.

Yta (Mermaid Saga) is a 500 years old immortal since unwittingly eating mermaid’s flesh.

Mana (Mermaid Saga) is a 15 years old immortal since being fed mermaid’s flesh.

Masato (Mermaid Saga) is an 800 years old immortal since eating mermaid’s flesh.

Ban, the Undead (Nanatsu no Taizai) acquired immortality after drinking the Fountain of Youth.

Meliodas (Nanatsu no Taizai) was cursed with the immortality by the Demon King.

Orochimaru (Naruto) considers himself immortal with his Living Corpse Reincarnation to transfer his soul to another body and his Cursed Seals as anchors of his conscious.

Hidan’s (Naruto) main advantage is his inability to die by physical damage, though he is vulnerable to death by lack of nutrient.

Kakuzu (Naruto) attained a form of immortality (though he denies to think of it as such) by tearing hearts out of others and integrating them into himself, extending his lifespan. He kept five inside him at all times.

Madara Uchiha (Naruto) claims he has achieved complete immortality due to hosting the Shinju, as he regenerated form his torso being blown apart. Only when the tailed beasts were all pulled out of him did he die.

Kaguya tsutsuki (Naruto) is immortal, in that she has tremendous regenerative powers, and that the only way to defeat her is to seal her person away by splitting her chakra into the nine tailed beasts.

Gemma Himuro (Ninja Scroll) putting his severed body parts back together, even his head is possible, rendering him immortal.

Due to her race, Jibril (No Game No Life) has reached 6407 years of age, she also has incredibly vast knowledge and high magical abilities, in two words; she gathers many old and new knowledge, in other words; she can no longer age or die.

Yume Hasegawa (Pupa) is an immortal monster incarnated into human form, possessing regenerative abilities that rendered her very difficult to kill.

Utsutsu Hasegawa (Pupa) has been fed the flesh of her immortal “sister”, giving him tremendous regenerative powers that made him more or less immortal.

Rin Asogi (RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~) is immortal, due to a magic spore from Yggdrasil.

Free (Soul Eater) is a werewolf from the Immortal Clan, and therefore, immortal. He can only be harmed and killed by the “Witch-Hunt”.

Koj Akatsuki (Strike the Blood) is revealed to be immortal, even by vampire standards after regenerating from complete decapitation.

Tta Konoe (UQ Holder) cannot regrow limbs unless they are completely destroyed, but otherwise is immortal and can reattach any of it, including his head.

Karin Yki (UQ Holder) has one of the highest ranked forms of immortality, stating that she’s “not permitted to get hurt or die”.

Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) stated that his regenerative powers enables him from dying. This prevented him from dying from Kurama’s torturous Sinning Tree.

The Pillar Men (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part II Battle Tendency)

Dio Brando (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure) become a vampire and gain immortality by using the Stone Mask.

Through the unknown power of his Stand or since merging with DIO’s flesh bud, Nijimura’s Father (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part IV Diamonds Are Unbreakable) is effectively immortal and possess extraordinary healing capabilities.

The Stone Mask (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Parts I Phantom Blood and II Battle Tendency).

Setsuna F. Seiei (Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie – A wakening of the Trailblazer)

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536. Ode. Intimations of Immortality. William Wordsworth …

THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,The earth, and every common sight,To me did seemApparell’d in celestial light,The glory and the freshness of a dream.5It is not now as it hath been of yore;Turn wheresoe’er I may,By night or day,The things which I have seen I now can see no more.The rainbow comes and goes,10And lovely is the rose;The moon doth with delightLook round her when the heavens are bare;Waters on a starry nightAre beautiful and fair;15The sunshine is a glorious birth;But yet I know, where’er I go,That there hath pass’d away a glory from the earth.Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,And while the young lambs bound20As to the tabor’s sound,To me alone there came a thought of grief:A timely utterance gave that thought relief,And I again am strong:The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;25No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;I hear the echoes through the mountains throng,The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,And all the earth is gay;Land and sea30Give themselves up to jollity,And with the heart of MayDoth every beast keep holiday;Thou Child of Joy,Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy35Shepherd-boy!Ye blessd creatures, I have heard the callYe to each other make; I seeThe heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;My heart is at your festival,40My head hath its coronal,The fulness of your bliss, I feelI feel it all.O evil day! if I were sullenWhile Earth herself is adorning,This sweet May-morning,45And the children are cullingOn every side,In a thousand valleys far and wide,Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,And the babe leaps up on his mother’s arm:50I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!But there’s a tree, of many, one,A single field which I have look’d upon,Both of them speak of something that is gone:The pansy at my feet55Doth the same tale repeat:Whither is fled the visionary gleam?Where is it now, the glory and the dream?Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,60Hath had elsewhere its setting,And cometh from afar:Not in entire forgetfulness,And not in utter nakedness,But trailing clouds of glory do we come65From God, who is our home:Heaven lies about us in our infancy!Shades of the prison-house begin to closeUpon the growing Boy,But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,70He sees it in his joy;The Youth, who daily farther from the eastMust travel, still is Nature’s priest,And by the vision splendidIs on his way attended;75At length the Man perceives it die away,And fade into the light of common day.Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,And, even with something of a mother’s mind,80And no unworthy aim,The homely nurse doth all she canTo make her foster-child, her Inmate Man,Forget the glories he hath known,And that imperial palace whence he came.85Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,A six years’ darling of a pigmy size!See, where ‘mid work of his own hand he lies,Fretted by sallies of his mother’s kisses,With light upon him from his father’s eyes!90See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,Some fragment from his dream of human life,Shaped by himself with newly-learnd art;A wedding or a festival,A mourning or a funeral;95And this hath now his heart,And unto this he frames his song:Then will he fit his tongueTo dialogues of business, love, or strife;But it will not be long100Ere this be thrown aside,And with new joy and prideThe little actor cons another part;Filling from time to time his ‘humorous stage’With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,105That Life brings with her in her equipage;As if his whole vocationWere endless imitation.Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belieThy soul’s immensity;110Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keepThy heritage, thou eye among the blind,That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,Mighty prophet! Seer blest!115On whom those truths do rest,Which we are toiling all our lives to find,In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;Thou, over whom thy ImmortalityBroods like the Day, a master o’er a slave,120A presence which is not to be put by;To whom the graveIs but a lonely bed without the sense or sightOf day or the warm light,A place of thought where we in waiting lie;125Thou little Child, yet glorious in the mightOf heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height,Why with such earnest pains dost thou provokeThe years to bring the inevitable yoke,Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?130Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,And custom lie upon thee with a weight,Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!O joy! that in our embersIs something that doth live,135That nature yet remembersWhat was so fugitive!The thought of our past years in me doth breedPerpetual benediction: not indeedFor that which is most worthy to be blest140Delight and liberty, the simple creedOf childhood, whether busy or at rest,With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:Not for these I raiseThe song of thanks and praise;145But for those obstinate questioningsOf sense and outward things,Fallings from us, vanishings;Blank misgivings of a CreatureMoving about in worlds not realized,150High instincts before which our mortal NatureDid tremble like a guilty thing surprised:But for those first affections,Those shadowy recollections,Which, be they what they may,155Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;Uphold us, cherish, and have power to makeOur noisy years seem moments in the beingOf the eternal Silence: truths that wake,160To perish never:Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,Nor Man nor Boy,Nor all that is at enmity with joy,Can utterly abolish or destroy!165Hence in a season of calm weatherThough inland far we be,Our souls have sight of that immortal seaWhich brought us hither,Can in a moment travel thither,170And see the children sport upon the shore,And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!And let the young lambs boundAs to the tabor’s sound!175We in thought will join your throng,Ye that pipe and ye that play,Ye that through your hearts to-dayFeel the gladness of the May!What though the radiance which was once so bright180Be now for ever taken from my sight,Though nothing can bring back the hourOf splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;We will grieve not, rather findStrength in what remains behind;185In the primal sympathyWhich having been must ever be;In the soothing thoughts that springOut of human suffering;In the faith that looks through death,190In years that bring the philosophic mind.And O ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,Forebode not any severing of our loves!Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;I only have relinquish’d one delight195To live beneath your more habitual sway.I love the brooks which down their channels fret,Even more than when I tripp’d lightly as they;The innocent brightness of a new-born DayIs lovely yet;200The clouds that gather round the setting sunDo take a sober colouring from an eyeThat hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;Another race hath been, and other palms are won.Thanks to the human heart by which we live,205Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,To me the meanest flower that blows can giveThoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

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536. Ode. Intimations of Immortality. William Wordsworth …

536. Ode. Intimations of Immortality. William Wordsworth …

THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,The earth, and every common sight,To me did seemApparell’d in celestial light,The glory and the freshness of a dream.5It is not now as it hath been of yore;Turn wheresoe’er I may,By night or day,The things which I have seen I now can see no more.The rainbow comes and goes,10And lovely is the rose;The moon doth with delightLook round her when the heavens are bare;Waters on a starry nightAre beautiful and fair;15The sunshine is a glorious birth;But yet I know, where’er I go,That there hath pass’d away a glory from the earth.Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,And while the young lambs bound20As to the tabor’s sound,To me alone there came a thought of grief:A timely utterance gave that thought relief,And I again am strong:The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;25No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;I hear the echoes through the mountains throng,The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,And all the earth is gay;Land and sea30Give themselves up to jollity,And with the heart of MayDoth every beast keep holiday;Thou Child of Joy,Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy35Shepherd-boy!Ye blessd creatures, I have heard the callYe to each other make; I seeThe heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;My heart is at your festival,40My head hath its coronal,The fulness of your bliss, I feelI feel it all.O evil day! if I were sullenWhile Earth herself is adorning,This sweet May-morning,45And the children are cullingOn every side,In a thousand valleys far and wide,Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,And the babe leaps up on his mother’s arm:50I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!But there’s a tree, of many, one,A single field which I have look’d upon,Both of them speak of something that is gone:The pansy at my feet55Doth the same tale repeat:Whither is fled the visionary gleam?Where is it now, the glory and the dream?Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,60Hath had elsewhere its setting,And cometh from afar:Not in entire forgetfulness,And not in utter nakedness,But trailing clouds of glory do we come65From God, who is our home:Heaven lies about us in our infancy!Shades of the prison-house begin to closeUpon the growing Boy,But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,70He sees it in his joy;The Youth, who daily farther from the eastMust travel, still is Nature’s priest,And by the vision splendidIs on his way attended;75At length the Man perceives it die away,And fade into the light of common day.Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,And, even with something of a mother’s mind,80And no unworthy aim,The homely nurse doth all she canTo make her foster-child, her Inmate Man,Forget the glories he hath known,And that imperial palace whence he came.85Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,A six years’ darling of a pigmy size!See, where ‘mid work of his own hand he lies,Fretted by sallies of his mother’s kisses,With light upon him from his father’s eyes!90See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,Some fragment from his dream of human life,Shaped by himself with newly-learnd art;A wedding or a festival,A mourning or a funeral;95And this hath now his heart,And unto this he frames his song:Then will he fit his tongueTo dialogues of business, love, or strife;But it will not be long100Ere this be thrown aside,And with new joy and prideThe little actor cons another part;Filling from time to time his ‘humorous stage’With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,105That Life brings with her in her equipage;As if his whole vocationWere endless imitation.Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belieThy soul’s immensity;110Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keepThy heritage, thou eye among the blind,That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,Mighty prophet! Seer blest!115On whom those truths do rest,Which we are toiling all our lives to find,In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;Thou, over whom thy ImmortalityBroods like the Day, a master o’er a slave,120A presence which is not to be put by;To whom the graveIs but a lonely bed without the sense or sightOf day or the warm light,A place of thought where we in waiting lie;125Thou little Child, yet glorious in the mightOf heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height,Why with such earnest pains dost thou provokeThe years to bring the inevitable yoke,Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?130Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,And custom lie upon thee with a weight,Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!O joy! that in our embersIs something that doth live,135That nature yet remembersWhat was so fugitive!The thought of our past years in me doth breedPerpetual benediction: not indeedFor that which is most worthy to be blest140Delight and liberty, the simple creedOf childhood, whether busy or at rest,With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:Not for these I raiseThe song of thanks and praise;145But for those obstinate questioningsOf sense and outward things,Fallings from us, vanishings;Blank misgivings of a CreatureMoving about in worlds not realized,150High instincts before which our mortal NatureDid tremble like a guilty thing surprised:But for those first affections,Those shadowy recollections,Which, be they what they may,155Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;Uphold us, cherish, and have power to makeOur noisy years seem moments in the beingOf the eternal Silence: truths that wake,160To perish never:Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,Nor Man nor Boy,Nor all that is at enmity with joy,Can utterly abolish or destroy!165Hence in a season of calm weatherThough inland far we be,Our souls have sight of that immortal seaWhich brought us hither,Can in a moment travel thither,170And see the children sport upon the shore,And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!And let the young lambs boundAs to the tabor’s sound!175We in thought will join your throng,Ye that pipe and ye that play,Ye that through your hearts to-dayFeel the gladness of the May!What though the radiance which was once so bright180Be now for ever taken from my sight,Though nothing can bring back the hourOf splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;We will grieve not, rather findStrength in what remains behind;185In the primal sympathyWhich having been must ever be;In the soothing thoughts that springOut of human suffering;In the faith that looks through death,190In years that bring the philosophic mind.And O ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,Forebode not any severing of our loves!Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;I only have relinquish’d one delight195To live beneath your more habitual sway.I love the brooks which down their channels fret,Even more than when I tripp’d lightly as they;The innocent brightness of a new-born DayIs lovely yet;200The clouds that gather round the setting sunDo take a sober colouring from an eyeThat hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;Another race hath been, and other palms are won.Thanks to the human heart by which we live,205Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,To me the meanest flower that blows can giveThoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

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536. Ode. Intimations of Immortality. William Wordsworth …

THE AGEBEATERS and Their Universal Currency for …

THE AGEBEATERS and Their Universal Currency for IMMORTALITY [Dr. Joel D. Wallach BS DVM ND, Dr. Ma Lan MD MS Lac, Dr. JD Wallach] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. In the great scheme of things, the quest for a long and healthful life is a relatively new goal for humans. We know without any doubt

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Immortality | Superpower Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Teitoku Kakine (A Certain Magical Index) achieved a form of immortality by creating a human tissues (and a new body) out of his Dark Matter.

Ladylee (A Certain Magical Index) is an immortal, in that when she grew weary of living, she sought to use powerful magic to kill her, which did not work.

Tenzen Yakushiji (Basilisk) having his symbiote “eat” away his wounds and restoring any ravages of time or battle, even reattaching his head by sealing the cut.

10 years after Tenzen’s death, Joujin (Basilisk) gained the symbiote that was Tenzen’s spirit, “eating” away any wounds aging the same way Tenzen’s symbiote did.

Skull Knight (Berserk) is the mysterious 1,000 year old enemy of the God Hand and Apostles.

Nosferatu Zodd (Berserk), the 300 year old “God of the Battlefields and Combat”.

Wyald (Berserk), the 100 year old leader of the Black Dog Knights.

Behelits (Berserk) are stone fetishes of unknown supernatural origin said to govern the fate of humanity. They are used primarily for summoning the angels of the God Hand, at which point their owners are granted a wish in exchange for a sacrifice.

Creed Diskenth (Black Cat) possesses the God’s Breath nano-machines within his body, regenerating even fatal wounds in seconds and maintaining his youth, thus granting him immortality aside from any brain damage being irreparable.

Ssuke Aizen (Bleach) gained immortality after fusing with the Hgyoku.

C.C (Code Geass) is immortal.

V.V (Code Geass) is immortal.

Due to the contradiction caused by the fusion of the absolutely immortal Zamasu and the mortal Goku Black, Merged Zamasu (Dragon Ball) has imperfect immortality.

Zeref (Fairy Tail) was cursed by Ankhseram with his contradiction curse which gives him uncontrollable Death Magic and Immortality.

Kager (Flame of Recca) using a forbidden spell that opens a time portal, but it traps her outside of space-time, rendering her completely immortal.

The Truth (Fullmetal Alchemist) is invincible, immortal and invulnerable.

Utsuro (Gintama) possesses immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Earth to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases.

Kouka (Gintama) possessed immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Kouan to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases. However, when she left the planet for good, she weakened overtime and died.

China (Hetalia) is the only nation stated to be truly immortal.

Yta (Mermaid Saga) is a 500 years old immortal since unwittingly eating mermaid’s flesh.

Mana (Mermaid Saga) is a 15 years old immortal since being fed mermaid’s flesh.

Masato (Mermaid Saga) is an 800 years old immortal since eating mermaid’s flesh.

Ban, the Undead (Nanatsu no Taizai) acquired immortality after drinking the Fountain of Youth.

Meliodas (Nanatsu no Taizai) was cursed with the immortality by the Demon King.

Orochimaru (Naruto) considers himself immortal with his Living Corpse Reincarnation to transfer his soul to another body and his Cursed Seals as anchors of his conscious.

Hidan’s (Naruto) main advantage is his inability to die by physical damage, though he is vulnerable to death by lack of nutrient.

Kakuzu (Naruto) attained a form of immortality (though he denies to think of it as such) by tearing hearts out of others and integrating them into himself, extending his lifespan. He kept five inside him at all times.

Madara Uchiha (Naruto) claims he has achieved complete immortality due to hosting the Shinju, as he regenerated form his torso being blown apart. Only when the tailed beasts were all pulled out of him did he die.

Kaguya tsutsuki (Naruto) is immortal, in that she has tremendous regenerative powers, and that the only way to defeat her is to seal her person away by splitting her chakra into the nine tailed beasts.

Gemma Himuro (Ninja Scroll) putting his severed body parts back together, even his head is possible, rendering him immortal.

Due to her race, Jibril (No Game No Life) has reached 6407 years of age, she also has incredibly vast knowledge and high magical abilities, in two words; she gathers many old and new knowledge, in other words; she can no longer age or die.

Yume Hasegawa (Pupa) is an immortal monster incarnated into human form, possessing regenerative abilities that rendered her very difficult to kill.

Utsutsu Hasegawa (Pupa) has been fed the flesh of her immortal “sister”, giving him tremendous regenerative powers that made him more or less immortal.

Rin Asogi (RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~) is immortal, due to a magic spore from Yggdrasil.

Free (Soul Eater) is a werewolf from the Immortal Clan, and therefore, immortal. He can only be harmed and killed by the “Witch-Hunt”.

Koj Akatsuki (Strike the Blood) is revealed to be immortal, even by vampire standards after regenerating from complete decapitation.

Tta Konoe (UQ Holder) cannot regrow limbs unless they are completely destroyed, but otherwise is immortal and can reattach any of it, including his head.

Karin Yki (UQ Holder) has one of the highest ranked forms of immortality, stating that she’s “not permitted to get hurt or die”.

Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) stated that his regenerative powers enables him from dying. This prevented him from dying from Kurama’s torturous Sinning Tree.

The Pillar Men (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part II Battle Tendency)

Dio Brando (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure) become a vampire and gain immortality by using the Stone Mask.

Through the unknown power of his Stand or since merging with DIO’s flesh bud, Nijimura’s Father (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part IV Diamonds Are Unbreakable) is effectively immortal and possess extraordinary healing capabilities.

The Stone Mask (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Parts I Phantom Blood and II Battle Tendency).

Setsuna F. Seiei (Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie – A wakening of the Trailblazer)

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Semi-Immortality | Superpower Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

China (Axis Powers Hetalia) is 4000+ years old, but appears much younger due to being the only country that is truly immortal.

Washio (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which makes him an ageless life-form, with immunity from diseases, making him very hard to kill.

Papillon (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which stops him from aging, and even prevents him from dying from his mortal disease, making him very hard to kill.

Kinjo (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which stops him from aging and immune to any mortal diseases and very hard to kill.

The Four Founders of Eden (Code:Breaker) are all Dignified Power users, and thus mastered their life force to the point of ceasing their aging.

Kouji (Code:Breaker) is a Dignified Power user, and has ceased aging for a long time.

Prime Minister Fujiwara (Code:Breaker) has mastered his life force like the Dignified Power users, and stopped aging.

Road Kamelot (D.Gray-man) hasn’t aged in 35 years, keeping her preteen appearance forever.

Shinigami (Death Note) will remain eternal, so long as they continuously use their Death Notes to extend their own lifespan when necessary.

Artificial Humans (Dragon Ball) such as 17 and 18 ceased to age since they are altered at a cellular level, while 16 is synthetic from the start.

Artificial Human 19 (Dragon Ball) is a synthetic creation of Dr. Gero who will not age.

Dr. Gero (Dragon Ball) converted himself into an Artificial Human, thus escaping old age for the sake of eternal life.

Master Roshi (Dragon Ball) eats constantly Paradise Grass, which prevents him from dying of old age.

Tomiko Asahina (From the New World) restores the length of her telomeres, allowing her to extend her life indefinitely.

As one of the first generation of Angels, Michael (Highschool DxD) is over 10,000 years old , having lived since the time of the Biblical God.

As one of the first generation of Angels, Gabriel (Highschool DxD) has lived for over 10,000 years.

Kakuzu (Naruto) tears still-beating hearts out of his victims and integrates them into his own body, extending his lifespan so long as he continues this process when necessary.

Hidan (Naruto) is the successful product of the Jashin religion’s experiments of immortality, and cannot die of injuries, but can die of hunger; in essence, he’s the inverse of a typical semi-immortal.

Sasori (Naruto) converted himself into a puppet, escaping old age and sustenance intake necessity; the only way to kill him is to attack his core of living flesh.

Madara Uchiha (Naruto) linked himself to the Gedo Mazo, extending his lifespan indefinitely so long as he remains hooked up to this life support. However, this did not stop him from aging.

Zetsu (Naruto) are ageless, as Black Zetsu is an artificial human created from Kaguya’s materialized will, while White Zetsu are mutated humans.

Brook (One Piece) possesses eternal youth since his second life is supported by his Devil Fruit ability, and his living cell tissues have already rotted off before he came back to life.

The power of the Hobi Hobi no Mi has given Sugar (One Piece) eternal youth. Despite her appearance, she is actually 22 years old.

Archie (Pokemon Adventures) wearing the armor Eternity, which grants him eternal life as the inside has its own timezone.

Kurousagi (Problem Children are Coming from Another World, Aren’t They?) is no longer aging and has lived for over 200 years and still has the appearance of a 18 years old.

Younger Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) and his older brother wished to become demons, preventing them from aging.

Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) and his younger brother wished to become demons, preventing them from aging.

As the incarnation of the natural world, Lala-Ru (Now and Then, Here and There) hasn’t aged in over 600,000 years.

Muromi (Muromi-san) is completely ageless, having been alive since Pangaea over 300 million years ago.

The Golden Tyrant/Judas Iscariot (Seikon no Qwaser) has lived for over two thousand years since the time of Jesus Christ.

The Ancient Dragon (Seiken Tsukai no World Break) is the most ancient metaphysical of them all, as he has lived completely unchanged by the passage of time for countless ages.

Demi-goddess Rory Mercury (GATE) retains the appearance of a 12 years old girl, despite being 964 years old.

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Immortality – Wikipedia

Immortality is eternal life, being exempt from death, unending existence.[2] Some modern species may possess biological immortality.

Certain scientists, futurists, and philosophers have theorized about the immortality of the human body, with some suggesting that human immortality may be achievable in the first few decades of the 21st century. Other advocates believe that life extension is a more achievable goal in the short term, with immortality awaiting further research breakthroughs. The absence of aging would provide humans with biological immortality, but not invulnerability to death by disease or physical trauma; although mind uploading could solve that if it proved possible. Whether the process of internal endoimmortality is delivered within the upcoming years depends chiefly on research (and in neuron research in the case of endoimmortality through an immortalized cell line) in the former view and perhaps is an awaited goal in the latter case.[3]

In religious contexts, immortality is often stated to be one of the promises of God (or other deities) to human beings who show goodness or else follow divine law. What form an unending human life would take, or whether an immaterial soul exists and possesses immortality, has been a major point of focus of religion, as well as the subject of speculation, fantasy, and debate.

Life extension technologies promise a path to complete rejuvenation. Cryonics holds out the hope that the dead can be revived in the future, following sufficient medical advancements. While, as shown with creatures such as hydra and planarian worms, it is indeed possible for a creature to be biologically immortal, it is not known if it is possible for humans.

Mind uploading is the transference of brain states from a human brain to an alternative medium providing similar functionality. Assuming the process to be possible and repeatable, this would provide immortality to the computation of the original brain, as predicted by futurists such as Ray Kurzweil.[4]

The belief in an afterlife is a fundamental tenet of most religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Judaism, and the Bah’ Faith; however, the concept of an immortal soul is not. The “soul” itself has different meanings and is not used in the same way in different religions and different denominations of a religion. For example, various branches of Christianity have disagreeing views on the soul’s immortality and its relation to the body.

Physical immortality is a state of life that allows a person to avoid death and maintain conscious thought. It can mean the unending existence of a person from a physical source other than organic life, such as a computer. Active pursuit of physical immortality can either be based on scientific trends, such as cryonics, digital immortality, breakthroughs in rejuvenation or predictions of an impending technological singularity, or because of a spiritual belief, such as those held by Rastafarians or Rebirthers.

There are three main causes of death: aging, disease and physical trauma.[5] Such issues can be resolved with the solutions provided in research to any end providing such alternate theories at present that require unification.

Aubrey de Grey, a leading researcher in the field,[6] defines aging as “a collection of cumulative changes to the molecular and cellular structure of an adult organism, which result in essential metabolic processes, but which also, once they progress far enough, increasingly disrupt metabolism, resulting in pathology and death.” The current causes of aging in humans are cell loss (without replacement), DNA damage, oncogenic nuclear mutations and epimutations, cell senescence, mitochondrial mutations, lysosomal aggregates, extracellular aggregates, random extracellular cross-linking, immune system decline, and endocrine changes. Eliminating aging would require finding a solution to each of these causes, a program de Grey calls engineered negligible senescence. There is also a huge body of knowledge indicating that change is characterized by the loss of molecular fidelity.[7]

Disease is theoretically surmountable via technology. In short, it is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism, something the body shouldn’t typically have to deal with its natural make up.[8] Human understanding of genetics is leading to cures and treatments for a myriad of previously incurable diseases. The mechanisms by which other diseases do damage are becoming better understood. Sophisticated methods of detecting diseases early are being developed. Preventative medicine is becoming better understood. Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may soon be curable with the use of stem cells. Breakthroughs in cell biology and telomere research are leading to treatments for cancer. Vaccines are being researched for AIDS and tuberculosis. Genes associated with type 1 diabetes and certain types of cancer have been discovered, allowing for new therapies to be developed. Artificial devices attached directly to the nervous system may restore sight to the blind. Drugs are being developed to treat a myriad of other diseases and ailments.

Physical trauma would remain as a threat to perpetual physical life, as an otherwise immortal person would still be subject to unforeseen accidents or catastrophes. The speed and quality of paramedic response remains a determining factor in surviving severe trauma.[9] A body that could automatically repair itself from severe trauma, such as speculated uses for nanotechnology, would mitigate this factor.Being the seat of consciousness, the brain cannot be risked to trauma if a continuous physical life is to be maintained. This aversion to trauma risk to the brain would naturally result in significant behavioral changes that would render physical immortality undesirable for some people.

Organisms otherwise unaffected by these causes of death would still face the problem of obtaining sustenance (whether from currently available agricultural processes or from hypothetical future technological processes) in the face of changing availability of suitable resources as environmental conditions change. After avoiding aging, disease, and trauma, you could still starve to death.

If there is no limitation on the degree of gradual mitigation of risk then it is possible that the cumulative probability of death over an infinite horizon is less than certainty, even when the risk of fatal trauma in any finite period is greater than zero. Mathematically, this is an aspect of achieving “actuarial escape velocity”

Biological immortality is an absence of aging. Specifically it’s the absence of a sustained increase in rate of mortality as a function of chronological age. A cell or organism that does not experience aging, or ceases to age at some point, is biologically immortal.

Biologists have chosen the word “immortal” to designate cells that are not limited by the Hayflick limit, where cells no longer divide because of DNA damage or shortened telomeres. The first and still most widely used immortal cell line is HeLa, developed from cells taken from the malignant cervical tumor of Henrietta Lacks without her consent in 1951. Prior to the 1961 work of Leonard Hayflick, there was the erroneous belief fostered by Alexis Carrel that all normal somatic cells are immortal. By preventing cells from reaching senescence one can achieve biological immortality; telomeres, a “cap” at the end of DNA, are thought to be the cause of cell aging. Every time a cell divides the telomere becomes a bit shorter; when it is finally worn down, the cell is unable to split and dies. Telomerase is an enzyme which rebuilds the telomeres in stem cells and cancer cells, allowing them to replicate an infinite number of times.[10] No definitive work has yet demonstrated that telomerase can be used in human somatic cells to prevent healthy tissues from aging. On the other hand, scientists hope to be able to grow organs with the help of stem cells, allowing organ transplants without the risk of rejection, another step in extending human life expectancy. These technologies are the subject of ongoing research, and are not yet realized.[11]

Life defined as biologically immortal is still susceptible to causes of death besides aging, including disease and trauma, as defined above. Notable immortal species include:

As the existence of biologically immortal species demonstrates, there is no thermodynamic necessity for senescence: a defining feature of life is that it takes in free energy from the environment and unloads its entropy as waste. Living systems can even build themselves up from seed, and routinely repair themselves. Aging is therefore presumed to be a byproduct of evolution, but why mortality should be selected for remains a subject of research and debate. Programmed cell death and the telomere “end replication problem” are found even in the earliest and simplest of organisms.[19] This may be a tradeoff between selecting for cancer and selecting for aging.[20]

Modern theories on the evolution of aging include the following:

There are some known naturally occurring and artificially produced chemicals that may increase the lifetime or life-expectancy of a person or organism, such as resveratrol.[23][24]

Some scientists believe that boosting the amount or proportion of telomerase in the body, a naturally forming enzyme that helps maintain the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, could prevent cells from dying and so may ultimately lead to extended, healthier lifespans. A team of researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Centre (Madrid) tested the hypothesis on mice. It was found that those mice which were genetically engineered to produce 10 times the normal levels of telomerase lived 50% longer than normal mice.[25]

In normal circumstances, without the presence of telomerase, if a cell divides repeatedly, at some point all the progeny will reach their Hayflick limit. With the presence of telomerase, each dividing cell can replace the lost bit of DNA, and any single cell can then divide unbounded. While this unbounded growth property has excited many researchers, caution is warranted in exploiting this property, as exactly this same unbounded growth is a crucial step in enabling cancerous growth. If an organism can replicate its body cells faster, then it would theoretically stop aging.

Embryonic stem cells express telomerase, which allows them to divide repeatedly and form the individual. In adults, telomerase is highly expressed in cells that need to divide regularly (e.g., in the immune system), whereas most somatic cells express it only at very low levels in a cell-cycle dependent manner.

Technological immortality is the prospect for much longer life spans made possible by scientific advances in a variety of fields: nanotechnology, emergency room procedures, genetics, biological engineering, regenerative medicine, microbiology, and others. Contemporary life spans in the advanced industrial societies are already markedly longer than those of the past because of better nutrition, availability of health care, standard of living and bio-medical scientific advances. Technological immortality predicts further progress for the same reasons over the near term. An important aspect of current scientific thinking about immortality is that some combination of human cloning, cryonics or nanotechnology will play an essential role in extreme life extension. Robert Freitas, a nanorobotics theorist, suggests tiny medical nanorobots could be created to go through human bloodstreams, find dangerous things like cancer cells and bacteria, and destroy them.[26] Freitas anticipates that gene-therapies and nanotechnology will eventually make the human body effectively self-sustainable and capable of living indefinitely in empty space, short of severe brain trauma. This supports the theory that we will be able to continually create biological or synthetic replacement parts to replace damaged or dying ones. Future advances in nanomedicine could give rise to life extension through the repair of many processes thought to be responsible for aging. K. Eric Drexler, one of the founders of nanotechnology, postulated cell repair devices, including ones operating within cells and utilizing as yet hypothetical biological machines, in his 1986 book Engines of Creation. Raymond Kurzweil, a futurist and transhumanist, stated in his book The Singularity Is Near that he believes that advanced medical nanorobotics could completely remedy the effects of aging by 2030.[27] According to Richard Feynman, it was his former graduate student and collaborator Albert Hibbs who originally suggested to him (circa 1959) the idea of a medical use for Feynman’s theoretical micromachines (see biological machine). Hibbs suggested that certain repair machines might one day be reduced in size to the point that it would, in theory, be possible to (as Feynman put it) “swallow the doctor”. The idea was incorporated into Feynman’s 1959 essay There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.[28]

Cryonics, the practice of preserving organisms (either intact specimens or only their brains) for possible future revival by storing them at cryogenic temperatures where metabolism and decay are almost completely stopped, can be used to ‘pause’ for those who believe that life extension technologies will not develop sufficiently within their lifetime. Ideally, cryonics would allow clinically dead people to be brought back in the future after cures to the patients’ diseases have been discovered and aging is reversible. Modern cryonics procedures use a process called vitrification which creates a glass-like state rather than freezing as the body is brought to low temperatures. This process reduces the risk of ice crystals damaging the cell-structure, which would be especially detrimental to cell structures in the brain, as their minute adjustment evokes the individual’s mind.

One idea that has been advanced involves uploading an individual’s habits and memories via direct mind-computer interface. The individual’s memory may be loaded to a computer or to a new organic body. Extropian futurists like Moravec and Kurzweil have proposed that, thanks to exponentially growing computing power, it will someday be possible to upload human consciousness onto a computer system, and exist indefinitely in a virtual environment. This could be accomplished via advanced cybernetics, where computer hardware would initially be installed in the brain to help sort memory or accelerate thought processes. Components would be added gradually until the person’s entire brain functions were handled by artificial devices, avoiding sharp transitions that would lead to issues of identity, thus running the risk of the person to be declared dead and thus not be a legitimate owner of his or her property. After this point, the human body could be treated as an optional accessory and the program implementing the person could be transferred to any sufficiently powerful computer. Another possible mechanism for mind upload is to perform a detailed scan of an individual’s original, organic brain and simulate the entire structure in a computer. What level of detail such scans and simulations would need to achieve to emulate awareness, and whether the scanning process would destroy the brain, is still to be determined.[29] It is suggested that achieving immortality through this mechanism would require specific consideration to be given to the role of consciousness in the functions of the mind. An uploaded mind would only be a copy of the original mind, and not the conscious mind of the living entity associated in such a transfer. Without a simultaneous upload of consciousness, the original living entity remains mortal, thus not achieving true immortality.[30] Research on neural correlates of consciousness is yet inconclusive on this issue. Whatever the route to mind upload, persons in this state could then be considered essentially immortal, short of loss or traumatic destruction of the machines that maintained them.[clarification needed]

Transforming a human into a cyborg can include brain implants or extracting a human processing unit and placing it in a robotic life-support system. Even replacing biological organs with robotic ones could increase life span (e.g. pace makers) and depending on the definition, many technological upgrades to the body, like genetic modifications or the addition of nanobots would qualify an individual as a cyborg. Some people believe that such modifications would make one impervious to aging and disease and theoretically immortal unless killed or destroyed.

As late as 1952, the editorial staff of the Syntopicon found in their compilation of the Great Books of the Western World, that “The philosophical issue concerning immortality cannot be separated from issues concerning the existence and nature of man’s soul.”[31] Thus, the vast majority of speculation regarding immortality before the 21st century was regarding the nature of the afterlife.

Immortality in ancient Greek religion originally always included an eternal union of body and soul as can be seen in Homer, Hesiod, and various other ancient texts. The soul was considered to have an eternal existence in Hades, but without the body the soul was considered dead. Although almost everybody had nothing to look forward to but an eternal existence as a disembodied dead soul, a number of men and women were considered to have gained physical immortality and been brought to live forever in either Elysium, the Islands of the Blessed, heaven, the ocean or literally right under the ground. Among these were Amphiaraus, Ganymede, Ino, Iphigenia, Menelaus, Peleus, and a great part of those who fought in the Trojan and Theban wars. Some were considered to have died and been resurrected before they achieved physical immortality. Asclepius was killed by Zeus only to be resurrected and transformed into a major deity. In some versions of the Trojan War myth, Achilles, after being killed, was snatched from his funeral pyre by his divine mother Thetis, resurrected, and brought to an immortal existence in either Leuce, the Elysian plains, or the Islands of the Blessed. Memnon, who was killed by Achilles, seems to have received a similar fate. Alcmene, Castor, Heracles, and Melicertes were also among the figures sometimes considered to have been resurrected to physical immortality. According to Herodotus’ Histories, the 7th century BC sage Aristeas of Proconnesus was first found dead, after which his body disappeared from a locked room. Later he was found not only to have been resurrected but to have gained immortality.

The philosophical idea of an immortal soul was a belief first appearing with either Pherecydes or the Orphics, and most importantly advocated by Plato and his followers. This, however, never became the general norm in Hellenistic thought. As may be witnessed even into the Christian era, not least by the complaints of various philosophers over popular beliefs, many or perhaps most traditional Greeks maintained the conviction that certain individuals were resurrected from the dead and made physically immortal and that others could only look forward to an existence as disembodied and dead, though everlasting, souls. The parallel between these traditional beliefs and the later resurrection of Jesus was not lost on the early Christians, as Justin Martyr argued: “when we say… Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propose nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you consider sons of Zeus.” (1 Apol. 21).

The goal of Hinayana is Arhatship and Nirvana. By contrast, the goal of Mahayana is Buddhahood.

According to one Tibetan Buddhist teaching, Dzogchen, individuals can transform the physical body into an immortal body of light called the rainbow body.

Christian theology holds that Adam and Eve lost physical immortality for themselves and all their descendants in the Fall of Man, although this initial “imperishability of the bodily frame of man” was “a preternatural condition”.[32]Christians who profess the Nicene Creed believe that every dead person (whether they believed in Christ or not) will be resurrected from the dead at the Second Coming, and this belief is known as Universal resurrection.[citation needed]

N.T. Wright, a theologian and former Bishop of Durham, has said many people forget the physical aspect of what Jesus promised. He told Time: “Jesus’ resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return. Part of this will be the resurrection of all the dead, who will ‘awake’, be embodied and participate in the renewal. Wright says John Polkinghorne, a physicist and a priest, has put it this way: ‘God will download our software onto his hardware until the time he gives us new hardware to run the software again for ourselves.’ That gets to two things nicely: that the period after death (the Intermediate state) is a period when we are in God’s presence but not active in our own bodies, and also that the more important transformation will be when we are again embodied and administering Christ’s kingdom.”[33] This kingdom will consist of Heaven and Earth “joined together in a new creation”, he said.

Hindus believe in an immortal soul which is reincarnated after death. According to Hinduism, people repeat a process of life, death, and rebirth in a cycle called samsara. If they live their life well, their karma improves and their station in the next life will be higher, and conversely lower if they live their life poorly. After many life times of perfecting its karma, the soul is freed from the cycle and lives in perpetual bliss. There is no place of eternal torment in Hinduism, although if a soul consistently lives very evil lives, it could work its way down to the very bottom of the cycle.[citation needed]

There are explicit renderings in the Upanishads alluding to a physically immortal state brought about by purification, and sublimation of the 5 elements that make up the body. For example, in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (Chapter 2, Verse 12), it is stated “When earth, water fire, air and akasa arise, that is to say, when the five attributes of the elements, mentioned in the books on yoga, become manifest then the yogi’s body becomes purified by the fire of yoga and he is free from illness, old age and death.”

Another view of immortality is traced to the Vedic tradition by the interpretation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi:

That man indeed whom these (contacts)do not disturb, who is even-minded inpleasure and pain, steadfast, he is fitfor immortality, O best of men.[34]

To Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the verse means, “Once a man has become established in the understanding of the permanent reality of life, his mind rises above the influence of pleasure and pain. Such an unshakable man passes beyond the influence of death and in the permanent phase of life: he attains eternal life… A man established in the understanding of the unlimited abundance of absolute existence is naturally free from existence of the relative order. This is what gives him the status of immortal life.”[34]

An Indian Tamil saint known as Vallalar claimed to have achieved immortality before disappearing forever from a locked room in 1874.[35][36]

The traditional concept of an immaterial and immortal soul distinct from the body was not found in Judaism before the Babylonian Exile, but developed as a result of interaction with Persian and Hellenistic philosophies. Accordingly, the Hebrew word nephesh, although translated as “soul” in some older English Bibles, actually has a meaning closer to “living being”.[citation needed] Nephesh was rendered in the Septuagint as (psch), the Greek word for soul.[citation needed]

The only Hebrew word traditionally translated “soul” (nephesh) in English language Bibles refers to a living, breathing conscious body, rather than to an immortal soul.[37] In the New Testament, the Greek word traditionally translated “soul” () has substantially the same meaning as the Hebrew, without reference to an immortal soul.[38] Soul may refer to the whole person, the self: three thousand souls were converted in Acts 2:41 (see Acts 3:23).

The Hebrew Bible speaks about Sheol (), originally a synonym of the grave-the repository of the dead or the cessation of existence until the resurrection of the dead. This doctrine of resurrection is mentioned explicitly only in Daniel 12:14 although it may be implied in several other texts. New theories arose concerning Sheol during the intertestamental period.

The views about immortality in Judaism is perhaps best exemplified by the various references to this in Second Temple Period. The concept of resurrection of the physical body is found in 2 Maccabees, according to which it will happen through recreation of the flesh.[39] Resurrection of the dead also appears in detail in the extra-canonical books of Enoch,[40] and in Apocalypse of Baruch.[41] According to the British scholar in ancient Judaism Philip R. Davies, there is little or no clear reference either to immortality or to resurrection from the dead in the Dead Sea scrolls texts.[42] Both Josephus and the New Testament record that the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife,[43] but the sources vary on the beliefs of the Pharisees. The New Testament claims that the Pharisees believed in the resurrection, but does not specify whether this included the flesh or not.[44] According to Josephus, who himself was a Pharisee, the Pharisees held that only the soul was immortal and the souls of good people will be reincarnated and pass into other bodies, while the souls of the wicked will suffer eternal punishment. [45] Jubilees seems to refer to the resurrection of the soul only, or to a more general idea of an immortal soul.[46]

Rabbinic Judaism claims that the righteous dead will be resurrected in the Messianic Age with the coming of the messiah. They will then be granted immortality in a perfect world. The wicked dead, on the other hand, will not be resurrected at all. This is not the only Jewish belief about the afterlife. The Tanakh is not specific about the afterlife, so there are wide differences in views and explanations among believers.[citation needed]

It is repeatedly stated in Lshi Chunqiu that death is unavoidable.[47] Henri Maspero noted that many scholarly works frame Taoism as a school of thought focused on the quest for immortality.[48] Isabelle Robinet asserts that Taoism is better understood as a way of life than as a religion, and that its adherents do not approach or view Taoism the way non-Taoist historians have done.[49] In the Tractate of Actions and their Retributions, a traditional teaching, spiritual immortality can be rewarded to people who do a certain amount of good deeds and live a simple, pure life. A list of good deeds and sins are tallied to determine whether or not a mortal is worthy. Spiritual immortality in this definition allows the soul to leave the earthly realms of afterlife and go to pure realms in the Taoist cosmology.[50]

Zoroastrians believe that on the fourth day after death, the human soul leaves the body and the body remains as an empty shell. Souls would go to either heaven or hell; these concepts of the afterlife in Zoroastrianism may have influenced Abrahamic religions. The Persian word for “immortal” is associated with the month “Amurdad”, meaning “deathless” in Persian, in the Iranian calendar (near the end of July). The month of Amurdad or Ameretat is celebrated in Persian culture as ancient Persians believed the “Angel of Immortality” won over the “Angel of Death” in this month.[51]

Alcmaeon of Croton argued that the soul is continuously and ceaselessly in motion. The exact form of his argument is unclear, but it appears to have influenced Plato, Aristotle, and other later writers.[52]

Plato’s Phaedo advances four arguments for the soul’s immortality:[53]

Plotinus offers a version of the argument that Kant calls “The Achilles of Rationalist Psychology”. Plotinus first argues that the soul is simple, then notes that a simple being cannot decompose. Many subsequent philosophers have argued both that the soul is simple and that it must be immortal. The tradition arguably culminates with Moses Mendelssohn’s Phaedon.[54]

Theodore Metochites argues that part of the soul’s nature is to move itself, but that a given movement will cease only if what causes the movement is separated from the thing moved an impossibility if they are one and the same.[55]

Avicenna argued for the distinctness of the soul and the body, and the incorruptibility of the former.[56]

The full argument for the immortality of the soul and Thomas Aquinas’ elaboration of Aristotelian theory is found in Question 75 of the First Part of the Summa Theologica.[57]

Ren Descartes endorses the claim that the soul is simple, and also that this entails that it cannot decompose. Descartes does not address the possibility that the soul might suddenly disappear.[58]

In early work, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz endorses a version of the argument from the simplicity of the soul to its immortality, but like his predecessors, he does not address the possibility that the soul might suddenly disappear. In his monadology he advances a sophisticated novel argument for the immortality of monads.[59]

Moses Mendelssohn’s Phaedon is a defense of the simplicity and immortality of the soul. It is a series of three dialogues, revisiting the Platonic dialogue Phaedo, in which Socrates argues for the immortality of the soul, in preparation for his own death. Many philosophers, including Plotinus, Descartes, and Leibniz, argue that the soul is simple, and that because simples cannot decompose they must be immortal. In the Phaedon, Mendelssohn addresses gaps in earlier versions of this argument (an argument that Kant calls the Achilles of Rationalist Psychology). The Phaedon contains an original argument for the simplicity of the soul, and also an original argument that simples cannot suddenly disappear. It contains further original arguments that the soul must retain its rational capacities as long as it exists.[60]

The possibility of clinical immortality raises a host of medical, philosophical, and religious issues and ethical questions. These include persistent vegetative states, the nature of personality over time, technology to mimic or copy the mind or its processes, social and economic disparities created by longevity, and survival of the heat death of the universe.

Physical immortality has also been imagined as a form of eternal torment, as in Mary Shelley’s short story “The Mortal Immortal”, the protagonist of which witnesses everyone he cares about dying around him. Jorge Luis Borges explored the idea that life gets its meaning from death in the short story “The Immortal”; an entire society having achieved immortality, they found time becoming infinite, and so found no motivation for any action. In his book Thursday’s Fictions, and the stage and film adaptations of it, Richard James Allen tells the story of a woman named Thursday who tries to cheat the cycle of reincarnation to get a form of eternal life. At the end of this fantastical tale, her son, Wednesday, who has witnessed the havoc his mother’s quest has caused, forgoes the opportunity for immortality when it is offered to him.[61] Likewise, the novel Tuck Everlasting depicts immortality as “falling off the wheel of life” and is viewed as a curse as opposed to a blessing. In the anime Casshern Sins humanity achieves immortality due to advances in medical technology; however, the inability of the human race to die causes Luna, a Messianic figure, to come forth and offer normal lifespans because she believed that without death, humans could not live. Ultimately, Casshern takes up the cause of death for humanity when Luna begins to restore humanity’s immortality. In Anne Rice’s book series The Vampire Chronicles, vampires are portrayed as immortal and ageless, but their inability to cope with the changes in the world around them means that few vampires live for much more than a century, and those who do often view their changeless form as a curse.

In his book Death, Yale philosopher Shelly Kagan argues that any form of human immortality would be undesirable. Kagan’s argument takes the form of a dilemma. Either our characters remain essentially the same in an immortal afterlife, or they do not. If our characters remain basically the samethat is, if we retain more or less the desires, interests, and goals that we have nowthen eventually, over an infinite stretch of time, we will get bored and find eternal life unbearably tedious. If, on the other hand, our characters are radically changede.g., by God periodically erasing our memories or giving us rat-like brains that never tire of certain simple pleasuresthen such a person would be too different from our current self for us to care much what happens to them. Either way, Kagan argues, immortality is unattractive. The best outcome, Kagan argues, would be for humans to live as long as they desired and then to accept death gratefully as rescuing us from the unbearable tedium of immortality.[62]

If human beings were to achieve immortality, there would most likely be a change in the worlds’ social structures. Sociologist argue that human beings’ awareness of their own mortality shapes their behavior.[63] With the advancements in medical technology in extending human life, there may need to be serious considerations made about future social structures. The world is already experiencing a global demographic shift of increasingly ageing populations with lower replacement rates.[64] The social changes that are made to accommodate this new population shift may be able to offer insight on the possibility of an immortal society.

Although some scientists state that radical life extension, delaying and stopping aging are achievable,[65] there are no international or national programs focused on stopping aging or on radical life extension. In 2012 in Russia, and then in the United States, Israel and the Netherlands, pro-immortality political parties were launched. They aimed to provide political support to anti-aging and radical life extension research and technologies and at the same time transition to the next step, radical life extension, life without aging, and finally, immortality and aim to make possible access to such technologies to most currently living people.[66]

There are numerous symbols representing immortality. The ankh is an Egyptian symbol of life that holds connotations of immortality when depicted in the hands of the gods and pharaohs, who were seen as having control over the journey of life. The Mbius strip in the shape of a trefoil knot is another symbol of immortality. Most symbolic representations of infinity or the life cycle are often used to represent immortality depending on the context they are placed in. Other examples include the Ouroboros, the Chinese fungus of longevity, the ten kanji, the phoenix, the peacock in Christianity,[67] and the colors amaranth (in Western culture) and peach (in Chinese culture).

Immortality is a popular subject in fiction, as it explores humanity’s deep-seated fears and comprehension of its own mortality. Immortal beings and species abound in fiction, especially fantasy fiction, and the meaning of “immortal” tends to vary. The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the first literary works, is primarily a quest of a hero seeking to become immortal.[6]

Some fictional beings are completely immortal (or very nearly so) in that they are immune to death by injury, disease and age. Sometimes such powerful immortals can only be killed by each other, as is the case with the Q from the Star Trek series. Even if something can’t be killed, a common plot device involves putting an immortal being into a slumber or limbo, as is done with Morgoth in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion and the Dreaming God of Pathways Into Darkness. Storytellers often make it a point to give weaknesses to even the most indestructible of beings. For instance, Superman is supposed to be invulnerable, yet his enemies were able to exploit his now-infamous weakness: Kryptonite. (See also Achilles’ heel.)

Many fictitious species are said to be immortal if they cannot die of old age, even though they can be killed through other means, such as injury. Modern fantasy elves often exhibit this form of immortality. Other creatures, such as vampires and the immortals in the film Highlander, can only die from beheading. The classic and stereotypical vampire is typically slain by one of several very specific means, including a silver bullet (or piercing with other silver weapons), a stake through the heart (perhaps made of consecrated wood), or by exposing them to sunlight.[68][69]

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Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives …

Cave has produced a strikingly original and compelling exploration of the age-old conundrum: Can we live forever, and do we really want to?John Horgan, science journalist and author of The End of War

Immortality is a fascinating history of mans greatest obsession and poses a stunning theory of society. The Daily Beast

In Immortality Stephen Cave tells wonderful stories about one of humanitys oldest desires and comes to a wise conclusion. Stefan Klein, author of The Science of Happiness and The Secret Pulse of Time

A beautifully clear and entertaining look at life after death. Cave does not shrink from the hard questions. Bold and thought-provoking. Eric Olson, author of The Human Animal and What Are We?

A must-read exploration of what spurs human ingenuity. Every once in a while a book comes along that catches me by surprise and provides me with an entirely new lens through which to view the world. . . . Such is the case with Stephen Caves book Immortality. . . . Cave presents an extremely compelling caseone that has changed my view of the driving force of civilization as much as Jared Diamond did years ago with his brilliant book Guns, Germs and Steel.S. Jay Olshanksy, New Scientist magazine

Informed and metaphysically nuanced. . . . Cave presents his arguments in a brisk, engaging style, and draws effectively upon a wide-ranging stock of religious, philosophical, and scientific sources, both ancient and contemporary. Weekly Standard

In his survey of the subject, Stephen Cave, a British philosopher, argues that mans various tales of immortality can be boiled down into four basic narratives. . . . For the aspiring undying, Mr Cave unfortunately concludes that immortality is a mirage. But his demolition project is fascinating in its own right. . . . If anything, readers might want more of Mr. Caves crisp conversational prose. The Economist

Cave explains how the seeking of immortality is the foundation of human achievement, the wellspring of art, religion and civilization. . . . .The author is rangy and recondite, searching the byways of elixirs, the surprises of alchemy, the faith in engineering and all the wonder to be found in discussions of life and death. . . . Luminous. Kirkus Reviews

A dramatic and frequently surprising story of the pursuit of immortality and its effects on human history. Booklist

Cave is smart, lucid, elegant and original. Immortality is an engaging read about our oldest obsession, and how that obsession propels some of our greatest accomplishments. Greg Critser, author of Eternity Soup

An epic inquiry into the human desire to defy deathand how to overcome it. Cave traces the histories of each of his four immortality narratives through the worlds great religions, heroes, leaders, thinkers and stories. Its an epic tale of human folly, featuring a cast of characters including Gilgamesh, Dante, Frankenstein, the King of Qin, Alexander the Great and the Dalai Lama. Cave, a Berlin-based writer and former diplomat, is an admirably clear elucidator, stripping down arguments to their essences and recounting them without any unnecessary jargon. The Financial Times

Immortality plumbs the depths of the human mind and ties the quest for the infinite prolongation of life into the very nature of civilization itself. Cave reveals remarkable depth and breadth of learning, yet is always a breeze to read. I thoroughly enjoyed his bookits a really intriguing study. David Boyd Haycock, author of Mortal Coil and A Crisis of Brilliance

[Caves] sort of nonfiction writing is exciting. It gets the juices flowing and draws one into the material. What Cave does so well throughout Immortality is to take the reader by the hand and carefully guide her or him through each concept, ensuring understanding before exploring assorted variations and difficulties. Hes writing for searchers, not people collecting knock em-dead refutations of positions theyve already rejected. And his appeal is to intellectual curiosity. The Humanist

I loved this. Cave has set himself an enormous task and accomplished itin spades. Establishing a four-level subject matter, he has stuck to his guns and never let up. As he left one level and went to the next, I was always a little worried: Would he be able to pull it off? This was especially true as he approached the end. There is a sense in which each level, as he left it smoking in the road, looked easy as he started the next. In fact, the last level, while it is the most difficult, is the best, the most satisfying. I am happy to live in the world Cave describes. Charles Van Doren, author of A History of Knowledge

This book by Stephen Cave offers a helpful framework for understanding the various different kinds of immortality. Cave employs this framework to analyze these types of immortality and to argue that the quest for immortality is misguided. Caves insights throughout the book are deep, and his argumentation is compelling and well-informed by all of the relevant literature. It is also a beautifully written and highly accessible book. I recommend it highly.John Martin Fischer leader of the Templeton Foundation’s Immortality Project, and author of Near-Death Experiences

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Teitoku Kakine (A Certain Magical Index) achieved a form of immortality by creating a human tissues (and a new body) out of his Dark Matter.

Ladylee (A Certain Magical Index) is an immortal, in that when she grew weary of living, she sought to use powerful magic to kill her, which did not work.

Tenzen Yakushiji (Basilisk) having his symbiote “eat” away his wounds and restoring any ravages of time or battle, even reattaching his head by sealing the cut.

10 years after Tenzen’s death, Joujin (Basilisk) gained the symbiote that was Tenzen’s spirit, “eating” away any wounds aging the same way Tenzen’s symbiote did.

Skull Knight (Berserk) is the mysterious 1,000 year old enemy of the God Hand and Apostles.

Nosferatu Zodd (Berserk), the 300 year old “God of the Battlefields and Combat”.

Wyald (Berserk), the 100 year old leader of the Black Dog Knights.

Behelits (Berserk) are stone fetishes of unknown supernatural origin said to govern the fate of humanity. They are used primarily for summoning the angels of the God Hand, at which point their owners are granted a wish in exchange for a sacrifice.

Creed Diskenth (Black Cat) possesses the God’s Breath nano-machines within his body, regenerating even fatal wounds in seconds and maintaining his youth, thus granting him immortality aside from any brain damage being irreparable.

Ssuke Aizen (Bleach) gained immortality after fusing with the Hgyoku.

C.C (Code Geass) is immortal.

V.V (Code Geass) is immortal.

Due to the contradiction caused by the fusion of the absolutely immortal Zamasu and the mortal Goku Black, Merged Zamasu (Dragon Ball) has imperfect immortality.

Zeref (Fairy Tail) was cursed by Ankhseram with his contradiction curse which gives him uncontrollable Death Magic and Immortality.

Kager (Flame of Recca) using a forbidden spell that opens a time portal, but it traps her outside of space-time, rendering her completely immortal.

The Truth (Fullmetal Alchemist) is invincible, immortal and invulnerable.

Utsuro (Gintama) possesses immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Earth to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases.

Kouka (Gintama) possessed immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Kouan to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases. However, when she left the planet for good, she weakened overtime and died.

China (Hetalia) is the only nation stated to be truly immortal.

Yta (Mermaid Saga) is a 500 years old immortal since unwittingly eating mermaid’s flesh.

Mana (Mermaid Saga) is a 15 years old immortal since being fed mermaid’s flesh.

Masato (Mermaid Saga) is an 800 years old immortal since eating mermaid’s flesh.

Ban, the Undead (Nanatsu no Taizai) acquired immortality after drinking the Fountain of Youth.

Meliodas (Nanatsu no Taizai) was cursed with the immortality by the Demon King.

Orochimaru (Naruto) considers himself immortal with his Living Corpse Reincarnation to transfer his soul to another body and his Cursed Seals as anchors of his conscious.

Hidan’s (Naruto) main advantage is his inability to die by physical damage, though he is vulnerable to death by lack of nutrient.

Kakuzu (Naruto) attained a form of immortality (though he denies to think of it as such) by tearing hearts out of others and integrating them into himself, extending his lifespan. He kept five inside him at all times.

Madara Uchiha (Naruto) claims he has achieved complete immortality due to hosting the Shinju, as he regenerated form his torso being blown apart. Only when the tailed beasts were all pulled out of him did he die.

Kaguya tsutsuki (Naruto) is immortal, in that she has tremendous regenerative powers, and that the only way to defeat her is to seal her person away by splitting her chakra into the nine tailed beasts.

Gemma Himuro (Ninja Scroll) putting his severed body parts back together, even his head is possible, rendering him immortal.

Due to her race, Jibril (No Game No Life) has reached 6407 years of age, she also has incredibly vast knowledge and high magical abilities, in two words; she gathers many old and new knowledge, in other words; she can no longer age or die.

Yume Hasegawa (Pupa) is an immortal monster incarnated into human form, possessing regenerative abilities that rendered her very difficult to kill.

Utsutsu Hasegawa (Pupa) has been fed the flesh of her immortal “sister”, giving him tremendous regenerative powers that made him more or less immortal.

Rin Asogi (RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~) is immortal, due to a magic spore from Yggdrasil.

Free (Soul Eater) is a werewolf from the Immortal Clan, and therefore, immortal. He can only be harmed and killed by the “Witch-Hunt”.

Koj Akatsuki (Strike the Blood) is revealed to be immortal, even by vampire standards after regenerating from complete decapitation.

Tta Konoe (UQ Holder) cannot regrow limbs unless they are completely destroyed, but otherwise is immortal and can reattach any of it, including his head.

Karin Yki (UQ Holder) has one of the highest ranked forms of immortality, stating that she’s “not permitted to get hurt or die”.

Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) stated that his regenerative powers enables him from dying. This prevented him from dying from Kurama’s torturous Sinning Tree.

The Pillar Men (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part II Battle Tendency)

Dio Brando (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure) become a vampire and gain immortality by using the Stone Mask.

Through the unknown power of his Stand or since merging with DIO’s flesh bud, Nijimura’s Father (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part IV Diamonds Are Unbreakable) is effectively immortal and possess extraordinary healing capabilities.

The Stone Mask (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Parts I Phantom Blood and II Battle Tendency).

Setsuna F. Seiei (Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie – A wakening of the Trailblazer)

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China (Axis Powers Hetalia) is 4000+ years old, but appears much younger due to being the only country that is truly immortal.

Washio (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which makes him an ageless life-form, with immunity from diseases, making him very hard to kill.

Papillon (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which stops him from aging, and even prevents him from dying from his mortal disease, making him very hard to kill.

Kinjo (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which stops him from aging and immune to any mortal diseases and very hard to kill.

The Four Founders of Eden (Code:Breaker) are all Dignified Power users, and thus mastered their life force to the point of ceasing their aging.

Kouji (Code:Breaker) is a Dignified Power user, and has ceased aging for a long time.

Prime Minister Fujiwara (Code:Breaker) has mastered his life force like the Dignified Power users, and stopped aging.

Road Kamelot (D.Gray-man) hasn’t aged in 35 years, keeping her preteen appearance forever.

Shinigami (Death Note) will remain eternal, so long as they continuously use their Death Notes to extend their own lifespan when necessary.

Artificial Humans (Dragon Ball) such as 17 and 18 ceased to age since they are altered at a cellular level, while 16 is synthetic from the start.

Artificial Human 19 (Dragon Ball) is a synthetic creation of Dr. Gero who will not age.

Dr. Gero (Dragon Ball) converted himself into an Artificial Human, thus escaping old age for the sake of eternal life.

Master Roshi (Dragon Ball) eats constantly Paradise Grass, which prevents him from dying of old age.

Tomiko Asahina (From the New World) restores the length of her telomeres, allowing her to extend her life indefinitely.

As one of the first generation of Angels, Michael (Highschool DxD) is over 10,000 years old , having lived since the time of the Biblical God.

As one of the first generation of Angels, Gabriel (Highschool DxD) has lived for over 10,000 years.

Kakuzu (Naruto) tears still-beating hearts out of his victims and integrates them into his own body, extending his lifespan so long as he continues this process when necessary.

Hidan (Naruto) is the successful product of the Jashin religion’s experiments of immortality, and cannot die of injuries, but can die of hunger; in essence, he’s the inverse of a typical semi-immortal.

Sasori (Naruto) converted himself into a puppet, escaping old age and sustenance intake necessity; the only way to kill him is to attack his core of living flesh.

Madara Uchiha (Naruto) linked himself to the Gedo Mazo, extending his lifespan indefinitely so long as he remains hooked up to this life support. However, this did not stop him from aging.

Zetsu (Naruto) are ageless, as Black Zetsu is an artificial human created from Kaguya’s materialized will, while White Zetsu are mutated humans.

Brook (One Piece) possesses eternal youth since his second life is supported by his Devil Fruit ability, and his living cell tissues have already rotted off before he came back to life.

The power of the Hobi Hobi no Mi has given Sugar (One Piece) eternal youth. Despite her appearance, she is actually 22 years old.

Archie (Pokemon Adventures) wearing the armor Eternity, which grants him eternal life as the inside has its own timezone.

Kurousagi (Problem Children are Coming from Another World, Aren’t They?) is no longer aging and has lived for over 200 years and still has the appearance of a 18 years old.

Younger Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) and his older brother wished to become demons, preventing them from aging.

Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) and his younger brother wished to become demons, preventing them from aging.

As the incarnation of the natural world, Lala-Ru (Now and Then, Here and There) hasn’t aged in over 600,000 years.

Muromi (Muromi-san) is completely ageless, having been alive since Pangaea over 300 million years ago.

The Golden Tyrant/Judas Iscariot (Seikon no Qwaser) has lived for over two thousand years since the time of Jesus Christ.

The Ancient Dragon (Seiken Tsukai no World Break) is the most ancient metaphysical of them all, as he has lived completely unchanged by the passage of time for countless ages.

Demi-goddess Rory Mercury (GATE) retains the appearance of a 12 years old girl, despite being 964 years old.

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Semi-Immortality | Superpower Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Immortality | Superpower Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Teitoku Kakine (A Certain Magical Index) achieved a form of immortality by creating a human tissues (and a new body) out of his Dark Matter.

Ladylee (A Certain Magical Index) is an immortal, in that when she grew weary of living, she sought to use powerful magic to kill her, which did not work.

Tenzen Yakushiji (Basilisk) having his symbiote “eat” away his wounds and restoring any ravages of time or battle, even reattaching his head by sealing the cut.

10 years after Tenzen’s death, Joujin (Basilisk) gained the symbiote that was Tenzen’s spirit, “eating” away any wounds aging the same way Tenzen’s symbiote did.

Skull Knight (Berserk) is the mysterious 1,000 year old enemy of the God Hand and Apostles.

Nosferatu Zodd (Berserk), the 300 year old “God of the Battlefields and Combat”.

Wyald (Berserk), the 100 year old leader of the Black Dog Knights.

Behelits (Berserk) are stone fetishes of unknown supernatural origin said to govern the fate of humanity. They are used primarily for summoning the angels of the God Hand, at which point their owners are granted a wish in exchange for a sacrifice.

Creed Diskenth (Black Cat) possesses the God’s Breath nano-machines within his body, regenerating even fatal wounds in seconds and maintaining his youth, thus granting him immortality aside from any brain damage being irreparable.

Ssuke Aizen (Bleach) gained immortality after fusing with the Hgyoku.

C.C (Code Geass) is immortal.

V.V (Code Geass) is immortal.

Due to the contradiction caused by the fusion of the absolutely immortal Zamasu and the mortal Goku Black, Merged Zamasu (Dragon Ball) has imperfect immortality.

Zeref (Fairy Tail) was cursed by Ankhseram with his contradiction curse which gives him uncontrollable Death Magic and Immortality.

Kager (Flame of Recca) using a forbidden spell that opens a time portal, but it traps her outside of space-time, rendering her completely immortal.

The Truth (Fullmetal Alchemist) is invincible, immortal and invulnerable.

Utsuro (Gintama) possesses immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Earth to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases.

Kouka (Gintama) possessed immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Kouan to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases. However, when she left the planet for good, she weakened overtime and died.

China (Hetalia) is the only nation stated to be truly immortal.

Yta (Mermaid Saga) is a 500 years old immortal since unwittingly eating mermaid’s flesh.

Mana (Mermaid Saga) is a 15 years old immortal since being fed mermaid’s flesh.

Masato (Mermaid Saga) is an 800 years old immortal since eating mermaid’s flesh.

Ban, the Undead (Nanatsu no Taizai) acquired immortality after drinking the Fountain of Youth.

Meliodas (Nanatsu no Taizai) was cursed with the immortality by the Demon King.

Orochimaru (Naruto) considers himself immortal with his Living Corpse Reincarnation to transfer his soul to another body and his Cursed Seals as anchors of his conscious.

Hidan’s (Naruto) main advantage is his inability to die by physical damage, though he is vulnerable to death by lack of nutrient.

Kakuzu (Naruto) attained a form of immortality (though he denies to think of it as such) by tearing hearts out of others and integrating them into himself, extending his lifespan. He kept five inside him at all times.

Madara Uchiha (Naruto) claims he has achieved complete immortality due to hosting the Shinju, as he regenerated form his torso being blown apart. Only when the tailed beasts were all pulled out of him did he die.

Kaguya tsutsuki (Naruto) is immortal, in that she has tremendous regenerative powers, and that the only way to defeat her is to seal her person away by splitting her chakra into the nine tailed beasts.

Gemma Himuro (Ninja Scroll) putting his severed body parts back together, even his head is possible, rendering him immortal.

Due to her race, Jibril (No Game No Life) has reached 6407 years of age, she also has incredibly vast knowledge and high magical abilities, in two words; she gathers many old and new knowledge, in other words; she can no longer age or die.

Yume Hasegawa (Pupa) is an immortal monster incarnated into human form, possessing regenerative abilities that rendered her very difficult to kill.

Utsutsu Hasegawa (Pupa) has been fed the flesh of her immortal “sister”, giving him tremendous regenerative powers that made him more or less immortal.

Rin Asogi (RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~) is immortal, due to a magic spore from Yggdrasil.

Free (Soul Eater) is a werewolf from the Immortal Clan, and therefore, immortal. He can only be harmed and killed by the “Witch-Hunt”.

Koj Akatsuki (Strike the Blood) is revealed to be immortal, even by vampire standards after regenerating from complete decapitation.

Tta Konoe (UQ Holder) cannot regrow limbs unless they are completely destroyed, but otherwise is immortal and can reattach any of it, including his head.

Karin Yki (UQ Holder) has one of the highest ranked forms of immortality, stating that she’s “not permitted to get hurt or die”.

Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) stated that his regenerative powers enables him from dying. This prevented him from dying from Kurama’s torturous Sinning Tree.

The Pillar Men (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part II Battle Tendency)

Dio Brando (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure) become a vampire and gain immortality by using the Stone Mask.

Through the unknown power of his Stand or since merging with DIO’s flesh bud, Nijimura’s Father (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part IV Diamonds Are Unbreakable) is effectively immortal and possess extraordinary healing capabilities.

The Stone Mask (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Parts I Phantom Blood and II Battle Tendency).

Setsuna F. Seiei (Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie – A wakening of the Trailblazer)

Read this article:

Immortality | Superpower Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Immortality | Superpower Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Teitoku Kakine (A Certain Magical Index) achieved a form of immortality by creating a human tissues (and a new body) out of his Dark Matter.

Ladylee (A Certain Magical Index) is an immortal, in that when she grew weary of living, she sought to use powerful magic to kill her, which did not work.

Tenzen Yakushiji (Basilisk) having his symbiote “eat” away his wounds and restoring any ravages of time or battle, even reattaching his head by sealing the cut.

10 years after Tenzen’s death, Joujin (Basilisk) gained the symbiote that was Tenzen’s spirit, “eating” away any wounds aging the same way Tenzen’s symbiote did.

Skull Knight (Berserk) is the mysterious 1,000 year old enemy of the God Hand and Apostles.

Nosferatu Zodd (Berserk), the 300 year old “God of the Battlefields and Combat”.

Wyald (Berserk), the 100 year old leader of the Black Dog Knights.

Behelits (Berserk) are stone fetishes of unknown supernatural origin said to govern the fate of humanity. They are used primarily for summoning the angels of the God Hand, at which point their owners are granted a wish in exchange for a sacrifice.

Creed Diskenth (Black Cat) possesses the God’s Breath nano-machines within his body, regenerating even fatal wounds in seconds and maintaining his youth, thus granting him immortality aside from any brain damage being irreparable.

Ssuke Aizen (Bleach) gained immortality after fusing with the Hgyoku.

C.C (Code Geass) is immortal.

V.V (Code Geass) is immortal.

Due to the contradiction caused by the fusion of the absolutely immortal Zamasu and the mortal Goku Black, Merged Zamasu (Dragon Ball) has imperfect immortality.

Zeref (Fairy Tail) was cursed by Ankhseram with his contradiction curse which gives him uncontrollable Death Magic and Immortality.

Kager (Flame of Recca) using a forbidden spell that opens a time portal, but it traps her outside of space-time, rendering her completely immortal.

The Truth (Fullmetal Alchemist) is invincible, immortal and invulnerable.

Utsuro (Gintama) possesses immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Earth to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases.

Kouka (Gintama) possessed immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Kouan to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases. However, when she left the planet for good, she weakened overtime and died.

China (Hetalia) is the only nation stated to be truly immortal.

Yta (Mermaid Saga) is a 500 years old immortal since unwittingly eating mermaid’s flesh.

Mana (Mermaid Saga) is a 15 years old immortal since being fed mermaid’s flesh.

Masato (Mermaid Saga) is an 800 years old immortal since eating mermaid’s flesh.

Ban, the Undead (Nanatsu no Taizai) acquired immortality after drinking the Fountain of Youth.

Meliodas (Nanatsu no Taizai) was cursed with the immortality by the Demon King.

Orochimaru (Naruto) considers himself immortal with his Living Corpse Reincarnation to transfer his soul to another body and his Cursed Seals as anchors of his conscious.

Hidan’s (Naruto) main advantage is his inability to die by physical damage, though he is vulnerable to death by lack of nutrient.

Kakuzu (Naruto) attained a form of immortality (though he denies to think of it as such) by tearing hearts out of others and integrating them into himself, extending his lifespan. He kept five inside him at all times.

Madara Uchiha (Naruto) claims he has achieved complete immortality due to hosting the Shinju, as he regenerated form his torso being blown apart. Only when the tailed beasts were all pulled out of him did he die.

Kaguya tsutsuki (Naruto) is immortal, in that she has tremendous regenerative powers, and that the only way to defeat her is to seal her person away by splitting her chakra into the nine tailed beasts.

Gemma Himuro (Ninja Scroll) putting his severed body parts back together, even his head is possible, rendering him immortal.

Due to her race, Jibril (No Game No Life) has reached 6407 years of age, she also has incredibly vast knowledge and high magical abilities, in two words; she gathers many old and new knowledge, in other words; she can no longer age or die.

Yume Hasegawa (Pupa) is an immortal monster incarnated into human form, possessing regenerative abilities that rendered her very difficult to kill.

Utsutsu Hasegawa (Pupa) has been fed the flesh of her immortal “sister”, giving him tremendous regenerative powers that made him more or less immortal.

Rin Asogi (RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~) is immortal, due to a magic spore from Yggdrasil.

Free (Soul Eater) is a werewolf from the Immortal Clan, and therefore, immortal. He can only be harmed and killed by the “Witch-Hunt”.

Koj Akatsuki (Strike the Blood) is revealed to be immortal, even by vampire standards after regenerating from complete decapitation.

Tta Konoe (UQ Holder) cannot regrow limbs unless they are completely destroyed, but otherwise is immortal and can reattach any of it, including his head.

Karin Yki (UQ Holder) has one of the highest ranked forms of immortality, stating that she’s “not permitted to get hurt or die”.

Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) stated that his regenerative powers enables him from dying. This prevented him from dying from Kurama’s torturous Sinning Tree.

The Pillar Men (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part II Battle Tendency)

Dio Brando (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure) become a vampire and gain immortality by using the Stone Mask.

Through the unknown power of his Stand or since merging with DIO’s flesh bud, Nijimura’s Father (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part IV Diamonds Are Unbreakable) is effectively immortal and possess extraordinary healing capabilities.

The Stone Mask (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Parts I Phantom Blood and II Battle Tendency).

Setsuna F. Seiei (Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie – A wakening of the Trailblazer)

See the article here:

Immortality | Superpower Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Ode: Intimations of Immortality – Wikipedia

“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” (also known as “Ode”, “Immortality Ode” or “Great Ode”) is a poem by William Wordsworth, completed in 1804 and published in Poems, in Two Volumes (1807). The poem was completed in two parts, with the first four stanzas written among a series of poems composed in 1802 about childhood. The first part of the poem was completed on 27 March 1802 and a copy was provided to Wordsworth’s friend and fellow poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who responded with his own poem, “Dejection: An Ode”, in April. The fourth stanza of the ode ends with a question, and Wordsworth was finally able to answer it with seven additional stanzas completed in early 1804. It was first printed as “Ode” in 1807, and it was not until 1815 that it was edited and reworked to the version that is currently known, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”.

The poem is an irregular Pindaric ode in 11 stanzas that combines aspects of Coleridge’s Conversation poems, the religious sentiments of the Bible and the works of Saint Augustine, and aspects of the elegiac and apocalyptic traditions. It is split into three movements: the first four stanzas discuss death, and the loss of youth and innocence; the second four stanzas describes how age causes man to lose sight of the divine, and the final three stanzas express hope that the memory of the divine allow us to sympathise with our fellow man. The poem relies on the concept of pre-existence, the idea that the soul existed before the body, to connect children with the ability to witness the divine within nature. As children mature, they become more worldly and lose this divine vision, and the ode reveals Wordsworth’s understanding of psychological development that is also found in his poems The Prelude and Tintern Abbey. Wordsworth’s praise of the child as the “best philosopher” was criticised by Coleridge and became the source of later critical discussion.

Modern critics sometimes have referred to Wordsworth’s poem as the “Great Ode”[1][2] and ranked it among his best poems,[3] but this wasn’t always the case. Contemporary reviews of the poem were mixed, with many reviewers attacking the work or, like Lord Byron, dismissing the work without analysis. The critics felt that Wordsworth’s subject matter was too “low” and some felt that the emphasis on childhood was misplaced. Among the Romantic poets, most praised various aspects of the poem however. By the Victorian period, most reviews of the ode were positive with only John Ruskin taking a strong negative stance against the poem. The poem continued to be well received into the 20th century, with few exceptions. The majority ranked it as one of Wordsworth’s greatest poems.

A divine morning at Breakfast Wm wrote part of an ode Mr Olliff sent the Dung & Wm went to work in the garden we sate all day in the Orchard.

In 1802, Wordsworth wrote many poems that dealt with his youth. These poems were partly inspired by his conversations with his sister, Dorothy, whom he was living with in the Lake District at the time. The poems, beginning with “The Butterfly” and ending with “To the Cuckoo”, were all based on Wordsworth’s recalling both the sensory and emotional experience of his childhood. From “To the Cuckoo”, he moved on to “The Rainbow”, both written on 26 March 1802, and then on to “Ode: Intimation of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”. As he moved from poem to poem, he began to question why, as a child, he once was able to see an immortal presence within nature but as an adult that was fading away except in the few moments he was able to meditate on experiences found in poems like “To the Cuckoo”. While sitting at breakfast on 27 March, he began to compose the ode. He was able to write four stanzas that put forth the question about the faded image and ended, “Where is it now, the glory and the dream?” The poem would remain in its smaller, four-stanza version until 1804.[5]

The short version of the ode was possibly finished in one day because Wordsworth left the next day to spend time with Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Keswick.[6] Close to the time Wordsworth and Coleridge climbed the Skiddaw mountain, 3 April 1802, Wordsworth recited the four stanzas of the ode that were completed. The poem impressed Coleridge,[7] and, while with Wordsworth, he was able to provide his response to the ode’s question within an early draft of his poem, “Dejection: An Ode”.[8] In early 1804, Wordsworth was able to return his attention to working on the ode. It was a busy beginning of the year with Wordsworth having to help Dorothy recover from an illness in addition to writing his poems. The exact time of composition is unknown, but it probably followed his work on The Prelude, which consumed much of February and was finished on 17 March. Many of the lines of the ode are similar to the lines of The Prelude Book V, and he used the rest of the ode to try to answer the question at the end of the fourth stanza.[9]

The poem was first printed in full for Wordsworth’s 1807 collection of poems, Poems, in Two Volumes, under the title “Ode”.[10] It was the last poem of the second volume of the work,[11] and it had its own title page separating it from the rest of the poems, including the previous poem “Peele Castle”. Wordsworth added an epigraph just before publication, “paul majora canamus”. The Latin phrase is from Virgil’s Eclogue 4, meaning “let us sing a somewhat loftier song”.[12] The poem was reprinted under its full title “Ode: Intimation of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” for Wordsworth’s collection Poems (1815). The reprinted version also contained an epigraph that, according to Henry Crabb Robinson, was added at Crabb’s suggestion.[10] The epigraph was from “My Heart Leaps Up”.[13] In 1820, Wordsworth issued The Miscellaneous Poems of William Wordsworth that collected the poems he wished to be preserved with an emphasis on ordering the poems, revising the text, and including prose that would provide the theory behind the text. The ode was the final poem of the fourth and final book, and it had its own title-page, suggesting that it was intended as the poem that would serve to represent the completion of his poetic abilities. The 1820 version also had some revisions,[14] including the removal of lines 140 and 141.[15]

The poem uses an irregular form of the Pindaric ode in 11 stanzas. The lengths of the lines and of the stanzas vary throughout the text, and the poem begins with an iambic meter. The irregularities increase throughout the poem and Stanza IX lacks a regular form before being replaced with a march-like meter in the final two stanzas. The poem also contains multiple enjambments and there is a use of an ABAB rhyme scheme that gives the poem a singsong quality. By the end of the poem, the rhymes start to become as irregular in a similar way to the meter, and the irregular Stanza IX closes with an iambic couplet. The purpose of the change in rhythm, rhyme, and style is to match the emotions expressed in the poem as it develops from idea to idea. The narration of the poem is in the style of an interior monologue,[16] and there are many aspects of the poem that connects it to Coleridge’s style of poetry called “Conversation poems”, especially the poem’s reliance on a one sided discussion that expects a response that never comes.[17] There is also a more traditional original of the discussion style of the poem, as many of the prophetic aspects of the poem are related to the Old Testament of the Bible.[18] Additionally, the reflective and questioning aspects are similar to the Psalms and the works of Saint Augustine, and the ode contains what is reminiscent of Hebrew prayer.[19]

In terms of genre, the poem is an ode, which makes it a poem that is both prayer and contains a celebration of its subject. However, this celebration is mixed with questioning and this hinders the continuity of the poem.[20] The poem is also related to the elegy in that it mourns the loss of childhood vision,[21] and the title page of the 1807 edition emphasises the influence of Virgil’s Eclogue 4.[22] Wordsworth’s use of the elegy, in his poems including the “Lucy” poems, parts of The Excursion, and others, focus on individuals that protect themselves from a sense of loss by turning to nature or time. He also rejects any kind of fantasy that would take him away from reality while accepting both death and the loss of his own abilities to time while mourning over the loss.[23] However, the elegy is traditionally a private poem while Wordsworth’s ode is more public in nature.[24] The poem is also related to the genre of apocalyptic writing in that it focuses on what is seen or the lack of sight. Such poems emphasise the optical sense and were common to many poems written by the Romantic poets, including his own poem The Ruined Cottage, Coleridge’s “Dejection: An Ode” and Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” and “The Zucca”.[25]

The ode contains 11 stanzas split into three movements. The first movement is four stanzas long and discusses the narrator’s inability to see the divine glory of nature, the problem of the poem. The second movement is four stanzas long and has a negative response to the problem. The third movement is three stanzas long and contains a positive response to the problem.[26] The ode begins by contrasting the narrator’s view of the world as a child and as a man, with what was once a life interconnected to the divine fading away:[27]

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,The earth, and every common sight,To me did seemApparelled in celestial light,The glory and the freshness of a dream.It is not now as it hath been of yore;Turn wheresoe’er I may,By night or day,The things which I have seen I now can see no more. (lines 19)

In the second and third stanzas, the narrator continues by describing his surroundings and various aspects of nature that he is no longer able to feel. He feels as if he is separated from the rest of nature until he experiences a moment that brings about feelings of joy that are able to overcome his despair:[28]

To me alone there came a thought of grief:A timely utterance gave that thought relief,And I again am strong:The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;No more shall grief of mine the season wrong; (lines 2226)

The joy in stanza III slowly fades again in stanza IV as the narrator feels like there is “something that is gone”.[28] As the stanza ends, the narrator asks two different questions to end the first movement of the poem. Though they appear to be similar, one asks where the visions are now (“Where is it now”) while the other doesn’t (“Whither is fled”), and they leave open the possibility that the visions could return:[29]

A single Field which I have looked upon,Both of them speak of something that is gone:The Pansy at my feetDoth the same tale repeat:Whither is fled the visionary gleam?Where is it now, the glory and the dream? (lines 5257)

The second movement begins in stanza V by answering the question of stanza IV by describing a Platonic system of pre-existence. The narrator explains how humans start in an ideal world that slowly fades into a shadowy life:[28]

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,Hath had elsewhere its setting,And cometh from afar:Not in entire forgetfulness,And not in utter nakedness,But trailing clouds of glory do we comeFrom God, who is our home:Heaven lies about us in our infancy!Shades of the prison-house begin to closeUpon the growing Boy,But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,He sees it in his joy; (lines 5870)

Before the light fades away as the child matures, the narrator emphasises the greatness of the child experiencing the feelings. By the beginning of stanza VIII, the child is described as a great individual,[30] and the stanza is written in the form of a prayer that praises the attributes of children:[31]

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belieThy Soul’s immensity;Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keepThy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,Haunted for ever by the eternal mind, Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!On whom those truths do rest,Which we are toiling all our lives to find,In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave; (lines 108117)

The end of stanza VIII brings about the end of a second movement within the poem. The glories of nature are only described as existing in the past, and the child’s understanding of morality is already causing them to lose what they once had:[29]

Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,And custom lie upon thee with a weight,Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life! (lines 129131)

The questions in Stanza IV are answered with words of despair in the second movement, but the third movement is filled with joy.[26] Stanza IX contains a mixture of affirmation of life and faith as it seemingly avoids discussing what is lost.[30] The stanza describes how a child is able to see what others do not see because children do not comprehend mortality, and the imagination allows an adult to intimate immortality and bond with his fellow man:[32]

Hence in a season of calm weatherThough inland far we be,Our Souls have sight of that immortal seaWhich brought us hither,Can in a moment travel thither,And see the Children sport upon the shore,And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore. (lines 164170)

The children on the shore represents the adult narrator’s recollection of childhood, and the recollection allows for an intimation of returning to that mental state. In stanza XI, the imagination allows one to know that there are limits to the world, but it also allows for a return to a state of sympathy with the world lacking any questions or concerns:[33]

The Clouds that gather round the setting sunDo take a sober colouring from an eyeThat hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;Another race hath been, and other palms are won. (lines 199202)

The poem concludes with an affirmation that, though changed by time, the narrator is able to be the same person he once was:[34]

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,To me the meanest flower that blows can giveThoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. (lines 203206)

The first version of the ode is similar to many of Wordsworth’s spring 1802 poems. The ode is like To the Cuckoo in that both poems discuss aspects of nature common to the end of spring. Both poems were not crafted at times that the natural imagery could take place, so Wordsworth had to rely on his imagination to determine the scene. Wordsworth refers to “A timely utterance” in the third stanza, possibly the same event found in his The Rainbow, and the ode contains feelings of regret that the experience must end. This regret is joined with feelings of uneasiness that he no longer feels the same way he did as a boy. The ode reflects Wordsworth’s darker feelings that he could no longer return to a peaceful state with nature. This gloomy feeling is also present in The Ruined Cottage and in Tintern Abbey.[35] Of the other 1802 poems, the ode is different from his Resolution and Independence, a poem that describes the qualities needed to become a great poet. The poem argued that a poet should not be excessive or irresponsible in behaviour and contains a sense of assurance that is not found within the original four stanzas. Instead, there is a search for such a feeling but the poem ends without certainty, which relates the ode to Coleridge’s poem Dejection: An Ode.[36] When read together, Coleridge’s and Wordsworth’s poem form a dialogue with an emphasis on the poet’s relationship with nature and humanity. However, Wordsworth’s original four stanzas describing a loss is made darker in Coleridge and, to Coleridge, only humanity and love are able to help the poet.[37]

While with Wordsworth, Coleridge was able to read the poem and provide his response to the ode’s question within an early draft of his poem, Dejection: an Ode. Coleridge’s answer was to claim that the glory was the soul and it is a subjective answer to the question. Wordsworth took a different path as he sought to answer the poem, which was to declare that childhood contained the remnants of a beatific state and that being able to experience the beauty that remained later was something to be thankful for. The difference between the two could be attributed to the differences in the poets’ childhood experiences; Coleridge suffered from various pain in his youth whereas Wordsworth’s was far more pleasant. It is possible that Coleridge’s earlier poem, The Mad Monk (1800) influenced the opening of the ode and that discussions between Dorothy and Wordsworth about Coleridge’s childhood and painful life were influences on the crafting of the opening stanza of the poem.[38] However, the message in the ode, as with Tintern Abbey, describes the pain and suffering of life as able to dull the memory of early joy from nature but it is unable to completely destroy it.[39] The suffering leads Wordsworth to recognise what is soothing in nature, and he credits the pain as leading to a philosophical understanding of the world.[40]

The poem is similar to the conversation poems created by Coleridge, including Dejection: An Ode. The poems were not real conversations as there is no response to the narrator of the poem, but they are written as if there would be a response. The poems seek to have a response, though it never comes, and the possibility of such a voice though absence is a type of prosopopoeia. In general, Coleridge’s poems discuss the cosmic as they long for a response, and it is this aspect, not a possible object of the conversation, that forms the power of the poem. Wordsworth took up the form in both Tintern Abbey and Ode: Intimations of Immortality, but he lacks the generous treatment of the narrator as found in Coleridge’s poems. As a whole, Wordsworth’s technique is impersonal and more logical, and the narrator is placed in the same position as the object of the conversation. The narrator of Wordsworth is more self-interested and any object beyond the narrator is kept without a possible voice and is turned into a second self of the poet. As such, the conversation has one of the participants lose his identity for the sake of the other and that individual represents loss and mortality.[41]

The expanded portion of the ode is related to the ideas expressed in Wordsworth’s The Prelude Book V in their emphasis on childhood memories and a connection between the divine and humanity. To Wordsworth, the soul was created by the divine and was able to recognise the light in the world. As a person ages, they are no longer able to see the light, but they can still recognise the beauty in the world.[42] He elaborated on this belief in a note to the text: “Archimedes said that he could move the world if he had a point whereon to rest his machine. Who has not felt the same aspirations as regards the world of his own mind? Having to wield some of its elements when I was impelled to write this poem on the “Immortality of the Soul”, I took hold of the notion of pre-existence as having sufficient foundation in humanity for authorising me to make for my purpose the best use I could of it as a Poet.”[43] This “notion of pre-existence” is somewhat Platonic in nature, and it is the basis for Wordsworth believing that children are able to be the “best philosopher”.[44] The idea was not intended as a type of metempsychosis, the reincarnation of the soul from person to person, and Wordsworth later explained that the poem was not meant to be regarded as a complete philosophical view: “In my Ode… I do not profess to give a literal representation of the state of the affections and of the moral being in childhood. I record my feelings at that time,–my absolute spirituality, my ‘all-soulness,’ if I may so speak. At that time I could not believe that I should lie down quietly in the grave, and that my body would moulder into dust.”[45]

Wordsworth’s explanation of the origin of the poem suggests that it was inspiration and passion that led to the ode’s composition, and he later said that the poem was to deal with the loss of sensations and a desire to overcome the natural process of death. As for the specific passages in the poem that answer the question of the early version, two of the stanzas describe what it is like to be a child in a similar manner to his earlier poem, “To Hartley Coleridge, Six Years Old” dedicated to Coleridge’s son. In the previous poem, the subject was Hartley’s inability to understand death as an end to life or a separation. In the ode, the child is Wordsworth and, like Hartley or the girl described in “We are Seven”, he too was unable to understand death and that inability is transformed into a metaphor for childish feelings. The later stanzas also deal with personal feelings but emphasise Wordsworth’s appreciation for being able to experience the spiritual parts of the world and a desire to know what remains after the passion of childhood sensations are gone.[46] This emphasis of the self places mankind in the position of the object of prayer, possibly replacing a celebration of Christ’s birth with a celebration of his own as the poem describes mankind coming from the eternal down to earth. Although this emphasis seems non-Christian, many of the poem’s images are Judeo-Christian in origin.[47] Additionally, the Platonic theory of pre-existence is related to the Christian understanding of the Incarnation, which is a connection that Shelley drops when he reuses many of Wordsworth’s ideas in The Triumph of Life.[48]

The idea of pre-existence within the poem contains only a limited theological component, and Wordsworth later believed that the concept was “far too shadowy a notion to be recommended to faith.”[49] In 1989, Gene Ruoff argued that the idea was connected to Christian theology in that the Christian theorist Origen adopted the belief and relied on it in the development of Christian doctrine. What is missing in Origen’s platonic system is Wordsworth’s emphasis on childhood, which could be found in the beliefs of the Cambridge Platonists and their works, including Henry Vaughan’s “The Retreate”.[50] Even if the idea is not Christian, it still cannot be said that the poem lacks a theological component because the poem incorporates spiritual images of natural scenes found in childhood.[51] Among those natural scenes, the narrator includes a Hebrew prayer-like praise of God for the restoration of the soul to the body in the morning and the attributing of God’s blessing to the various animals he sees. What concerns the narrator is that he is not being renewed like the animals and he is fearful over what he is missing. This is similar to a fear that is provided at the beginning of The Prelude and in Tintern Abbey. As for the understanding of the soul contained within the poem, Wordsworth is more than Platonic in that he holds an Augustinian concept of mercy that leads to the progress of the soul. Wordsworth differs from Augustine in that Wordsworth seeks in the poem to separate himself from the theory of solipsism, the belief that nothing exists outside of the mind. The soul, over time, exists in a world filled with the sublime before moving to the natural world, and the man moves from an egocentric world to a world with nature and then to a world with mankind. This system links nature with a renewal of the self.[52]

Ode: Intimations of Immortality is about childhood, but the poem doesn’t completely focus on childhood or what was lost from childhood. Instead, the ode, like The Prelude and Tintern Abbey, places an emphasis on how an adult develops from a child and how being absorbed in nature inspires a deeper connection to humanity.[53] The ode focuses not on Dorothy or on Wordsworth’s love, Mary Hutchinson, but on himself and is part of what is called his “egotistical sublime”.[54] Of his childhood, Wordsworth told Catherine Clarkson in an 1815 letter that the poem “rests entirely upon two recollections of childhood, one that of a splendour in the objects of sense which is passed away, and the other an indisposition to bend to the law of death as applying to our particular case…. A Reader who has not a vivid recollection of these feelings having existed in his mind in childhood cannot understand the poem.”[55] Childhood, therefore, becomes a means to exploring memory, and the imagination, as Wordsworth claims in the letter, is connected to man’s understanding of immortality. In a letter to Isabella Fenwick, he explained his particular feelings about immortality that he held when young:[56] “I was often unable to think of external things as having external existence, and I communed with all that I saw as something not apart from, but inherent in, my own immaterial nature.”[57] These feelings were influenced by Wordsworth’s own experience of loss, including the death of his parents, and may have isolated him from society if the feelings did not ease as he matured.[58]

Like the two other poems, The Prelude and Tintern Abbey, the ode discusses Wordsworth’s understanding of his own psychological development, but it is not a scientific study of the subject. He believed that it is difficult to understand the soul and emphasises the psychological basis of his visionary abilities, an idea found in the ode but in the form of a lamentation for the loss of vision. To Wordsworth, vision is found in childhood but is lost later, and there are three types of people that lose their vision. The first are men corrupted through either an apathetic view of the visions or through meanness of mind. The second are the “common” people who lose their vision as a natural part of ageing. The last, the gifted, lose parts of their vision, and all three retain at least a limited ability to experience visions. Wordsworth sets up multiple stages, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and maturity as times of development but there is no real boundary between each stage. To Wordsworth, infancy is when the “poetic spirit”, the ability to experience visions, is first developed and is based on the infant learning about the world and bonding to nature. As the child goes through adolescence, he continues to bond with nature and this is slowly replaced by a love for humanity, a concept known as “One Life”. This leads to the individual despairing and only being able to resist despair through imagination.[59] When describing the stages of human life, one of the images Wordsworth relies on to describe the negative aspects of development is a theatre stage, the Latin idea of theatrum mundi. The idea allows the narrator to claim that people are weighed down by the roles they play over time. The narrator is also able to claim through the metaphor that people are disconnected from reality and see life as if in a dream.[60]

Wordsworth returns to the ideas found within the complete ode many times in his later works. There is also a strong connection between the ode and Wordsworth’s Ode to Duty, completed at the same time in 1804. The poems describe Wordsworth’s assessment of his poetry and contains reflections on conversations held between Wordsworth and Coleridge on poetry and philosophy. The basis of the Ode to Duty states that love and happiness are important to life, but there is something else necessary to connect an individual to nature, affirming the narrator’s loyalty to a benevolent divine presence in the world. However, Wordsworth was never satisfied with the result of Ode to Duty as he was with Ode: Intimations of Immortality.[61] In terms of use of light as a central image, the ode is related to Peele Castle, but the light in the latter poem is seen as an illusion and stands in opposition to the ode’s ideas.[62] In an 1809 essay as part of his Essays upon Epitaphs for Coleridge’s journal, The Friend, Wordsworth argued that people have intimations that there is an immortal aspect of their life and that without such feelings that joy could not be felt in the world. The argument and the ideas are similar to many of the statements in the ode along with those in The Prelude, Tintern Abbey, and “We Are Seven”. He would also return directly to the ode in his 1817 poem Composed upon an Evening of Extraordinary Splendor and Beauty where he evaluates his own evolving life and poetic works while discussing the loss of an early vision of the world’s joys. In the Ode: Intimations of Immortality, Wordsworth concluded that he gives thanks that was able to gain even though he lost his vision of the joy in the world, but in the later work he tones down his emphasis on the gain and provides only a muted thanks for what remains of his ability to see the glory in the world.[63]

Wordsworth’s ode is a poem that describes how suffering allows for growth and an understanding of nature,[40] and this belief influenced the poetry of other Romantic poets. Wordsworth followed a Virgilian idea called lachrimae rerum, which means that “life is growth” but it implies that there is also loss within life. To Wordsworth, the loss brought about enough to make up for what was taken. Shelley, in his Prometheus Unbound, describes a reality that would be the best that could be developed but always has the suffering, death, and change. John Keats developed an idea called “the Burden of the Mystery” that emphasizes the importance of suffering in the development of man and necessary for maturation.[64] However, Coleridge’s Dejection: An Ode describes the loss of his own poetic ability as he aged and mourned what time took. In Coleridge’s theory, his poetic abilities were the basis for happiness and without them there would only be misery.[65] In addition to views on suffering, Shelley relies on Wordsworth’s idea of pre-existence in The Triumph of Life,[48] and Keats relies on Wordsworth’s interrogative technique in many of his poems, but he discards the egocentric aspects of the questions.[66]

The ode praises children for being the “best Philosopher” (“lover of truth”) because they live in truth and have prophetic abilities.[31] This claim bothers Coleridge and he writes, in Biographia Literaria, that Wordsworth was trying to be a prophet in an area that he could have no claim to prophecy.[67] In his analysis of the poem, Coleridge breaks down many aspects of Wordsworth’s claims and asks, “In what sense can the magnificent attributes, above quoted, be appropriated to a child, which would not make them equally suitable to a be, or a dog, or a field of corn: or even to a ship, or to the wind and waves that propel it? The omnipresent Spirit works equally in them, as in the child; and the child is equally unconscious of it as they.”[68] The knowledge of nature that Wordsworth thinks is wonderful in children, Coleridge feels is absurd in Wordsworth since a poet couldn’t know how to make sense of a child’s ability to sense the divine any more than the child with a limited understanding could know of the world.[69] I. A. Richards, in his work Coleridge on Imagination (1934), responds to Coleridge’s claims by asking, “Why should Wordsworth deny that, in a much less degree, these attributes are equally suitable to a bee, or a dog, or a field of corn?”[70]

Later, Cleanth Brooks reanalyzes the argument to point out that Wordsworth would include the animals among the children. He also explains that the child is the “best philosopher” because of his understanding of the “eternal deep”, which comes from enjoying the world through play: “They are playing with their little spades and sand-buckets along the beach on which the waves break.”[71] In 1992, Susan Eilenberg returned to the dispute and defended Coleridge’s analysis by explaining that “It exhibits the workings of the ambivalence Coleridge feels toward the character of Wordsworth’s poetry; only now, confronting greater poetry, his uneasiness is greater… If Wordsworth’s weakness is incongruity, his strength is propriety. That Coleridge should tell us this at such length tells as much about Coleridge as about Wordsworth: reading the second volume of the Biographia, we learn not only Wordsworth’s strong and weak points but also the qualities that most interest Coleridge.”[72]

The Ode: Intimations of Immortality is the most celebrated poem published in Wordsworth’s Poems in Two Volumes collection. While modern critics believe that the poems published in Wordsworth’s 1807 collection represented a productive and good period of his career, contemporary reviewers were split on the matter and many negative reviews cast doubts on his circle of poets known as the Lake Poets. Negative reviews were found in the Critical Review, Le Beau Monde and Literary Annual Register.[73] George Gordon Byron, a fellow Romantic poet but not an associate of Wordsworth’s, responded to Poems in Two Volumes, in a 3 July 1807 Monthly Literary Recreations review, with a claim that the collection lacked the quality found in Lyrical Ballads.[74] When referring to Ode: Intimations of Immortality, he dismissed the poem as Wordsworth’s “innocent odes” without providing any in-depth response, stating only: “On the whole, however, with the exception of the above, and other innocent odes of the same cast, we think these volumes display a genius worthy of higher pursuits, and regret that Mr. W. confines his muse to such trifling subjects… Many, with inferior abilities, have acquired a loftier seat on Parnassus, merely by attempting strains in which Mr. W. is more qualified to excel.”[75] The poem was received negatively but for a different reason from Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s friend Robert Southey, also a Romantic poet. Southey, in an 8 December 1807 letter to Walter Scott, wrote, “There are certainly some pieces there which are good for nothing… and very many which it was highly injudicious to publish…. The Ode upon Pre-existence is a dark subject darkly handled. Coleridge is the only man who could make such a subject luminous.”[76]

Francis Jeffrey, a Whig lawyer and editor of the Edinburgh Review, originally favoured Wordsworth’s poetry following the publication of Lyrical Ballads in 1798 but turned against the poet from 1802 onward. In response to Wordsworth’s 1807 collection of poetry, Jeffrey contributed an anonymous review to the October 1807 Edinburgh Review that condemned Wordsworth’s poetry again.[77] In particular, he declared the ode “beyond all doubt, the most illegible and unintelligible part of the publication. We can pretend to give no analysis or explanation of it;– our readers must make what they can of the following extracts.”[78] After quoting the passage, he argues that he has provided enough information for people to judge if Wordsworth’s new school of poetry should be replace the previous system of poetry: “If we were to stop here, we do not think that Mr Wordsworth, or his admirers, would have any reason to complain; for what we have now quoted is undeniably the most peculiar and characteristic part of his publication, and must be defended and applauded if the merit or originality of his system is to be seriously maintained.[78] In putting forth his own opinion, Jeffrey explains, “In our own opinion, however, the demerit of that system cannot be fairly appretiated, until it be shown, that the author of the bad verses which we have already extracted, can write good verses when he pleases”.[78] Jeffrey later wrote a semi-positive review of the ode, for the 12 April 1808 Edinburgh Review, that praised Wordsworth when he was least Romantic in his poetry. He believed that Wordsworth’s greatest weakness was portraying the low aspects of life in a lofty tone.[74]

Another semi-negative response to the poem followed on 4 January 1808 in the Eclectic Review. The writer, James Montgomery, attacked the 1807 collection of poems for depicting low subjects. When it came to the ode, Montgomery attacked the poem for depicting pre-existence.[74] After quoting the poem with extracts from the whole collection, he claimed, “We need insist no more on the necessity of using, in poetry, a language different from and superior to ‘the real language of men,’ since Mr. Wordsworth himself is so frequently compelled to employ it, for the expression of thoughts which without it would be incommunicable. These volumes are distinguished by the same blemishes and beauties as were found in their predecessors, but in an inverse proportion: the defects of the poet, in this performance, being as much greater than his merits, as they were less in his former publication.”[79] In his conclusion, Montgomery returned to the ode and claimed, that “the reader is turned loose into a wilderness of sublimity, tenderness, bombast, and absurdity, to find out the subject as well as he can… After our preliminary remarks on Mr. Wordsworth’s theory of poetical language, and the quotations which we have given from these and his earlier compositions, it will be unnecessary to offer any further estimate or character of his genius. We shall only add one remark…. Of the pieces now published he has said nothing: most of them seem to have been written for no purpose at all, and certainly to no good one.”[80] In January 1815, Montgomery returned to Wordsworth’s poetry in another review and argues, “Mr. Wordsworth often speaks in ecstatic strains of the pleasure of infancy. If we rightly understand him, he conjectures that the soul comes immediately from a world of pure felicity, when it is born into this troublous scene of care and vicissitude… This brilliant allegory, (for such we must regard it,) is employed to illustrate the mournful truth, that looking back from middle age to the earliest period of remembrance we find, ‘That there hath pass’d away a glory from the earth,’… Such is Life”.[81]

John Taylor Coleridge, nephew to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, submitted an anonymous review for the April 1814 Quarterly Review. Though it was a review of his uncle’s Remorse, he connects the intention and imagery found within Coleridge’s poem to that in Ode: Intimation of Immortality and John Wilson’s “To a Sleeping Child” when saying, “To an extension or rather a modification of this last mentioned principle [obedience to some internal feeling] may perhaps be attributed the beautiful tenet so strongly inculcated by them of the celestial purity of infancy. ‘Heaven lies about us in our infancy,’ says Mr. Wordsworth, in a passage which strikingly exemplifies the power of imaginative poetry”.[82] John Taylor Coleridge returned to Wordsworth’s poetry and the ode in a May 1815 review for the British Critic. In the review, he partially condemns Wordsworth’s emphasis in the ode on children being connected to the divine: “His occasional lapses into childish and trivial allusion may be accounted for, from the same tendency. He is obscure, when he leaves out links in the chain of association, which the reader cannot easily supply… In his descriptions of children this is particularly the case, because of his firm belief in a doctrine, more poetical perhaps, than either philosophical or christian, that ‘Heaven lies about us in our infancy.'”[83]

John Taylor Coleridge continues by explaining the negative aspects of such a concept: “Though the tenderness and beauty resulting from this opinion be to us a rich overpayment for the occasional strainings and refinements of sentiment to which it has given birth, it has yet often served to make the author ridiculous in common eyes, in that it has led him to state his own fairy dreams as the true interpretation and import of the looks and movements of children, as being even really in their minds.”[83] In a February 1821 review for the British Critic, John Taylor Coleridge attacked the poem again for a heretical view found in the notion of pre-existence and how it reappeared in Wordsworth’s poem “On an Extraordinary Evening of Splendour and Beauty”.[84] However, he does claim that the passage of the ode containing the idea is “a passage of exquisite poetry” and that “A more poetical theory of human nature cannot well be devised, and if the subject were one, upon which error was safe, we should forbear to examine it closely, and yield to the delight we have often received from it in the ode from which the last extract [Ode: Intimations of Immortality] is made.”[85] He was to continue: “If, therefore, we had met the doctrine in any poet but Mr. Wordsworth, we should have said nothing; but we believe him to be one not willing to promulgate error, even in poetry, indeed it is manifest that he makes his poetry subservient to his philosophy; and this particular notion is so mixed up by him with others, in which it is impossible to suppose him otherwise than serious; that we are constrained to take it for his real and sober belief.”[85]

In the same year came responses to the ode by two Romantic writers. Leigh Hunt, a second-generation Romantic poet, added notes to his poem Feast of the Poets that respond to the ideas suggested in Wordsworth’s poetry. These ideas include Wordsworth’s promotion of a simple mental state without cravings for knowledge, and it is such an ideas that Hunt wanted to mock in his poem. However, Hunt did not disagree completely with Wordsworth’s sentiments. After quoting the final lines of the Ode: Intimations of Immortality, those that “Wordsworth has beautifully told us, that to him ‘–the meanest flow’r that blows can give/ Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears”, Hunt claims, “I have no doubt of it; and far be it from me to cast stones into the well in which they lie,– to disturb those reposing waters,– that freshness at the bottom of warm hearts,– those thoughts, which if they are too deep for tears, are also, in their best mood, too tranquil even for smiles. Far be it also from me to hinder the communication of such thoughts to mankind, when they are not sunk beyond their proper depth, so as to make one dizzy in looking down to them.”[86] Following Hunt, William Hazlitt, a critic and Romantic writer, wrote a series of essays called “Character of Mr. Wordsworth’s New Poems” in three parts, starting in the 21 August 1814 Examiner. Although Hazlitt treated Wordsworth’s poetry fairly, he was critical of Wordsworth himself and he removed any positive statements about Wordsworth’s person from a reprint of the essays.[87] The 2 October 1814 essay examined poetry as either of imagination or of sentiment, and quotes the final lines of the poem as an example of “The extreme simplicity which some persons have objected to in Mr. Wordsworth’s poetry is to be found only in the subject and style: the sentiments are subtle and profound. In the latter respect, his poetry is as much above the common standard or capacity, as in the other it is below it… We go along with him, while he is the subject of his own narrative, but we take leave of him when he makes pedlars and ploughmen his heroes and the interpreters of his sentiments.”[88]

In 1817 came two more responses by Romantic poets to the ode. Coleridge was impressed by the ode’s themes, rhythm, and structure since he first heard the beginning stanzas in 1802.[89] In an analysis of Wordsworth’s poetry for his work Biographia Literaria (1817), Coleridge described what he considered as both the positives and the defects of the ode. In his argument, he both defended his technique and explained: “Though the instances of this defect in Mr. Wordsworth’s poems are so few, that for themselves it would have been scarce just to attract the reader’s attention toward them; yet I have dwelt on it, and perhaps the more for this very reason. For being so very few, they cannot sensibly detract from the reputation of an author, who is even characterized by the number of profound truths in his writings, which will stand the severest analysis; and yet few as they are, they are exactly those passages which his blind admirers would be most likely, and best able, to imitate.”[90] Of the positives that Coleridge identified within the poem, he placed emphasis on Wordsworth’s choice of grammar and language that established a verbal purity in which the words chosen could not be substituted without destroying the beauty of the poem. Another aspect Coleridge favoured was the poem’s originality of thought and how it contained Wordsworth’s understanding of nature and his own experience. Coleridge also praised the lack of a rigorous structure within the poem and claimed that Wordsworth was able to truly capture the imagination. However, part of Coleridge’s analysis of the poem and of the poet tend to describe his idealised version of positives and negative than an actual concrete object.[91] In the same year, it was claimed by Benjamin Bailey, in a 7 May 1849 letter to R. M. Milnes, that John Keats, one of the second-generation Romantic poets, discussed the poem with him. In his recollection, Bailey said, “The following passage from Wordsworth’s ode on Immortality [lines 140148] was deeply felt by Keats, who however at this time seemed to me to value this great Poet rather in particular passages than in the full length portrait, as it were, of the great imaginative & philosophic Christian Poet, which he really is, & which Keats obviously, not long afterwards, felt him to be.”[92]

Following Coleridge’s response was an anonymous review in the May 1820 Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, possible by either John Lockhart and John Wilson together or just Lockhart on his own. Of Wordsworth’s abilities as a poet in general, the review claimed: “Mr Wordsworth … is entitled to be classed with the very highest names among his predecessors, as a pure and reverent worshipper of the true majest of the English Muse” and that “Of the genius of Mr Wordsworth, in short, it is now in the hands of every man to judge freely and fully, and for himself. Our own opinion, ever since this Journal commenced, has been clearly and entirely before them; and if there be any one person, on whose mind what we have quoted now, is not enough to make an impression similar to that which our own judgment had long before received we have nothing more to say to that person in regard to the subject of poetry.”[93] In discussing the ode in particular, the review characterised the poem as “one of the grandest of his early pieces”.[94] In December 1820 came an article in the New Monthly Magazine titled “On the Genius and Writings of Wordsworth” written by Thomas Noon Talfourd. When discussing the poem, Talfourd declared that the ode “is, to our feelings, the noblest piece of lyric poetry in the world. It was the first poem of its author which we read, and never shall we forget the sensations which it excited within us. We had heard the cold sneers attached to his name… and here in the works of this derided poet we found a new vein of imaginative sentiment open to us sacred recollections brought back to our hearts with all the freshness of novelty, and all the venerableness of far-off time”.[95] When analysing the relationship between infants and the divine within the poem, the article continued: “What a gift did we then inherit! To have the best and most imperishable of intellectual treasures the mighty world of reminiscences of the days of infancy set before us in a new and holier light”.[96]

William Blake, a Romantic poet and artist, thought that Wordsworth was at the same level as the poets Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton. In a diary entry for 27 December 1825, H. C. Robinson recounted a conversation between himself and William Blake shortly before Blake’s death: “I read to him Wordsworth’s incomparable ode, which he heartily enjoyed. But he repeated, ‘I fear Wordsworth loves nature, and nature is the work of the Devil. The Devil is in us as ‘far as we are nature.’… The parts of Wordsworth’s ode which Blake most enjoyed were the most obscureat all events, those which I least like and comprehend.”[97] Following Blake, Chauncy Hare Townshend produced “An Essay on the Theory and the Writings of Wordsworth”for Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in 1829. In the third part, he critiqued Wordsworth’s use of pre-existence within the poem and asked “unless our author means to say that, having existed from all eternity, we are of an eternal and indestructible essence; or, in other words, that being incarnate portion of the Deity… we are as Immortal as himself. But if the poet intends to affirm this, do you not perceive that he frustrates his own aim?”[98] He continued by explaining why he felt that Wordsworth’s concept fell short of any useful purpose: “For if we are of God’s indivisible essence, and receive our separate consciousness from the wall of flesh which, at our birth, was raised between us and the Found of Being, we must, on the dissolution of the body… be again merged in the simple and uncompounded Godhead, lose our individual consciousness… in another sense, become as though we had never been.”[98] He concluded his analysis with a critique of the poem as a whole: “I should say that Wordsworth does not display in it any great clearness of thought, or felicity of language… the ode in question is not so much abstruse in idea as crabbed in expression. There appears to be a laborious toiling after originality, ending in a dismal want of harmony.”[98]

The ode, like others of Wordsworth’s poetry, was favoured by Victorians for its biographical aspects and the way Wordsworth approached feelings of despondency. The American Romantic poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his 1856 work English Traits, claimed that the poem “There are torpid places in his mind, there is something hard and sterile in his poetry, want of grace and variety, want of due catholicity and cosmopolitan scope: he had conformities to English politics and tradition; he had egotistic puerilities in the choice and treatment of his subjects; but let us say of him, that, alone in his time he treated the human mind well, and with an absolute trust. His adherence to his poetic creed rested on real inspirations.”[99] The editor of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, George William Curtis, praised the ode in his December 1859 column “Editor’s Easy Chair” and claimed that “it was Wordsworth who has written one of the greatest English poets… For sustained splendor of imagination, deep, solemn, and progressive thought, and exquisite variety of music, that poem is unsurpassed. Since Milton’s ‘Ode upon the Nativity’ there is nothing so fine, not forgetting Dryden, Pope, Collins, and the rest, who have written odes.”[100]

The philosopher John Stuart Mill liked Wordsworth’s ode and found it influential to the formation of his own thoughts. In his Autobiography (1873), he credited Wordsworth’s poetry as being able to relieve his mind and overcome a sense of apathy towards life. Of the poems, he particularly emphasised both Wordsworth’s 1815 collection of poetry and the Ode: Intimations of Immortality as providing the most help to him, and he specifically said of the ode: “I found that he too had had similar experience to mine; that he also had felt that the first freshness of youthful enjoyment of life was not lasting; but that he had sought for compensation, and found it, in the way in which he was now teaching me to find it. The result was that I gradually, but completely, emerged from my habitual depression, and was never again subject to it.”[101] David Mason followed Mill in an 1875 essay on literature, including Wordsworth’s poetry. After quoting from the ode, Mason claimed of the poem: “These, and hundreds of other passages that might be quoted, show that Wordsworth possessed, in a very high degree indeed, the true primary quality of the poetimagination; a surcharge of personality or vital spirit, perpetually overflowing among the objects of the otherwise conditioned universe, and refashioning them according to its pleasure.”[102]

After Mill, critics focused on the ode’s status among Wordsworth’s other poems. In July 1877, Edward Dowden, in an article for the Contemporary Review, discussed the Transcendental Movement and the nature of the Romantic poets. when referring to Wordsworth and the ode, he claimed: “Wordsworth in his later years lost, as he expresses it, courage, the spring-like hope and confidence which enables a man to advance joyously towards new discovery of truth. But the poet of ‘Tintern Abbey’ and the ‘Ode on Intimations of Immortality’ and the ‘Prelude’ is Wordsworth in his period of highest energy and imaginative light”.[103] Matthew Arnold, in his preface to an 1879 edition of Wordsworth’s poetry, explains that he was a great lover of the poems. However, he explains why he believed that the ode was not one of the best: “I have a warm admiration for Laodameia and for the great Ode; but if I am to tell the very truth, I find Laodameia not wholly free from something artificial, and the great Ode not wholly free from something declamatory.”[104] His concern was over what he saw as the ideas expressed on childhood and maturity: “Even the ‘intimations’ of the famous Ode, those corner-stones of the supposed philosophic system of Wordsworth… has itself not the character of poetic truth of the best kind; it has no real solidity” “to say that universally this instinct is mighty in childhood, and tends to die away afterwards, is to say what is extremely doubtful… In general, we may say of these high instincts of early childhood… what Thucydides says of the early achievements of the Greek race:–‘It is impossible to speak with certainty of what is so remove; but from all that we can really investigate, I should say that they were no very great things.'”[105]

The Victorian critic John Ruskin, towards the end of the 19th century, provided short analyses of various writers in his “Nature and Literature” essays collected in “Art and Life: a Ruskin Anthology”. In speaking of Wordsworth, Ruskin claimed, “Wordsworth is simply a Westmoreland peasant, with considerably less shrewdness than most border Englishmen or Scotsmen inherit; and no sense of humor; but gifted… with vivid sense of natural beauty, and a pretty turn for reflection, not always acute, but, as far as they reach, medicinal to the fever of the restless and corrupted life around him.”[106] After mocking the self-reflective nature of Wordsworth’s poetry, he then declared that the poetry was “Tuneful nevertheless at heart, and of the heavenly choir, I gladly and frankly acknowledge him; and our English literature enriched with a new and singular virtue in the aerial purity and healthful rightness of his quiet song;but aerial onlynot ethereal; and lowly in its privacy of light”. The ode, to Ruskin, becomes a means to deride Wordsworth’s intellect and faith when he claims that Wordsworth was “content with intimations of immortality such as may be in skipping of lambs, and laughter of children-incurious to see in the hands the print of the nails.”[106] Ruskin’s claims were responded to by an article by Richard Hutton in the 7 August 1880 Spectator.[107] The article, “Mr. Ruskin on Wordsworth”, stated, “We should hardly have expected Mr. Ruskina great master of irony though he beto lay his finger so unerringly as he does on the weak point of Wordsworth’s sublime ode on the ‘Intimations of Immortality,’ when he speaks of himquite falsely, by the wayas ‘content with intimations of immortality'”.[108] The article continued with praise of Wordsworth and condemns Ruskin further: “But then, though he shows how little he understands the ode, in speaking of Wordsworth as content with such intimations, he undoubtedly does touch the weak chord in what, but for that weak chord, would be one of the greatest of all monuments of human genius… But any one to whom Wordsworth’s great ode is the very core of that body of poetry which makes up the best part of his imaginative life, will be as much astonished to find Mr. Ruskin speaking of it so blindly and unmeaningly as he does”.[108]

The ode was viewed positively by the end of the century. George Saintsbury, in his A Short History of English Literature (1898), declared the importance and greatness of the ode: “Perhaps twice only, in Tintern Abbey and in the Ode on the Intimations of Immortality, is the full, the perfect Wordsworth, with his half-pantheistic worship of nature, informed and chastened by an intense sense of human conduct, of reverence and almost of humbleness, displayed in the utmost poetic felicity. And these two are accordingly among the great poems of the world. No unfavorable criticism on either and there has been some, new and old, from persons in whom it is surprising, as well as from persons in whom it is natural has hurt them, though it may have hurt the critics. They are, if not in every smallest detail, yet as wholes, invulnerable and imperishable. They could not be better done.”[109]

At the beginning of the 20th century, response to the ode by critics was mostly positive. Andrew Bradley declared in 1909 that “The Immortality Ode, like King Lear, is its author’s greatest product, but not his best piece of work.”[110] When speaking of Grasmere and Wordsworth, Elias Sneath wrote in 1912: “It witnessed the composition of a large number of poems, many of which may be regarded among the finest products of his imagination. Most of them have already been considered. However, one remains which, in the judgment of some critics, more than any other poem of the numerous creations of his genius, entitles him to a seat among the Immortals. This is the celebrated [ode]… It is, in some respects, one of his most important works, whether viewed from the stand point of mere art, or from that of poetic insight.”[111] George Harper, following Sneath in 1916, described the poem in positive terms and said, “Its radiance comes and goes through a shimmering veil. Yet, when we look close, we find nothing unreal or unfinished. This beauty, though supernal, is not evanescent. It bides our return, and whoever comes to seek it as a little child will find it. The imagery, though changing at every turn, is fresh and simple. The language, though connected with thoughts so serious that they impart to it a classic dignity, is natural and for the most part plain…. Nevertheless, a peculiar glamour surrounds the poem. It is the supreme example of what I may venture to term the romance of philosophic thought.”[112]

The 1930s contained criticism that praised the poem, but most critics found fault with particular aspects of the poem. F. R. Leavis, in his Revaluation (1936), argued that “Criticism of Stanza VIII … has been permissible, even correct, since Coleridge’s time. But the empty grandiosity apparent there is merely the local manifestation of a general strain, a general factitiousness. The Ode… belongs to the transition at its critical phase, and contains decided elements of the living.”[113] He continued, “But these do not lessen the dissatisfaction that one feels with the movementthe movement that makes the piece an ode in the Grand Style; for, as one reads, it is in terms of the movement that the strain, the falsity, first asserts itself. The manipulations by which the change of mood are indicated have, by the end of the third stanza, produced an effect that, in protest, one described as rhythmic vulgarity…, and the strain revealed in technique has an obvious significance”.[113] In 1939, Basil Willey argued that the poem was “greatly superior, as poetry, to its psychological counterpart in The Prelude” but also said that “the semi-Platonic machinery of pre-existence… seems intrusive, and foreign to Wordsworth” before concluding that the poem was the “final and definitive expression to the most poignant experience of his poetic life”.[114]

Cleanth Brooks used the Ode: Intimation of Immortality as one of his key works to analyse in his 1947 work The Well Wrought Urn. His analysis broke down the ode as a poem disconnected from its biographical implications and focused on the paradoxes and ironies contained within the language. In introducing his analysis, he claimed that it “may be surmised from what has already been remarked, the ‘Ode’ for all its fine passages, is not entirely successful as a poem. Yet, we shall be able to make our best defense of it in proportion as we recognize and value its use of ambiguous symbol and paradoxical statement. Indeed, it might be maintained that, failing to do this, we shall miss much of its power as poetry and even some of its accuracy of statement.”[115] After breaking down the use of paradox and irony in language, he analyses the statements about the childhood perception of glory in Stanza VI and argued, “This stanza, though not one of the celebrated stanzas of the poem, is one of the most finely ironical. Its structural significance too is of first importance, and has perhaps in the past been given too little weight.”[116] After analysing more of the poem, Brooks points out that the lines in Stanza IX contains lines that “are great poetry. They are great poetry because … the children are not terrified… The children exemplify the attitude toward eternity which the other philosopher, the mature philosopher, wins to with difficulty, if he wins to it at all.”[117] In his conclusion about the poem, he argues, “The greatness of the ‘Ode’ lies in the fact that Wordsworth is about the poet’s business here, and is not trying to inculcate anything. Instead, he is trying to dramatize the changing interrelations which determine the major imagery.”[118] Following Brooks in 1949, C. M. Bowra stated, “There is no need to dispute the honour in which by common consent it [the ode] is held” but he adds “There are passages in the ‘Immortal Ode’ which have less than his usual command of rhythm and ability to make a line stand by itself… But these are unimportant. The whole has a capacious sweep, and the form suits the majestic subject… There are moments when we suspect Wordsworth of trying to say more than he means.[119] Similarly, George Mallarby also revealed some flaws in the poem in his 1950 analysis: “In spite of the doubtful philosophical truth of the doctrine of pre-existence borrowed from Platon, in spite of the curiously placed emphasis and an exuberance of feeling somewhat artificially introduced, in spite of the frustrating and unsatisfying conclusion, this poem will remain, so long as the English language remains, one of its chief and unquestionable glories. It lends itself, more than most English odes, to recitation in the grand manner.”[120]

By the 1960s and 1970s, the reception of the poem was mixed but remained overall positive. Mary Moorman analysed the poem in 1965 with an emphasis on its biographical origins and Wordsworth’s philosophy on the relationship between mankind and nature. When describing the beauty of the poem, she stated, “Wordsworth once spoke of the Ode as ‘this famous, ambitious and occasionally magnificent poem’. Yet it is not so much its magnificence that impresses, as the sense of resplendent yet peaceful light in which it is bathedwhether it is the ‘celestial light’ and ‘glory’ of the first stanza, or the ‘innocent Brightness of a new-born Day’ of the last.”[121] In 1967, Yvor Winters criticised the poem and claimed that “Wordsworth gives us bad oratory about his own clumsy emotions and a landscape that he has never fully realized.”[122] Geoffrey Durrant, in his 1970 analysis of the critical reception of the ode, claimed, “it may be remarked that both the admirers of the Ode, and those who think less well of it, tend to agree that it is unrepresentative, and that its enthusiastic, Dionysian, and mystical vein sets it apart, either on a lonely summit or in a special limbo, from the rest of Wordsworth’s work. And the praise that it has received is at times curiously equivocal.”[123] In 1975, Richard Brantley, labelling the poem as the “great Ode”, claimed that “Wordsworth’s task of tracing spiritual maturity, his account of a grace quite as amazing and perhaps even as Christian as the experience recorded in the spiritual autobiography of his day, is therefore essentially completed”.[1] He continued by using the ode as evidence that the “poetic record of his remaining life gives little evidence of temptations or errors as unsettling as the ones he faced and made in France.”[1] Summarizing the way critics have approached the poem, John Beer claimed in 1978 that the poem “is commonly regarded as the greatest of his shorter works”.[3] Additionally, Beer argued that the ode was the basis for the concepts found in Wordsworth’s later poetry.[124]

Criticism of the ode during the 1980s ranged in emphasis on which aspects of the poem were most important, but critics were mostly positive regardless of their approach. In 1980, Hunter Davies analysed the period of time when Wordsworth worked on the ode and included it as one of the “scores of poems of unarguable genius”,[125] and later declared the poem Wordsworth’s “greatest ode”.[2] Stephen Gill, in a study of the style of the 1802 poems, argued in 1989 that the poems were new and broad in range with the ode containing “impassioned sublimity”.[126] He later compared the ode with Wordsworth’s “Ode to Duty” to declare that “The Ode: Intimations, by contrast, rich in phrases that have entered the language and provided titles for other people’s books, is Wordsworth’s greatest achievement in rhythm and cadence. Together with Tintern Abbey it has always commanded attention as Wordsworth’s strongest meditative poem and Wordsworth indicated his assessment of it by ensuring through the layout and printing of his volumes that the Ode stood apart.”[127] In 1986, Marjorie Levinson searched for a political basis in many of Wordsworth’s poems and argued that the ode, along with “Michael”, Peele Castle, and Tintern Abbey, are “incontestably among the poet’s greatest works”.[128] Susan Wolfson, in the same year, claimed that “the force of the last lines arises from the way the language in which the poet expresses a resolution of grief at the same time renders a metaphor that implies that grief has not been resolved so much as repressed and buried. And this ambiguity involves another, for Wordsworth makes it impossible to decide whether the tension between resolution and repression… is his indirect confession of a failure to achieve transcendence or a knowing evasion of an imperative to do so.”[129] After performing a Freudian-based analysis of the ode, William Galperin, in 1989, argues that “Criticism, in short, cannot accept responsibility for The Excursion’s failings any more than it is likely to attribute the success of the ‘Intimations Ode’ to the satisfaction it offers in seeing a sense of entitlement, or self-worth, defended rather than challenged.”[130]

1990s critics emphasised individual images within the poem along with Wordsworth’s message being the source of the poem’s power. In 1991, John Hayden updated Russell Noyes’s 1971 biography of Wordsworth and began his analysis of the ode by claiming: “Wordsworth’s great ‘Ode on Immortality’ is not easy to follow nor wholly clear. A basic difficulty of interpretation centers upon what the poet means by ‘immortality.'”[131] However, he goes on to declare, “the majority of competent judges acclaim the ‘Ode on Immortality’ as Wordsworth’s most splendid poem. In no other poem are poetic conditions so perfectly fulfilled. There is the right subject, the right imagery to express it, and the right meter and language for both.”[132] Thomas McFarland, when emphasising the use of a river as a standard theme in Wordsworth’s poems, stated in 1992: “Not only do Wordsworth’s greatest statements–‘Tintern Abbey’, ‘The Immortality Ode’, ‘The Ruined Cottage’, ‘Michael’, the first two books of The Prelude–all overlie a streaming infrashape, but Wordsworth, like the other Romantics, seemed virtually hypnotized by the idea of running water.”[133] After analysing the Wordsworth’s incorporation of childhood memories into the ode, G. Kim Blank, in 1995, argued, “It is the recognition and finally the acceptance of his difficult feelings that stand behind and in the greatness and power of the Ode, both as a personal utterance and a universal statement. It is no accident that Wordsworth is here most eloquent. Becoming a whole person is the most powerful statement any of us can ever made. Wordsworth in the Ode here makes it for us.”[134] In 1997, John Mahoney praised the various aspects of the poem while breaking down its rhythm and style. In particular, he emphasised the poem’s full title as “of great importance for all who study the poem carefully” and claimed, “The final stanza is a powerful and peculiarly Wordsworthian valediction.”[135]

In the 21st century, the poem was viewed as Wordsworth’s best work. Adam Sisman, in 2007, claimed the poem as “one of [Wordsworth’s] greatest works”.[136] Following in 2008, Paul Fry argued, “Most readers agree that the Platonism of the Intimations Ode is foreign to Wordsworth, and express uneasiness that his most famous poem, the one he always accorded its special place in arranging his successive editions, is also so idiosyncratic.”[137] He continued, “As Simplon and Snowdon also suggest, it was a matter of achieving heights (not the depth of ‘Tintern Abbey’), and for that reason the metaphor comes easily when one speaks of the Intimations Ode as a high point in Wordsworth’s career, to be highlighted in any new addition as a pinnacle of accomplishment, a poem of the transcendental imagination par excellence.”[138]

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Ode: Intimations of Immortality – Wikipedia

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China (Axis Powers Hetalia) is 4000+ years old, but appears much younger due to being the only country that is truly immortal.

Washio (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which makes him an ageless life-form, with immunity from diseases, making him very hard to kill.

Papillon (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which stops him from aging, and even prevents him from dying from his mortal disease, making him very hard to kill.

Kinjo (Buso Renkin) is a homunculus, which stops him from aging and immune to any mortal diseases and very hard to kill.

The Four Founders of Eden (Code:Breaker) are all Dignified Power users, and thus mastered their life force to the point of ceasing their aging.

Kouji (Code:Breaker) is a Dignified Power user, and has ceased aging for a long time.

Prime Minister Fujiwara (Code:Breaker) has mastered his life force like the Dignified Power users, and stopped aging.

Road Kamelot (D.Gray-man) hasn’t aged in 35 years, keeping her preteen appearance forever.

Shinigami (Death Note) will remain eternal, so long as they continuously use their Death Notes to extend their own lifespan when necessary.

Artificial Humans (Dragon Ball) such as 17 and 18 ceased to age since they are altered at a cellular level, while 16 is synthetic from the start.

Artificial Human 19 (Dragon Ball) is a synthetic creation of Dr. Gero who will not age.

Dr. Gero (Dragon Ball) converted himself into an Artificial Human, thus escaping old age for the sake of eternal life.

Master Roshi (Dragon Ball) eats constantly Paradise Grass, which prevents him from dying of old age.

Tomiko Asahina (From the New World) restores the length of her telomeres, allowing her to extend her life indefinitely.

As one of the first generation of Angels, Michael (Highschool DxD) is over 10,000 years old , having lived since the time of the Biblical God.

As one of the first generation of Angels, Gabriel (Highschool DxD) has lived for over 10,000 years.

Kakuzu (Naruto) tears still-beating hearts out of his victims and integrates them into his own body, extending his lifespan so long as he continues this process when necessary.

Hidan (Naruto) is the successful product of the Jashin religion’s experiments of immortality, and cannot die of injuries, but can die of hunger; in essence, he’s the inverse of a typical semi-immortal.

Sasori (Naruto) converted himself into a puppet, escaping old age and sustenance intake necessity; the only way to kill him is to attack his core of living flesh.

Madara Uchiha (Naruto) linked himself to the Gedo Mazo, extending his lifespan indefinitely so long as he remains hooked up to this life support. However, this did not stop him from aging.

Zetsu (Naruto) are ageless, as Black Zetsu is an artificial human created from Kaguya’s materialized will, while White Zetsu are mutated humans.

Brook (One Piece) possesses eternal youth since his second life is supported by his Devil Fruit ability, and his living cell tissues have already rotted off before he came back to life.

The power of the Hobi Hobi no Mi has given Sugar (One Piece) eternal youth. Despite her appearance, she is actually 22 years old.

Archie (Pokemon Adventures) wearing the armor Eternity, which grants him eternal life as the inside has its own timezone.

Kurousagi (Problem Children are Coming from Another World, Aren’t They?) is no longer aging and has lived for over 200 years and still has the appearance of a 18 years old.

Younger Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) and his older brother wished to become demons, preventing them from aging.

Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) and his younger brother wished to become demons, preventing them from aging.

As the incarnation of the natural world, Lala-Ru (Now and Then, Here and There) hasn’t aged in over 600,000 years.

Muromi (Muromi-san) is completely ageless, having been alive since Pangaea over 300 million years ago.

The Golden Tyrant/Judas Iscariot (Seikon no Qwaser) has lived for over two thousand years since the time of Jesus Christ.

The Ancient Dragon (Seiken Tsukai no World Break) is the most ancient metaphysical of them all, as he has lived completely unchanged by the passage of time for countless ages.

Demi-goddess Rory Mercury (GATE) retains the appearance of a 12 years old girl, despite being 964 years old.

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