REVIEW – February 2014

Eternal life and natural death

Authors: Ken Kalling

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Estonian physicians who popularised science in the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries paid great attention to the issues of biological life and death. Relevant theories in the field, deriving from emerging microbiology and genetics, but also the theory of monism, were introduced to public at large. The goals of such work were broad, ranging from mere educational activity in the field of science to formulated challenges for the future development of the society. An especially outstanding role in advocating materialist approaches towards life and death was played by the so-called radical intellectuals, among them by Peeter Hellat. According to him, the fear for death characteristic of humans should be viewed as a failure in human evolution enabling unfair social constructions. On the ohter hand, it was understood that as long as science is helpless in prolonging human life, the main goal facing the mankind is to build a healthy society for individuals to gain from most of their lifespan.