A Case for Rational Suicide

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A Case for Rational Suicide

Post  Dinny on Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:24 am

I saw this a very long time ago but didn't pay attention to it, until the author of this piece committed suicide recently (he said he was waiting for his cats to pass away before he killed himself, as he didn't want to leave any of them behind).

To quote my question from Facebook:

So, Rational Suicide: a cogent case, or the pessimism of a mentally ill individual?

Excerpts ahead. Very much worth a read, if just to contemplate.

Sisyphus Boulder Analogy

To piggyback an argument off the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer: We spend our entire lives moving from one goal to the next. From the time we are infants (eating, shitting, sleeping), to adulthood (eating, shitting, sleeping, fucking, purchasing), to seniority (see infants) our lives are nothing more than a constant striving from one goal to then next. As soon as one goal is reached we immediately set a new goal and begin the process of striving all over again.

Examples of this can be seen everywhere around us: The office worker constantly looking for that promotion so he can be in higher tax bracket; the guy trying to make it to retirement so he can finally implement all those plans he's been holding on to for years (if not decades); the woman attending a singles mingle so she can finally find that "man of her dreams" and start that family she's always wanted, and so on.

Prima facie this seems all well and good except for one small problem; once these goals are finally obtained, they seem to inevitably be followed by a feeling of dread until a new goal can be formulated and the striving process can again be implemented. Once that promotion is finally obtained what does that office worker have to look forward to except the next promotion? The same sort of question can be posed for the other examples as well. It seems that the only time we are ever happy in life is while we are working toward something. Never when we actually obtain it.

How does this pertain to suicide? Well, if the only thing that we are ever happy doing is working towards obtaining a goal, then it seems that we can never be content with where we are (or who we are) in life. But, if we can never be happy with our current position in life (or who we currently are), then it seems that happiness is, at the most fleeting (i.e. the amount of happiness is inversely proportionate to the progress toward obtaining a goal), and at the least a mistaken or incoherent notion (happiness as we understand it does not actually equate to striving). But on either of these readings it seems that we will never have the sort of happiness which we want out of life. Therefore, death seems preferable to life.

Essentially we humans are just a bunch of atoms who act upon the laws of nature. Evolution compels us to pass on our genes, and thus sets an inner blockade against killing ourselves. The essential question at this point, at least in my eyes, is: "Does the triviality that is our life justify suicide?" Superficially, the obvious answer seems "Yes". Happiness is after all a momentary state and nothing more than an illusion forced upon us by our brain. So what else do we have? Goals, goals and goals. An unlimited set of goals we face, only to face the next after we completed one. Seems pretty sad.

Full article: http://encyclopediadramatica.com/User:OldDirtyBtard/Rational_Suicide

Inspiration (Myth of Sisyphus, a better read, comment on this one too if you want): http://dbanach.com/sisyphus.htm

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Re: A Case for Rational Suicide

Post  Wags on Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:07 am

I read a little bit of this guy's stuff on wikipedia, all the way until the end of the points and counterpoints, and I'm honestly surprised no one mentioned "love" as a reason to live.

In any case, I'm not sure if I have a valid argument against killing myself, but... if he's using a line of argument in saying that happiness is an illusion because it's a feeling we conceived and therefore is subjective... isn't depression the same thing? Or stoic acceptance?

Can he prove his acceptance/resignation (for lack of a better word) isn't an illusion nor subjective?

I think suicide is rather irrational, though only to an extent, and that's not to say living isn't irrational as well, sometimes. The fact that none of us can prove what lies in the afterlife should say something about why we ought to keep living. Existence should be preferable to non-existence, no? You can't do anything if you don't exist. We know a lot more about life than we do death, and continue to discover more about life every day. At the same time, we know relatively little of it given its mysteries and expanse. Who knows how the universe really got here. All we have are theories, but with each day, we get closer towards accuracy (not necessarily "the answer" ... we may never have "the answer"). The unknown is exciting. Sure, I'm still striving towards something by looking for new knowledge. To me, that's meaningful enough. Why would I want to erase my existence when I can't know what the future holds? Why would I want to never experience such a wide array of feelings and memories and instead just... cease to exist?

If it agonizes a person to just stay alive, then that's another thing. Though I still wouldn't say it's any more rational than wanting to continue living. People view life as they please. If you ask me, stoic resignation seems just as subjective a feeling as happiness and content. So perhaps suicide, in some cases, is rational, but only to an extent. The question is, should we let them cease to exist? I think not. If they were ever once, if just once, enjoying life, then isn't the promise of future enjoyment always there? I'm not a that great of judge though, there are many reasons why a given person would want to off his or herself, so it's difficult to come to an ultimate conclusion. That and.. I'm out of time Laughing

Interesting topic. May come back later.
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Re: A Case for Rational Suicide

Post  PapiChuloLeon on Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:58 am

Dinny wrote:I saw this a very long time ago but didn't pay attention to it, until the author of this piece committed suicide recently (he said he was waiting for his cats to pass away before he killed himself, as he didn't want to leave any of them behind).

To quote my question from Facebook:

So, Rational Suicide: a cogent case, or the pessimism of a mentally ill individual?

Excerpts ahead. Very much worth a read, if just to contemplate.

Sisyphus Boulder Analogy

To piggyback an argument off the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer: We spend our entire lives moving from one goal to the next. From the time we are infants (eating, shitting, sleeping), to adulthood (eating, shitting, sleeping, fucking, purchasing), to seniority (see infants) our lives are nothing more than a constant striving from one goal to then next. As soon as one goal is reached we immediately set a new goal and begin the process of striving all over again.

Examples of this can be seen everywhere around us: The office worker constantly looking for that promotion so he can be in higher tax bracket; the guy trying to make it to retirement so he can finally implement all those plans he's been holding on to for years (if not decades); the woman attending a singles mingle so she can finally find that "man of her dreams" and start that family she's always wanted, and so on.

Prima facie this seems all well and good except for one small problem; once these goals are finally obtained, they seem to inevitably be followed by a feeling of dread until a new goal can be formulated and the striving process can again be implemented. Once that promotion is finally obtained what does that office worker have to look forward to except the next promotion? The same sort of question can be posed for the other examples as well. It seems that the only time we are ever happy in life is while we are working toward something. Never when we actually obtain it.

How does this pertain to suicide? Well, if the only thing that we are ever happy doing is working towards obtaining a goal, then it seems that we can never be content with where we are (or who we are) in life. But, if we can never be happy with our current position in life (or who we currently are), then it seems that happiness is, at the most fleeting (i.e. the amount of happiness is inversely proportionate to the progress toward obtaining a goal), and at the least a mistaken or incoherent notion (happiness as we understand it does not actually equate to striving). But on either of these readings it seems that we will never have the sort of happiness which we want out of life. Therefore, death seems preferable to life.

Essentially we humans are just a bunch of atoms who act upon the laws of nature. Evolution compels us to pass on our genes, and thus sets an inner blockade against killing ourselves. The essential question at this point, at least in my eyes, is: "Does the triviality that is our life justify suicide?" Superficially, the obvious answer seems "Yes". Happiness is after all a momentary state and nothing more than an illusion forced upon us by our brain. So what else do we have? Goals, goals and goals. An unlimited set of goals we face, only to face the next after we completed one. Seems pretty sad.

Full article: http://encyclopediadramatica.com/User:OldDirtyBtard/Rational_Suicide

Inspiration (Myth of Sisyphus, a better read, comment on this one too if you want): http://dbanach.com/sisyphus.htm
I hope you are not thinking about doing it.
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Re: A Case for Rational Suicide

Post  Monty on Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:51 am

The guy sounds so deep, circa 2005 Myspace called.
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Re: A Case for Rational Suicide

Post  Dinny on Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:47 am

Wags wrote:I read a little bit of this guy's stuff on wikipedia, all the way until the end of the points and counterpoints, and I'm honestly surprised no one mentioned "love" as a reason to live.

In any case, I'm not sure if I have a valid argument against killing myself, but... if he's using a line of argument in saying that happiness is an illusion because it's a feeling we conceived and therefore is subjective... isn't depression the same thing? Or stoic acceptance?

Can he prove his acceptance/resignation (for lack of a better word) isn't an illusion nor subjective?

I think suicide is rather irrational, though only to an extent, and that's not to say living isn't irrational as well, sometimes. The fact that none of us can prove what lies in the afterlife should say something about why we ought to keep living. Existence should be preferable to non-existence, no? You can't do anything if you don't exist. We know a lot more about life than we do death, and continue to discover more about life every day. At the same time, we know relatively little of it given its mysteries and expanse. Who knows how the universe really got here. All we have are theories, but with each day, we get closer towards accuracy (not necessarily "the answer" ... we may never have "the answer"). The unknown is exciting. Sure, I'm still striving towards something by looking for new knowledge. To me, that's meaningful enough. Why would I want to erase my existence when I can't know what the future holds? Why would I want to never experience such a wide array of feelings and memories and instead just... cease to exist?

If it agonizes a person to just stay alive, then that's another thing. Though I still wouldn't say it's any more rational than wanting to continue living. People view life as they please. If you ask me, stoic resignation seems just as subjective a feeling as happiness and content. So perhaps suicide, in some cases, is rational, but only to an extent. The question is, should we let them cease to exist? I think not. If they were ever once, if just once, enjoying life, then isn't the promise of future enjoyment always there? I'm not a that great of judge though, there are many reasons why a given person would want to off his or herself, so it's difficult to come to an ultimate conclusion. That and.. I'm out of time Laughing

Interesting topic. May come back later.

I'm glad you took the time to give us your input, that was a very good read.

I agree with absolutely everything you've said so far... I talked this over with Dr. ARM and we agreed that perhaps DirtyOldBtard jumped the gun a little. He made a fatal error in that he was confident he had all the answers and couldn't be swayed from his stance. Like I said, there's plenty of truth to what he's said, but I'm failing to see why such truths mean there should be mass suicide.

PapiChuloLeon wrote:I hope you are not thinking about doing it.

No, even though I see plenty of truth in what DirtyOldBtard has said, I'm not seeing a convincing argument as to why I should pick up a knife and kill myself. Just because something can be easily explained or trivialized (e.g. pointing out that life is just really a succession of goals) doesn't mean it's somehow unimportant.

Monty wrote:The guy sounds so deep, circa 2005 Myspace called.

LOL Zing.

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Re: A Case for Rational Suicide

Post  Wags on Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:49 am

I'm glad you took the time to give us your input, that was a very good read.

I agree with absolutely everything you've said so far... I talked this over with Dr. ARM and we agreed that perhaps DirtyOldBtard jumped the gun a little. He made a fatal error in that he was confident he had all the answers and couldn't be swayed from his stance. Like I said, there's plenty of truth to what he's said, but I'm failing to see why such truths mean there should be mass suicide.

Thanks, was glad to comment. Yeah, when I first read some of his stuff, he sounded a bit like a know-it-all nihilist. He does make some interesting points though, I'd have to agree with that. But you'd sort of have to erase your own pre-conceived notions and beliefs about objective morals (is suicide "wrong" ?), or the existence of God/a god, to really get a feel for the gravity of what he's trying to say. Someone who refuses even for a moment to disregard their deity for a "what if" scenario probably won't want to consider his thoughts. I take a rather neutral, sort of agnostic approach to religion, so I go looking for "what ifs" all the time. But that's me.

Going off a little bit there, but yeah. Not much more I can say than what I've already said.
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