Sunday, 17 April 2011

A culture of suicide

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We live in a culture of suicide: a culture in which pleasure is the only good must inevitably be a culture of suicide since pleasure cannot be guaranteed - and when life has more suffering than pleasure, and the future prospect is bleak: why not suicide?

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It is ironic that when 'life' - vitality, gratification, comfort, fun - is the primary goal, then the opposite predominates.

So that the whole argument boils down to short-termism versus long-termism.

The short-termist lives on a knife edge; but usually obliterates suffering ASAP with technology or any other available distraction.

The long-termist response is that when suffering overtops pleasure, then suicide should be considered seriously, and postponed (never utterly rejected) only if the long term quantity of pleasure outweighs the short term quantity of pain.

(But why should we suppose that gratification is arithmetical?)

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"But, who knows what the future will bring... The safest thing is to die now, before there is a chance for anything bad to happen..." This sounds like parody - but surely it is precisely mainstream belief of teenage ethics, mainstream pop culture ethics, mainstream media ethics: the positive value placed on a beautiful corpse.

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Then there is the intense interest in euthanasia, when pleasure is insufficient to compensate suffering then die; indeed why not die - get yourself killed - before you get to that point, to be on the safe side.

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(Of course, it is equally insane to hold the view - which seems mainstream in the Roman Catholic Church, that it is on the one hand a duty for society to do anything and everything that the application of modern technology can devise to sustain human existence, and at the same time to regard the hastening of death - for instance by withdrawal of this modern technology - as utterly morally abhorrent.

(Apparently - by this reasoning - people must intervene technologically to prevent corporeal death, then must sustain at all or any cost whatever form of living-death may be a consequence of such intervention.

(But this is monstrous nonsense, and is indeed a variant of political correctness. A proper moral perspective on death surely entails an understanding that there is a right time and situation to die, and right level of intervention to prevent death - varying by context - and an acceptance of fate insofar as it can be discerned. And a recognition of the moral chasm between killing and letting-die.)

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What is remarkable is that suicide is not endemic.

But maybe it is endemic, in the sense that political correctness is suicide - since any self-blinding, mandatorially non-consequential reasoning is implicitly suicidal.

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[Note added - plus of course, the endemic suicide of awareness - the suicide of awareness from continuous distraction by compulsive and continuous usage of the mass media and electronic interpersonal communications, organized busyness, overwhelming pleasurable inputs including - junk food/ high cuisine, intoxicating or energizing drinks, drugs, sex, dreamy physical pleasures such as baths and sunbathing, exercise, shopping, fashion, fantasy... or whatever. Without the ability for most modern secular people most of the time to escape at will into such immersive stimuli - so abundantly provided by modern society - it is likely either that 'things would change' or else that actual physical suicide would be much commoner.)

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(The politically correct are engaged in creating a society which they, personally, would find intolerable. How do they imagine that they would cope? Answer: they won't cope. They imagine that will either let themselves die or, if that is too slow or creates too much suffering, they will take matters into their own hands.)

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I strongly suspect that a suicide fantasy lies behind the hedonism and political correctness of modern society. The idea that if, when, things don't work out - and it is time to pay the costs of recklessly self-gratifying and evasive policies, then there is a 'way out'.

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All of this depends on the belief - unique to intellectuals living under modernity - that the soul is unreal and that there is no existence after death.

A belief in the unreality of the soul is a crutch to hedonism.

Extinction after death is the 'get out of jail free' card for political correctness.

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