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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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Epicureans also believed that the soul was unreal (at least in terms of being made of anything else but matter), and that there was no existence after death.

Then again, Roman society and modern society were at approximately equal stages of decay when this belief became widespread in both

Olave d'Estienne said...

What is remarkable is that suicide is not endemic.

I have had that thought many times, partly due to listening to leftists (a) complain how the world is not just annoyingly, but intolerably uncool. Spending all your time worrying that somebody, somewhere might be a Puritan is not a recipe for happiness.

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

Another thought I've had from time to time, only I never corrected it to the first one.

It seems that what we're dealing with, with squeaky leftists, is egalitarian Epicureanism. Their twin devil-gods are anti-white bigotry disguised a egalitarianism, and pleasure. This is why their are so many fit, educated, good-looking leftists who eschew "being judgemental" and love to heap scorn upon lumpy, ugly illiterates who watch [bad TV program] and eat Hostess products. The SWPL set is just the educated version of the Trailer Park Twinkie set - people who stay "healthy" (athletic) in order to get sex are just Epicureans with a slightly better sense of cause-and-effect.

And it goes without saying that the people educated enough to navigate the minefield of habits that make you ugly, also practice the habits that reduce their birthrates to near zero. So really what we are looking at is the suicide of the People of Bertrand Russell and the pro-life-ration of the People of Wal-Mart.

A. Affluent / religious people (Owners of Wal-Mart) are growing in numbers.
B. Dark-skinned people are growing in numbers.
C. White trash are growing in numbers.
D. Secular elites are evaporating.

Problem is, a crooked referee is still a referee. Our referee has a gun to his head. It's not a starters' pistol. The elites (D) have decided to drive the traditionalists (A) away from the centers of power, because (D) finds traditions to be spooky. (D) has used (B) to scare away (A), while making sure that (A) never had any information resources necessary to organize a defense.

What will happen when (D) is dead? I don't know.

This is a slightly different analysis than Moldbug's five-caste model, but it owes a lot to him.

stats79 said...

"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"

You misrepresent the Catholic view. Extraordinary means are not required to sustain life. Church was pilloried during the Schiavo controversy. All that the Church requested was a feeding tube. Not considered extraordinary means in this day and age.

bgc said...

Stats79 - a feeding tube (and the stuff that goes through it, and the expertise to use it) *just is* - very obviously - an artificial, modern, technological invention.

So are antibiotics:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2010/09/euthanasia-antibiotics-and-terry.html

stats79 said...

"feeding tube (and the stuff that goes through it, and the expertise to use it) *just is* - very obviously - an artificial, modern, technological invention."

What I objected to was your statement that the Catholic church requires "anything and everything that the application of modern technology can devise to sustain human existence." Are you saying that any and all "artificial, modern technological inventions" fall into this category? In your mind then all technology used to sustain life is "extraordinary".

bgc said...

stats79 -

"Are you saying that any and all "artificial, modern technological inventions" fall into this category?"

Yes - as a short answer.

"then all technology used to sustain life is "extraordinary".

Yes, of course. In a world historical sense, this would be obvious I think.