Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Thanatos might pick you up a little earlier if you ask him nicely

Is Suicide a harm in the sense of the human general moral standard "Do no harm"? That is to say, was I wrong about suicide*? Could that selective loophole of utility that I had preached for so long be a blunder on my part – would its claim not hold up its weight in court?

First matter: is it really a harm? Can you say with perfect certainty, that you caused the suffering and agony of your loved ones? I definitely did not consider this before and assumed, as I initially did with the Doomsday Button (which I shall write about soon, don't worry), that non-suffering can cancel out suffering; that an overall reduction in suffering can make a harm not a harm. In no way could this be true: this is due to that 'Do no harm' standard I mentioned briefly at the start of this entry (I will show later on however that it is by no means unbreakable). Simply put, humans do not like doing things against their morality. This goes against certain fundamental drives, and thus is a very difficult thing to do - so few, in fact, do. Therefore, if such a principle existed, unless a specific example could be provided where suffering can be cancelled out by overall less suffering**, this would wreck the idea that an overall utility increase could provide an incentive to commit suicide, because the initial act of creating suffering would cause a harm, and that is something you cannot do under those circumstances. And it does exist.

 Think about attacking someone for little reason.  Feel as if you would not ever be able to, or at least, would need to be forced to? That's the 'Do no harm' principle. As a being striving for maximum utility, you can't do bad things without causing your own suffering***. And the goal of not suffering because of your morality (EMPATHY NOT EQUALS MORALITY) is just your morality as a whole.

So therefore, if committing suicide with loved ones still hanging on were a harm, we could not perform said action (unless there were a loophole of some sort - I'll get to that). So I ask again, is it a harm? The essential flaw in saying that you did not directly cause your loved ones' suffering is akin to saying that creating new people isn't directly causing them to suffer. Both are still moral harms, and for antinatalism to hold true, this must also hold true. Which means I was seriously misguided and, moreover wrong, about this loophole. But not about suicide being an okay to do in some circumstances (barring loners in which suicide is always permissible).

You see, there IS a get out of jail free card, of sorts, to 'Do no harm'. Rights can cancel out harm. If you stop a serial killer from killing, they may begin to suffer from the need to kill more people (it may be something of a compulsion). You are causing harm. But you also caused no one to be killed - their rights to live were not violated. This SHOULD not be correct by logic alone, but moral intuition says it actually is (note this: moral intuition comes first and foremost, whenever it can't answer a question, I use logic to fill the gaps). The same goes for self-defence - this causes suffering, but the right to not be harmed yourself means that it is null and void to state that it is wrong to retaliate.
      Are there rights at play here, then? Is there some sort of right to choose whether one lives or dies? Well consider this: a hypothetical elderly person is a burden to their family. Should they kill themselves even if they don’t want to? Moral intuition says no, even though their life is a harm to those around them, because if they did not live others would not suffer. And I am pretty sure that the reverse therefore must also apply to suicide, since this implies we have a right to choose whether we live or die.

       So you can kill yourself without regard as to your family and friends so long as you believe you have the right to choose whether you yourself live or die - living for others is the same thing as denying your freedom of choice in this matter. But don't rush off too soon, there, because there are still many more barriers one must cross before deciding. As for me, I find that my own personal need to not make my parents sad stops me from doing it. But there are more factors than that. No suicide method has a 100% success rate, there is, as Shadow said recently, an extreme biological wall between us and death (we literally cannot just take the plunge), and there are serious problems with trying to attain methods to commit suicide - this is due to legislation and safety regulations etc.
      Happy 100 posts everybody, woo! What a fitting post, right?

 I'd also like to ask: Where is everyone? What happened to all the chatroom frequenters? Diabasis seems dead, no trace of CM, or Schopy or Gottaname or Ben (there are countless others as well, but I've purposelessly left your names out so as to trick you into going onto the chat and telling me how much of an ass I am for doing so).

I apologise for the drop in writing quality - I'm still experimenting a bit.  Writing with an essay plan seems to give me a lot better ideas, but it takes away my, uh, bounciness in language, and I lose the ability to not sound like a monotone robotic suffer-bot, which in reality, I actually am.


*There are more posts of that nature in my Blog Overview. Also, note that this is not the case for Loner Suicide - I made a comment mentioning this on Karl's blog.
**There is actually a rather specific example that goes AGAINST this. Think colosseum and people dying for entertainment. People in the audience suffer less, perhaps overriding the suffering of those participating. But this is intuitively a moral wrong, and hence does not conform to our morality.
***I am using some new terminology here. I came to something of a revelation recently, in a comment I posted. I shall post it in full soon, but for those who cannot wait, here it is.


  1. I'd basically agree with that, and it's definitely relevant to my life. I'm currently not committing suicide because I don't want to hurt my parents, but this consideration is a choice on my side.

    (Well, and I'm presently happy, but I know there will come a day when I'm not and wish again I'd be dead, and statistically it won't be more than 3 months or so away.)

    This is also a reason I'm hesitant to let anyone new completely close to me, for fear I might include them in this oath and thus live even longer. (Although I'm less hesitant about people who are older than me.)

    But I think parents have an additional special place here because *they* initiated the relationship entirely. I had no choice in the matter. If I later decide to get close to someone, then I could've abandoned the friendship before grief was possible. I didn't really have this option with my parents.

    If avoiding grief for your parents were morally relevant, we'd open up a paradoxical situation in which the only moral choice would be to freely accept tremendous harm to ourselves. I've described this situation in an exaggerated way in a blog post about a Grief Monster.

  2. Argh why do people never tell me about their blogs? Welcome to the blogroll, muflax.

    At first I laughed a bit at your post. But after that, it started to penetrate through my ages-old emotional barrier and actually made me a bit sad, which is quite remarkable really. That is EXACTLY what the situation is like. The one criticism I'd have with your post is that it doesn't match real life circumstances, in that the Grief Monster is not actually responsible for the situation at hand - unlike parents. I wrote about a scenario in, where I said that if someone has the indecency to cause someone else to be born, they should at least have the courage to allow them to commit suicide and pacify to some extent the evil act. But to be honest, that's never going to happen in a real situation - biological biases and dangerous memes and what not.

  3. The Grief Monster is our little siblings. :(

  4. Also, at the risk of awkwardness, I could be wrong, but I believe you are both high-IQ, cognitively unusual European boys around the same age; perhaps you would like each other if you emailed privately. ("Thanks Mom.")


    1. Yeah, that totally feels like mom telling me I should invite the nice boy from across the street over, we could totally be friends, and then I do and we sit around awkwardly, both probably wanting it to work, but somehow we can't, and it's mostly silence and failing to have fun playing games.

      And then later, when obviously it didn't work out, I feel lonely again, and regret not doing anything, like *anything*, even just saying "ok, I want us to be friends, but I have no idea what to do, and I'm scared, how do *you* feel?".

      And then somehow, if the first meeting isn't a total disaster, I realize I have no idea what to actually *do* with anybody, and just "can we both just watch TV or something" doesn't seem acceptable, it's like I *ought* to somehow be social, whatever that means, and when I talk, am I talking too much, or too little, taking this too serious or not serious enough, and what should I talk about, I only know myself and stupid crap I have opinions about that are vague enough to not make for good talking, but strong enough to not tolerate stupid alternatives, and no pressure, but don't fuck this up, *argh*, I'm just gonna watch TV alone, at least it's predictable suffering.


      And from talking to the one friend I actually *have* managed to acquire, magically, this situation seems to be symmetrical, which makes it only more stupid. Plus, this seems to be even harder over the internet just because the barrier for making contact is higher and it's always easier to back down half-way through, so that low-commitment blog communication is the best one can hope for.

      I remember a bunch of people on an autism forum years ago realizing this, and so they decided that they'd all be better off if they moved into one big house together, just so contact would be inevitable, kinda like the typical sitcom setup, but of course they failed to do anything about it.

      Anyway. Writing mail right now, because what do I have to lose? My extended family has a long tradition of suffering in silence, so I can at least try to suffer in new and interesting ways. Worst case, it will be more fodder for my pessimism.

    2. I live in an autistic house; it's pretty rad actually.

    3. Learn english, fucker.

  5. We can actually divide our interpersonal relationships into four categories:

    (1) Those entered to with mutual consent -- friendship, even colleagues, bosses

    (2) Those "deepened" with mutual consent -- cousins, uncles and aunts, etc.

    (3) Those that happened with mutual consent, but from a very young age, often even before knowing about death, etc. -- siblings

    (4) Those a person is forced in by others -- the parent--child relationship

    Now, we obviously don't need to give a damn about (4): it's a person's parents' fault they grieve after they die, even by suicide. For (1) or (2), again, you can say they should have 'anticipated' the possibility your death before being so close to you to be as to be badly devastated by it. As for siblings, I think if they've got kids, they've decided life is unconditional lollipop, so it'll remain a lollypop after you die. Otherwise, they merit some consideration.

  6. Random and incoherent thought: would there be more or less pressure on a suicidal only child to resist suicidal impulses? Less: no siblings who would carry the grief, so only 2 people suffer. More: nowhere for the parents to turn to; no compensations ('you've got other kids') available, hence possible greater intensity of grief for parents. PLUS Of two bereaved parents, one will die before the other, leaving either father or mother alone in the world to mourn death of both child and spouse. (What fiendish dilemmas this grim world gives us.)

    As for the silence of some of the regulars, check out the last three minutes of Gary's latest video where he talks of the de-energising effect of the truth and his own struggle. I can only say he sums up my own mood perfectly:

  7. As I discussed on my blog, the page Why Not Commit Suicide (Part 1) (part 2 is coming up shortly, believe it or not), there is also another problem with legitimizing suicide for ANY reason: It allows us to commit actions to others that are universally considered less anguishing than suicide (steaing $100 from family members, beer bottle to their face when angry with them, unethical business activities that embarrass family members, etc).

    Also, where it strictly concerns the "why don't antinatalists commit suicide?" charge, in the name of following beliefs out to their logical conclusion -- if antinatalists are allowed to cause that much anguish in the name of following their belief out to their logical conclusion, then why not practtioners of other view points?