• Jake
    838
    I don't see how we can conduct a rational analysis of suicide given that we have not the slightest idea of what death is. How does one compare a known to an unknown?

    Which is better? Pizza? Or BfXuide7_xx3?

    It seems to me that all such calculations are faith based and that each person can only operate within the boundaries of whatever faith tradition they subscribe to.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47

    I used to think in the past that there could not be any comparison made between life and whatever comes after death also. But, now I think that while it's hard to imagine nonexistence, it could be understood in some capacity. Of course, before assuming that nonexistence comes after life, we have to ask ourselves how we know that this is the case. I think we have pretty good reason to think that our personality, memories, and sensory experiences are all localized somewhere in the brain. A person could lose his memories by a blow to the head, for example. Some people experiences massive personality changes after experiencing brain damage. What's also interesting is that we can lose our memories and alter our personality by taking certain types of chemical substances like LSD, alcohol, cocaine and so on. I think this gives us good reason to think that the source of our consciousness lies in our neurochemistry. A person could also lose his senses through blindness, deafness, paralysis, or smoking too much(in the case of taste senses lol). We don't deny that sensory experiences could be removed through physical means. So, why not think that all of our experiences would be removed if we died? If any individual aspect of our experience could be removed by physical injury or substance consumption, I think it's safe to say that all of our experience of anything would be gone if we died.
    But, how can we know what nonexistence feels like, you might ask. Now, it's hard to imagine what feeling nonexistence would be like since it's almost like an infinite amount of time passing by infinitely fast. But, if you have ever been under general anesthesia you probably know what nonexistence is like at least temporarily. I know technically you couldn't know what general anesthesia feels like because it feels like nothing. But, I think it's imaginable what it's like to feel nothing. You have never been distressed before you were born, for example. You also don't recall feeling any joy prior to existing. These facts could be used to make a pretty relevant comparison between existence and nonexistence, in my opinion.
  • Jake
    838
    These facts could be used to make a pretty relevant comparison between existence and nonexistence, in my opinion.TheHedoMinimalist

    You're expressing a common theory, which I am not in a position to dispute.

    I'm just referencing certain instances when something appeared to be overwhelmingly obviously true beyond doubt, but turned out to be completely wrong. As example, the Earth being at the center of the universe. Everyone could just look up and see this for themselves with their own eyes, so this conclusion seemed to be beyond theory, a hard fact. Like these earlier humans, we really have no way of evaluating our perspective on such matters. So...

    You might be right, you might be wrong. My best guess is that whatever the reality might be it's beyond our imagination at the moment, just as the size of the universe would have been incomprehensible to earlier peoples (and basically still is). But of course, this too is just a guess.
  • Jake
    838
    Here's another guess. Check out this documentary about DMT on YouTube. Some quite interesting experiences and speculation regarding the larger context of our existence.

    Many, perhaps most, people will dismiss these reports as being nothing more than drug induced illusions, which of course might be true. But then we'll have to dismiss all my posts too, given that I typically write them while high on caffeine.
  • unenlightened
    2.8k
    I don't see how we can conduct a rational analysis of suicide given that we have not the slightest idea of what death is. How does one compare a known to an unknown?Jake

    One doesn't. But every life ends with death, so the unknown appears on both sides of the comparison and can be cancelled out.

    One is left with a shorter and a longer life to compare, and the quality of the extra life is crucial.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47

    I agree that we can't know for sure if any fact is true. There's the black swan problem, of course. But unless we want to be skeptical about every decision we make in our lives, we have to take educated guesses. For example, I might ask, how can we compare your life if you decide to get a PH.D. in philosophy vs if you decide to become a nurse instead. If we have to have epistemological certainty about the outcomes of both decisions in order to be able to decide on the merits of each, then we can't make any decision in our lives. We might as well sit in a corner and rock in the fetal position obsessing about how we can't know anything lol. In the case of the suicidal person, the person has a decision to make and he has to rely on whatever knowledge he has to guess if it will be a good decision or not. Either way you're taking a risk though. If you commit suicide, you risk being put into a worse state. If you don't commit suicide, then you risk experiencing more suffering in life.
  • Jake
    838
    One is left with a shorter and a longer life to compare, and the quality of the extra life is crucial.unenlightened

    The amount of life, and the quality of that life, don't matter so much if for example, one is going to spend eternity in heaven. Your analysis is based on the "death is bad" assumption which can't be justified by much of anything.
  • Jake
    838
    In the case of the suicidal person, the person has a decision to make and he has to rely on whatever knowledge he has to guess if it will be a good decision or not.TheHedoMinimalist

    But he doesn't have any knowledge about death, nobody does. All we have is a circus of competing speculations.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47
    But he doesn't have any knowledge about death, nobody does. All we have is a circus of competing speculations.Jake

    I was using the word "knowledge" in that in my last comment as a synonym for "evidence". I'm sorry for not being 100% clear about that in my first comment. The difference between knowledge and evidence is that knowledge implies a certainty by which something is true while evidence implies a reasonable belief that something is true. My argument is that you don't need knowledge but rather just evidence to analyze and compare 2 possible value-relevant(by value-relevant, I mean that it falls on a spectrum of good and bad) configurations . In your earlier comment, you pointed out the problems of having empirical evidence being called factual knowledge by pointing out that we believed with what was considered good empirical evidence that the Earth was the center of the universe. Later we attained new empirical evidence that it is not the center of universe. You then used that example to make an analogy between my belief that there is no afterlife and the belief held by people in the past that the Earth was the Center of the Universe. Since, the suicidal person cannot have factual knowledge that there is no afterlife, he therefore cannot not make a reasonable decision is your next argument.
    But, I want to point out the implications of the position that you hold. Under your view, no person could make a reasonable decision of any kind because there is no hard factual knowledge of any kind since every scientific/empirical theory or fact that we have could be falsified if we find what is called a "black swan". A black swan constitutes any empirical evidence that contradicts an existing scientific fact or theory. For example, we might believe that Earth is the 3rd planet from the Sun, but if scientists discover a new planet between Venus and Mercury, that scientific fact would no longer be true. Any scientific/empirical discovery we have made could be false and many of them will be false. But, if one cannot make a reasonable decision without knowledge(AKA something certain to be true), then one cannot make any decision in life reasonably. Some philosophers are willing to accept that conclusion. I, on the other hand, believe that there's a spectrum of reasonableness that could be discerned based on relevant evidence(AKA empirical observations and reasonable hypotheses on the basis of these observations) surrounding a particular decision-making case that allows us to conclude that some people have acted better than others in the decision-making case. For example, if a suicidal person decides not to commit suicide because he has no effective way of doing so, he would be making a wise decision. That is because we have good reason to think that the suicide attempt will fail and that he will suffer more because of that, even though we have no knowledge that his suicide attempt would fail or that he would suffer more.
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