Friday, September 12, 2008

Tapping Summary: Suicide

A few key points for our discussion of suicide:

First I presented Camus thesis, which essentially claims that life is inherently absurd and meaningless, but it is still worth living because you can attain relative happiness. For Camus, sacrificing this relative happiness due an imperative from or a failure of a system of meaning derived from society, culture, or ideology.

Loretta made a very interesting point radicalizing Camus thesis, in that as soon as one ascribed to ideology, one was already on the path towards suicide, or at least that any ideology worth its salt includes the possibility of a just suicide within it. Because of the dangers of ideology, Loretta proposed not taking ideology seriously, much in the way Camus enjoins us to commit philosophical suicide, in order to avoid actual suicide.

Jess found this point to be very unsavory, claiming that ideology is a pervasive force and it is impossible to live outside of ideology, because it dictates so much of what we are. I proposed that Loretta and Jess were operating with two different conceptions of ideologies, but that I was more concerned with Jess' pervasive ideological superstructure, than say a set of personal beliefs. This conception of ideology is especially important to the notion of suicide, because if ideology really determines what we mean when we say or think, then it is not so far-fetched to see ideology's role both emotional and rational paths to suicide. In other words, someone could kill themselves because they were sad or because they thought life was meaningless, but both sadness and lack of understanding both trace back to ideology. I suppose my cards are on the table about rationality and emotions being inextricably linked.

Charles made a point about Aristotle's nichomachean ethics claiming that suicide was still a crime against the others in society. Indeed, suicide from many perspectives is viewed as the highest act of selfishness. Tim made an individualistic point about the right to die, claiming that really no one should be able to prevent another person from taking their own life. Tim's point is interesting because it seems to suggest that life is something akin to private property, and that we should respect other people's desire to do what they want with their life, so long as it is not at the expense of others. I think Camus would agree with this basic sentiment, but would want to make the argument for WHY one shouldn't kill themselves. Ben and Candy also made some important historical and psychological points related to the evolution of Camus' thinking, from subjectively based free will, to solidarity reducing the suffering of the absurd.

Much of the remaining conversation revolved around the concern of belief systems and suicide, with a few people claiming that if they found something they believed was worth killing themselves over, that they would have done it. Others respectfully shied away from their own finitude.

The conversation split into two, so I didn't get the other half. If anyone wants to fill in the gap feel free.

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