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3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I guess I'm still a little unclear in my own mind about when the choice to die is made. Perhaps there is a transitional period in which the choice to live is more like the choice to live while making suicide possible. I don't think moving to Oregon and all that qualifies as choosing to die, because Maynard is not acting toward suicide yet. She's acting toward making it possible. There is a difference.

If possible (and sometimes it is not), I don't want to get too caught up in terminology. Here is what I'm saying:

At some point, Brittany Maynard decided that she wanted to end her life in a particular fashion. Thereafter, she took many steps specifically oriented to producing that outcome. And in fact, if it matters for this discussion, she did produce that outcome.

I think all of that is incontrovertible.

Now, in the other ongoing thread dedicated to this topic (or at least, a very similar one), I'd quoted Rand as saying:

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An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means—and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism’s life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil.

and also

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Man must choose his actions, values and goals by the standard of that which is proper to man—in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life.

I believe that many Objectivists would take these to mean that many of Maynard's actions (including moving to Oregon) would be immoral because as they conceive of "life as the standard of value," they would not consider those actions to "further" or "achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy" that life, being as they are designed to either end Maynard's life, or -- as you would have it -- "make it possible" for her to commit suicide. (I describe this conception of "life as the standard of value" as "life-as-survival.")

As I conceive of "life as the standard of value"? Yes. I believe that Maynard's actions do further, achieve, etc., her life; her actions win her peace of mind, among the other advantages that she cites in her essay.

But what made me uncomfortable with your treatment of it, was that you seemed to be positing that Maynard was acting in a way consonant with "life-as-survival" right up until the moment when she ingests her pills, at which point she has abandoned all of that, and with it, her concern for anything else (which you will recall was the context of our initial departure).

However, I believe that Maynard is acting on one continuous standard throughout, with "life as the standard of value," so long as that is understood to incorporate the value of experience, as I have described before. She is acting on that very same standard when she gets married, and when she moves to Oregon, and when she takes the pills. I believe that it is accounting to that standard that we can understand if Maynard does not suddenly abandon her principles when swallowing those pills (just as the spy would not abandon her principles if she had misfired her gun, and was questioned while bleeding out), or takes the time to scratch her nose, even in her final moments.

Because her experience continues to matter to her so long as she has experience, and accordingly, facts continue to have value.

Edited by DonAthos

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I've said this before, but it didn't really get addressed. When someone is subjected to the kind of prolonged, severe pain we are discussing in this thread, their mind gradually turns into a kind of funhouse mirror. This isn't speculation, you can study any number of examples of people who have been brutally tortured, raped, assaulted, etc. Severe stress is inconsistent with rationality, because it directly undermines a person's capacity to think rationally on the physical level.

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1 hour ago, William O said:

I've said this before, but it didn't really get addressed. When someone is subjected to the kind of prolonged, severe pain we are discussing in this thread, their mind gradually turns into a kind of funhouse mirror. This isn't speculation, you can study any number of examples of people who have been brutally tortured, raped, assaulted, etc. Severe stress is inconsistent with rationality, because it directly undermines a person's capacity to think rationally on the physical level.

I don't doubt any of what you say. I can at least confirm that my own thinking suffers under stress or pain or lack of sleep, or etc.; it makes sense to me that if these apparent causes were intensified (e.g. torture or sleep deprivation), their deleterious effects on rationality would increase accordingly. And this is perhaps not very surprising, generally speaking, given the relationship between "mind" and "body."

I suppose that this point wasn't addressed substantively for a couple of reasons. In the first place, it appears to rob those who wish to insist that "man can flourish despite all" of some of the grandeur of their claim. epistemologue seemed to present a mind almost floating within a body, which could reason and be happy all on its own, utterly irrespective of whatever was happening "out there." Eiuol seems to me to argue for the same sort of potential via a combination of Objectivist belief and Buddhist meditation. (And while I do not hold Eiuol consequently responsible for all Buddhist claims, I think it no coincidence that these meditative practices typically are associated with a philosophy that regards much of the physical world as "unreal.")

Insisting that there are these inescapable relationships between "mind" and "body" takes away from the project of asserting that the mind is all-powerful, that anything can be borne, that a True Moral Man can simply laugh off the very worst of life.

The other reason I expect your point wasn't addressed is because there are any number of interesting arguments which have been raised, both to attack and defend the idea that "suicide is immoral." It appears that most people participating in the thread would concede that if rationality is impossible or destroyed, suicide is acceptable at least -- so if we're discussing cases where pain simply destroys reason, that will not help us to investigate or illuminate or test those arguments. (Though it should at least put the lie to the "unreality" of pain that underlies many of them, or the argument that pain exists, but somehow "doesn't matter." Yet it will not help us to resolve whether the experience of pain in itself, apart from its effects on reason, ought to factor into ethical reasoning. I continue to argue that it should. I believe that our experience of life matters.)

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On 12/27/2016 at 8:41 PM, DonAthos said:

There are many things in life a man might rightly apologize for. Poetry is not among them.

While I appreciate the sentiment, I've been using "poetry" as a gentler euphemism for the sloppiness you observed, here:

On 12/27/2016 at 0:36 PM, DonAthos said:

Typically, when I refer to suicide, I mean it literally.

And I'm sorry about that.

 

On 12/27/2016 at 0:36 PM, DonAthos said:

I agree, but what does this "flourishing" consist of, if we were to examine it in terms of its constituent parts? I suspect it ultimately relates to pleasures and pains (speaking both physically and emotionally).

On 12/27/2016 at 8:41 PM, DonAthos said:

It is further my contention that the possibility of some amount of goodness, in select situations, may not be worth enduring the certainty of much badness.

...

I'm not entirely certain I have the meaning here, but I would insist that there are things which are "just not worth it."

Agreed.

 

I've been reflecting on this, recently, and ultimately realized that the only "reification" in this thread was of my own sense of life.

A sense of life seems like part of existence ("out there" to be proven) but it isn't. It can't really be proven, in the same sense and for the same reasons that colors can't be explained to the blind. One man's core can't be taken out and shared with another, no matter how much he may wish to.

 

So I'm sorry that all my sexy, sexy poetry interfered with that whole "truth" business. B)

 

On 12/27/2016 at 0:36 PM, DonAthos said:

I think that no one who has experienced pleasure does not want it. I think that no one who has experienced happiness does not want it.

These goods are "good" according to their nature (or more specifically, according to our nature); we derive our concept of good from them.

With regard to raw sensory values, such as the physical stimuli of pleasure or pain, yes. We're all born with the evaluations of such sensations hardwired into our nervous systems (at least at first).

With regard to conceptual values, I don't think so. Values like truth, integrity, justice, productive work, pride, beauty and romance (which are so much more meaningful than any isolated sensation could ever be) aren't universal or automatic, at all; they depend on volitional mental processes.

 

Even those of us who have experienced that Aristotelean sort of "happiness" which we (Objectivists) all seek so fervently, won't necessarily continue to want it in the way we should; it depends on our thoughts and choices. We can kill it without even knowing that we are (which is actually far easier than preserving it), which is precisely what I believe Rand was arming us against when she wrote:

“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach."

 

On 12/27/2016 at 0:36 PM, DonAthos said:

But is a True Nihilist possible, who would not even want pleasure and happiness for himself? That... rather beggars my belief -- and though I can imagine a hipster pretending, "Yeah, man. If God Himself offered me eternal bliss, I'd spit in his eye, 'cause that's just how hardcore I am" -- I believe that the same person on the cusp of actual happiness would not reject that experience, as such, but instead amend his mistaken beliefs, insofar as he is able. And that is what gives me hope.

 

You underestimate the flexibility of the human mind.

 

I believe I've already mentioned it elsewhere but at one point, when I was a little Mormon, I realized that God was demanding (via the scriptures I read) my own self-induced blindness and the unconditional surrender of my critical faculty. I didn't have those words for it, of course; all I knew was that the universe would give me infinite joy for doing what was obviously wrong, and infinite pain if I tried to do what was right.

So if you can't imagine anyone who, when offered eternal bliss by God Himself, would spit in his eye... c'est moi! And I think the range of goals and attitudes which men can hold is much broader than you might currently suspect.

 

Interestingly, though:

On 12/10/2016 at 5:04 PM, itsjames said:

I'm not sure I agree that the belief in God -- and the practice of this belief -- can ever be honest, especially when the believer claims they are "certain". Sure, many believers can be honest in other areas of their lives, making them "basically" honest. But if honesty is the devotion to reality, I don't see how believing in God can be an honest thing. Please enlighten me, if you think I'm wrong.

The preceding dilemma is older and more common than any bromide; that's the choice every single Christian faces whenever they're asked to probe the issue too deeply. You can see it in their faces, if you're paying attention. And that's a source of unlimited amusement - for me. :twisted:

 

On 12/27/2016 at 0:36 PM, DonAthos said:

To say that someone is "immoral" does not initially contain anything beyond the tautology that Todd's choices will not make him happy -- which is enough. (Which is everything.)

Yes, and "there, but for the grace of God, go I".

Except it isn't God who shapes our souls; it's every single one of us. And it's important to keep track of who is an architect and who is an arsonist for the same reason that ruthless self-evaluation is important:

 

They tell you the trajectory of things.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Backreference to itsjames & music

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A sense of life seems like part of existence ("out there" to be proven) but it isn't. It can't really be proven, in the same sense and for the same reasons that colors can't be explained to the blind. One man's core can't be taken out and shared with another, no matter how much he may wish to.

Agreed.

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So I'm sorry that all my sexy, sexy poetry interfered with that whole "truth" business. B)

LOL

I'm still not certain how much you ought apologize for (honest confusion has a rightful place in discourse), but if there is anything for me to forgive, you're forgiven.

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On 12/27/2016 at 10:36 AM, DonAthos said:

I think that no one who has experienced pleasure does not want it. I think that no one who has experienced happiness does not want it.

These goods are "good" according to their nature (or more specifically, according to our nature); we derive our concept of good from them.

With regard to raw sensory values, such as the physical stimuli of pleasure or pain, yes. We're all born with the evaluations of such sensations hardwired into our nervous systems (at least at first).

Exactly. We do not "choose" our fundamental orientation to pleasure or pain. This is what allows us to eventually conceive of things in terms of "good" and "evil."

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With regard to conceptual values, I don't think so. Values like truth, integrity, justice, productive work, pride, beauty and romance (which are so much more meaningful than any isolated sensation could ever be) aren't universal or automatic, at all; they depend on volitional mental processes.

I agree with you that such conceptual values depend upon volitional mental processes, yet note that I did not refer to "truth, integrity, justice, productive work, pride, beauty and romance," but happiness. And my point about happiness was not that it is automatic, or achieved in a non-volitional manner, but that "no one who has experienced happiness does not want it."

What happiness is, is good. I've not yet worked out the position in full, either in my own mind or in argument, but I suspect that happiness is the emotional concomitant of the mental projection of pleasure over time. Consider the "roots" of happiness, as a child. When are you "happy"? When you know that, tonight, you're getting ice cream after dinner; when you know that you're going to Disney World for your birthday; when it's the cusp of summer vacation, which means that you're going to spend your days swimming and fishing instead of listening to boring lectures. (And what is "sadness"? When you expect a punishment tonight, when Dad gets home.) I've a long ways to go from here, potentially, but this is the avenue of thought I'm exploring.

In any case, such is fully volitional and not automatic. Is it "universal"? I suspect it is, or nearly so, at least. Insofar as all human beings are equipped to experience pleasure, and insofar all human beings develop the wherewithal (and make subconscious "choices") such that they can predict the experience of some pleasure or pain over time, then I would expect them to experience the same fundamental emotional state.

This is why Rand can depend upon "happiness" as the purpose of ethics, philosophy, and life itself, without having to make an argument for happiness, as such. She knows that her audience will have some experience of/understanding of what happiness is like, and she knows that happiness argues for itself, just as pleasure does, in that our experience of it is the good.

(I think it likely that some -- or even most -- people never experience a full adult happiness, where the evaluation is based upon a projection over one's entire lifetime; but then, the childhood experience is likely enough to compensate for this, at least in providing the "purpose" for adult ethical reasoning.)

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Even those of us who have experienced that Aristotelean sort of "happiness" which we (Objectivists) all seek so fervently, won't necessarily continue to want it in the way we should; it depends on our thoughts and choices.

I agree that consciously we may not "continue to want it in the way we should." We can convince ourselves that all manner of things are more important than our happiness. (Including, funnily enough, our own technical survival.)

And certainly our thoughts and choices are instrumental in one's pursuit of happiness (even if, as I argue, right thought and choice does not guarantee it). We can prevent ourselves from achieving happiness in innumerable ways, and especially if we consciously reject the idea that happiness is of value (let alone our ultimate value), or place something above it.

But the "wanting of happiness" I mean is not true wanting, in the full sense of the term. Maybe it's my turn for poetry now? But I mean to point at the root of what allows for wanting in the first place. It is as "the choice to focus" is to actual, conscious, volitional choice. It is in the same sense as "liking" pleasure. (Pleasure is what enables us to "like"; we cannot opt not to "like" pleasure. "Liking" pleasure and "liking" happiness are both redundant, and insipid.)

In a metaphorical way of thinking, I would hold that the (actual) experience of happiness is utterly seductive to the human mind. Whatever thoughts a person holds about why he doesn't care for happiness would melt utterly away in the face of the real McCoy, because just like pleasure, happiness cannot be denied.*

____________________

* More poetry, perhaps. The experience of happiness could yet be denied on a conscious level, just like a person may tell himself "this is not pleasurable" when experiencing pleasure, or "this is not painful" when experiencing pain -- but such fundamentally dishonest denials can only get a man so far.

How deep can evasion run? That's an interesting question...

Edited to add: Just as the above with respect to pleasure, try to imagine someone experiencing happiness (or something like it -- perhaps some variant of "joy"), like, say, a young child on Christmas morning, unwrapping his presents. Imagine that child saying to himself something like, "I do not like this experience of 'joy'; I do not like this feeling, and I do not want it again."

Does such a scenario seem realistic -- at all? If you could picture such a thing, such a child saying that to himself (maybe because he's been taught to do so), could he say so honestly?

If we could imagine some early-twenties philosophy student saying the same thing on a Christmas morn, smiling despite himself in a feeling of earnest joy that he otherwise, and as a matter of principle, would resent, maybe that's a touch truer to reality. I'm sure that people talk themselves out of pleasures all the time.

Yet I believe that the evasion of one's own actual experience can only run so deep. And where and when someone experiences happiness, I believe it beyond our ability to (honestly) say that we do not like it -- because happiness is good of our nature.

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You underestimate the flexibility of the human mind.

Maybe I do.

But I believe that even the mind has a nature; that it is not infinitely malleable (just as happiness is not).

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I believe I've already mentioned it elsewhere but at one point, when I was a little Mormon, I realized that God was demanding (via the scriptures I read) my own self-induced blindness and the unconditional surrender of my critical faculty. I didn't have those words for it, of course; all I knew was that the universe would give me infinite joy for doing what was obviously wrong, and infinite pain if I tried to do what was right.

So if you can't imagine anyone who, when offered eternal bliss by God Himself, would spit in his eye... c'est moi!

Yes, but look.

Look at where you are now. Look at what you believe now. Even if you believe that at one point you committed yourself to "unconditional surrender," apparently the surrender was not, in fact, unconditional.

I don't doubt that a person can believe himself to reject all good, but I do doubt whether a person can actually reject all good.

It could be as you say that I underestimate the flexibility of the human mind, but insofar as I believe that we cannot "choose against pleasure" (in that we experience it as good, of our nature), and insofar as I believe that happiness finds its own roots in pleasure, then I believe that there must remain within a human mind, howsoever twisted, some capacity to yet recognize and respond to that which is in fact good. (This is what allows those who have "surrendered unconditionally" to yet overcome it; it is what allows people who have made themselves "blind" able to see.)

What the good is (including pleasure, including happiness), is not up for debate. It is not a matter of subjective choice. It is not arbitrary. It is a fact of our nature. And any individual may believe himself to be outside of that nature or not subject to it, or to be the one radical for whom "the bad is the good" and "the good the bad," and he may act accordingly (to his own woe), but he cannot actually excuse himself from his own nature.

Edited by DonAthos

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Locked-in patients trapped inside their paralysed bodies have told doctors they are ‘happy’ using an astonishing new brain computer interface which deciphers their thoughts.

In a groundbreaking experiment, four people who were incapable of even moving their eyes, were able to respond with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to spoken questions.

On seven out of 10 occasions the patients said they were happy despite their utterly debilitating condition which means they require round the clock care for all their basic needs.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/01/31/locked-in-patients-tell-doctors-happy-computer-reads-thoughts/

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I wanted to bump this thread with some quotes on suicide:

epistemologue:

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You cannot affirm your life by destroying it.

 

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Choosing to die is not a "pro-life choice". That is clearly absurd.

 

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"Rational suicide" is a contradiction in terms… suicide is inherently irrational, because the whole principle of action of any kind, is to act toward your values, and suicide is always exactly the opposite. You can't do it and gain value; you can't not do it and lose value. it's inherently wrong, built into the very basis of all ethics and rationality.

 

splitprimary:

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It’s a contradiction to value the destruction of your source of values.

 

Kant:

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Suicide is incompatible with a system of willed ends... so a maxim to commit suicide cannot be coherently willed

 

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For Kant, our rational wills are the source of our moral duty, and it is therefore a kind of practical contradiction to suppose that the same will can permissibly destroy the very body that carries out its volitions and choices. Given the distinctive worth of an autonomous rational will, suicide is an attack on the very source of moral authority.

 

Tom K:

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How can it be in ones self interest to destroy ones self?


 
Matt Walsh:

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We certainly cannot take ownership of ourselves by obliterating ourselves.

 

Gotthelf:

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No one can exit the realm of morality guiltlessly.


Spinoza:

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E3p6: 'Each thing, as far as it can by its own power, strives to preserve in its being.’ …always desires to retain its identity. For this reason Spinoza thinks that suicide can only result from external influences on our minds and bodies since the essence of our mind and body always affirms and does not deny our existence (E3p4d).

E4p20s: ‘But that a man should, from the necessity of his own nature, strive not to exist, or to be changed into another form, is as impossible as that something should come from nothing. Anyone who gives this a little thought will see it.’
 
Striving to preserve in existence is built into the essence of every finite being… we strive and desire to continue the form of life that is what we are.

 

secondhander:

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For someone to choose to kill himself is the height of contradiction. You couldn't choose to die, unless you were alive. Ultimately, it is a sign of a mental disorder, and therefore irrational and is the wrong choice to make. Once one kills himself, then of course there are no values or morals to consider. But the choice was wrong, objectively. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, intrinsicist said:

"Rational suicide" is a contradiction in terms… suicide is inherently irrational, because the whole principle of action of any kind, is to act toward your values, and suicide is always exactly the opposite. You can't do it and gain value; you can't not do it and lose value. it's inherently wrong, built into the very basis of all ethics and rationality.

"the whole principle of action of any kind, is to act toward your values"

First, I assume you mean "rational values".

The value of one's life, is determined by the one living it (the valuer). It is not a given. If life was intrinsically good, suicide would be impossible to someone would can perceive this consistent beauty. One would have to be blind to the "value" emanating from "being".

Based on your determination, laws could be written to punish you for attempting suicide.

If life is intrinsically "good", then you would be correct. That would imply that there is something "out there" (intrinsical) that guarantees life to be worthwhile. There isn't. Life just is. It is neither good nor bad. For the most part, you end up making it good or bad based on your choices, one way or the other.

Suicide, if desired, is valued. That is an objective observation. If the person uses all means to evaluate their situation and determines that death is the best option of all the "bad" options, then suicide can be rational in that case. When Rommel accepted the deal he got from Hitler, to die as a hero and guarantee his wife and child's treatment, it was of value to him. It was in fact rational unless there was some intrinsic angel or fairy that could have fixed things.

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7 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

determines that death is the best option

The whole point here is that choosing death as a best option is the irrational part. You could argue that a person can be in a situation where they aren't alive in a meaningful way, but that only means nothing whatsoever matters and there would be no such thing as a best option. If life is the standard by which we measure all actions we take, and that's how we decide if something is rational or not, then any action that takes you in the opposite direction is either rational, or you exist completely outside the domain of life. Intrinsicism would be that you are always in the domain of life by virtue of being alive, that's where I disagree with him. I agree completely though that suicide can never be rational.

7 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

guarantee his wife and child's treatment

Altruism of the highest kind.

11 hours ago, intrinsicist said:

quotes on suicide:

Could you give some context on whichever ones you can? The where. I mean, the second quote about Kant is an interpretation, so I'm curious who wrote that and where.

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3 minutes ago, Eiuol said:
7 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

guarantee his wife and child's treatment

Altruism of the highest kind.

They are "his". It is his self interest that it acts on. He wants them to live, as in "I could not live knowing that he did to them".

Altruism would be if he sacrificing himself for a duty to the neighbors kid that he never met, based on some sense of duty.

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7 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

If life is the standard by which we measure all actions we take, and that's how we decide if something is rational or not, then any action that takes you in the opposite direction is either rational, or you exist completely outside the domain of life.

That is because "we" are the ones who want to live. There are the "we" that don't want to live for (I claim) proper reasons. The holdup here may be what we mean by rational. I mean "well reasoned". I don't mean be rational and make a mistake. I mean think in a correct manner and come up with that conclusion.

Irrational would mean to not think in the correct manner. Implication is that a conclusion that "suicide is the best of all choices" indicates an incorrect way of thinking. But what if it is in fact the best of all choices?

I suppose that "life" is two broad a statement. It should be a "worthwhile life" is the standard rather than just mere vegetative survival.

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18 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Intrinsicism would be that you are always in the domain of life by virtue of being alive, that's where I disagree with him.

Please elaborate, I don't understand this. We are dead when we are dead. The domain of life is temporary.

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2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Altruism would be if he sacrificing himself for a duty to the neighbors kid that he never met, based on some sense of duty.

It doesn't matter if it was duty, altruism is sacrificing yourself in some way for someone else, even your own kid. To knowingly die for a value means that the value is worth more than your own life - that is altruism. 

2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

But what if it is in fact the best of all choices?

You would need a different standard of value. Or no standard at all. 

2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

The domain of life is temporary.

Certain emergency scenarios, dictatorships, and inability to use your mind at all. And death of course. I only think suicide makes sense in the last example. Robin Williams would fall into this last category. In his last days, he couldn't even think anymore. The illness he had gradually destroyed his mind. 

2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

It should be a "worthwhile life" is the standard rather than just mere vegetative survival.

If vegetative survival is all you have, or you are in effect a dead man walking (say, if every important value of yours was destroyed), then there is no best choice. 

If you go back to the rest of the thread, I basically talk about how most often, people are wrong about when life becomes impossible. If you think you can't stand your life if your wife and kid were murdered, you should think again. Neil Peart from Rush, his kid died in a tragic car accident, then his wife died less than a year later from cancer. He didn't think life was pointless after that - he lived a wonderfully good life for 23 more years until he died of cancer a few months ago. 

Don't bother responding to the previous quotes. Respond to anything else in the thread, because my opinions on this haven't changed since I last spoke about this.

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:
7 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Altruism would be if he sacrificing himself for a duty to the neighbors kid that he never met, based on some sense of duty.

It doesn't matter if it was duty, altruism is sacrificing yourself in some way for someone else, even your own kid. To knowingly die for a value means that the value is worth more than your own life - that is altruism. 

Altruism is the negation of self interest. In practice it would be almost impossible to do, but it is possible to believe in it and to create policies based on it. It can be to your self interest to die. Even to die for someone else. As long as it is to your self interest, as long as it is not due to something you were taught regarding "the good", which when examined (rationally) by yourself HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR SELF INTEREST, then it is altruistic.

The issue is that with any choice, with every choice, there a benefit and risk calculation. Sometimes it is acceptable or even necessary to do what will have a large amount of risk to your life. Some people win big with those bets. But one can nevertheless consider those choices as not prudent, not self interested.

Hanging on to life, as survival, can be counterproductive in creating a life worth living.

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

Even to die for someone else.

Anything you do should be ultimately for yourself. You can get gifts for someone because the relationship with them is far more valuable than the money or the gift itself. Your life is somehow altered, improved, or anything else. If you give your life for someone, nothing about your life is improved, because you completely ended it, for the benefit of someone else. 

You're welcome to talk more about the examples I gave, I was trying to show that any example you give of a choice between an unbearable life and death, there is someone who has endured and thrived in those same circumstances. Rommel is a bad example because he fought for Germany when he knew better. You could say even he didn't deserve to live, and that he ruined his own life by fighting for the Nazis. 

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7 hours ago, Eiuol said:

To knowingly die for a value means that the value is worth more than your own life - that is altruism. 

I'm looking at this in relation to a comment referencing Roark in OPAR, tenth paragraph in, disregarding the quote:

He may love another person and even decide that he does not care to live without his beloved; but he chooses his love as a complement to his work, and he chooses by his own rational standards, for the sake of his own happiness.

I've heard this cited in the past, and your post brought it to mind. Would this be altruism, or a contextual exception?

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5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Anything you do should be ultimately for yourself. 

Speaking objectively, descriptively, anything you do is ultimately for yourself, no matter what you do. Motivation simply means doing it for you. There is no escaping that. Anything you do, (first person), requires a payoff. There is no such thing as sacrifice (descriptively).

On the other hand, speaking normatively, prescriptively, (Which Rand emphasizes regarding selfishness) anything you do "should" be for yourself, requires a thought process. You first have to identity what is yourself. Who are you? What are your boundaries? What is what you want vs. what they want? Sometimes they are the same and sometimes they diverge.

Your definition of life ends up being "having a warm (live) body". Anything you do to destroy the "warm body" is unethical. Ethics starts and ends with the "warm body". You are simply looking at life as quantity of time rather the quality of it, the worth.

Sometimes that is clear enough for guidance. But it is not all encompassing.

The only way that one can identify an altruistic act is when it has NO benefit at all for oneself. None at all. For that to happen, the motive has to be supernatural, unnatural, something that does not belong in this world, it is from out of this world. That is the essence of the "irrationality", it is an "out of this world thinking".

That can be a god that will reward you after you die, it can be a belief in karma in the next life, it can be a categorical imperative, it can be your favorite guru telling you what to want and believe, or it can be the culture and parents teaching you to grow up to give your kidney to your brother.

It is believing that "I don't have a right to live my life the way I want to live it". There's the sacrifice. (also an absence of self esteem)

To say you can't commit suicide in effect is going to be altruistic. It is a belief that you can't live your life the you want. In effect, you are the perpetrator of altruism in this context.

IN this case, you are not basing going against your self interest on an arbitrary commandment, you are basing it on a mystical idea.

By "life" having this absolute and mystical intrinsic value, i.e. this intrinsic value that does not exist, you are encouraging "out of this world thinking". Yet you claim you are being rational. Do you see the problem?

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11 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

I've heard this cited in the past, and your post brought it to mind. Would this be altruism, or a contextual exception?

As far as the sentiment, it's fine. "I couldn't live without you!" expresses pretty well willingness to risk your life for someone. This would become altruism if someone means they literally cannot live without another person. That the quality of their life would be zero after that. Knowing human adversity, it is very rare that life cannot be great again tragedy. 

8 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Do you see the problem?

Just give me an example of a case where achieving values is no longer possible. It doesn't matter if you get to live life how you "want" to. 

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/marieke-vervoort-death-assisted-suicide-euthanasia-paralympics-a9239641.html

or just tell me your thoughts on this.

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A quick scan of the general topic in multiple threads raised, couldn't do justice to some searching thinking going on, that I've seen. Excuse me if this has been covered, but my first thought is there aren't any O'ist categorical imperatives. One is "given" life. Fine, what next? Ought one to act to keep it? (isn't that what's meant by "a pre-moral choice"?). If one deems life as good - next: good for whom and for what purpose? (Objectivist response: me and my purpose). Fine, once answered, and one chooses life, then one ought to live it by the standard of man's nature; the hypothetical imperative IF - then...

 Just having a pulse doesn't suffice, it is man's life (qua man) that is the objective standard of value. Given this, could there be any Objectivist justification for suicide - one in which giving up life is not a self-sacrifice? Very broadly, and I've seen and heard examples of the sort of debilitation, tragedy, loss of freedom and suffering, i.e. the loss of values with no prospect of recovery - of re-establishing value in living - I believe there is. The kind of unremitting pain which blocks a once highly rational person's mental processes, is way up there as an example of spiritual pain. Shades of "rather die on your feet than live on your knees", living proper to man. 

To be clear, the distinction must be made among the value systems, raised partly here. I am not speaking of subjectivist disvalue (the sad, unnecessary cause of most suicides in the general community, imo) or (I agree with ET above) intrinsic value (suffer on: you owe your life to God, or some other entity or men, it's not yours to take since who can know his/their continuing purpose for you?)  which bedevils most people. The objective value one becomes finely cognizant of would definitely preclude suicide in anything but the most radically extreme circumstances for Objectivists, I'd think. Simply, one knows intimately that as long as one has life there is always further value to be found (made, etc.) The "source" of value  lives to 'fight' another day.

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17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

an unbearable life and death, there is someone who has endured and thrived in those same circumstances

There seemed to be agreement that a prospect of continuous intolerable pain is a justification for suicide, but maybe not.

A tsunami of molten lava is coming at you.

We don't owe it to the universe to survive.

If it was absolutely true that (incessant intolerable pain) was the future, would that justify suicide?

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

just tell me your thoughts on this.

The argument seems to boils down to:

"if there is an infinitesimal (or more) chance of having a life worth living" it is irrational to give up the "warm body".

Is that the case? (I ask to see if that is the argument I should focus on)

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