Is life worth living? There is no real evidence that it is. In fact most philosophical inquiries point to the only meaning being some outside force or something you make up yourself. Therefore dying is meaningless as well.
So why not just die?
Fear, pain, the dying process is all of the worst things about life. It’s scary, it’s uncomfortable, and it is a finality that is sad.
Death by contrast has none of those qualities. It is unending so no finality, no pain, no fear, nothing uncomfortable
Therefore the act of dying is a necessary evil to achieve the peace of death
In buddhism these facts are recognized. However imminent suicide is prevented by a belief in reincarnation. In this death isn’t eternal or painless but more of the same.
Karma interestly corresponds to a multiversal theory of reality. In this all actions occur, have consequences, and don’t. Death is just one end but you exist infinitely and can never escape that. If you don’t suffer here you are suffering elsewhere.
: however this has no consequence for the version of you that you know. The difference between karma and the multiverse is the idea that something lingers in between instances of “self” whereas self may be meaningless in a multiverse where there are iterations of you ranging out to where you are no longer a discernible “self” when compared to the original.
If there is a connection, liberation is possible. If there is not, liberation is impossible.
That connection could theoretically be made through science / metaphysics / magic.
Note: both reincarnation and the multiverse are still only posits and therefore not necessarily a derivation from the points made above this block.
The finality of death means that life is, as far as we can prove, singular. Would ending life therefore be a negative thing? Is the very act of existing better than not existing. This is the whole crux of the argument about whether g-d exists and is good.
If we equate existence with the higher power, g-d, then we can attain most of the same principles used by traditional and historical metaphysicians. At that point the questions becomes not whether g-d exists, but rather whether he is good, bad, or ambivalent. We can also ask whether there is personifiable intelligence in this entity, and whether there are things such as fate, divine intervention, and the afterlife.
The questions of whether g-d is good or bad comes down to a fundamental question of self: Is it better to exist or not? If the answer is yes then g-d is more good than bad. If the answer is no then the vice versa is true.
If it is better to not exist then to exist then people should make the choice to stop existing. However there are some important notes to this statement.
– Suicide, or the ending of life, is generally more of a psychological and emotional decision than one grounded in facts or logic. Obviously help should be sought, and the underlying causes for dissatisfaction with life should be explored before any final actions are taken, since there is no second chance on a choice of that magnitude.
– The decision as to whether it is better to exist or not is supremely personal and can not be shared or decided upon for anyone else. Every perspective is different and you cannot presuppose that you understand anyone else ever. This work is predicated on that personal question of whether it is better for you to exist than to not, rather than providing a definitive answer as to that query for anyone.
If it is better to exist than to not, then we can presuppose a g-d that is more good than bad. This does not yet dictate an all good entity, merely one that is not actively creating existence for the purpose of misery. Indeed the very fact that individuals can choose to give up their existence if they prefer to not exist shows that existence itself is not malevolent. Although the pain and angst associated with such decisions does show that even that escape is fraught with sorrows.
At the same time, it is important to note that sometimes existence goes from being better than not, to worse than not. For instance the person in chronic pain, they may have wanted to exist, they may no longer want to exist. This can create a dichotomy where g-d is both good and evil in the world, depending on your particular perspective. This further reinforces the very individual nature of this question, removing any impetus to end another’s life without their consent.
So if we accept g-d as the universe, and we accept that existence is better than not, at least in this particular instant, then we have a framework for better understanding the implications of metaphysics.
If it is better to exist than to not, is a suitable meaning of life just to exist? Is it then our duty to not exist when it stops being better than not existing?
There is also the question of what “nonexistence” is. However for the purposes of this argument we are going with the traditional definition of it being a form of nothingness. There are of course gradients possible between existence and non, that can be explored, much as can the infinitude of g-d, although such points should only be tackled after the more material understanding is achieved.
How might my existence matter?
To others, love. This breaks down because if there is no perception of the loss, then it does not affect you.
Does that mean that only things which affect you matter?
For purposes of this argument they do not matter, when you do not exist. They of course matter when you exist and that is when they come into play.
This could be part of the personal equation as to whether it is better to exist or not. Maybe it would be personally better for you to not exist, but you have an idea in your mind of the world and its state without you as being worse. It does not matter if that is a true or false image, it is a personal one that affects the answer to your question. In this way, while you are alive, the consequences of your death matter. However after you stop existing, they no longer matter, to your personal perspective.
Of course all of this is offset by the idea that once you stop existing it will no longer matter. But since the decision of whether it is better to exist or not must be asked by someone existing it is necessarily important to the decision and the argument.
In fact the only things that can pertain to the question of whether it is better to exist or not are things which affect your existent self. The entire question can be only imagined from the non-existent point of view. However it requires existence even to have that concept of nonexistence.
The other end of this is the idea of eternal change. This could reasonably fit in with ideas of the gradient between existence and non existence. However in this section it pertains more to the idea that all existence ends eventually, including all ancillary results of any existence, on and ad nauseum.
Existing means to do and be. All that is done and is will be gone. Is there any point in doing and being?
Sometimes people bundle their existence into a grouping, country, religion, species, in order to understand their actions as being part of a greater movement that will exist beyond them. This is similar to the idea of immortality through offspring. This is a concept that is inherently true and false at the same time.
The truth is that all existence is part of a greater existence, and every action affects that, which in turn causes other effects that occur for eternity. In this way personal immortality is guaranteed through the cause and effect reaction, the same one that dictates fate. A type of immortality, can be achieved in a fate locked universe, in the same way a puzzle piece is part of the inevitable overall image of a puzzle. It has to go there, it does its role, because it does other pieces lock in, because of that other pieces fit in, and so on. Of course this reduced all agents to mere cogs in the machine of existence.
The multiverse then extends this by ensuring that every possibility will exist, but that they are all locked into place and immortal by the laws of fate.
If you take a forward and backward view of time, then this can go even further, ensuring that every moment is eternal and existing, backwards, and forwards, forever. The fact that an actor is cut from a part does not mean that the show does not go on.
Until it stops.
There are of course views of the universe in which is will either fade or be destroyed. The multiverse, if it exists, is also uncertain and could be destroyed at any time by effects unknown. This can eliminate the cause and effect reality. It may also possibly destroy the free will based system of multiverse theory, since the timeline may not be infinite.
This is of course assuming that time is a line, or even exists outside of our single-universal boundaries.
There is a thought experiment that can cause fate to fail. If it suddenly became readily possible to create a device that could calculate everything in a universe, down to the smallest subatomic particle, it should be possible to predict the future perfectly. (This is of course assuming that there is some way of determining certainty from subatomic particles). In such an instance, a person could theoretically output their own actions 30 seconds in the future, and then, change them. Even with the device taking into account its own material makeup, it would only be able to predict what will happen up until the point that an answer is given. At that point it becomes the person reading the answer’s choice to adhere to that future or not.
This can of course be answered by saying that someone else with such a device, could look into it, see that the first person was going to look into their device and change their decision, and so accurately predict what the other device could not. They would then also have the choice of stopping the first person from acting in one way or another, changing the results they received as well.
It is also possible that the first device would output one thing, then another the second the person read it, then another, and another, changing every time the person read it.
Further complicating this is that the second person with their device, might predict that the answer would change constantly. Given a long enough timeline, the person with the first device might never make a choice and the person with the second device might predict that.
Of course the person with the second device still has the choice to take an active role in the situation of the first person and cause something to happen one way or another. In this way they would be dictating the future.
Of course a third device would be able to predict that the second person would make that choice.
Let’s now assume that there are only 5 people in existence and they all have these devices, and they all want to see what will happen next. They turn their devices on but the results change every time they see it. Further, they change whenever anyone else sees their own. In this way the future keeps changing when you look at it, and the only way to actualize it is to take action. Meanwhile the only way to predict the future is to exist outside of the timeline itself, so that your own actions do not have an effect.
If it is theoretically possible for things to exist outside of existence, and see and even affect existence, then fate no longer exists. However free will doesn’t exist either. Instead there is fate most of the time, unless someone from outside interferes. Since they aren’t part of the calculation of everything in existence, they can’t be predicted.
This is particularly true if cause and effect is specific to our universe. If things outside of existence don’t react according to logical cause and effect, but can have an effect on our universe, then it would be impossible to ever predict everything. Still fate exists individually because everything within that existence still acts according to cause and effect. Unless that one thing doesn’t, in which case everything else would and the only randomness wouldn’t be free will but a toss of the dice.
This is similar if not the essence of schrodinger’s cat. The future cannot be predicted because as soon as a prediction is made that causes the prediction to fail. Fate does not exist, and we have free will, because any attempt to prove fate with prediction will fail by its very nature.
That does not predicate that someone outside of existence can’t know the future. It simply means that we can’t, and we are therefore free to choose whatever we want, despite the possibility of theoretical prophecies.
For instance, schrodingers box never has to be opened. That is a choice that is possible.
So we have a universe that is g-d that is more good than bad usually and a sense of free will that is locked only by a theoretical fate that can never be seen or achieved.
What meaning can we derive from this? In this sense we mean what is the value of our individual lives, what good are they?
It is entirely possible that achieving the maximum pleasure possible is the simple answer. This can involve hooking neurons up to a machine to fire off good signals, it can refer to living a life that makes your proud, doing good for others, feeling good about yourself, or just being on heroine forever.
There is also the idea that life has no value, any more than a rock or a star. Its value is in what others perceive. If the rock is gold it could be incredibly valuable to a merchant, but worthless to a stranded starving traveller. So the value of your life is only what others perceive it to be.
This ascribes no value to one’s own life independent of others. Instead it may predicate that a person can only value themself if others value them. However this is psychological rather than logical in nature. Which doesn’t mean it is invalid. If happiness is the only goal then hacking the brain may be the most effective method for achieving that.
However another thought experiment may elucidate things more. A person born and living a life alone on an island with no others to value them or not. What is the meaning of their life? And if it is valueless, what does that mean for the person?
They don’t throw themselves off a cliff so the value may again derive from pleasure. A sunset, a swim, a tasty oyster. The value to self is no more than sensations and experience. The good feelings are worthwhile. The negative ones may have worth as well.
A piece of gold doesn’t need to know that it’s valuable to exist. Its value to itself is nothing because it has no perception to evaluate worth. As a perceptive being we can evaluate worth. And that worth, on a personal level, generally comes down to sensations which we find favorable, not necessarily good, as in the case of extremes that might be exciting, but valuable.
According to this, the only valuable thing worth doing is being as happy as possible. This may even mean trying to be happy all the way to death. Are heroin addicts wrong? Not from the view of society as a whole, but rather from their own personal point of view? We are talking about a world devoid of moral outside authority, so selfishness in and of itself is not wrong. If it achieves the goal of greatest happiness is that not a good outcome?
Here is where we can get into psychology and particularly the lies that mind and society tell us. As biological beings, we only exist because of evolution. Along the way there may be many instances of beings that were born, and decided that it was better to not exist. In general the family lines of such individuals will die out, while those who prefer to exist will persist.
There are some caveats here as a death instinct does exist which allows us not only to kill, but occasionally to kill ourselves. Therefore it cannot have been permanently removed. However it is safe to say that this, especially in overwhelming terms, is not the dominant trait or is at least offset by other factors.
In fact, it doesn’t even seem to occur in most animals except for higher level functioning and socializing mammals such as dolphins and pets. So perhaps the death instinct is tied to our own ability to cognate and see that life is meaningless and hateful outside of the simple parameters that make it not.
The truth is that we’re hacking our own existences. All of the truisms of philosophy and science and metaphysics are aiming at the idea that existence is uncertain until it becomes certain, and even then it is based on uncertainty. Our ability to exploit that in ever more sophisticated ways is the only way that we can achieve true freedom and free will.
We evolved to not die, and there are a lot of psychological tricks that keep us from doing so. Ego, a sense of community, love, fear, and an instinctive rejection of pain are all parts of our minds, and don’t exist independent of it. Of course we don’t exist independent of it, and those things either. There is no way outside of our own heads, except into nothingness. That makes us addicted to that very thing that we often so hate.
It also begs an interesting question. Why would evolution allow us to retain an ability to self harm? The fact that some animals do it shows that it may be systemic. Perhaps it has something to do with altruistic sacrifice, or our ability to do violence turned on ourselves. Although suicide is less about violence and more about pain. Maybe it’s an instinctive and inherent understanding of the transient nature of life, and the ability to choose it or not as you want.
And of course, does any morality extend from this? If it’s pleasure then it should just be functional morality, that which achieves an end goal. What rule can be imposed beyond that? Although we do feel guilt and shame, which ties into the value we have determined by others, another of those insidious psychological factors that belies our ability to stop existing.