[lit-ideas] Re: The meaning of life

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2008 22:10:10 -0800 (PST)

Thanks to those who responded. No, I am not in China, I am in Montenegro right 
now, although I would like to be somewhere else. Or perhaps not so much to be 
somewhere else as to be with someone who is not here. Also, from the same 
Finally, Hume rejects the thesis that suicide violates our duties to self. 
Sickness, old age, and other misfortunes can make life sufficiently miserable 
that continued existence is worse than death. As to worries that people are 
likely to attempt to take their lives capriciously, Hume replies that our 
natural fear of death ensures that only after careful deliberation and 
assessment of our future prospects will we have the courage and clarity of mind 
to kill ourselves.
In the end, Hume concludes that suicide "may be free of imputation of guilt and 
blame." His position is largely utilitarian, allied with a strong presumption 
of personal liberty. The Enlightenment was of course not univocal in its 
comparatively permissive attitudes toward suicide. The most vociferous opponent 
of suicide in this period was Immanuel Kant. Kant's arguments, though they 
reflect earlier natural law arguments, draw upon his view of moral worth as 
emanating from the autonomous rational wills of individuals. (Cholbi 2000) 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 itself. Given the distinctive worth of an autonomous rational will, 
suicide is an attack on the very source of moral authority.
To annihilate the subject of morality in one's person is to root out the 
existence of morality itself from the world as far as one can, even though 
morality is an end in itself. Consequently, disposing of oneself as a mere 
means to some discretionary end is debasing humanity in one's person… (Kant 423)
Suicide was an important concern for the twentieth century existentialists, who 
saw the choice to take one's life as impressed upon us by our experience of the 
absurdity or meaninglessness of the world and of human endeavor. Albert Camus 
illustrated this absurdity in his philosophical essay The Myth of Sisyphus. For 
Camus, Sisyphus heroically does not try to escape his absurd task, but instead 
perseveres and in so doing resists the lure of suicide. Suicide, Camus 
contends, tempts us with the promise of an illusory freedom from the absurdity 
of our existence, but is in the end an abdication of our responsibility to 
confront or embrace that absurdity head on. (Campbell and Collinson 1988, 
61–70). Jean-Paul Sartre was likewise struck by the possibility of suicide as 
an assertion of authentic human will in the face of absurdity. Suicide is, 
according to Sartre, an opportunity to stake out our understanding of our 
essence as individuals in a godless world.
 For the existentialists, suicide was not a choice shaped mainly by moral 
considerations but by concerns about the individual as the sole source of 
meaning in a meaningless universe.

--- On Thu, 11/27/08, John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

From: John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: The meaning of life
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Thursday, November 27, 2008, 3:47 AM

I'll second that. Where are you now? Still in China?


On Thu, Nov 27, 2008 at 12:41 PM, Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

Omar Kusturica wrote

Only tangentially related to the recent threads, but still:


It's good to hear your voice.

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