Suicide, Murder, The Right to Self-Harm

David Benatar’s Asymmetry Argument is one of the pillars of antinatalism and right to die. It’s an important philosophical concept. The fact that it’s not so well-known speaks volume about current times, and not good things.

It’s not a concept that’s hard to grasp. The main idea is, a person who exists experiences both pain, pleasure, and deprivation of pleasure (which is a form of pain). However, a person who doesn’t exist doesn’t feel pain and cannot suffer from thr absence of happiness, because they’re dead.

A person can only suffer from coming into existence. By not forcing a person into existence, you don’t actually deprive him/her of pleasure because they don’t exist. They can’t suffer from that. Existence is suffering.

While this is a rational reason to commit suicide, it can also be a reason for someone to kill another.

People prevent suicide because they assume suicide is harmful for the person. An antinatalist can kill someone and explain that what he did was in fact, morally valid. Just like the suicide-preventor, he prevented the suffering of a person by ending his/her life.

This is dangerous logic because it can be used to hurt others under the guise you help them. By finding a way to explain why your actions benefit the person, you can go on preventing suicide, killing or abusing.

Human civilization can’t live this way. Therefore, it’s important to establish another right and that is the right to self-harm.

A person has the right to self-harm. If a person does something that you consider harmful to him/her, you have no obligation to intervene.

You are only allowed to intervene if actual results and the desirable result are vastly different.

For example, a person can slice their wrists for various reasons. One of the actual results of that is that they will cause permenant damage if they hit a nerve.

Now, if they want to cause such permenant damage, they have a right to do that. It’s their body. However, if the desired result is to relieve pain then it’s okay to intervene and stop them from harming themselves. That’s how we will help the person gain his desirable result – relieve his pain. We will help the person fulfill his desires, direct him towards better means of achieving that.

That’s also why, although I think euthanasia should be available for anyone I don’t think that a person should get it as soon as he requests (except for extreme cases). The person will first go through a therapy to help him understand better what he wants.

Some people do regret attempting suicide and some regret not acting on it. So it will be better if we will help people understand what they want. If a person wants a better life, we need to prevent that person’s suicide because it won’t get them a better life. If the person desires non-existence, not being themselves we have an obligation to help them.

The right to self-harm means a person has a right to do things to their own body, which we will consider harmful to ours. The best way to know when we’re allowed to intervene is whether the results the person wants are the same thing the harming action gets him.

By respecting this right, antinatalists and natalists can live side-by-side. Antinatalists will respect the fact others want to live even if they find it undesirable. Natalists will respect the fact others desire non-existence, even if they consider death an inheritently bad thing.

For more about the Asymmetry Argument:

http://why-im-sold-on-antinatalism.blogspot.co.il/2012/01/benatarian-asymmetry.html

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14 thoughts on “Suicide, Murder, The Right to Self-Harm”

  1. Hello again! I’d have to say, my biggest issue, and only one I have time to comment on is the fact that someone has chosen to claim we were “Forced to live”.
    Call me what you want, but I’m more inclined to say that we were more given a gift! Given a gift, of life. Now with that being said, one can always give a gift back, but it’s definitely not a common practice and completely frowned upon. Yes, being given a gift is something that we as humans look forward to, and gratefully I might add.
    So, with this rationale, why wouldn’t we cherish this gift?
    Maybe you know I like blenders. And you go out and buy me one of the best blenders on earth! Super expensive piece of machinery. I’m of course going to accept this gift! I love blenders! Remember?

    But the blender has some issues along the line of it’s mechanical life time. It breaks. Starts to malfunction. It’ll piss me off… for sure. But I don’t give the gift back.

    I fix it. And continue blending, for as long as I can.

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    1. We are forced to live. We never get a chance to consent to life. The paradox is you can’t consent until you live. That’s why the only way to consent to life is to make assisted suicide available to those to wish it. A person who doesn’t wish to remain alive shouldn’t be forced to use a method like jumping off or shooting himself or taking crazy pills. These are too painful.
      Maybe you can’t fix the blender, or it’s not worth your time so you put it away. I don’t see how forcing a person to ‘improve’ is good when the person doesn’t want to improve.
      People want to die for the same reason you want to live. For some, non-existence is preferrable. If they helped you get out of your mother’s womb safely, why not help them exit this world?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Only problem with that is, the same thing that one of my readers said last week… she didn’t know how much joy her daughter was going to bring her. Now, she’s glad her attempts to kill herself were unsuccessful because it turns out, she did eventually find a reason to live.
        For some people, it’s a child. For others it’s a career. Or a spouse.

        But to quit before the end of the race is senseless. We are ALL going to die one day. So either way you look at it, either side of the argument can state it’s useless.

        Fact is… we’re all here for a reason. Killing yourself just keeps you from fulfilling your purpose before its really your time,

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh Lordie Lord! For some reason I didn’t get notified over this so forgive me. On to our subject:

        We take a gamble, whatever we do. By forcing a person into existence, you gamble that their life might be miserable, they might be born disabled or so forth. By going out with someone, you gamble that they might be psychotic murderers, scammers or just assholes. We have to take the gamble. Anything can happen, including negative and positive things.

        The only way to bridge the gap is not to immediately administer suicide. Rather, it’s to help the person understand his symmetry. Some of us are willing to go through the pain. It seems worth it. Some of us don’t have that tolerance for pain and the happiness we know isn’t good enough. For every person who survived and attempt and found something to live for, there are others who are regretting the failure.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wandered on over here after I responded to your comment on my blog just now. You are a great writer. You have such a lot to offer this world. I have been in dark places for a long time. The problem with saying you are part of the suicide community (which you mentioned in your comment on my blog) is that the suicide community is all dead and you are still very much alive which is NOT a problem! It is the one thread of hope we have. You might be a part of the community that is for suicide, but I hope that someday you find a reason worthy to live and whatever mess you feel your life is will be your message someday! I loved Robert Lovelle Rook’s comment. I read it a couple of time. I suggest you do too. You have caused us both to care or we wouldn’t have bothered to seek you out and comment. You matter. And you are very talented and I believe have more to do than just die. Until you are ready and then we all will eventually. As for me, I am going to muddle through the muck, I still have things to do. I used to say “I hate my life” and you know what? That was a horrible thing to say. May God forgive me! As I get older and lose more friends that fight for what is left of their’s, I realize that it is a gift that I am going to embrace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While I wish I was not brought into this world, I’m not planning to go any time soon. I wish to make this world a little better, and to fight for the suicidal people that no one fights for.

      I appreciate your comment and I don’t think you’d write such a paragraph for someone you didn’t care for. I am sticking to my ideas though, until someone proves me wrong. The never-ending process of learning is one great thing about life.

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  3. Great post. If you read my “About” post, you will see that in the four years I’ve been blogging, I’ve become more honest with myself.

    I used to think that the reason I stayed alive was for my son. However, since he is now a famous professional, he finds his mentally ill, disabled, eccentric mother embarrassing. He even asked me to leave during thanksgiving. So now I know that I don’t have to stay alive for him. A bit of adversity might even wake him up to the fact that how you treat people can tip the scale one way or another. His reaction to me has nothing to do with my suicidality. I’ve wished to be gone since I was a small child. I’ve invented reasons to stay because it’s “The right thing to do,” to stay alive. I’ve been in therapy for 30 years, so I think I’ve covered the ground I need to, in terms of processing my desire not to exist. And, to quote Frida Kalho, I hope never to return.

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    1. I’m not sure how to react to your son’s behavior. How can a person born to witness mental illness first-hand not grow to be a little empathetic towards it?

      What I say sounds extreme, but this is the type of person you need to cut off from your life. Being a son doesn’t justify any such thing.

      It’s interesting you have Israeli roots. I’m writing from Israeli.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Are you ba’Aretz now?

        You know, I have been mulling over this very thing. Here is a person for whom I have twisted myself like a pretzel, literally bankrupted myself to send him to special schools, and he has fought me tooth and nail. He is committed to blaming me for his unhappiness. I don’t need this in my life. It’s toxic and causes me severe emotional pain, which is something I don’t need. I plan to write him one more letter, and say that if he can’t love me for who I am, HOW I am, and if he can’t become master of his own destiny without blaming his mother (for what, I don’t know…he’s getting his Ph.D in the spring)……then what’s the point? My door is always open, but I refuse to be abused.

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      2. Yes, I’m right here in the Hebrew speaking world.

        Parents cause a lot of damage to their kids. Parenting is hardly foolproof but unless you’re abusive and/or neglectful there’s no reason to hold a grudge. My parents made a lot of mistakes, but they also put a lot of effort into helping me.

        He’s grown now. I’m only 21 and I can discuss civilly with my parents where I think they went wrong. If he can’t do that then that PHD is worth nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. God, my Hebrew is so rusty! I’ve been in the midbar for five years now. I left my home, my medical practice, and my beautiful kehila to be with my father in his last years. It was so very precious.

    You are a wise 21 year old! I believe that souls become embodied for reasons we can’t know. Who knows, maybe the entitled brat just came here so that I and many others could do him a chesed. Maybe my “keren ha’chasadim” needed filled up (hey, if the language academy can make up random words, so can I LOL)

    Like

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