Marat Posted May 22, 2011 Share Posted May 22, 2011 If people were playing high-stakes poker, making the kind of bets that could cause a whole family's home, college education savings, cars, etc., to be lost on a single hand, most of us would refuse to participate because we would prefer to avoid that sort of stress. Even if there was an even chance of winning that much money, we simply would not want to have to endure the tension and dread of something that bad going wrong. But then what about life itself? Even if you believe that there is a good chance that your fortune in life will bring as many entertaining and rewarding experiences as negative ones, having human physical existence means that you constantly have to live with the awareness that, at any moment, some terrible fate may befall you that would make life infinitely worse than death itself. After reading this message you might take a bathroom break and find yourself urinating blood, leading to a diagnosis of cancer, resulting in your having to make an existential choice between gaining a few years of low-quality life at the price of enduring the monstrous torture of chemotherapy while sacrificing your children's education fund to pay for your treatment, or just giving up and dying a horrible death instead. The terrifying process of dying that way could go on for years. Having to go around all your life knowing that things like this are always possible creates a dreadful uneasiness, and when evil actually materializes, people often wish they had never had consciousness in the first place so that they would not have had to endure what now occurs. But your chance of escaping the ultimate terrors of life is small, given the certainty of death and the fact that as a being who depends on organization for your health and happiness, living in a world governed by entropy means that the odds are stacked against you. A stab wound in the stomach happens in an instant but can produce an injury lasting a lifetime. If you were just an animal, the fact that half your experiences would probably be good and half bad might give you an acceptable existence, but as a human, your awareness of the possibility of evil will always overshadow your hope for the possibility of things being good, thus giving a negative tone to every experience. The Ancient Greeks understood all of this, which is why their Myth of Silenus had the wise old centaur say, "The best thing for mankind is never to have been born, or failing that, to die as soon as possible." Once you come into existence you are trapped, even if you find life and its negative possibilities too terrifying, since your irrational instinct to keep living no matter how awful life is also closes the escape of suicide. So rather than papering over the insight of the Ancient Greeks with various mythologies about benevolent father-figures in the sky making things all right, wouldn't it be better just to devote the energy historically wasted in religious indoctrination to teaching people how to commit suicide without Angst if that's what they felt they needed to do? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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