Objectivism and Suicide?

Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 11 months ago to Culture
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As the ultimate act of ownership, authority and self-determination, is choosing to do something that could, or likely, result in your demise considered suicide? Eg. Joining the military during a time of war? To drastically reduce your caloric intake for a prolonged period of time to lose weight? Refusing life saving treatment? Being a policeman or fireman? Choosing to confront an armed thug who is demanding something of yours? Attempting to sail around the world with very little experience and no seasoned crew?
Each of those shape up to be a situation where eventually, in time, the person making the decision could likely die. Is it suicide?


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  • Posted by  $  edweaver 11 months ago
    Only a conscious choice to kill yourself is suicide and it could be a rational decision. Depends on the circumstances. Anything and everything else is not suicide because no matter the risk there's no intent to die.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 11 months ago
    We all eventually die (at least for now; who knows what technology may effect with regard to longevity), and some of us fear death less than others. We make risk evaluations, and choose to accept the possibility of demise as acceptable with regard to personal goals.

    Society regards only the personal seeking of one's own death as the immediate goal as suicide. What you present is the idea of suicide as a spectrum of personal risk, rather than a singularity. I would say you are in an extreme minority with this position.

    Short answer: NO
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  • Posted by shaifferg 11 months ago
    I knew a doctor that committed suicide, he was my cardiologist. In my search for a new cardiologist my visits with other doctors about the sudden loss of an experienced and talented doctor rated by many as one of the best if not the best an interesting comment was made by one.
    Dr _ saw something about himself that probably promised a future death from a disease (likely a cancer) that he chose not to face. This was probably in the doctor's opinion was what led to the sudden suicide. We concluded that although we could never be certain that Dr _'s choice was very probably a rational decision. For whatever our guesses were worth this made it easier to understand and accept the loss of a very talented individual. No one can be certain if had he continued how many lives he might have prolonged nor how much it would have cost him but the point is moot as he made his choice and the doctor I visited with and I considered it likely a rational decision. Not worth a whole lot but it is my opinion.
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  • Posted by ewv 11 months ago
    Leonard Peikoff commented on acceptable risk, contrasted with "Russian roulette", in an answer to a question at a lecture on Moral Principles. https://campus.aynrand.org/campus/glo... Scroll down to the question near the bottom: "what’s the criteria that we might use to distinguish between flirting with death and accepting a seemingly insoluble challenge?"
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  • Posted by  $  Radio_Randy 11 months ago
    Taking any job, that requires me to cross a busy street, could be considered suicide (using your analogy), but simple survival dictates that I must eat.

    To me, suicide would be the opposite of getting that job, as I would end up starving to death.

    John Galt purposefully endangered his own life, returning for Dagny, but it would have been a kind of suicide for him, if he hadn't, as life would no longer have been worth living.
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    • Posted by  $  11 months ago
      There are reasonable risks and elevated risks. I think I pointed to the latter. I do think intent hits it pretty close, though some people know the excessive risk and do these things anyway.
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  • Posted by  $  Stormi 11 months ago
    Any stuieds comparing the suicide rate among Objectivists vs other people? That might give us a clue. Putting one's life at risk for the thrill is not very Objectivist. Not in ones best interest. Objectivists would not value losing weight over life.I don't know about the choice to make the decision vs letting a termanal illness do so. Too many suicides are from people who cannot deal with the loss or disapproval of other, and that is something an Objectivist would not allow to control them.
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    • Posted by  $  11 months ago
      I knew a guy in the 80s who took steroids and would eat the smallest quantities of food all to shape his body. Via conversation not that long ago I found out that he had serious medical issues that almost killed him. My view of what he did was it was entirely about him controlling his body because he believed it made him more appealing to others and it made him feel good. My opinion, hardly worth it...I think he feels that way now in hindsight.
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      • Posted by  $  Stormi 11 months ago
        Exactly, bottom line, he lived for the approval of other. He was out of control from the point he relied on the approval of others. The essence of collectivism. This is why our Objectivist heroes refused to accept the half way agreement of their women, they knew it was only real if they did it for themselves, found their own way.
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        • Posted by  $  11 months ago
          Agree to an extent Having known him then I think he was more impressed with himself and, as a consequence, women interest in him. I do think he did it for himself though more than anyone else. I always found his self adoration peculiar.
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          • Posted by  $  Stormi 11 months ago
            I have usually found that those who exhibit such self-adoration, different from self-respect, actually are inside insecure about themselves. They promote themselves like a salesman trying to sell others, and gain approval.
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  • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 11 months ago
    NO...it is a "choice" to accept the risk, "challenging" the odds with no intention to end one's life.
    That is the objective: some would say that first trip across the Rearden Steel Bridge might have been "suicidal" but it was merely a well calculated risk.

    The post modernist, the far left, the misguided teachings would call this: Altruism.
    It's a rare case that a Conscious Human would choose,.. to die for a cause, die to save another, or die in the process of exploration or war.
    We all would bet against the odds and take the risk...hoping to survive; and that is the key. I think, a Conscious Human, in good mental health would always hold the hope, the insistence, the arrogance, to survive when taking such risks.

    Only the mentally insane, a nonconscious person, a person at the end of his rope... would commit suicide. That is not being objective...it takes awareness to be objective.
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  • Posted by mshupe 11 months ago
    Are all of these examples, except the last one, a failure to use reason and act rationally? And what about a case where suicide is rational? Doesn't all this depend on the knowledge of the individual and the circumstances?
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    • Posted by  $  11 months ago
      Each are concious decision made knowing that extreme peril can come grom that choice. Reason can be used to rationalize each choice happening to that person. I would agree with knowlege oc the individual. Im of the school that living is the individuals option.
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