philosophical approaches/discourses on suicide?

Discussion in 'Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings' started by the outsider, Jul 3, 2008.

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  1. the outsider

    the outsider Guest

    i was wondering if anyone knows of any good philosophical writings on the topic of suicide? i've already read the essays by hume, schopenhauer, and kant. i'm aware of this source and have read most of what it contains: the best account i've come across on the subject has been jean amery's book; on suicide: discourses on voluntary death. also if you know of any novels that deal with or involve suicide, i would be interested in those also. i have read dostoevsky's, the possessed and encounted the suicidally obcessed kirillov . i've also read the sorrow's of young werther by goethe. if you know of any other philosophically insightful literary accounts of suicide it would be much appreciated if you could share them.

    also feel free to express your own philosophical views towards suicide, if you wish. i would be very pleased to hear any.
  2. worlds edge

    worlds edge Well-Known Member

    I'm uncertain how "insightful" this work is, but it is one that I mentally return to from time to time... Vanishing Point: A Novel, by David Markson. Honestly I hated it at page 5 and couldn't put it down at page 50. It is not explicitly about suicide, hell, it isn't really "explicitly" about much of anything, except an old man who is dying arranging a bunch of 3x5 cards with weird anecdotes on them.

    If you can find it (good luck! it is long out of print) I'd also reccomend Suicide, the philosophical issues / edited by M. Pabst Battin and David J. Mayo. --, though it is of course hardly a "literary" account, it presents a wide range of views, ranging from a stridently pro-life Catholic to those who argue suicide should be permitted in a wide range of circumstances. When I took this one out of the library I actually hid it in a desk drawer. Some men hide their porn collections from their wife, look what I hide. :rolleyes:

    I've read Schopenhauer's and Hume's essays, but not Goethe's work. I think I'm turned off by the fact that the Werther book apparently caused a rash of suicides on its own. I'd not heard of Amery before. I'm mostly reading economics and political science of late, (when I'm not reading embarassingly awful fiction, about the only sort I can tolerate any longer) I may fit this one in later this summer. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2008
  3. worlds edge

    worlds edge Well-Known Member

    Forgto to ask, Outsider, assuming you're read Hesse's der Steppenwolf, what did you think of that one?
  4. the outsider

    the outsider Guest

    ah, i've actually just ordered steppenwolf to be delivered to my library just yesterday! i can't wait until it arrives! i wasn't aware that it dealt with suicide, but i feel compelled to read it.

    thanks for those two references. i shall definitely try and find them. oh, and that's funny that you hid that book, haha, i was thinking of hiding amery's but i was just too apathetic at the time that i bought it and so i've left it right on my computer desk in plain sight.

    yes, you absolutely MUST read amery's book! it's a wholly philsophical meditation on suicide 'therefore: nothing sociological, nothing psychological in the more narrow sense.' he uses frequent references, moving back and forth between the existentialism of sartre and analytic approaches of positivism and linguistic analysis. at the beginning of the book he quotes wittgenstein: 'the world of the happy person is a different one from that of the unhappy person. just as with death the world does not change, but stops.' which sets the tone for the great piece of work that lies ahead.

    i wasn't aware of goethe's book sparking those suicides. it did provide a very romantic view towards suicide, so i could see how it may have led some more sensitive souls to take action. i very much enjoyed it though and the writing style i found to be very agreeable. the insights and perceptions into the matter coming from such a great mind, even as a fictional account, i think, make it worth a reading.

    underlying my reading of philosophical approaches to suicide i've been reading bryan magee's 'the philosophy of schopenhauer'. i've already read through it once this past winter and this summer i've been trying to study it more. i've found this account of schopenhauer's philosophy to be the most insightful book i've ever come across in my entire life and it's opened a whole new perspective on the world and reality up to me. it has also made the prospect of suicide even more alluring since i think that i honestly believe now that when i die i will return to the will, the thing in itself, and continue to exist in an unconceptualizable way in the noumenal world. my fear of death has reduced drastically because of this and i view schopenhauer and magee's book on his philosophy as the most profound thing that's ever happened to me.

    p.s. i used to have that same avatar on another site and also one of the younger schopenhauer, which i prefer.
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