Schopenhauer on the Futility of Suicide

Mind (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Schopenhauer repeatedly claims that suicide is both foolish and futile. But while many commentators have expressed sympathy for his charge of foolishness, most regard his charge of futility as indefensible even within his own system. In this paper, I offer a defense of Schopenhauer’s futility charge, based on metaphysical and psychological considerations. On the metaphysical front, Schopenhauer’s view implies that psychological connections extend beyond death. Drawing on Parfit’s discussion of personal identity, I argue that those connections have personal significance, such that suicide does not allow one, as Hamlet hopes, simply “not to be.” On the psychological front, I argue that a distinction between agents’ intentions and underlying desires makes room for Schopenhauer to claim that paradigmatic suicidal agents ultimately desire the opposite of what suicide accomplishes. I conclude by showing how the resulting account of futility can buttress the charge of foolishness as well. My interpretation still leaves Schopenhauer vulnerable to certain objections, but shows that his account is significantly more defensible than previous commentators have realized.

Similar books and articles

Schopenhauer, Pessimism and Suicide.Dennis Vanden Auweele - 2014 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 76 (2):307-330.
Schopenhauer on suicide and negation of the will.Michal Masny - 2021 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 29 (3):494-516.
The Ethics of Suicide.Victor Cosculluela - 1993 - Dissertation, University of Miami
Voluntary Euthanasia, Suicide, and Physician‐Assisted Suicide.Brian Stoffell - 1998 - In Helga Kuhse & Peter Singer (eds.), A Companion to Bioethics. Malden, Mass., USA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 312–320.
Philosophical Perspectives on Suicide.Paolo Stellino - 2020 - Londra, Regno Unito: Palgrave Macmillan.
Legal Update.Thaddeus Mason Pope - 2010 - Journal of Clinical Ethics 21 (1):83-85.
The terminal, the futile, and the psychiatrically disordered.Michael Cholbi - 2013 - International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 36.
Suicide: Right and reason.Arthur L. Kobler - 1980 - Journal of Medical Humanities 2 (1):46-55.

Analytics

Added to PP
2024-03-14

Downloads
233 (#89,528)

6 months
233 (#11,069)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Colin Marshall
University of Washington

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious.Timothy D. Wilson - 2002 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Dark Matters: Pessimism and the Problem of Suffering.Mara van der Lugt - 2021 - Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Schopenhauer: A Biography.David E. Cartwright - 2010 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

View all 18 references / Add more references