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Would you choose pain over non-existence?

  1. Sep 8, 2008 #1
    Knowing what you know now, do you feel a painful existence is still better than never being born?

    I'm torn on where I stand. In some ways, just experiencing a small part of the univesre, even painfully or briefly, might be a privilege compared to never existing at all.

    But then again, we all die, and in the end we'll never even know we had consciousness, so why put yourself through the pain???
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2008 #2
    Because death is so everlasting while this precious life is so fleeting. Why wouldn't you want to experience experience?
     
  4. Sep 9, 2008 #3
    Knowing that you will with a very final absolute certainty cease to exist no matter your experiences, gives one the only reason needed to live in the face of any stimuli.

    If you conclude that you will die anyway and wish to save ones self from a certain sense impression, then you must also conclude that the act of living in a more 'agreeable' state is just as pointless.

    Frankly, I would lament my life having a point. I am glad that my cognitive experience has no reason or rhyme.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2008
  5. Sep 9, 2008 #4
    I would choose non-existence..
    I don't feel that being conscious is a privilege at all, at least not if it's a painful experience and then death.
    That's just pointless.
    How can you appreciate any gift you are given if it does nothing but hurt?
     
  6. Sep 9, 2008 #5
    Hmm, how much pain? I always have a sore muscle, a stiff joint, an itch, something or other. In other words, life is not constant bliss and we accept that. It's hard to imagine being born in pain and spending a lifetime in that same constant pain because then, would we even know that we are in pain? It might just feel like gravity: normal.
     
  7. Sep 9, 2008 #6

    baywax

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    Its like becoming a masochist. Enjoy the pain. It means you are alive.

    And, since we have no clue what death entails... we shouldn't speculate it to be "everlasting" or anything to that effect. It might be hell. It could be heaven. It could be a loop back to living again... we don't know... though many profess to know.
     
  8. Sep 9, 2008 #7

    Evo

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    It would depend on the pain, on a scale of 1-10, a pimple being a 1, or crippling non-stop pain being a 10.

    Anything above a 5 non-stop, I would say I'd go with non-existence.
     
  9. Sep 9, 2008 #8
    I can not see how the 'amount of pain' should matter at all in such a decision. It is the same as saying, "Well just how happy are we talking here?".

    The ability to realize ones own existence even for a short (or long for that matter) blindingly unpleasant amount of time is, for me anyway, far to important to wish it away for any reason; much less for the existence of unpleasant perception of external stimuli.

    I would, however, have to reconsider if the choice involved a loss of higher cognition along with the pain.


    Edit: My statements are made under the assumption that by "...non-existence?" you mean to take any notion of afterlife out of the bargain; choosing between consciousness and black-out, coma, or a pre-birth type state.
     
  10. Sep 9, 2008 #9

    Q_Goest

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    One type of pain that would make life not worth living has to be the pain experienced upon being cast into a fire where we must live for eternity. Any father who would prescribe such a fate for his children is by definition, the most evil father ever to exist.

    I’ll pray I never have children. That should take care of it!
     
  11. Sep 10, 2008 #10

    baywax

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    Of course pain generates a pretty pessimistic attitude. And I can see that one would be tempted by such an attitude to simply throw in the towel and die.

    But, not many, even people in great pain, have the guts or the determination to kill themselves in any instance. Most suicides are silent pleas for help. No one hears the plea until the person is on a bridge about to jump or goes and sits in a hospital parking lot and attempts to shoot their brains out. Each of these cases shows that they are willing to be stopped because, genetically, the body does not voluntarily go to its death... no matter what powers of reasoning you have, the reaction and reflex is... not to die.

    But, lets say you are successful in ending your "pain" and your dead body is laying on the carpet in the living room.... and the clinic or the doctor phones with the answer to ending the pain... what a waste of a treatment.

    EDIT: Then there's the other half of pain. Why does it occur? Well, as a matter of fact you would be dead without the sensation of pain. It warns you of an imbalance or injury or condition that needs attention. So, if the pain continues and persists, there is a reason.. there is something wrong that is begging to be corrected... and there is an answer to every puzzlement such as cancer, neurological disfunction, etc... so, the pain is urging you to find help or help yourself fix what the problem is in your body. Its not like its some amorphic demon creating the pain. It is physical and it can be corrected. So, just do it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2008
  12. Sep 27, 2008 #11

    harborsparrow

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    there's pain, and then there's PAIN. longlasting PAIN might make life undesirable.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2008
  13. Sep 30, 2008 #12
    Throughout the ages there have been slaves and prisoners and victims of atrocities and other horribles where if you had to hypotheticly trade places with them you'd say I'd just do myself in and get it over with but they usually didn't, even when they had reason to expect that they would die soon anyway. It's interesting how some people who have it so bad can persist while others who have it realtively good will kill themselves. I think people have a "will to live" value hardcoded in their wiring that overrides rational thought when the situation finally presents itself.
     
  14. Sep 30, 2008 #13

    Evo

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    Not always, I know people that died in excrutiating pain and there was nothing that could be done, they were at the point that the intravenous morphine no longer worked. You just hoped that they would die sooner than later because there was no chance of recovery. That's just a cold hard fact, you can't always stop the pain, unless you are knocked out, but they won't keep you knocked out just for the pain.
     
  15. Sep 30, 2008 #14
    The book "Man's search for meaning" by Viktor Frankl explores this topic.
     
  16. Sep 30, 2008 #15

    baywax

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    There are medically induced comas for reasons such as this. Then again, the cure for cancer, so far, has been death, leaving nothing to host the tumour(s).

    edit. This is not to say I am a neurologist with years of study concerning pain and how to manage it. There are specialists who can do that. There are also so many different individuals among humans and each one tolerates their own level of pain and deals with the pain in different ways. Having worked with neurologists and neurolinquists in the field of oncology I can only say that pain is a difficult phenomenon to control, from what I've seen and discussed with those specialists. One promising area of pain control is or was relaxation therapy. But, attitudes toward airy fairy ideas of relaxation often negate the benefits of mediation and relaxation. As I've said many times on this forum the relaxation therapy program I was involved with ran for the 5 year clinical trial and showed a remarkable 20 percent higher survival rate among cancer patients as compared to those who did not participate. If you want stats I'll do the research to find them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2008
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