If you could push a button and simply cease to exist, would you press it?

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Thought experiment. Pretend it would involve no physical pain to yourself, and no emotional or financial or other repercussions to the people around you. Would you hit the cancel button?

Poll Results

OptionVotes
No 134
Yes 44


White Chocolate Cheesecake, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:23 (eight years ago) link

No, there's too much I'm enjoying and looking forward to. Ask me again in 35 years.

Matt DC, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:24 (eight years ago) link

Nope. It's a big beautiful world out there. I want to continue to engage with it for as long as possible.

borscht and bikinis (how's life), Friday, 12 October 2012 11:27 (eight years ago) link

not until i finish final fantasy vii, the wheel of time and another thousand toffee crisps

Randy Carol (darraghmac), Friday, 12 October 2012 11:28 (eight years ago) link

no, no, no. I'd like to push a button and eradicate the mistakes I have made that have involved emotional and financial and other repercussions to the people around me though.

thomasintrouble, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:29 (eight years ago) link

I can't really imagine not wanting to do this in a heartbeat. You guys are weird.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:30 (eight years ago) link

Nope. Many years ago I concluded that if I could wake up every day and do at least one thing that I enjoyed - might just be eating a tasty breakfast or listening to a song I like - then it was worth getting up, and I'd apply that to existing, too. I'm pretty sure that most days I manage to do way more than just one thing I enjoy, too, even if some days they;re not as enjoyable or the enjoyment gets outweighed by the crapheap of life's vagaries. But I'm lucky in that my head doesn't tend to fixate on the bad stuff.

comedy is unnatural and abhorrent (Scik Mouthy), Friday, 12 October 2012 11:31 (eight years ago) link

I have a beautiful house, wife and kids, and when I ask myself "how did I get here", I know.

So, no.

Mark G, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:35 (eight years ago) link

a better question is push a button and some OTHER person ceast to exist etc?

nostormo, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:36 (eight years ago) link

Or, press a button and reset to a given point in time?

(Still no, fwiw)

Mark G, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:36 (eight years ago) link

voting no but if I could have the button stashed away that'd be cool thx

what about push a button and EVERY other person ceased to exist ? That'd be fun for a bit at least.

thomasintrouble, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:37 (eight years ago) link

no. i like existing. dealing with crap that it entails is another thing but really that's the crap's fault not mine.

thread lock holiday (Noodle Vague), Friday, 12 October 2012 11:38 (eight years ago) link

re. reset,
http://pbfcomics.com/archive_b/PBF111-Reset.jpg

thomasintrouble, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:38 (eight years ago) link

push a button and Charles Manson ceased to exist?

He'd like that...

Mark G, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:38 (eight years ago) link

what about push a button to freeze everything except yourself?

nostormo, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:39 (eight years ago) link

xpost good point.. (re the last cartoon)

Mark G, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:39 (eight years ago) link

what about push a button to freeze everything except yourself?

Man, that solo album would be DONE!!!

Mark G, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:39 (eight years ago) link

if i cd push a button and be an invisible ghost that cd travel anywhere in space forever but only observe i'd think about that one

thread lock holiday (Noodle Vague), Friday, 12 October 2012 11:40 (eight years ago) link

when I was a kid I wanted to have the power to slow the rest of the world down so I could have mad footy skills.

thomasintrouble, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:41 (eight years ago) link

what about the power to read thoughts?

nostormo, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:42 (eight years ago) link

what about push a button to freeze everything except yourself?

Man, that solo album would be DONE!!!

― Mark G, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:39 (2 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Maintenance! I can't get this recording device to operate!!!

Mark G, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:43 (eight years ago) link

What was the name of that kids' programme in the early 90s about a girl who was half-alien and had special powers that let her stop time and move shit about and her dad communicated to her from a weird glowing box in her room? I loved that shit.

Answer to OGQ: No.

where is el airoporto? (dog latin), Friday, 12 October 2012 11:45 (eight years ago) link

A few key things I'm not happy about on a personal level, but geez, no.

clemenza, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:46 (eight years ago) link

Hell no.

I wish to incorporate disco into my small business (chap), Friday, 12 October 2012 11:46 (eight years ago) link

xp.out of this world. i had a bit of a crush.

thomasintrouble, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:47 (eight years ago) link

Now? No way. As much shit as I deal with on a daily basis that makes it tough to be inside my head, I love life and am afraid of not having enough of it not too much. Ask me when I'm old and falling apart and my answer will likely be v different.

(✿◠‿◠) (ENBB), Friday, 12 October 2012 11:49 (eight years ago) link

that's it, thomasintrouble... i remember being a bit freaked out by one episode where she had to physically battle the alien half of herself in a boxing match. it got a bit deep and psychological. i still get the theme song stuck in my head, although i think it's an old standard anyway.

where is el airoporto? (dog latin), Friday, 12 October 2012 11:49 (eight years ago) link

A "delete all of humanity except me" button would be my idea of hell. That's unpleasantly how life feels too much of the time.

A "delete all of humanity, including me, now" I would probably feel pretty morally obligated to hit, considering what a drain we are on the planet's resources, but that's another thread for another day.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:53 (eight years ago) link

would consider the latter if it included cows as well.

thomasintrouble, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:55 (eight years ago) link

for dog latin : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjQNoXWBWaM

thomasintrouble, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:56 (eight years ago) link

wld prefer to hit the 'voluntary human extinction' option, to start NOW

Ward Fowler, Friday, 12 October 2012 11:57 (eight years ago) link

delete all humanity def has its merits but I'd be tempted to hang around just to find out which species ended up bossing the game in our absence

they'd just become the new humans, and it'd take as long again for them to invent the toffee crisp, so i don't see the point tbh

Randy Carol (darraghmac), Friday, 12 October 2012 12:17 (eight years ago) link

i like the sound of these toffee crisp articles.

estela, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:18 (eight years ago) link

There have been times in the past when I would have pushed the hell out of such a button (and probably times ahead when I would want to as well, as much as I hate to say it). But now? No way.

I wouldn't eradicate humanity either because I think we'll figure it out eventually and if not, we'll all die anyway and the planet will spin on.

carl agatha, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:30 (eight years ago) link

this question seems to be asking if you would make use of a pain-free (to yourself and others) way of committing suicide. i think for most ppl the impulse to stay alive is more than just avoiding pain - it is avoiding death/void/oblivion/nothingness. it is certainly that for me.

Mordy, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:34 (eight years ago) link

yeah it's not so much the death as the not-knowing? I don't mind making big decisions but I like being able to assess them afterwards.

thomasintrouble, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:38 (eight years ago) link

If the It's A Wonderful Life scenario were available, I'd totally want to see what the world would be like without me.

thomasintrouble, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:39 (eight years ago) link

We're not talking about death, we're talking about... not existing. Like actively choosing nothingness.

Matt DC, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:40 (eight years ago) link

i sometimes wonder whether it would be in society's best interest to create a way for people to commit suicide in a responsible (to their families + loved ones + themselves) way. presumably people are going to do it anyway, so maybe if we had some kind of "ethically" sanctioned dystopian way to do it (like those drinks in children of men, or the suicide booths in a mind forever voyaging), it might ease some of the pain. this might be a copout tho, since treatment has got to be the better model, right? (kant would certainly never condone suicide, even under the best most responsible conditions)

Mordy, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:41 (eight years ago) link

this is the question i used to ask myself when i was lying in bed all day pretending i wasn't contemplating suicide. the answer was yes of course. can still find myself leaning in that direction in unguarded moments but in general it's a definite no, and for the change i am exceedingly grateful.

ledge, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:42 (eight years ago) link

THere are definitely days when I would. Of late, most of them. But there are days when I wouldn't. "no emotional or financial or other repercussions to the people around you" weights it heavily towards the "yes" column.

Tom Hardy & the Batbreakers (Phil D.), Friday, 12 October 2012 12:45 (eight years ago) link

I asked this question. This question is not about suicide. It is about not-existing.

Please can people not use this as a suicide thread, that was not the intention and I'd really rather the discussion did not turn that way.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:46 (eight years ago) link

Nope. I would miss out on stuff and that is the worst.

The Owls of Ja Rule (DJP), Friday, 12 October 2012 12:48 (eight years ago) link

i think if this question is always on your mind and you think "it's ok this is just an impossible hypothetical and i'm not actually contemplating suicide" you're basically fooling yourself that your mental state is better than it is.

("you" = impersonal, would have used "one" but it reads funny.)

ledge, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:51 (eight years ago) link

Historically speaking, you've already missed out on pretty much everything, and are going to miss out on everything else.

Existence is sometimes awesome, but on the whole it's pretty shit.

Tom Hardy & the Batbreakers (Phil D.), Friday, 12 October 2012 12:52 (eight years ago) link

I would be very tempted.

WmC, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:53 (eight years ago) link

Would it be as though I'd never existed? Would the actual world simply be replaced with the nearest alternative world in which there's no me? It's hard to know what exactly that world would be like... George Bailey taught us.

jim, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:55 (eight years ago) link

I don't think anyone in this thread has any right to draw conclusions about the mental state of anyone except themselves. Thanks.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Friday, 12 October 2012 12:55 (eight years ago) link

there are a lot of hippies and art students who are dualists in a pretty old-fashioned sense

autistic boy is surprisingly good at basketball (silby), Friday, 11 January 2013 20:50 (eight years ago) link

some people get really angry about physicalism! we had a student write "PHYSICALISM IS BULLSHIT!!!" on their course evaluation for a class I TAed.

autistic boy is surprisingly good at basketball (silby), Friday, 11 January 2013 20:51 (eight years ago) link

xp hardcore religious types of all varieties imo.

notxp ha. I'm kinda disappointed that all of the students I've TAed so far have been wimps, OH YOU LIKED EVERYTHING HOW INTERESTING.

Merdeyeux, Friday, 11 January 2013 20:53 (eight years ago) link

Sorta feels like Epiphenomenalism is BS. Just say "I don't agree with the standard definition of mind" and be done w it.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 11 January 2013 20:53 (eight years ago) link

I don't know that simple physicalism is really the standard definition any more though, over the last ten years the neuroscience-philosophy crossover stuff on consciousness and subjectivity and the like as somehow abstracted from the brain has become pretty prominent.

Merdeyeux, Friday, 11 January 2013 21:04 (eight years ago) link

Yes, there are materialist and dualist ways of using the word epiphenomenalism, depending on what kind of phenomenon you're trying to describe (mental activity, qualia.)

no one but the hardcore religious type is a dualist in the old fashioned sense

Chalmers certainly is, right? Isn't this the main disagreement between him and say Dennett?

As far as the current state of the field, I'll have to trust you - that's very interesting.

hot slag (lukas), Friday, 11 January 2013 21:17 (eight years ago) link

oh come on

autistic boy is surprisingly good at basketball (silby), Friday, 11 January 2013 21:26 (eight years ago) link

As far as the current state of the field, I'll have to trust you

I don't know it that well (one of those things where I get it second hand from people I know working on it more than my own research), but I think Jeannerod been one of the major players from the neuroscience side, Metzinger and people involved in his school from the philosophy side (even if Metzinger's own enquiries into the self end with him saying that it basically doesn't exist).

I realise that I'm probably using epiphenomenalism in a slightly fuzzy and dodgy way that's encompassing a more general physicalist-but-not-physicalist relation between mind and brain, but maybe I can dubiously claim that this different understanding of it corresponds to the orientation of current research.

Merdeyeux, Friday, 11 January 2013 21:48 (eight years ago) link

don't know anything about Chalmers tbh, but looking him up I see that he needs to join the list of philosophers who don't look like philosophers, alongside James Ladyman

http://www.rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/storage/images/guests/jamesLadyman.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1347149650078

Merdeyeux, Friday, 11 January 2013 21:52 (eight years ago) link

I got it, it's a moral argument against magical non-consenting soul euthanasia.

jim, Friday, 11 January 2013 21:54 (eight years ago) link

oh, Chambers is yer zombies man. Not something I've bothered to engage with beyond the dumb-sounding premises rly.

Merdeyeux, Friday, 11 January 2013 21:56 (eight years ago) link

(sputters) well if you can't accept a simple intuition about non-verifiable subjective experience i just don't know

hot slag (lukas), Friday, 11 January 2013 22:06 (eight years ago) link

all the interesting work is happening in science afaict, dualism is a total dead end.

but i do believe that subjective experience is logically separable from an objective description of the brain (ie i think the zombie thought experiment is interesting) so it puts me in a tough spot.

hot slag (lukas), Friday, 11 January 2013 22:10 (eight years ago) link

The interesting science work is happening in science, sure. Don't think that's taking us one jot closer to a mind/body solution though.

heartless restaurant reviewer (ledge), Friday, 11 January 2013 22:28 (eight years ago) link

mind/body dualism was boring in the 18th century, wasn't it? Doesn't mean the distinction is meaningless of course...

Neil S, Friday, 11 January 2013 22:42 (eight years ago) link

So Kant transcended the distinction, all part of his thing of being GREATEST PHILOSOPHER in yr face Nietzsche/ Wittegenstein

Neil S, Friday, 11 January 2013 22:43 (eight years ago) link

it's like he pushed a button and made the argument cease to oh i don't know EXIST maybe

What am I, in France? (forksclovetofu), Friday, 11 January 2013 22:54 (eight years ago) link

mind/body dualism was boring in the 18th century, wasn't it?

ha well a lot of different arguments are packed inside "the mind/body problem". when i said "dead end" i mean specifically the whole subjective experience thing I've been banging on about.

hot slag (lukas), Friday, 11 January 2013 23:02 (eight years ago) link

but i do believe that subjective experience is logically separable from an objective description of the brain (ie i think the zombie thought experiment is interesting)

I also believe they're separable - in fact I believe they're irreconcilable (as we currently conceive of them at least) which is why I think subjective experience must be a fundamental feature of reality. I also think zombies are a load of crock! It's a pretty neat trick physics has pulled, to take something that is surely a fundamental part of *our* world - experience just is subjective! - and make it seem like it's not a fundamental part of *the* world. At best an optional sideshow, at worst a complete illusion.

heartless restaurant reviewer (ledge), Saturday, 12 January 2013 04:59 (eight years ago) link

the greatest trick physics ever pulled was convincing us we don't exist (or something)

autistic boy is surprisingly good at basketball (silby), Saturday, 12 January 2013 05:34 (eight years ago) link

haha yes!

heartless restaurant reviewer (ledge), Saturday, 12 January 2013 05:38 (eight years ago) link

Kant is maybe the greatest metaphysician which is like fuck all really tbh

non-elitist melted poo (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 12 January 2013 12:08 (eight years ago) link

ah ignore me, hungover and grumpy, i don't see what's so hard about mind as a function of matter tho, it doesn't wave away mystery it mystifies the physical which is where we are tbh, peeps need to let this soul shit gooooooo

non-elitist melted poo (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 12 January 2013 12:13 (eight years ago) link

There's something racist/speciesist inherent in the concept of a discrete mind/soul that is privileged over any other physical process that makes the whole thing suspicious. Spike Lee needs to come down harder on this instead of twitter warring with Tarantino

Philip Nunez, Saturday, 12 January 2013 16:42 (eight years ago) link

The prejudice that human consciousness and one's subjective experience of the world while alive is the only thing that matters is the true evil.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Saturday, 12 January 2013 16:56 (eight years ago) link

It is ultimately a denial of the body. And denying yr body is ultimately bad for yr health

autistic boy is surprisingly good at basketball (silby), Saturday, 12 January 2013 17:10 (eight years ago) link

Living is ultimately bad for yr health

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Saturday, 12 January 2013 18:33 (eight years ago) link

three weeks pass...

This thread is kinda maddening to read. All the people going no but how does it work? what'll happen to my kids? are like people who can't sit still during a time-travel film. It doesn't make sense!

Automatically connecting this question to suicide is weird. The question itself boils down to "Is life worth living?" which is sort of the most basic building block of all philosophy, art, religion and anything else. "Is life worth living?" is not the same question as "Can life ever be fun or fulfilling or offer moments of pure exquisite insight/pleasure/glory/connection?" - of course it can, for most people (even in terrible situations), for some of the time.

I hesitate to write this sentence because it is so obvious, but all the while I am happy, seeing people, going to shows, having sex, making music, I know it's true that a third of the people I meet will die of cancer and two-thirds of them will die of something else, and I will be witness to this if I don't die of cancer or something else first; the people I have sex with will die, and before they do they will become people I would not want to have sex with, and I will be unsexy to them; the children I might create through this sex will go through the same process: much joy, delight in their abilities, friendship, excitement, whatever, but ultimately defeat/compromise/infirmity/death. And so on. Lust for life doesn't get you out of this. Death is no different whined at than withstood etc.

Again, I must say that I know everybody knows this.

So there is this simple question that everything in our culture that is not strictly administrative is built upon: much of life is pleasure and much of it is suffering - what is a tolerable balance? Is any amount of suffering worth it? Does a small amount of happiness outweigh much suffering? How could happiness even be defined if there were no suffering?

There are practical examples that might give some kind of answer. People in the most miserable corners ever drawn who nevertheless wanna live, live, live. Old people gone right into the ending who don't seem to regret living or to seem to suffer much to themselves even when they seem to suffer to us.

These are pretty much the basic questions since the year dot, and there will never be answers. But I suppose everyone has an opinion on how much pain they are prepared to take for a certain amount of satisfaction, or about whether just glancing at nature or a pretty arse is sufficient compensation for being so vulnerable and minor, and lots of other interesting things to say about the value of tiny, tiny life... These are very basic ideas, I know, but it is bewildering when people say things like "Why would I think of this? I am happy/not suicidal/living it up!" Ach, I have seen this so many times. I think it would be worth discussing the perverse neurosis of this kind of person. It's a different kind of life. Inhuman!

― Eyeball Kicks, Friday, October 19, 2012 11:18 PM (3 months ago)

i think this is prob the one to take from this thread in a fire tbh

ben foster five (darraghmac), Wednesday, 6 February 2013 03:18 (eight years ago) link

Worrying to note that i have finished the wheel of time and at least ten toffee crisps since post #3 itt tho

ben foster five (darraghmac), Wednesday, 6 February 2013 03:37 (eight years ago) link

I have measured out my life with toffee crisps

☯ t (wins), Wednesday, 6 February 2013 08:16 (eight years ago) link

Vg, vg

ben foster five (darraghmac), Wednesday, 6 February 2013 08:50 (eight years ago) link

i tend to favour measuring it out in terms of my regular purchases, washing powder, tea, olive oil, converse.

Ballboy to Afghanistan (LocalGarda), Wednesday, 6 February 2013 10:43 (eight years ago) link

i like that. 'twere two converses, one washing powder and three teas ago...

hot young stalin (Merdeyeux), Wednesday, 6 February 2013 11:10 (eight years ago) link

i swear i only bought this current pair six weeks ago and they're practically in the grave already.

Ballboy to Afghanistan (LocalGarda), Wednesday, 6 February 2013 11:16 (eight years ago) link

conversely (sorry), washing powder seems to last much longer these days

Stop Gerrying Me! (onimo), Wednesday, 6 February 2013 12:46 (eight years ago) link

i use those squidgy bag things

Ballboy to Afghanistan (LocalGarda), Wednesday, 6 February 2013 12:49 (eight years ago) link

three years pass...

ideally the button would function retroactively, terminating your existence a moment before you were presented with the option of pressing it, or on a date and time of your choosing, or ~before you ever came into existence~. but I'm not really sure how that would work w/r/t time travel paradoxes.

this was a weird thread.

memories of a cruller (unregistered), Tuesday, 20 December 2016 01:53 (four years ago) link

push the button frank

mookieproof, Tuesday, 20 December 2016 03:36 (four years ago) link

what if you could push a button and ilx never existed

mh 😏, Tuesday, 20 December 2016 05:52 (four years ago) link

Eyeball Kicks was/is great

albvivertine, Tuesday, 20 December 2016 06:07 (four years ago) link

2 seconds after getting the opportunity to push a button http://i.imgur.com/pX9XYtq.gif

2 minutes after getting the opportunity to push a button http://i.imgur.com/OM7SPzs.gif

2 days after getting the opportunity to push a button http://i.imgur.com/zWQR4W1.gif

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 20 December 2016 06:17 (four years ago) link

those blank dudes are very popular in presentations these days

mh 😏, Tuesday, 20 December 2016 15:01 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

Please let there never be such a thing, because it'd be on my desk and I would get absorbed in something and absentmindedly p

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Saturday, 22 February 2020 04:30 (one year ago) link

not until i finish final fantasy vii, the wheel of time and another thousand toffee crisps

― Randy Carol (darraghmac), Friday, October 12, 2012 5:28 AM (seven years ago) bookmarkflaglink

good god, did you ever defeat Sephiroth???!?

lumen (esby), Saturday, 22 February 2020 04:34 (one year ago) link

destiny is calling me
open up my eager eyes

mookieproof, Saturday, 22 February 2020 04:46 (one year ago) link

Long thread, didn’t read it all, maybe already been noted, but OP “does not exist in the ilx database.”

Kinda makes you thi— aw, never mind

Una Palooka Dronka (hardcore dilettante), Saturday, 22 February 2020 06:15 (one year ago) link

lol

mookieproof, Saturday, 22 February 2020 06:25 (one year ago) link

OP's still here occasionally, in a different guise, so there's life after death after all.

Le Bateau Ivre, Saturday, 22 February 2020 13:51 (one year ago) link


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