On a Good Death — the Noble Spirit and the Question of Manly Suicide

1. The idea of a timely death isn’t alien to any culture. It’s often felt that it’s not good to linger too long.
2. Suicide is just making one’s death timely.
3. And the idea of a good suicide is not alien to our culture; though, there has been a good deal of debate on this, from the pre-Socratic to the present.
4. The issue concerning a good suicide is two fold: What makes for a timely (good) death? And can self-imposed death be good?
5. Some would argue that self-killing is a right. And that the good is one’s own to define. So self-killing could always be good.
6. More commonly the issue is about what is good and, given this, what makes for a good death, and whether any situations can make self-willing death good.
7. For some, a good death would be one which maximizes material equality or ends disparity. It seems to follow that the good of all makes for a good suicide. More’s Utopia is realized in the most curious manner.
8. The above concept of a good death is often seen as an affront by ‘culture of life’ conservative Christians. But those Christians have — or once had — their own timely death. And it not always clear how their good death differs from a good suicide in the name of a spiritual utopia — at least from the psychological standpoint of the actors.
9. Regardless, we are, presumably, talking about a different idea of good. Before his death, Socrates asked Crito to sacrifice a rooster. Nietzsche used this to illustrate a bad death. Others argue it was a good death.
10. It’s not clear that Neitzsche actually saw it as a bad death. It is clear he had a sense of a bad death. And more generally a good life.
11. Unlike liberal Egalitarianism, Nietzsche’s sense of the good is difficult to distill into a principle. It difficult to even distill it into an idea like: live virtuously.
12. Part of this is because his sense is based on instinct and aesthetics rather than on principle and ethics. As such the idea is to live fully, which may or may not mean live virtuously or die or not die now — depending on if doing so is living fully and if it appreciates or depreciate the overall greatness of the life one created, presumably as witnessed by others.
13. Given this instinct and aesthetics, it’s hard to formulate an idea of what qualifies as living fully; It’s something we sense. It’s even harder to predict what deaths appreciate one’s image. While we recognize that, for example, some books would have been better if they concluded earlier or tidily concluded, artworks are subject to revaluation and specifics matter. Who died rightly here? This ambiguity makes it hard to formulate what counts as a good self-death.
14. The sense of virtus is similar — it’s something that confronts us, and which tends to be lost when we try to capture it. Likewise, the sense of dying a manly death. It’s something to be experienced.
15. When we read Seneca’s discussion on suicide, we are presented with the ideal. He isn’t defining a good death on the basis of maximizing Apatheia. But on the sense of virtus involved.
16. And largely the appeal of stoicism doesn’t have to do to the reasonableness of apatheia. But the demonstration of self-control in seeking it, circumstances depending.
17. Controlling, asserting, demonstrating, deciding can all be associated with a sense of virtus. A sense which has a certain character of impressing. Can.
18. The act of reasoning can too. Being Logical, systematic, Rational. As liberalism shows, this can also represent a state of being managed –reduced, consigned, directed..
19. In which case, to escape spiritual death, one tries to recapture a sense of full life. – noble, manly, imperial.
20 And according to this sense, lingering feels wanting and asking. There is something abhorrent about being resigned to living. And self-death can demonstrate willing, bringing an overdrawn life to a timely death. Can.
21. Regardless of the specifics the important part is the way of seeing. A good death completes a good life. A good life is a full life. A full life is a life we live fully and which demonstrates a particular sense. For men, that has a character, which is captured by various particular virtues. Whatever new form they express themselves in.

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