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The nihilist’s suicide

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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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Read the Boston Globe story here. Excerpts:

“Every word, every thought, and every emotion come back to one core problem: life is meaningless,’’ he wrote. “The experiment in nihilism is to seek out and expose every illusion and every myth, wherever it may lead, no matter what, even if it kills us.’’

He saw his emotions as nothing more than a product of biology, as soulless as the workings of a machine, making them in essence an illusion.

“If life is truly meaningless and there is no rational basis for choosing among fundamental alternatives, then all choices are equal and there is no fundamental ground for choosing life over death,’’ he concluded.

A very sad tale.



  1. Moudi says:

    I feel that way all the time, and I often think about the meaning behind why I study, or want to graduate, or do anything that it is I do, and in the end, I reach the same conclusion. The difference is that I don’t dare do anything about it.


  2. Moudi says:

    also, his work can be found here:

    for anyone interested in reading it. I know I am.


  3. Rob says:

    His speculation (near the end of his “note”) that he might have Asberger’s Syndrome recalls this recent study.


  4. Michael Thomas says:

    I have always thought about the existential crisis as peering over the edge of the cliff, thinking about jumping, and then returning to normal life. This example is clearly the other side of that thought process.

    Can there be anything humane in this?


  5. Huenemann says:

    I’m working on an essay response both to this and Strawson’s essay — I’ll post it soon, probably over on Huenemanniac.


    • Rob says:

      Looking forward to it. Setting aside the reprehensible manner in which he chose to die (if not , in light of his circumstances [young, physically healthy, etc.], also the very fact that he killed himself) it’s not at all clear to me, from my very cursory perusal of Heisman’s “note”, that the philosophical conclusions he arrived at can be very easily dismissed, however tempting it might be to do so with the help of the practical conclusion he drew from them.


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