Renunciation of the Self, Symbolic

Certain utterances only succeed in convincing if they are accompanied by a symbolic renunciation of the self. Utterances of this kind are: a. Would that Auschwitz had never happened (>Auschwitz-lessness Through Self-lessness); or b. I would give anything not to have to die (so as not to have to witness the dying of my spouse, my child, my friend or my life-partner).

Utterances of the type of a. require a different course of history, one in which one never, oneself, began to exist; utterances of the type of b. reject what is in fact an inalienable part of the Conditio in/humana. Some further examples of situations which require a symbolic renunciation of the self are:

Right of Accusation and Symbolic Self-Renunciation

A symbolic renunciation of the self is required in every case where a child wishes to bring an accusation against his parents by reason of their having been the ones who initiated an existence (namely, his own) which he feels to be intolerable and not reasonably to be expected to be tolerated by anyone. Doctors, judges and the parents themselves will give the accusing child to understand that excepting in that state which he now finds to be so disagreeable there is no other state in which he could possibly have existed and will put the question to him of whether he would prefer, then, that his existence had never been brought about at all. This enquiry, then, would indeed demand a symbolic renunciation of the self.

>Right of Complaint and Symbolic Self-Renunciation, >Claim to Empathy and Symbolic Self-Renunciation

Right of Complaint and Symbolic Self-Renunciation

Whoever undergoes profound suffering has not just “been unlucky” but is rather experiencing something structurally unavoidable. Someone who suffers and complains that this suffering is something completely undeserved by them is, where things are considered more closely, only justified in making such a complaint if they are prepared at the same time to declare that they would have preferred events in the world to have taken a course such that they themselves had never begun to exist. Since there can be no existence without experiences of suffering, any such complaint must involve a symbolic renunciation of one’s own existence whereby neither said experiences nor said existence itself would ever have come to pass. Instead, then, of simply complaining: “why did this misfortune, this loss, this sickness befall me?” one would need rather always to complain: “why was my existence brought about?” Against the background of the Conditio in-/humana a person complaining of their profound suffering can only be authentic in doing so if they arrive, through a symbolic renunciation of their own existence, at the conclusion that  >It would be better if they had never begun to exist.

>Paradox of Self-Excuse, >Proof of Self-Renunciation

Claim to Empathy and Symbolic Self-Renunciation

No one can bring it about that he himself, his own children, or indeed anyone else should never have come to be. Anyone, however, can imagine the never-having-come-to-be of himself, his children or any third party. The question thus arises: in what kind of a state would we ourselves, our children, or a third party need to find ourselves in order for us to be able to make use of this capacity for existential abstraction in such a way that we might wish that we ourselves, our children, or some third party might never have begun to exist? This is the question regarding the neganthropic àLimit Value for ourselves, our children, third parties (or humanity as a whole).

Here, we need to expand this question regarding the neganthropic limit value by drawing into it a certain reflection relative to the ethics of empathy. Anyone who – being presently, for his own part, free of suffering – speaks for himself and, speaking purely theoretically, says that he would subscribe under no conceivable circumstances to the view that it would be better never to have lived, he thereby proclaims, on this level of reflection, his renunciation of all empathy or pity of which he might be the recipient. Because there surely count among these “conceivable circumstances” situations, for example, in which the person in question might find themselves grievously injured without access to pain medication or locked away for years in a cell without having done anything wrong. By having refused in his unafflicted state the symbolic-metaphysical option of having never existed and therefore having never suffered, he thereby also renounced any claim he might ever have made on others’ compassion. He set his pure existence above all else and considered it to be impossible that those same things might befall him which had caused countless others to cast a curse upon their existence.

Much the same applies in cases where parents informed about the genetic risks run by their genetically defective children-to-be express a preference for the existence of these children over a world in which they would never have come to exist; in contrast to the children in question themselves, these parents cannot, prima facie, hope for compassion; rather, they deserve the reproach that they are, as àPerpetrators of Existence, initiators of that suffering on the part of the children which, to their own benefit as people wishing to be parents, accepted, at the children’s expense, as “part of the deal”. Someone who, when completely personally intact, entirely refuses the notion of a symbolic self-renunciation, thereby renounces all claim on our compassion, much as that person renounces any such claim who commits himself beforehand to a refusal of all euthanasia, whatever the circumstances. He knowingly ignores the fact that his physical pain might one day become so terrible, and grow so far beyond any medical power to mitigate it, that he himself might plead for that assisted suicide which he refuses, today, to accord to anyone the right to demand.

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