Will to Survive, Survival Instinct

Whoever acts in such a way that a human being begins to exist attaches a being that, ideally, should be autonomous, their whole life long to the chain of a “will to survive” the claims of which reside in strata of existence that lie far from all that is mental and, by this same token, far from all that is autonomous. There where fear of death retains us in life even when we have long since understood that it would be better to cease to exist we surely have reason to speak of a “biologically guaranteed amorality of survival”. Ilse Aichinger indignantly notes: “My mother was a doctor and I was very often witness to how people took eight days to die: ways of dying. At such times I thought to myself: this surely is out of all proportion at the end of an existence that one had not asked for in the first place. To speak of ‘suffering’ is inadequate in such cases! Dying is a bodily process. And the body, which reacts like an animal, resists it absolutely, powerfully and desperately.” (Ilse Aichinger)

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