Upon reflecting on the concept of suicide for some time, I started reflecting on the desire for non-existence. Particularly I was wondering if it is possible at all to desire for non-existence. I don’t believe that it is truly possible even if it seems so. The definitions seem to contradict, so I wonder where such a desire originates.
First, the terms ‘non-existence’ and ‘desire’ must be defined.
I define ‘Non-existence’ as a lack of awareness. This is not to mean what the word ‘lack’ might suggest. ‘Lack’ tends to suggest a removal, particularly the feelings associated with the removal of something. Here, I use it to signify the negation of the awareness of everything including awareness of the negation itself.
‘Desire’ is the push to secure a certain quality or attribute as its object. For example, if one desires an apple, one wishes to secure some or all qualities of the apple. Perhaps it is the juicy taste or the visual quality of the apple alone or other combinations of qualities. To fulfill this desire one must secure these ‘desired’ attributes. These attributes or qualities form the object of desire.
Defining both ‘Desire’ and ‘Non-Existence’ in this way, it seems to me that the two cannot go together. ‘Non-existence’ does not have any qualities or attributes. Hence a desire for non-existence has no attributes or qualities to secure as its object. The definition of desire requires the existence of attributes to be secured, for there to be an object of desire. A desire with no such attributes or qualities and therefore no object of desire, cannot be considered a desire at all.
If we suppose that desire is successful in the endeavor to secure non-existence, it would not be possible to have awareness of it, making such a desire meaningless. How could a desire be meaningful, if one cannot be aware of the attribute or quality that is to be secured, i.e. the object of desire.
It is possible on the other hand to have a desire of a non-existent thing. Say, for example, that someone desires a unicorn. It may be said then, that a desire for a unicorn is a desire for a non-existent thing, thus such a desire is meaningless. To some extent this is true. As we do not expect unicorns to suddenly pop into existence at this point in time, such desires are silly but not necessarily contradictory and/or meaningless.
Non-existent things (as opposed to non-existence itself) still have qualities and attributes (even though the specific combination of qualities and attributes may not exist). It is perfectly logical and meaningful for these to be of the objects of desire. Insofar as the object of desire has some attributes or qualities to secure, the desire is compatible with the object of desire.
Personally, I interpret the desire for non-existence as a mixture of longing and respect, as I believe it to be the ‘final’ desire in life. Once the desires for specific attributes and qualities in life are fulfilled in one way or another (i.e. running through all possible objects of desire or reaching the conclusion that many of them are similar enough in nature, that fulfilling one is equivalent to fulfilling the others), one encounters this ‘final’ contradictory desire. I consider this ‘final’ desire to contain the very essence of longing since one will necessarily feel a perpetual state of longing when trying to attain this (which is unattainable). I also consider it respectable, since one who responds favorably to this ‘final’ desire is surely on the path of wisdom.
An oddity occurs at this point; though such a desire seems to contradict itself, the desire itself seems to also exist. Many in the past and present (not sure about the future yet) have defined the final goal as ‘nothingness’. I do not mean to wholly disagree here nor do I have enough written to credibly do so, but I would like to get a clearer picture of non-existence at some point. That shall be saved for another post in the future sometime, upon further reflection.