Monday, September 27, 2010

Is a Meaningless Life Worth Living?

Mitchell Heisman

Mitchell Heisman, 35, concluded that life was meaningless. Evidently, he also concluded that his own death was preferable to his own life.

He went to Memorial Church at Harvard University, where hundreds had gathered to observe Yom Kippur, and he used a revolver to shoot and kill himself.

He left behind a 1,900-page monograph--a result of five years' labor which he posthumously emailed, using a scheduler, to family and others.

His book-length work concludes:
Every word, every thought, and every emotion come back to one core problem: life is meaningless. 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.
Perhaps some bloggers and commentators will cite a connection between Heisman, atheism, nihilism, and suicide. If people have noticed this story, their conclusion will be that Heisman was merely being honest. Through suicide, they will say, he enacted the logical and inevitable consequence of atheism, nihilism, and materialism. To these arguers, we atheists and/or materialists who are happy individuals live as contradictions. We avoid carrying out what our beliefs tell us we can and should do.

I'll cringe at these arguments, if they come up. However, I will not make a defense here. I will not engage in apologetics. The fact is that there is no need for defense or apologetics: atheists, nihilists, and materialists have nothing to answer for in the case of Mitchell Heisman.

Let's acknowledge that a very bright and unhappy man committed suicide. Let's join with people who mourn those they have known and loved. Although I never met or knew of Mitchell Heisman, I am sorry that he is gone, and I offer genuine sympathy to his family and friends.


  1. Whoever wrote this completely missed the point. Heisman killed himself for a very good reason. Read his suicide note.

    1. the fact that you think heisman's suicide was done for a "good reason," when his note was about nihilism and lack of meanings or reasons, good or bad, shows that it's really you who's missed the point.
      read his suicide note.

  2. Archon,

    It's considered good form to explain oneself. What is the point I missed?

    I state in the post that Heisman's reasons for committing suicide were his own. He thought the were sufficient and I have not actually challenged those reasons or Heisman's view of them.

    But I do have a different view of those reasons and I disagree with his conclusions. I am allowed to do that, am I not?


Feel free to comment if you have something substantial and substantiated to say.