New Philosopher

Learning when to die

Earlier this year an older friend, a philosopher, call him M, decided to end his life. He had been very ill for many months, and the prognosis was bad – only further decline and then death. Worse perhaps, he had become depressed, could no longer concentrate enough to read, and had even stopped listening to jazz, which had been his lifelong passion. For those who knew him, the idea of M, who read foreign novels in the original language for fun, and devoured philosophical essays and books, not reading or discussing philosophy or listening and talking about jazz was scarcely imaginable. M had been a gentle, modest, sociable, generous, and witty friend and teacher to many – I, and he saw no serious upside in prolonging his deteriorating existence just for the sake of living.

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