One point I disagree with is this:
> “For an existing person, the presence of bad things is bad and the presence of good things is good,” Benatar explained. “But compare that with a scenario in which that person never existed—then, the absence of the bad would be good, but the absence of the good wouldn’t be bad, because there’d be nobody to be deprived of those good things.” This asymmetry “completely stacks the deck against existence,” he continued, because it suggests that “all the unpleasantness and all the misery and all the suffering could be over, without any real cost.”
I disagree with saying that “the absence of the bad” would be good but “the absence of the good wouldn’t be bad.” If “there’d be nobody to be deprived of those good things,” then in the absence of the bad, wouldn’t there also *be nobody to delight in the absence of the bad?* If that is so, then there is no asymmetry, and one is left with evaluating the relative cost of not experiencing good against the relative value of not experiencing bad. Benatar’s argument (in this interview) is more compelling on that point.
Also, it feels loaded to refer to the absence of bad as good. I’m not sure I believe all of the assumptions that go into a statement like that.
If nobody had any babies, there never would have been a David Benatar to argue against having babies. You can’t claim that not existing is better, because we don’t have a reference for what not existing is like, we only know existing.
There’s the assumption that it matters that there is a David Benatar or anyone else to experience suffering, which seems contradictory for someone arguing that existence is not important. If existence is not important, so unimportant that one would argue against continuing it, then neither is the fact that people suffer. And as such it would be justified to have children to alleviate part of your own suffering. You cannot say existence is not important, but the fact that we suffer is, that seems inconsistent to me.
It also seems very strange to me to take such a heavy stance against existing, but not wishing to elaborate on your personal situation, and arguing this is because your arguments should stand by themselves. When you’re talking about the human predicament, that’s a very shallow approach in my opinion. Because existence inherently has a very personal and emotional side to it that extends beyond logic. In fact, I would argue that the very fact that David thinks the predicament of existence can be captured through logic alone is a very likely contender for why David feels existence should be discontinued. Because logic is just a tiny fraction of existence, and also one of the less inspiring fractions. It’s our emotional and spiritual dimensions that give a lot of meaning to life.
Another really strange part is where the interviewer showed the majority of people considers their life to be good, and David “disagrees”. What kind of arrogance is that, to think you’re in a position to disagree on how others perceive life? Their opinion on how they experience life IS the truth in this case, because it’s a subjective measure. Again, you can’t “logically” disagree with a subjective measurement, that’s borderline ridiculous to me.
A happy person would not even bother questioning whether we should end existence, because they’d consider their life the greatest gift. I think David has created for himself a vicious cycle of unhappiness, which flows in and out of his work.
Since there are so many posts about anti-natalism can anyone explain to me why they find the view even remotely convincing?
From the text: “People, in short, say that life is good. Benatar believes that they are mistaken. “The quality of human life is, contrary to what many people think, actually quite appalling,”. What would justify us in discounting what people report, namely that for many (depending on location) life is good? Perhaps being thirsty or hungry isn’t bad and in any way a detriment to a good life? Why would we doubt that people actually often enjoy their lives?
Also there is a political pessimism and resignation in some of the answers Benetar gives that I find unjustified ( “The madness of the world as a whole—what can you or I do about that?”, “It’ll never happen. The lessons never seem to get learnt. They never seem to get learnt. Maybe the odd individual will learn them, but you still see this madness around you,”). Pessimism about political change for the better seems to be in vogue even though it seems reasonable to say that life has generally improved in recent history.
This article gets recycled often. Benatar’s books are interesting; they fit within a very prominent thematic in both Western and Eastern religions and philosophies. It would be nice for this nexus to be better presented in explications of antinatalism.
I find his argument against suicide as a viable option unconvincing. “Life is bad but so is death.” Accepting that the effects of suicide on the living may be greater than the effects of nonexistence, I don’t think he succeeds in demonstrating how the nonexistence that is death is worse for the individual than the nonexistence that is not being born.