Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Anti-Natalism & Reality


"Most people believe that they were either benefited or at least not harmed by being brought into existence. Thus, if they ever do reflect on whether they should bring others into existence--rather than having children without even thinking about whether they should--they presume that they do them no harm. Better Never to Have Been challenges these assumptions. David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a serious harm. Although the good things in one's life make one's life go better than it otherwise would have gone, one could not have been deprived by their absence if one had not existed. Those who never exist cannot be deprived. However, by coming into existence one does suffer quite serious harms that could not have befallen one had one not come into existence."
From Oxford University Press description.

Are you overestimating the quality of your life? Probably. Which is why David Benatar thinks you ought to reexamine whether you should have been born in the first place. He thinks most humans probably should never have been born. This is the only way to, er, "...solve many conundrums of moral theory about population..." If you know anything at all, Peter Singer, you know that resolving contradictions in moral theories is more important than life itself.

Who said ideas have no consequences? What I like about these people--utilitarians all--is how they are honest in their extrapolations. Instead of that famous military aphorism, "Kill 'em all; let God sort 'em out!", we have a pithy philosophy summed up by: "The end justifies the means". God plays no part, as He is just a manifestation of someone's desire to be happy. Or to be justified; same difference. House, M.D. is only the latest, greatest expression of utilitarianism, and his appeal is simply in his blunt honesty--social mores be damned. This is all well and good until someone's honesty results in you being chosen for elimination. These people must love Survivor.

The photo is of Jeremy Bentham, famous Utilitarian who had his body embalmed and is on display at University College London. He is one of a long line of idealists--among them episcopalians, feminists, democrats, Millists, free-thinkers, utopians, Princetonians, Deweyites--who believe that with just enough education, people would be more likely to decide and vote progressively on the basis of rational
self-promotion. Alas, it never works out that way. Backward, Bible-informed moral values just keep intruding into people's lives, and progress is ever something yearned for, but never achieved. Well, except in the Soviet Union, for awhile.

HT to Mercatornet.

4 comments:

Jesse said...

"However, by coming into existence one does suffer quite serious harms that could not have befallen one had one not come into existence."

That's bad news to so many people, but to those who believe the Gospel, it's wonderful. It's Christ! To live is Christ. We encounter God, present through the cross and driving us to rely only upon Him, in the suffering we endure as Christians. Bizarre, I know, but our (unchosen) suffering, in light of the Gospel, is the genuine presence of God's love, as we eagerly anticipate the ultimate (final) blessing of this world: death.

How He hides Himself!
For that matter, how we are also hidden in Christ!

Bruce Gee said...

"But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.
But to this day whenver Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart;
but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."

2Co. 3: 14-16.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

Bruce, do those two 2Corinthians verses refer to legalism, or following the laws without Christ? It appears so in context, but I'm not fully sure.

Bruce Gee said...

These are those who have hardened their hearts against both law and gospel. If they can't hear the law when it is read, because their hearts are veiled, they certainly won't hear the gospel.

I was thinking, in response to Jesse's comments, that Christ is hidden from these philosophers, who have only human reason (a one-armed bank robber if ever there was one) to make their way. Everything in the "ministry of the spirit" --as Paul so happily puts it--is topsy turvy and illogical to the veiled heart and mind.
So, "their minds were hardened", and the natural outcome is this kind of anti-natalistic insanity. Perfectly logical, and perfectly crazy.