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Old 04-15-2017   #1
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matt cardin
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Topic Winner David Benatar sums up antinatalism in 200 words for Oxford University Press interview

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In conjunction with the publication of Benatar's new book, the OUP blog has just published a new interview with him, conducted by the philosophy editor at OUP USA. Among other items of interest, right in his opening responses Benatar gives a remarkably succinct and lucid précis of antinatalism:

Quote
Peter Ohlin: The title of the new book is The Human Predicament. How would you describe that predicament, in a nutshell?

David Benatar: Life is hard. We have to struggle, often unsuccessfully, to keep unpleasantness at bay. It would be easier to make sense of this if life served some important purpose. Yet, while we can create some meaning, our lives lack any ultimate purpose. Death can relieve our suffering, but it cannot solve our problem of meaninglessness. Moreover, because death is annihilation, it is part of our misfortune (even when, all things considered, it is the lesser of two evils). In other words, our predicament is that life is bad but that death is too.

PO: How did you become interested in this topic, and how does it connect with your previous book, Better Never to Have Been?

DB: Apprehending our predicament commands one’s interest. To be aware of the suffering, the pointlessness of it all, and the grotesque finale seems unavoidably interesting -- or, at least, it is to me. Although there is no way to escape the human predicament once one is in it, there is a way in which it can be avoided, namely by never being brought into existence. Of course, it’s too late for us who exist, but because procreation involves replicating the predicament, the latter can be avoided by desisting from the former. That’s why it is better never to be or to have been.
I'm of the mind that these two paragraphs make for a nicely quotable explanation for anyone who might ask. I wish I had had them on hand three weeks ago when I was introducing some students to Ligotti and sketching the current cultural circumstance surrounding his writing, worldview, and reputation, for which purpose I showed them the car conversation scene from season 1 of True Detective, which of course cribs from both Ligotti and Benatar.

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