« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#107 — Is Life Actually Worth Living?

2017-12-05 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with David Benatar about his philosophy of “anti-natalism." They discuss the asymmetry between the good and bad things in life, the ethics of existential risk, the moral landscape, the limits and paradoxes of introspection, the “experience machine” thought experiment, population ethics, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Today, I am speaking with David Benatar David is professor philosophy at the University of Cape Town, South africa- is the author of a few books better never to have been the harm of coming into existence recently the human predicament the guy to life's biggest questions and he's a philosopher whom many of you have wanted me to speak with having gained emails and tweets about him for quite some time, he is perhaps the most prominent expo and a philosophy cos the Anti Naval ISM, and you will hear much more about that in today's episode, the quest
for David really is whether or not existences worth the trouble it was that question with an emphatic no, and this makes for interesting conversation as you'll hear them couple places where intuitions diverge, and I think you just have to pick which intuition you most compelling there, but talk about many interesting things. We talk about the asymmetry between the good and things in life the ethics of existential risk, the differ. Between starting and continuing a life, he's? Those is very different, are built in I towards existence, and how that may confuse us Relationship between Anti Natal ISM in another position called pro mortal the idea that big, thing if we all died in her sleep tonight? I talk for a few minutes about, my notion of the moral landscape and wealth. Without the limits and paradoxes of introspection, how
Viewing your life in a certain way can actually change what there is to notice about Europe. And there are many other topics here. Population ethic it's a very rich conversation for those of you who, like moral philosophy, and it got me to realise at least one thing. There is for me at least one of the trouble in Paradise Susan, Derek, perfect philosophy, so I found a very valuable conversation and I hope you do as well, and now I bring you Dave. Senator David Benatar David thanks for coming on the past. Thank you not see with you so I've been hearing about you for at least a year. I plead unfamiliarity with your your books, but people have been telling me about you. I think they have add some of your articles and and some undoubtedly have read your books, but
have been laid out, a philosophy that is novel and quite pessimistic, and out quite interesting. That really strikes to the very core of the question. Is life worth living and your answer to that is resounding no, at least for those who do not yet exist and no doubt most of what is interesting in moral philosophy, can be brought to bear on this western before we, we dive into your philosophy, give us two seconds: potted history of Europe of what you ve been doing, intellectually and that in the kinds of questions you? U focused on Well, this is one question. I first revisited on multiple occasions and I will say, examined issues related to it, I, my broad interest saw in moral philosophy and, more specifically, in practical ethical questions
But often when I look at the practical ethical questions, I'm interested in the theoretical issues that that lie behind them and I suppose in this area of procreative ethics, those to come together quite well, but I have written about other topics as well: another book that I wrote school, the second sexism, which is about discrimination against men and boys and then everything on a range of a practical ethical questions, and your currently professor philosophy, that's good. I think I've done so. Let's just jumpy, because this is this really is fascinating. You describe your view as Anti natal. Ism is adequate, from you or did that view exist before you started? Work in this area have been offset question and quite
gee. I don't know the answer whether I claim determine whether I heard it somewhere. I've tried to do some sort of intellectual archaeology to find out whether I did hear from somewhere else and I've been unsuccessful. But the idea itself, I think, dates back to too much earlier times when he hasn't, even in ancient times the idea that it would have been better, never to have been born and am all current Marie and explain to forces author Schopenhauer, so these ideas have been around for a long time and that doesn't surprise me yeah. It's interesting your theirs of quite convergence between your view and Buddhism. I'm sharp someone must have pointed that out to you it at some point. Yes, exactly they have perhaps will touch on that, because I have a long standing interest in Buddhism and related practices like me station, so just lay out the argument for aunt in it.
Was a mate make make the case for us at the outset her. But perhaps I should carefully what the view is. First, sir, it's a view that be ought not to bring new people into existence, but I think that these broader be ought not to bring. You seemed in being into existence, wrote such not just the view that its harmful to come into existence, the view that is also wrong to two brings in days essence, and I think there are a range of arguments for this position, some of them. Characterized as philanthropic arguments and I think I'm misanthropic arguments and yet was on restricting the scope to being human beings into existence. But I think that parallel points might be able to be made about about other sentient, things the original arguments that I advanced other philanthropic ones and those radio concerned about the being that you'll bring into existence,
in my view, is not only that it's always a home for that being, but that it also very serious harm and, given the seriousness of their home, I think that it's always gonna be wrong to create a new being more recently have developed. Some misanthropic arguments and others have to do with the hum. That being you bringing existence will do to others, and by this I mean other human beings, but also other sentient beings on the planet is sufficiently broad kinds I admit that I, although day ones, philanthropic and the other, is misanthropic. I dont think that these two incompatible with one another so I will just to revisit a few. That means go by and their significance be lost on on some of the audience here. So one of the consequences of your view is that it really is a a monstrous crime to have children.
At a minimum. It's a colossal active negligence on the part of people. Haven't really thought about these issues clearly enough, and it, really is kind of analogous on your view to assuring souls into Hell, because Existences either that bad or there's a high enough probability that it will be that bad that it's just it's just irresponsible to consign people to them to the fate of of existing. That's correct, of course, help in degrees, says bad is it is. It can always be worse, and so we need to be careful about that analogy of issuing somebody into hell, but it's a kind of help. I love this topic and I think this be fun to again to the details here and here I hear some more of your. Your specific art but what has been your experience, promulgating this idea or set ideas, I can imagine the thesis
folks, anger and some people that's Fisher, a lot of angry people a fortune not too many of us have made direct contact with me, but wonder, see a lot of firm hate, mail of a certain kind and love of slots and locate comments on the web. But the people have contacted me tend to be those who have been. Sympathetic to my views and one very clear, common kind of response. I received this from people who ve had these sorts of thoughts and felt it were entirely alone in the world. They thought that were the only people who we thought this and I have drawn a measure of comfort from name that there are others who share that idea. One distinction to make here is between pessimism. Of the sort that your expressing and nihilism your ear. Your view really isn't nihilistic. Do you want to teach us apart? Yea, you absolutely right. Many people, I think Miss characterize the position as any elicit position.
And I'm not a realist. I think that suffering, for example, is bad and as one of the reasons why I think it's wrong to bring you beings into existence because they agenda And they gonna suffer pretty unspeakably nihilism. Here would be that way, doing nothing, matters right it in the scheme of things good and bad or justice, and things we make up and the universe, doesn't care about us and therefore it doesn't really matter if conscious mines get ground up in some inferno in terminally. That's not your view at all. You want to avoid the inferno. Anyone want to avoid committing the moral wrong of consigning people to it. That's exactly right. Look out! I'm in near list of some kind. So if you ask me about whether our lives have cosmic meaning Ivan nearest about that, I don't think that they do, but I just don't think that it follows from that that it's ok to inflict suffering on others
I can imagine that people also try to say, college eyes you. They must think that this view is really not so much the product of a valid chain of reasoning is the product of a likely mood disorder are you depressed is at a dog, as you must get her I'll. Let you know they let the people to do exactly that. They try to psychology eyes it and I think that's exactly the wrong attitude to have I think we should look at the arguments examined them on their merits and similar. They will they stand before, but I guess another poor things could be true. I find the arguments very interesting and we'll definitely get into those. But I, when I heard about you and your emphasis on this position, It think that you're just experience of the world moment to moment and That would include your mood and and everything else about you that
brought to bear on experience must be colouring. The arguments are occur be colouring your your sense of their veracity, or moral import, and I guess I a table experience I had, and I'm just wondering if, if there's anything about it, that could relevant to your case. I had a friend not a close friend, but someone who I had many many times, and this was a person who, What email me periodically was suicidal and he had been suicidal for quite some time. One point he sent an email to. One of his life saying. I'm gonna commit suicide and here's your last chance to talk me out of it. Put that way. It sounds like a kind of macabre and gratuitous appeal for a time but it was more. He was actually just being scrupulous to not kill himself so impulsively.
That he would leave. Everyone has lie feeling, like you know, if only they had no and they might have been able to do something, so he just he was going if everyone whose life a chance to reason with him, and it was kind of a piece with The reasons why he thought he was killing himself. He really thought he had reasoned himself to a position where suicide was not only acceptable but was really that his best decision and he had a very filicide. He wasn't a professional philosopher, but he had a very philosophical cast of mind and he was quite smart and in I went back and forth with him a little bit over email, mostly end the experience was one of of seeing someone in my view mistake his and he Dounia has his lack of joy in living moment to moment for a kind of philosophical epiphany, but which is to say if he thought
better if he was feeling more joy. If he was feeling more of a connection to other people, he would feel- he would he would have felt that the results of his reasoning on each of those points were less compelling I know your argument is not an argument for suicide and they will differentiate antenatal ism from that, but I'm just wondering if You feel that, if the character of your experience worse Nick entirely better moment to moment, if you feel like this philosophical conviction, would just kind of evaporate or become so uninteresting to you that it would sort of evaporate. Well, I don't. Let's talk about myself, some pretty the smoking onto declaration, but I'll make a few observations. And a one is that are not not to make the assumption that somebody who holds the view that I do you thinking about himself at Emily, about themselves as well, but they might be just thinking about everything they see around them in the world. So, just if you think about the man,
suffering that's going on in the world at any moment you if the pre, coarse and careless, do not take that seriously tat. It needn't be about one's own experiences. It needn't be about our own attitudes, it it might be so since devotee or an expression of what's going on the world, so you should give an example: that's very self oriented and what I'm guessing is that spot the any possible when looking at things at all, it was impossible to arrive at these sorts of used by looking outward looking, what you see around you, you are no doubt not out, and then it was. The other point is that you spoke about him being ended on it, but they ve been he of manic people out there and they use might be coloured by their by their mania. There, maybe deriving too much pleasure to actually see the will to what it yeah, it's hard to know what is normal here, or what is eight uncolored lens through which to
for these questions and in their may in fact, be no uncolored lens and may just be lenses all the way, and so let's get into that the data of your argument, run through the the asymmetry argument. For me,. This is the exact in more than one asymmetry argument, but there is a kind of actually a logical asymmetry. I think, between benefits in harm's, between the good things and the bad things and
we simply speaking within their life, the panes that you have the other arms to have. These are bad and the good things that you have those are good. But if we considering this scenario, which somebody's got to be brought into existence, we have to compare the outcome in which they do from the outcome in which they don't exist and when in the outcome which they don't exist, we have to consider the absent harm sandy and the absent benefits. And I think that the absence of the Homs is good, even though that person won't exist. Where is the absence of the good things in their life case? Not gonna be bad, and that's because it gives me no, but you can t be deprived of those that are very good things.
So the eight the estimate trees radie between at the dead and the good. In the scenario, if somebody doesn't exist, ok, so it strikes me, I won't want to run through each piece of that again so that to make sure that I'm not making a mistake here in Rio, but it strikes me that you're theirs, an imbalance here in how you are presenting that end. Could be conjuring the the asymmetry and awaiting your sane and just point out where I go wrong here. You're saying that the absence of a good life can't be a harm because there is no one who is harmed, there's no person who is deprived of this life, so the absence of of goods is not a bad thing, but the absence of a bad life is a good here. You, in my view you You ve heard of smuggling the absence of existence in as part of the good you're saying that the prevail
of harm is a positive good, even though there is no one who enjoys this absence of harm. Is that where you here and putting the rabbit in hat. Well, many people have suggested, I'm doing that. But the point I am making is not so much a metaphysical one as it is actually a logical what it's about and asymmetry in values between the good things and things in life and one of the reasons why I think people I think this a symmetry is actually pretty intuitive and I think large numbers of people would accept a deal and until I see where it leads, but this basic asymmetry, I think, explained some other item agrees that the many people who would endorse so Yes, sir. He has an example. The large parts of the universe is uninhabited, they aren't beings their Sidney, not sentient beings, and, if we think about those uninhabited parts of the of the universe
we're not filled with a nor do. I think we should be filled with remorse for the absent goods that they are. They said we think about Mars, for example, where they could be Martians, but they aren't. We didn t think about all that pleasure that those absent martians- a good half. Isn't that the terrible think we don't think that at all, whereas thinking we think about the absence of let's say: get martian moors. I'd just like me: have wars on earth and we think about the absence of all the suffering. They think it s a pretty good thing, it's pretty good that they don't have that day that this. That is nothing like that Mars. That's that's an advantage that Mars has over earth, but there's no one who doesn't have those harm he exactly exactly, but I still think that it say it's a good thing that there is the absence of ETA. On Mars, now grant you that there are many other possible asymmetries here that we should be concerned about. So, for instance, one
thank you claim or later I think, it's implicit in some of your claims as that, There is much more suffering were possible. Suffering then there is being applied, people happiness or their already, the depth of it is, is far greater and so there's there's nay symmetry between suffering unhappiness. That it is also just to swings a balance here. So we'll talk about that, but here, I feel, like you you're you're, need a foul of my intuitions here so end. What you just said about the moral significance of cancelling possible goods, definite Stanton opposition to The work of every philosopher who is who is working on what is called existential risk now, so you can have philosophers like in a Wilma casket who will say that the good, greatest possible wrong would be to do something which put our species on track for self, and I hope
vision, and that would be that in large measure, not because of all the suffering that would be caused, because for annihilated in the right way. It could be completely painless. It would be wrong because it would close the door to all of the the untold goods they could come. From a billion years of creative involvement with the cosmos? If you knew that some decision you took today that not all deprived you're, a great children from living them. Glorious possible life. They just have a you know, a sort of glorious life, but you deprived all of their descendants from even existing and discovering greater depths of beauty. People are persuaded, and I'm one of them, that those hypothetical losses are as real as the high
that'll gain of of not suffering if you don't exist, so I think that when we think about human extinction, there's something the clouds people's thinking and that's why the moment you think about the application of this asymmetry to human extinction. All these other into since the guy bribing come up, that's why the example I gave wasn't about human extinction. It was a is of some other species it say on another planet that could have been an isn't there and we don't spin If I'm worrying about that. Nor do I think we should spend any time worrying about the absent pleasures of a day when we think about human extinction. There are some confounding variables. The one is the mechanism whereby the extinction takes place, so is a distinction between where the people to die out or they killed off, and so one way in which we could go extinct is through people
meeting and untimely end and I am being killed. But another way is for everybody to die peacefully in their beds and for the human species to have come to an end, because there was no more reproduction and I think, a lot of what's going on with people's intuitions and mixing up of those things. And then I think there is a lot of sentimentality about the human species. Is this idea that it is a wonderful species and we'd like it to be around for a long time, and I haven't we discovered in Tunnels- was a wonderful things in Britain be good if that how trajectory of cited it does Every went on and sentimentality about about having humans around its. I think that those sorts of factors confound are thinking about cases of human extinction. So I would like to move away from those to think of the application of the asymmetry to other cases, and, Hardwoods granted, some people might be confounded. I dont think I am here. In fact, I think there are a few more things to say about this, cancelling the hue
career that are relevant here, but before we do I just want to linger on this. What strikes Me as a kind of an asymmetry that is giving you your your first asymmetry here, which is you're a crew. A good two non distant beans on one side of your equation, where you're not on the other, do you do not see it? That way. Are you just think is justified. Not I do see it that way, but it is justified. The is this actually, a logic lay symmetry, and I think when you do, the calculation follow. From that add the cards are stacked against bringing somebody into existence, but it's not an artificial sacking. It's it's one that makes eminent since I guess it is still not making sense to me or to spend a few more minutes on this. So we have a person who could have existed but doesn't, and undoubtedly their philosophical problems with thinking about possibility.
As well as any or you are there. Are there these possible things or are there simply? actual things- and we were actually just missed, by our notion of possibility, but leaving aside. I am I have had a. I have two children which already convinced me of a monstrous ethical lapse on your account, but believe that aside, but have, I have decided not to have a third child you'll, be happy to know so this third child, I will not experience anything good or anything bad and on your account theirs No deprivation, too her for being brought into existence on account of not getting to do all the good things there are to do. But there is a benefit to not suffering all of the inevitable panes of existence
but that benefit doesnt accrue to anyone, because no one by this description exists. That's correct the end, it's impossible, of course. If the person doesn't exist for them to enjoy today, but when we are looking at scenarios of bringing somebody in existence or not we're having taken a compared, those two cases, one snoring which they do exist and went away, they died and if we want to know what's better for that potential person, we need to compare this situation in which they do instigation, which they debt, and we have to compare, obviously the scenario: if they don't exist to the one in which they do and make the interest judgments relative to the air to them old and which the person does exist, how this calculation run for you. If exam, stands, was on balance more pleasant, and your and creative and beautiful, so that every person who comes into existence runs a you know, I'm a better than even chance.
Of having a life worth living, but still are there many lives there are not worth living and they come up quite frequently there They just don't overwhelm the lives that are worth living. Then how would you think about it Well, that's very phrase. A life worth living, I think, is ambiguous and I think it's ambiguous between a life with starting and a life with continuing, and I think one mistake people make is to not seated ambiguity is, I think different standards ought to apply to two, sir, if at a given time, there's more good in your life and bad, then I may indeed be worth continuing. I say mangy persistent complex, easier, the bigger revisit later, but I think the bar for starting a life is gonna, be. Tire, let's stick with the starting of life, because we'll get to whether life is worth continuing. Let's just say that we live in a world where at birth, every human beings could expect.
To have a slightly better than even chance. I'm in the base of a that they're like the house in a casino playing blackjack right. They have whatever it is it a fifty two percent chance of winning. And women in this case really is winning right. There's no downside to winning mistress the fifty two percent of people have good lives. On balance, really do have good lives on balance anyway. Look at them and then You know the forty eight percent of people who don't have negative lives to one or another degree. Then how would you think about it? well, I think even their lives are a good on balance. Is can be plenty of bad, but let's just stupid, that we live in a world, this kind of like a coin toss, and if the right side of the coin comes up, that is. A life on balance. However, you want to aggregate benefit and injuries, SAM Act but understanding the league. The question because it is analogies at a winning at black Well when you wouldn't you when there's no downside to the winning, whereas
when you win in this life luxury that you speaking about, but I wanna get parity on is, is there no downside? Is this a life of unmitigated good, or is there some negative as well and from what you said understanding, Yo Yo Yo. To saying that there is some bad as well, but on balance, it's good I guess there could be some bad, but it is in the case of the lucky life it is outweighed by the good so that each of your pain are manageable enough that when your pleasure comes round you all We feel that it was worth it and let less, let's just say that you're right to feel that we ve tuned the lock of of lucky mines in such a way that Life is really good and pain. Does not overwarm pleasure again see when you say when you say that you think it's worth it? Are you saying it's worth it to have come into existence?
it's worth it to continue exist. I am without granting you that distinction, but I'm not sure I agree that exists, but we'll get there for the purposes of of of this point. In the conversation I'm talking to out coming into existence, so you don't exist and I give you the opportunity to exist and if you could, You were one of the lucky ones. You would find yourself in a circumstance that was well worth your time. Well, that, I think, is a confusion. I grant you that the many people who say I'm glad I was brought into existence because I think, on balance its better as that that I'm around. I think I'm getting more good than I am getting bad, but I just think that people who hold out for you have not told carefully enough about what the question is. I think the ten because they already exist, they biased towards the conditions in which they already exist and so what they actually asking themselves without railway
it is my life with continuing, but I don't think there's any life that's worth starting and I think there's no lights were starting because of this asymmetry Surely you would grant that if existence much much better than it is. In fact you could, imagine a life worth living right and a white one of existence just had no suffering at all in it right. It was just one leap from com: aid of height to another and every moment was more interesting than the last. So I've got stated that possibility and I think that scenario we should be indifferent between coming into existence and not but I to say that that's an order, you imagined is actually pretty hard to imagine in practice how to any any real. Such life participate magical, about how hypothetical likely you come into existence and there's nothing at about that
I would say we I've been different between them. I think we should be indifferent between coming into exists and that condition and are coming into existence at all that as a a novel view that I have never considered I'm wondering whether to focus therefrom, before going on to capture some of these loose threads, less spend a moment on it. If I pause it, a kind of God like Paradise for all conscious b these rights are there really is just there's nothing wrong in the universe by any. Anything that you can say as wrong. You know like there's a little ache and campaign over here? There's a little dissatisfaction over here. I will just cancel by saying no, no, these those are my It's where there's more power your flooding in there and more even deeper sense of meaning even deeper gratification of ones intellectual life and these these are beans who are far.
More competent than you and I are to judge the character of their experience. They have had a bit in years to consider the matter, and there still happy to be here. Imagine mines constituted like that. Why should we be indifferent to to that end. The primordial I'll tone of nonexistent. She I think, what's dividing us here is the asymmetry, because, if you feel, The is the asymmetry that I'm that I'm defending We'll say world is nothing bad in that eugenic life that you speaking about, These also nothing bad in the situation of non existence, so that the data they very, Are you say, but in Eden they're all these pressures- and I say that's great because if you, if you re, need in its good that you have those precious because your life would be worse without them. But if you ve, exist it. The absence of those pages is gonna mean nothing to you. You won't be there, you and care about it. It doesn't matter that is. That is not enough
in its having those measures, so you think about Adam and Eve and then some third character they could have been there before the fall. Obviously- and you say well, is it? Is it a pity that these not some additional being here- that's not enjoying Eden? No, I don't think, there's anything bad about that it isn't. It does an indifference and they should be an indifference. I can see that nothing bad about it, because as no one to suffer the absence of of those pleasures and insights but again. By the same token, I am, I am not convinced that you can make The other move, your making, which is to say that there's something good about not having the suffering imposed on you. If you don't exist and if you don't exist, you can't EL, the relief of not being tortured because you don't exist, so I feel like that's the there's a symmetry there of just non bein. It's come back to you. If it's your third possible child,
Let me mention you were thinking about having a third child and you did some genetic tests and you found out that this child that you could have would lead a life that, even by your standards, is one of them, suffering and say you decide, will be not going to go ahead with the state. Shall we not gonna have the third child em? You think that would be a good thing. Yes and do you think you ve got a reason to avoid bringing their child into existence, but the real? and he is one, which is practically on the existence of the child and therefore the existence of his or her suffering. Talking here about the absence of a wrong that not committing by bringing this guaranteed to suffer person into existence since the Euro joining some scenario which this child does exist and is leading alive. Who suffering? And you say I got a reason to avoid that right now
let us imagine that you thinking of having this third child and you: do the tests and everything's fine and sacred turn out? while the children, I don't know your children, are they well as well as can be, but let's imagine they doing, very well in the state child, the probabilities that it'll be like that, let's just say their worst afternoons. They confirm everything you fear about the nature of existence. By your children goes up here. They won't. They can complain about the most insubstantial things and you'd be amazed at how much anguish and be provoked by having the television turned off prematurely, but it lets imagined it Is there child would lead a happy life by your stand right either to bring their child into existence. Well, leave aside all the other reasons that no doubt you have considered just you know that there are,
than other people. Their effect on me all that justice suggests localizing the benefit to the person. Yes, I think so. I think that there is a minister comes down to two population, ethics and topics that I hope will touch. But there is More is better principle here when you're talking about good lives. These are all fast any questions in the connected. Moralists everything, this fascinating so's, I'm trying to resist the slide into loss of a year, but it seems to me that much of what you're saying about bringing people into existence does in fact apply to the continuing existence of existing people. I know you draw a clear line of demarcation there. I am not so sure you can, and I think this is an additional problem for me here so How is it not analogous for me to say? Well, I have a child and there was
There was something very, very good that could have happened to her. I could have secured some benefit for her that she doesn't know about, but I decline to do that rights if she has, I've she has, but I have given her the super enhanced life, with really very little effort on my part, you talk about an existing jobs. Existing child, but declined to do that so should now she has her if as it was and was going to be, but it have been otherwise, and I infer quite capricious reasons of my own. You know because I didn't want to spend ten seconds sign a form or click a button on a web site She does not have this extortion, The positive thing happened for her and she doesn't know about it. Right so has you ve been wronged in any way. I think most people, intuitions would be? Yes,
Yet, on your account, I'm wondering if I could say that well, talking about a case and existing jobs. Here- and I think they re all kinds of other complexities about about this case, whether she had some entitlement to your bestowing. This benefit the concentrations of back. I bet you, you are speaking about an existing child and I would say that this child is worse off without this benefits having been bestowed to whether you wrong there's a sudden is an obligation but she's worse off than she would have been if you'd bestowed this benefit, but I do think that a parallel plan can be made about a child that you don't bring into existence without. If it had come injuries into existence, it would have had certain benefits. I think the absence of those benefits because it doesn't come into existence, is not bad and stop. Emphasis not deprived where, where is your existing child will be deprived of this benefit,
good. You could given. Another point. Confusion for me here is that you acknowledge a spectrum of experience arranging the very, very positive the very, very negative. But when you take the zero point of nonexistence, you say that we should be in. Difference between zero and the very, very positive words we shouldn't be enough. Between zero and the very, very negative, the very, very negative. It is worse, obviously, and wait we should avoid. It you choose zero every time over the very, very negative, but we should be indifferent. Two zero over the very, very positive, but not quite sure how that that would work in practice or imagine, if we, you know, were slow in down the ramp of heat experience we say the very, very positive, and we start life gets worse and worse and worse and worse and worse until it gets truly neutral, and, there's other forms of neutral beyond the lights going out, but every lately
One form of neutral is not having any d. Rebel experience, and then we can keep on Why didn't things get a little bit bad and little but worsen and all of a sudden were in hell? It seems to me that if you're going to preserve the the logical integrity of that spectrum, you'd have to acknowledge that better really is better than then nothing. She again addendum. I regret it is in this assignment. Of of that you proposing is something that of anticipated before and I've got an analogy to deal with a case that of course
It's an only an analogy. It can't be, unlike the case, to be speaking about it in every respect, but I imagine is to people the one is us. We call him sick and the other we call healthy and sick. Get sick bodies also got some attribute whereby he recovered quickly from you. Sickness unhealthy, never get sick, I mean never, never ever gets it, but he lacks the actual of quick recovery? So if each worker, where to get sick, he wouldn't quickie recovered, bear a very slow, very slow recovery that what our say about the sick. Is that that capacity for quick recovery that that's good and it's good for sick? But the absence of that capacity in the healthy person is not a and not a net, advantage over over sick because he never had any need for that right, and so I think we should say so,
nothing about these scenarios about existing and non existent and that these absent pleasures are not bad. Read to the other scenario. Never is not a net disadvantage in comparison with further snoring, which the person exists, talent irresistible. Tribunal mobility as Euro, to the absence of the pit of the pleasures of the absence of the good things in life if there be absent good thing of a non existent person. So not all of my intuitions are being conserved here at me. I will say here on this point: you're. Your view is especially buddhist end for people who might be surprised by that and how familiar you are with with buddhist philosophy, but I'll just say that on the Buddhist account existence is the problem, and they have this. Obviously this view of Ray Burthen and karma, and this was called a week
of becoming you life after life. You just can't get off this we'll unless you fully enlightened enlightenment, consists in no longer being subjected to this continuous cycle of rebirth is obviously very good reason to doubt that picture of existence scientifically, but the core of the ethical view there in the so terrible. Nickel view that the view of what it means to be free is that existence has. Intrinsically unsatisfying character, and you know this is for reason that we really haven't gone into. Yet it's just the fact that everything is impermanent. You know you have. Your pleasure is no matter how good always fall the way and you're left with more of a search for pleasure, there's a kind of intrinsic disc. Action even in satisfaction, it will
it would be bad if no one existed and the fact that people exist in a circumstance that is perfect to frustrate the search for happiness and well being is the problem, and, enlightenment is the the act of cancelling all of them. There the mental properties that would cause one to continually be reborn into existence. So your our view is very buddhist with offering me the method, given light men are unless you you do that I don't know about it or the odd metaphysical of reincarnation, exactly yeah, but There are few other wrinkles here and Buddhism, and one is that it is possible through a really deep engagement in methods like meditation to come to a kind of activity that equalize is
pain and pleasure to remarkable degree and to find it kind of intrinsic well being in the nature of consciousness, and that does make some of this some of the the buddhist view that I I just described somewhat paradoxical. I mean it's not the problem of existence can really go away to a remarkable degree on the Buddhist account that's all just a long way of saying that you are view is in. In very good standing with with certain trends in in eastern philosophy, and it is just doesn't capture everything they say, but let's take this distinction, but win the possible lives, any the existing lives and their interests, because I am not so sure, you're conserving my wishes there. Why would it be Bad thing for everyone? to die tonight, Lastly, in their sleep was picture what this entails. So everyone goes to sleep None the wiser they don't know. This is their last day on earth. There's been no dread in
dissipation of the lights going out but every one based on some bad luck or good luck. In your view, dies painlessly in his or her So there's no bereavement, there's no experience of this there's. Just the lights going out in sex billion brains all at once. What could be wrong with it? The womb of sleep if existing is, as you say, such that bringing people into into it is a terrible crime where I think the analogy is not correct. That ethnic be are reborn mean we re born in a bit of foreign policy inspect, not literally, I think they all kinds of things that are going on in our sleep, where you continue to exist in a tiny disposition, all states
our interest in continuing to live a surviving through that period of sleep as many of our desires and preferences, and I think we diner sleep is one of our interests to very important interests. At least one many have been thought. Had been thwarted. I can't see how we have any more interest, then a new being. Would again, you have to imagine just cancelling all of the usual problems with people dying right don't know, they're going to die, so there's no impose suffering in advance and there's no one around to suffer their laws. There's no green, there is not even a single neuron in a single brain disposed of Eve about what's happened, because no one knows that it will happen and no one's around to know that it has happened. Is that not analogous to someone coming into existence on the next day, because somebody doesn't exist
I think he's got no interest in coming into existence. Somebody who already exists has gotten interested not ceasing to exist The one thing I should add hears it. I think we should use it. Separable, in other words the asymmetry, argument that I've, even before the argument that I'm giving you now. These are two separate arguments as possible for an anti night list to also be a promoters of the kind that you suggest me. So if somebody thinks that a painless, therefore they say death itself, is not bad for the person who dies, and then we had all the stipulations that you bad. If somebody thinks that in there is nothing wrong with this, and our existing bad about this, nor you described in the debts is separate view from the from a tree that I've been representing. So you can have the asymmetry that I presented earlier and then you can either coupled with a view I'm offering now about ceasing to exist.
Oh you needn't, coupled with that. That's precisely the point, I don't see how you can keep them apart. If existence has the key after that you, you say that it has an, I would graduates. On very firm ground thinking that pains or what and pleasures, and there are more of them, and we know we can talk about that, but if it really is bad be brought into the world and not just a little bad. It's really really bad. Then, I'd see how that doesn't extend to the moral character of waking up the next day, and if I can you, a situation where there is. There are no ancillary. Harms accrued bye, bye body dying and place it and everything. You're saying about existence is the claim that you know all of these cancelled goods of future people
don't mean anything right him either there is no there's no moral weight to place on all the good things that could have happened. Had humanity continued, because those are these are hypothetical good. That accrue to no one. How is it that I haven't everyone die painlessly in their sleep, wouldn't be on your account, a good thing and in fact perhaps the best path simple thing. We could imagine having happen like it if you could do it. If you could push that button you would be immoral, hero of the sort that has never existed so My question: how do to do approaches other than the way I have before, but I think one mistake that you at that you making is when you should be treated view. That life is is terrible, I think you're oversimplifying where the terrible things happen, so he could often gets worse towards the end. So it may be that early on in life he pulls going well. Are you not suffering in the kind of extra? way that you will later now you think
bringing somebody into existence you want to think not just about when they turned them when they twentyman they thirty, but also when they sixty seventy and eighty. You have to think about that part to having very few people think about that. They don't think about the the cancer let's get to ravage day,
Transcript generated on 2020-03-23.