Thursday, March 5, 2009

David Benatar Radio Interview

To listen, go here. All in all, a very fair interview, I thought. Near the end, the interviewer remarks on the surprising number of emails sympathetic to Benatar's position. This further supports my belief that the inherent logic of the argument strikes a chord with more people than one might imagine, given the sometimes vociferous reactions issuing from the pro-natalist camp. As with religion, I think there are lots of people who passively accept the culturally embedded notion that 'the species must endure', simply because they've never been exposed to a coherent expression of the alternative. But once they hear it, bells go off. Seems promising.

Thanks to Chip for the ref.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this, jim. I'm even more in awe of Benatar after having heard this interview than I was before. Also, somehow, I didn't realize he was dept. Chair. Given how largely unpopular his premise is not only among the common folk, but also (or so it seems) among his peers, that's pretty damned impressive!

My evening has been greatly improved by the opportunity to hear this interview. Thanks again!

your host said...

No probs, Anon; and thanks to Chip who dug it up in the first place.

timcooijmans said...

Geez.. It's incredible how clearly he can express his thoughts (a.k.a. The Truth) in response to callers' comments. I suck so much at oral discussion I bet he'd blow me away even if we were arguing for the same thing.

It's also incredible how many people there are who find it perfectly okay to defy logic and science just because they lead to uneasy conclusions. Or those who think subjectivity has anything to do with this ("I like my life; therefore, so will my kid.").

Oh well, preaching to the choir...

your host said...

tim:

I agree; I thought the whole thing came off quite well.

I guess it's a general principle that people tend not to think things through to their logical conclusions a lot of the time. Especially when we're conditioned not to.

Curator said...

What a great introduction to Benatar's ideas. I have to say, I am impressed with how intelligent the South African callers seem (compared to American radio callers).

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your blog, but believe that it is somewhat deficient when it comes to discussing the sociological aspects of antinatalist philosophy. For example, I think it takes someone of a unique "experience set" (as well as emotional maturity) to be able to dispassionately consider antinatalism as a serious alternative. What chance is there that these ideas will find resonance with pre-pubescent/adolescent/Under 25 individuals? You write, on your own experiences on another blog, "Well, I have two children whom I love very much, but nowadays I firmly believe I was stupid, selfish, and immoral for taking part in their creation. I was one of those people who had doubts, but didn't act on them for any number of reasons, some of which any interested reader can ferret out in my own blog posts. I wish to god I'd had some intellectual support in those days...I might at least have approached the subject with a little more good sense."
You see, you might well WISH the above, but given social trends, the chances of callow youth (and 99.999% of youth is callow, almost by definition) being able to grasp concepts alien to those with which he/she has been indoctrinated in his/her formative years, is negligible. The parents are hardly good role models, as they do not have the moral authority (in the eyes of the child) to convince that child, despite their own "wrong" actions, that in fact, antinatalism was the philosophy they should have espoused (but didn't, because they were selfish and stupid). Teachers, schoolfriends, peers are all similarly (and INHERENTLY) biased towards a non-antinatalist point of view. Let us take an extremely biased sample - the readership of this blog, and ask two questions: a) How many have actually had children already? and b) How many are over the age of 35?
I suspect that the results would be interesting.

your host said...

Anonymous:

I can't deny that the readership of a blog like this is certainly not representative of the general population...in ANY age group. You've outlined the situation quite well, I think. However, I think you dismiss the possible influence of the parents too quickly. For instance, I've convinced both my children that procreation is wrong. There are no guarantees, of course, but I've done what I can.

I don't hold any unrealistic expectations regarding what this little blog will accomplish. I'm just trying to add my two cents to the data base, in hopes that one day a threshold will be reached, and rationality will overwhelm millennia of pre-conditioning. Such a change won't happen in my lifetime, I'm sure, but this is my hope for the future on a grand scale. Meanwhile, any time along the way I can convince someone not to have children is a meaningful victory, in my book.

Ben B said...

This is interesting, and new to me. His thinking is precise and succinct. Thank you for posting it.

An accident of chance has made me an antinatalist. In 1961, when I was twelve, my father was diagnosed with an adult form of muscular dystrophy. It is hereditary: I had a 50% chance of acquiring it. I made the decision not to marry or have children. Why not marry? Because if the disease appears, two lives are wrecked rather than one (my mother's certainly was.) Fortunately I have been able to enjoy close platonic friendships with understanding women. Recently a genetic test was made available. I now know I was not at risk. I'm now happily married and childless. I would'nt wish it otherwise. The desire for children, so strong at thirty, has completely faded by sixty.

I believe that many psychological aspects of identity and self may well be necessary but illusory constructs of the brain. Evolution is a master of turning illusion into the obvious.

It's good to know one isn't alone. Again, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I just want to see thanks for the radio file(you and chip^^). It's always nice to hear different opinions from the "normal" masses, i was quite surprised by some of them(in a good way).

Thanks again from another antinatalist.

Tor Hershman said...

Antinatalism is, 'scuse moi, a dopey term.

EVERYTHING that exists is natural.

Now get with it and rename the thingy – AntiGuaranteedDeath, which is what life IS!

timcooijmans said...

Tor, antinatalism isn't antinaturalism; it comes from the Latin "natus", which means born.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for posting the Benatar radio interview link.

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