Interrogation as to Whether One Wants to Exist

Inasmuch as most people do not find themselves capable of Jumping Over the Shadow of One’s Own Existence, they will tend to respond, when so interrogated, that – had they somehow been asked this question before they began to exist – they would have wanted to begin to exist even if they had known that the existence awaiting them would be a miserable one. On this topic Friedrich Theodor Vischer (1808-1887) has this to say:

“What I find most touching in the face of a child is the way that it appears so sweetly and so pitifully to say: ‘I cannot help it that I was made to exist’. – By rights, really, each individual ought to be asked beforehand whether he wishes to exist. One would need to know the life-destiny that awaited him beforehand, predict it for him in detail, and then ask: do you wish, under these conditions, to enter into existence? If one were obliged, truthfully, to predict to the person being asked the question an extremely unhappy life, would he still reply ‘yes’ to this question? – But at this point the whole scenario that is envisaged here cancels itself out, and does so in a very instructive manner. Of course the person of whom this question were asked would reply ‘yes’ to it! Because the whole proposition developed here presupposes that this person is somehow ‘alive before he is alive’. Were this not so, it would be impossible to ask him anything. But this being the case, the person in question has already ‘gotten the taste’ of life, already accustomed himself to existence – and once in the midst of existence in this way, not even the Devil himself will prove able to resist its charm!” (Vischer, Auch Einer)

The “moral” of these remarks of Vischer’s is very clear: refrain, already in the first place, from acting in such a way that a new human being begins to exist, since this latter will almost always prove to be a “yes-sayer” to his own existence.

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