Relief from Care About Never Having Been

It was not only of care and anxiety regarding death that Epicurus wished to relieve us but also of care and anxiety regarding never having been: “What evil would there have been for us in never having been created? Should one imagine that life stagnated in darkness and sorrow until there dawned the procreative origin of things? Each of us indeed, once born, will want to remain alive for so long as the flattering desire to do so holds him tight. But if one has never tasted of the love of life, and never counted among the number of the living, what hardship would it be to such a one never to have been created at all?” (Epicurus, On the Overcoming of Fear)

Epicurus’s relieving us of the care about never having been contains within itself an antinatalism: if there is no one for whom never beginning to exist could be any sort of disadvantage, must it not, then, be ethically imperative not to beget in the first place human beings whose fear of death would then subsequently need to be placated in the way that Epicurus tries to placate it?

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