Blackmail Through the Notion of Never Having Been

The authors of a certain dictionary of philosophy, Kirchner/Michaelis, make use of a very subtle method in order to maintain their readers in an attitude of inclination toward existence:  Whoever is perturbed by the thought of having to die, argue these authors, proceeding like metaphysical blackmailers, shows by this perturbation that he would really rather not have been born. They imagine that, with this objection, that they can stifle all counter-arguments raised by any reader who feels repugnance at the notion of having to die:

“That the individual human being dies is a natural, and thus a necessary and rational, thing; whoever becomes perturbed at the thought that he must die regrets thereby his being a human being at all, regrets, that is to say, having been born.” (Kirchner/Michaelis: Wörterbuch der Philosophischen Grundbegriffe) The authors imagine that they have created a metaphysical scenario sufficient to intimidate all objection in creating one which says: if you are not in agreement with your own inevitable death then you are obliged to accept that it would have been better if you had never begun to exist. They demand, in other words, of the people who have a problem with their own necessary demise to perform a symbolic àRenunciation of Existence. They fail to see that there is no one there for whom “never having been” might constitute a harm – and thereby the metaphysical scenario of intimidation that they construct simply implodes. It no more occurs to the authors that human procreation (occurring as it does on the basis of decisions) is a matter of reason and no mere natural occurrence than there occurs to them the idea that the notion of “never having been” might be retrospectively acceptable for one or other of their readers.

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