The Badness at the Basis of All Good Deeds

Many parents, while recognizing the evil in the world, attempt nonetheless to justify their wish to procreate, or their actual deed of procreation, by telling themselves that their child, among all others, might become a doer of good things – or at least that they intend to educate him in such a way that this has the best chance of coming to pass.

One may say of such an undertaking that it wagers, in the first place, to such an extent on unknown factors (biological and social >Lottery) that it can hardly serve as a justifying reason for the begetting of a new human being. In the second place this attempt at legitimation fails to recognize the ground of badness which alone renders the doing of good things needful. That immeasurable demand for good deeds (without which it would not be possible for parents to imagine their child as some future doctor, crusading lawyer or brilliant researcher) exists precisely because the quantity and quality of evil in the world, anthropogenic or otherwise, is so immeasurable. Whoever wishes, through the begetting of a child, the best for both this child and the world thereby takes out, as it were, like all such begetters before him, a loan that can never be repaid and thus exposes his own child to the evils both of Nature and of society.

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