Author Topic: David Benatar Reminds Me of Molyneux  (Read 150 times)

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Weston Dupree

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David Benatar Reminds Me of Molyneux
« on: June 02, 2018, 04:07:03 PM »
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I spend a lot of time researching people with different types of ideas on the internet. I'd probably say the most peculiar and disturbing philosophy I've come across is David Benatar's philosophy of antinatalism. This is the view that life is bad therefore it's immoral to have a child and abortion and euthanasia should be encouraged. There's also the asymmetry argument which means that you shouldn't have a kid because absence of a bad is good, but the absence of a good isn't bad. Therefore, you shouldn't have a kid no matter how good his/her potential life would be. 

From that it would also follow that people should commit suicide, murder others especially if they're suicidal, and especially murder babies, right? Of course not. Once you already exist you have an interest in seeing how your life will turn out. It's just like if you went to the theater and the play wasn't as good as you thought, but it wasn't terrible. You would stay and see if it gets better.

I'm not here to focus on rebutting antinatalism. There are people who are well trained in discussing philosophy that have rebutted this and pointed out its contradictions far better than I could.

What I wanna focus on are the parallels that I see between David Benatar and Molyneux. When Molyneux used to advocate anarcho-capitalism, there was no room for admitting its flaws. He and his followers were so committed to changing the world through what they saw as a moral philosophy that any criticism of it had to be rejected. Criticism would be a threat to the philosophy that they felt gave their lives meaning. When someone would debate Molyneux, Molyneux had to resort to using lawyer tactics and sophistry. For me, it was always easy to pick up on this which is why I never particularly liked him. However, I respect people who were former members of his cult that found solace on this website.

Not only would Molyneux instantly reject all criticism, but you'd find the youtube commentors saying that the critic was an idiot and getting massive amounts of thumbs up. I think the best example of this was Benatar's debate with Jordan Peterson. Peterson read his book Better To Have Never Been and didn't hold back in the debate. He tried his hardest to crush Benatar's views and I think he succeeded. How did Benatar's supporters respond? They predictably used a lot of ad-hominems, said Peterson didn't understand Benatar's views, said his arguments made no sense, and got angry at him for saying Benatar's views can encourage suicide, murder, and fascism (what would make him think that?). 

Another parallel between the two of them is the way they seem to be perpetual moving targets. When Molyneux would advocate anarcho-capitalism, he would do the best he could to point out the evils of the state and why it's unnecessary. But if someone made an argument for why the state is necessary, he would start talking about how the initiation of force is always wrong so who cares what happens if we get rid of the state? Benatar does something similar. He does the best he can to explain why people aren't happy with their lives. But if you counter that then he switches to his asymmetry argument about how the absence of a bad is good but the absence of a good isn't bad. These are two separate lines of reasoning that should be discussed individually but he often mashes them together. 

Another thing I touched on in the above paragraph was the way both of them assert objective conclusions about moral questions. Saying the initiation of force is always wrong and the absence of a good isn't bad aren't necessarily true. Call me crazy, but I would say they're matters of opinion. A smart person I've read who deals with philosophical and ethical questions is Steven Pinker. Pinker examines well known philosophies, and then synthesizes them with insights from psychology and history to examine what the philosophers got right or wrong. What he doesn't do is dedicate his efforts to promoting one specific philosophy and pushing it on to other people.

This brings me to my next parallel between Molyneux and Benatar. They always talk like salesmen trying to convince other people of their reasoning. I guess this is just part of being an activist. If someone dedicated their lives to saving dolphins, interviews with the person would sound similar. The problem is that animal rights activists are pretty sure that they're right. Even if they get some stuff wrong, how much harm can they do by trying to save animals? I'll concede that, that applied to Molyneux. By being against spanking and promoting anarchy, even if he gets some stuff wrong which he seriously did on spanking, how much harm could he do? But when you tell teenagers to abandon their parents and tell people not to have kids and that life isn't worth living, you better f*cking hope you're not wrong! Compare Molyneux and Benatar to the way that actual smart people promote their ideas such as Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Tom Woods, Gad Saad, and Jonathan Haidt, etc. I'm not saying they're never opinionated, but often they calmly talk about their ideas that are well researched and backed up by evidence. People like Molyneux, Benatar, and Mark Passio come across like salesmen.

The way Molyneux and Benatar talk brings me to my last point and this may be overly speculative. Their feminine way of speaking could be a hint that both men have suppressed sexual desires for other men. This is a possible motivation for their misanthropy and the pain that they feel that contributes to their behaviors. Maybe they feel they can't get close to others because they won't be accepted and they don't feel fully satisfied with their female relationships. Even if Molyneux isn't attracted to men, he often encourages men to detach from their girlfriends and he has a hyper disgust for promiscuity. Controlling peoples' sex lives is often a common cult tactic. I'm not aware of Benatar's views on sex, other than not having children. Though Sam Harris asked him about people thinking he's depressed and he said that he doesn't talk about his personal life. I think that's very telling. I don't know. Maybe I should've left this paragraph out of this post. Hopefully there's some truth in it.   

Hierophant

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Re: David Benatar Reminds Me of Molyneux
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2018, 04:02:51 AM »
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Antinatalist here. Hello!

I am not a fan of Benatar as a thinker in general, so you won't get much disagreement from me on that count. But using Pinker as an example of a good thinker, when the data in his books have been shown to be fraudulent? And Sam Harris, a noted misogynist and racist? Seriously? LOL
« Last Edit: June 08, 2018, 04:06:47 AM by Hierophant »

Weston Dupree

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Re: David Benatar Reminds Me of Molyneux
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2018, 04:09:47 AM »
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I have no idea what you're talking about. But I honestly don't care, so you don't need to bother elaborating.