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Once we already exist we want to continue existing, but before we existed we did not care if we existed or not. So what is better? Is it better to bring new life into existence? And the more we bring, the better? Would it be better if god had made the world lifeless?

My opinion is that existence is neither better nor worse than non-existence, rather they are incomparable. The reason why I think this is the following: I think that whether one state of affairs is better than another depends on how "well" people are, that is, people have certain desires that they need to satisfy, and the higher the ratio of (satisfied desires) / ( desires that you need to satisfy), the better that state of affairs will be. So the more desires satisfied, the better, but also the fewer desires they need to satisfy, the better, since they are more satisfied with fewer things. The problem is that if you don't exist, you have neither satisfied desires nor desires that you need to satisfy, so the ratio would be an indeterminacy of the type 0/0. That's why I think it can't be compared.

Edit: More specifically the question is, is there anything about existence in general that makes a state of affairs in which someone exists better than one in which they don't? (Although later for other reasons you can add or subtract value to the existence of a particular person).

By better I don't mean better for something, but better in a moral sense. That is, I understand "better" as "more good", assuming that good exists.

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    Hard to compare against something that doesn't exist. Impossible maybe.
    – Scott Rowe
    Jun 27, 2023 at 23:30
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    Better for what? +1 for closing.
    – RodolfoAP
    Jun 28, 2023 at 4:29
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    If you exist you have the choice about stopping your existence, while if you dont there is no choice (you do not "decide" your coming into being). Thus, existence gives you further possibilities, while non-existence does not. Jun 28, 2023 at 7:21
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    depends on who you are?
    – user66760
    Jul 29, 2023 at 3:20
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    @doot_s, 👍 I sense ... a flux of ideas or I have an IQ of a lima bean
    – Hudjefa
    Jul 29, 2023 at 4:37

4 Answers 4

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It depends on whose perspective you have in mind.

If I do not exist, I cannot have an opinion on the matter.

If I do exist, I can have an opinion about whether my existing is better than my non existing. That opinion might vary from person to person and from time to time, which perhaps might explain why some people commit suicide.

If I exist, I can have opinions about whether it is better that someone else existed or did not, or that some thing exists or did not. Again, they are personal judgements, likely to vary from person to person. You might take the view, for example, that it would have been better if Karl Marx had never existed; others might claim, for any number of reasons, that view was completely wrong.

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  • I was referring to whether existence has a value in general. Then, particularly for each person, you could add or subtract from that value.
    – Kirby
    Jun 28, 2023 at 23:38
  • @Kirby maybe it is like how the vacuum energy is not zero? Existence has a positive value, but the scale is arbitrary. Absolute zero is unreachable from existence?
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 29, 2023 at 12:56
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Using a Big Bang analogy, people often question "What was here before the Big Bang?". These people fail to realise that there was no "here" or "before" until the Big Bang happened, as Space and Time are a result from the event. Asking such question would be the same as asking what is the southern point in South Pole: there isn't one. To wonder if it's better to exist or not to exist reminds me of this Big Bang question.

Questioning the quality of existence and obtaining an answer can only happen if you do in fact exist, as there isn't a "non-existent" version of you. 0 doesn't occur in nature. Therefore, for us to be able to form a comparison in order to consider existing "better" or "worst" than not-existing, that would be us implying that we would be seeing "existence" as possible as "no-existence". But as "No-existence" does not exist, and "existing" does exist, I don't see a way how we can compare these two separate concepts without wrongly assuming that these are opposite scenarios in the same spectrum.

There is a spectrum for existence, that allows us to feel that something is better than another as we travel through life, but there is no spectrum for non-existence as that concept does not exist.

So I would agree with you: it can't be compared.

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I hate myself enough to say that, yes, I would have a preference for not ever having existed. I justify that with a mix of my viciousness and other people's responses to me, FWIW. I don't think suicide is the answer, because that would only add to the former, even if not the latter. Death may or may not be a release from hedon, but it will at least limit the hatred I feel due to others. You may call me a anti natal individualist.

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The answer is both, as I, myself have experienced those feelings at different times in my life. I say to myself sometimes that it'd been nice if we had an option in the matter. Like currently if I had that option, I'd say not to exist.

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