Philosophers have been known to advance extreme theses. David Benatar's signature anti-natalist theses are not only extreme, but extremely unpalatable to almost everyone. This makes him a target of vicious attacks. I don't agree with him, but I admire him and what he exemplifies, the courageous practice of unrestrained philosophical inquiry, inquiry that follows the arguments where they lead, even if they issue in conclusions that make people extremely uncomfortable and are sure to bring obloquy upon the philosopher who proposes them.
I also admire Jordan Peterson. He is doing a world of good for a lot of young people, especially young men, who have been cheated by the liberals who have undermined our educational institutions. He is a voice of sanity in the cacophony of political correctness.
But he throws a wild punch in this interview:
JP [. . .] There’s an anti-natalist you might want to look up. His name is David Benatar. I did a debate with him a while back. He believes that human existence-conscious existence, not just human existence but conscious existence, is so intolerable in its fundamental aspect that we should stop propagating it. We shouldn’t raise animals. We shouldn’t have children. We should just cease to be, because being in itself is a positive evil.
AR: So you think that’s the mentality, the psychology in which these school shooters operate?
JP: Oh, for sure that’s it. Yes, absolutely. But it’s more than that. They take it a step further. Benatar just said, well, we should stop reproducing ourselves. The only possible proper language to describe what’s happening with the school shooter types is that they’re out for revenge against God.
This smacks of a smear. Peterson is suggesting, without plainly stating, that the same "mentality" is operative in deeply disturbed mass murderers and in Benatar. It is just that the school shooters "take it a step further." So the murderous mentality is the same in the philosopher and in the school shooters.
This is rank psychologizing which is not surprising, coming as it does from a psychologist. Why engage in the hard work of evaluating arguments when you can dismiss a man's view as nothing but a product of a diseased mind? Ignored also is the fact that Benatar is against murder and suicide in many instances. He makes very clear that death is no escape from the human predicament. But to know that one has to read his work.
Peterson's slam may be explained by the fact that Benatar got the better of him in their debate.
In a related entry, below, I defend Benatar against a scurrilous New Criterion attack.