Review Of "The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide To Life's Biggest Questions" By D. Benatar

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Published In



In this sequel to his Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence (2006), Benatar (philosophy, Univ. of Cape Town, South Africa) argues for several theses: the meaning of life is ephemeral (not enduring); everyone's life is bad (though people underestimate just how bad); death (as well as dying) is bad; life after death (if it exists) would not provide what people expect; there is neither God nor "cosmic purpose" to life; suicide is sometimes (but not always) justified. In arguing for these Benatar is clear, passionate, and attentive to criticisms and alternative views, historical and contemporary. Not surprisingly, he thinks that bringing children into the world is something like a Ponzi scheme: children can provide parents with a bit of meaning and a little quality, but parents set up their children to live lives of woe, only to suffer the bad of death! Many will not find Benatar’s arguments convincing. Benatar rightly argues that one should find meaning in life, even though he underestimates the good quality of life's many experience. Also good is his discussion of subjective and objective judgments of meaning and quality of life (he opts for the objective). This book should find a wide readership among professionals and those of college age. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

This document is currently not available here.