The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life's Biggest Questions by David BenatarThe Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life's Biggest Questions by David Benatar

The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life's Biggest Questions

byDavid Benatar

Hardcover | May 9, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 138 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Are human lives ultimately meaningless? Is our inevitable death bad? Would immortality be better? Should we hasten our deaths by taking our own lives in acts of suicide? Many people ask these big questions and many are plagued by them. Surprisingly few analytic philosophers have spoken tothese important questions. When they have engaged the big existential questions they have tended, like more popular writers, to offer comforting, optimistic answers. The Human Predicament offers a less sanguine assessment. David Benatar invites readers to take a clear-eyed view of our situation,defending a substantial, but not unmitigated, pessimism about human life. Benatar argues that while our lives can have some meaning, cosmically speaking we are ultimately the insignificant beings that we often fear we are. A candid appraisal reveals that the quality of life, although less bad for some people than for others, leaves much to be desired in even the bestcases. But death, David Benatar argues, is hardly the solution. Our mortality exacerbates rather than mitigates our cosmic meaninglessness. It can release us from suffering but even when it does it imposes another cost - annihilation. This unfortunate state of affairs has nuanced implications forhow we should think about immortality, about suicide, and about the aspects of life in which we can and do find deeper meaning. Engaging profound existential questions with analytic rigor and clarity, The Human Predicament is clear eyed, unsentimental, and deeply provocative to some of our mostcherished beliefs.
David Benatar is Professor of Philosophy and the Head of the Philosophy department at University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is the author of Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence (2006) and Debating Procreation: Is it Wrong to Reproduce? (2015).
Title:The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life's Biggest QuestionsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 7 × 5 × 0.98 inPublished:May 9, 2017Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190633816

ISBN - 13:9780190633813

Look for similar items by category:


Editorial Reviews

"What thinking person doesn't care about the (possible) meaning and quality of life, the nature and disvalue of death, and the option of suicide? David Benatar addresses these and other engaging and important topics in this well-argued book. The quality of the writing is about as high as anyphilosophy I can remember reading: short, clear sentences, with not a word wasted or misplaced. I do not see the human predicament as pessimistically as David Benatar does; but I found myself disagreeing less than I expected to -- for example, in his sensitive and probing discussion of suicide." --David DeGrazia, George Washington University