The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 55–59 | Cite as

If Knowledge Is Good, We Are Always Born Too Early

  • Saul SmilanskyEmail author

Knowledge is a significant good. With time, human beings acquire more and better knowledge. Hence, it seems, prima facie, better to be born later. We ought to pity people who lived in the past, since they were so ignorant, lacking in this manifest good. Moreover, we ought to be sorry that we were not born later than we were, since we will be missing out on all the gains in knowledge and understanding that will occur after we die. As possessors of knowledge, it is a misfortune to have been born already, given that we shall not live forever. Indeed, we are always born too early.

Let us imagine that we could decide when to come into existence. In order to think about this, we need, first, to bracket the difficulty that we need already to exist in order to make such a decision. Second, we need to be released from our attachment to our contemporaries. Let us assume, for the purpose of the thought experiment, that we could retain our current close associations but also simply move backward...


Thought Experiment Prima Facie Collective Knowledge Past Period Knowledge Increase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

Personalised recommendations