A friend of mine sent me a link to a 'wrongful life' court case filed by a disabled Australian woman. That alone is interesting enough, but here's my favorite part:

Studdert also cited rulings from foreign courts, including the United States, which addressed the esoteric difficulties of putting a dollar tag on "the value of non existence" as compared to the costs of living with a disability.

How much is non-existence worth? What a great question. Earlier I tried to explain my existentialist leanings. In the future I'll just point to this case. The woman apparently wants to live or she would have killed herself. Yet she's basically putting life itself on trial to demand that someone else take responsibility for her life's unpleasantness. It's an excellent formalism of bad faith. We all blame others for choices we won't bring ourselves to make. But few of us do it so honestly.

One of the random quotes on the front page is from Simone de Beauvoir:

There is no such thing as a natural death: nothing that happens to a man is ever natural, since his presence calls the world into question. All men must die: but for every man his death is an accident and, even if he knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation.

For this woman, however, life is an accident and, even though she knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation. It will be interesting to see if the Australian High Court agrees.

 

My profile identifies me as existentialist, and I've discovered over the years that this means many different things to many different people. Yesterday I was thinking about criticisms I've read of the Red Cross and about how such criticisms might give some cause to not donate blood. Personally, I don't donate blood because I was told not to. But I was thinking about people who have no reason not to give other than perceived problems with the Red Cross, and about how such people are very unlikely to give anywhere other than the Red Cross, and about how I make similarly cynical choices of inaction.

As I was thinking about this, I think I came up with a pretty good summary of what I mean when I call myself existentialist: All choices in life should be made between (at least) two courses of action. One should never choose between action and inaction because inaction is just too tempting, and almost always the wrong choice.

There are exceptions, I'm sure, and some rare people may have enough discipline to consider them. But just like we don't offer children the option of cotton candy for dinner, I think we shouldn't offer ourselves the option of doing nothing. We exist, so we should do something.

Indeed we can't help it, as even doing nothing is an action, and that choice makes up who we are like any other. But now I'm straying away from my simple summary. What I mean to say is, we are what we do and if we don't do anything, we aren't. No, that's not quite right ... it's really hard to talk about existentialism without sounding like Strong Sad. Well, I tried anyway, and I guess that's the point.