• Txastopher
    118
    Picking up from this now closed thread: https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/3355/is-it-rational-to-have-children/latest/comment

    Forgive me, but I'm no longer a student, and I'm not going to read the entire forum before participating on the off-chance that there is a similar discussion. If the moderators wished, the two threads could have been merged with very little effort instead of being silently deleted or locked.

    schopenhauer1: "Often I see these newer posters start a thread and then never participate in the actual conversation. I don't get it."

    Maybe it's because their threads get locked and/or deleted.

    schopenhauer1:"The general position is that life has too much suffering and therefore not worth starting for another."

    The state of non-existance prior to conception means that by not conceiving one is not alleviating the suffering of an extant being. The affected party in non-conception is the parent and to a diminishing extent the parents' social group, whereas only conception can affect the child. Consequently, the decision to have a child seems to be selfish by definition.

    Regarding suffering, the answer to the question, "Is it better to have lived than have never existed?", at least in my case, is a resounding 'yes'. Suffering is part of the human experience, and no doubt I have plenty in store. Maybe I should take Croesus' advice who claimed that one could not evaluate one's life until its end. Nevertheless, I suspect I'm not alone in being fiercely protective of my existence.

    Regarding 'antenatalism', It's too nihilistic for my tastes and I don't consider nihilism to be a logical outcome of philosophical enquiry, rather I consider that the purpose of philosophical enquiry to find a way out the clearly paradoxical reductio ad absurdum that is nihilism.

    Post McPostface: "I feel as though, there's a dichotomy being drawn between 'rationality' and 'human nature' here. Seems fallacious to me, as if one can speak about 'rationality' while excluding 'human nature' from the discussion."

    Reason is supposed to transcend human nature. Conception, like smoking and obesity is usually a result of non-rational impulses. Rationality, in the sense of positive freedom, is the control of these aspects of human nature; my reason is the master of me (or at least I'd like it to be). In this sense, the problem is not succumbing to our human nature, but the reasons we have for doing so. Ergo, "Is there a rational basis upon which to bring children into the world (I'm thinking developed countries with some kind of welfare system)?"
  • Inyenzi
    8
    So what exactly is the need for more people? What is the X reason? I think you have a well-stated post. Actually, it might be the most coherent response to the pessimist argument as it attacks the premises head on. So kudos to you. I still think the rebuttal, though well-stated, is still lacking in response to the pessimist's argument. As I mentioned with csalisbury, even if people do not see the bigger picture, it does not mean that something is still not going on here. Why does that new person need to be born? What is this trying to accomplish? Eventually the argument will come back to the idea of circularity, instrumentality, absurdity, etc. That is a vicious circle that would be hard to break in argument.schopenhauer1

    I guess it's just how you look at it. Most people will say you only ask these questions and see the world in this way because you're not caught up in your relationships and projects and future goals. The world only looks this way to antinatalists because they *aren't* involved in any of these things (at least, not in a truly meaningful, worthwhile way. Nobody in a relationship with somebody they love or caught up in a project they truly care about really asks these questions - the worth is self-evident to them). Whereas you might respond you don't ask these questions and see the world like the antanatalist because you *are* caught up in these things (as if like a horse with blinkers on). But I'm caught up in these things because they are genuinely meaningful and worthwhile to me, and not some desperate attempt to mask or escape the true 'big picture' of life (a meaningless depressive void of purposeless striving/suffering). From my perspective, the antinatalist is sick/ill. He/she lacks a sense of enjoyment and meaning in their lives. When nothing is enjoyable or seems worthwhile, the antinatalist position makes perfect sense - life is fundamentally not a good thing, it should not be inflicted on others, the world should stop being proliferated.

    In past depressive episodes I have personally fallen into the same way of thinking. But looking back I was just sick/ill (in a sort of spiritual, existential sense). My life lacked meaning, purpose and joy. Nothing was enjoyable, nothing seemed worthwhile. I was alone in a world embodied within a locus of needs and pains and wants which inflicted themselves upon me, motivating me through pain in order to work and strive to address them in a cycle that had no purpose but to extend itself. It's as if suffering itself was using me in order to proliferate its own existence. Life seemed a horrific joke, with suicide and total world suicide (antinatalism) being a perfectly rational response. But like I say there was just something wrong with me, the world actually isn't this way, at it's core.
  • schopenhauer1
    2k

    We have discussed this at length in the messages. Can you post the follow-ups that we had so we can at least see how the discussion played out? No use repeating what we have covered. Then we can go from the latest conversation.
  • schopenhauer1
    2k
    Nobody in a relationship with somebody they love or caught up in a project they truly care about really asks these questions - the worth is self-evident to them). Whereas you might respond you don't ask these questions and see the world like the antanatalist because you *are* caught up in these things (as if like a horse with blinkers on). But I'm caught up in these things because they are genuinely meaningful and worthwhile to me, and not some desperate attempt to mask or escape the true 'big picture' of life (a meaningless depressive void of purposeless striving/suffering). From my perspective, the antinatalist is sick/ill. He/she lacks a sense of enjoyment and meaning in their lives. When nothing is enjoyable or seems worthwhile, the antinatalist position makes perfect sense - life is fundamentally not a good thing, it should not be inflicted on others, the world should stop being proliferated.Inyenzi

    I'm sorry but the philosophical pessimist would not leave it that relationships and projects are all that needs to take place to keep one from seeing the aesthetic picture of the world as circularity. It does narrow the focus for a while, but these can themselves become loci of frustrations, disappointments, and deprivations. I said in another thread on here:

    1) Good relationships, a candidate for one of life's most meaningful phenomena are not guaranteed for all, and unlike commodities like "bread and circus" could not even be something provided to the masses like in some weird hypothetical totalitarian regime. You cannot force relationships, just force proximity to others. Relationships, and especially cultivating strong ones, are organic and highly subject to context. They are their own ecosystems which cannot be created out of fiat. Therefore, this candidate for an intrinsic "good" of life, even if it should be cherished is highly circumstantial and is unequally distributed such that some people may have it in abundance and others experience varying degrees of its deprivation.

    2) Good intimate relationships are hard to cultivate, when they do persist they lead often to frustration, annoyance with the other person, boredom, etc., and are easily lost.

    How can something that is unequally distributed and has the potential to be a source of even more suffering in the short or long run be a reason for embracing life or providing new life to other individuals (i.e. reason for procreation), or being in any way a reason for having a positive outlook in regards to the lot of the human experience?


    We are always hoping.. Everything on the horizon seems good- we swing from hope to hope, thinking that after this or that endeavor or long-term project, this will bring some salvation or answer. I think the worst conceit is the idea of a pyramid gleaning towards self-actualization. In fact, it is a straight line. Achievement is really the Striving of our very nature churning in its own instrumental nature to do something. Culture just gives it direction which presents itself as some "meaning".. The hope that is built-in to this social cue is someone internalizes it enough for the long-term projects to be useful for society. It is society perpetuating society. — schopenhauer1

    Relationships and projects do indeed narrow the focus, but that is not seeing the bigger picture. But I've written about this idea of projects and relationships voluminously in many other threads because those are exactly the two reasons people would use to justify bringing people into the world. Either I was dead on for the main reasons people use, or you've been reading my past threads (the greatest hits package ;)). I doubt its the latter, so I'm glad my theory has been substantiated.


    Let's back up though. What does my term of instrumentality really mean? It means that the world keeps turning, the universe keeps expanding, that energy keeps on transferring, and entropy keeps on its steady path. That is to say, that happiness is always on the horizon (hope swinging I mentioned in other posts). When goals are "obtained" are often not as good or too fleeting compared to the effort to get it (yes yes, eye roll eye roll... it's not the goal but the process to get there BS., not buying it..just slogans to make people not think about it).. we still need to maintain ourselves, our bodies, our minds, our comforts, our anxieties, our neuroses, our social lives, our intellectual minds, etc. etc. etc. It's all just energy put forth to keep maintaining ourselves, that does not stop until death. Why ALL of THIS WORK AND ENERGY? Does it really need to be started anew for a next generation?

    We really are living in the eternal twilight of Christian sentiments. There is "something" special that we are DOING here.. It all MEANS something to "FEEL" to "ACHIEVE" to "INTELLECTUALIZE" to "CONNECT".. all buzzwords of anchoring mechanisms to latch onto as our WILLFUL nature rushes forward, putting forth more energy but for to stay alive, keep occupied, and stay comfortable.. All the while being exposed to depridations, sickness, annoyances, and painful circumstances that inevitably befall us.. It doesn't NEED to be expanded to more people.

    Well, that is an interesting part of our human experience that no other animal seems to share- a perpetual ability to understand itself qua itself. We live but we don't know why. This question entails not just our own personal lives but bringing forth new life. We can be what Sartre might call "authentic" and do things in "good faith", that is in knowing what we are doing in full awareness of the stark futility, or we can simply bury our heads in ongoing projects that we don't know how or why we took on, or perhaps were just kind of "foisted" on the person by circumstances. What is it we are trying to get at as individuals, as a species? This is something only we (or the proverbial self-aware aliens) must contend with. Suicide I see as an ideation coping technique. The thought of it is more relief than the actual action. As Schopenhauer stated,
    Suicide may also be regarded as an experiment — a question which man puts to Nature, trying to force her to an answer. The question is this: What change will death produce in a man’s existence and in his insight into the nature of things? It is a clumsy experiment to make; for it involves the destruction of the very consciousness which puts the question and awaits the answer.
    — Schopenhauer- On Suicide

    But indeed suicide, like existential angst, extreme boredom, questioning of life, absurdity of life, and the like are on the edges of things. It needs to be pushed out for more projects to be put through. Projects good, questioning bad. Navel-gazing and self-indulgence will be the main accusations.
    — schopenhauer1

    We are constantly trying to keep disorder at bay. We create ever more structured and systematic systems. This is a burden of life. We are born, but to what? Find food, heat, water, etc. and to utilize our cultural surroundings and tools to provide these things. We create more little beings that also need to maintain some order and remove disorder constantly. We are constantly putting more energy into the system to maintain the order. What is it that we need to create more people who are given the burden of maintaining order and keeping away disorder? We are constantly needing to do this and constantly making more people who need to do this. What an instrumental affair this all is. But as long as someone gets a kick out of Boltzmann equations and having others recognize them for this, it's all worth it. By this I mean, as long as scientific pursuits are being pursued, and we self-congratulate ourselves that some of us at least can theorize, experiment, and compute, it is all worth it. All this ordering and keeping away disorder for better textbooks. Slaves to our own curiosity. But I will not just pick on the academic-science types. Many people feel it is their duty to produce- art, entertainment, bullshit and equally want the congratulations. Slaves to our projects. The very goals that are the symptom of our restless nature. All part of the ordering process. If we have no goals, we die. If we have no projects, disorder becomes greater. Therefore, goals and projects continue. More people are born.

    Most people would say that life is worth living based on how consumed they are by projects that they initiate themselves minus (-) the external pains, pressures, and annoyances of unwanted suffering or undo control by others.

    I would contend that life is not worth living if one is in a continuous repetitive loop of absurdity. If one realizes that life is basically survival (economic/survival related goals), maintenance (getting more comfortable in surrounding goals), entertainment (fleeing from boredom goals). The projects no longer consume, it is biding time through these three main goal-related events. There is a sort of banality to it that cannot be overlooked by those who see it. The banality of work, the banality of maintenance, the banality of entertaining oneself. It is absurd repetition, even in its novelty. The projects themselves no longer consume as if they are a wonder to behold. They are laid bare our inherent restless natures.

    Life is made even worse by not only life's structural/systemic futility but by its contingent harms (that is to say, harms based on circumstances). So your neighbors making noise which prevents you from sleeping, the ACME anvil that fell on your foot, the hurricane that flooded or completely destroyed your property, the short term or long term mental or physical illness, the annoyances of the everyday interactions with other people, technology, and social institutions in general.

    The repetitively absurd tasks of existing at all. Round and round we go. Just doing stuff. Your solutions are not off from the norm: projects and community stuff. Build skills to sublimate the mind in projects and participate in community events. The stately king that belies the laughing jester showing up with diagrams of Sisyphus.

    2b) Our individual wills impose upon ourselves the need to transform boredom into goals and pleasure. Being that we can never have true satiation, we are always in flux and never quite getting at anything in particular. It is a world to be endured. We may find ourselves projects to concentrate on and have that "flow" feeling, but once one is out of such a mode that might capture one's thoughts thoroughly, one sees it is just going from project to project or chasing the "flow" so as to not think about the situation at large.

    These "truths" are independent of one's general temperament. Though it is an aesthetic of sorts, I cannot see how it is a matter of perspective as really the core of the matter of the human condition. It is not even a matter of people denying these claims. Rather, it is a matter of putting 2 + 2 together to see the larger pattern going on.

    The counterarguments that one can just think their way out of the situation seem to not work. One cannot choose to turn off their needs and wants- they are a part of their situation. One cannot choose to get rid of unwanted pains. The absurdity of the instrumental, discussed by many philosophers is just part of the situation.
    — schopenhauer1
  • Posty McPostface
    4.3k
    Reason is supposed to transcend human nature.jastopher

    I have recently been an adherent of the Humean saying that reason is a slave to the (human) passions. I'm not saying that reason cannot stand on a higher ground than emotions, but rather that the two cannot be spoken in isolation from one another.
  • Inyenzi
    8
    Suicide I see as an ideation coping technique. The thought of it is more relief than the actual action. As Schopenhauer stated, — schopenhauer1

    Suicide may also be regarded as an experiment — a question which man puts to Nature, trying to force her to an answer. The question is this: What change will death produce in a man’s existence and in his insight into the nature of things? It is a clumsy experiment to make; for it involves the destruction of the very consciousness which puts the question and awaits the answer. — schopenhauer

    Do you also see antinatalism itself as an ideation coping technique? Is anything learned about the nature of things by the ending of mankind itself?

    That is to say, that happiness is always on the horizon (hope swinging I mentioned in other posts). When goals are "obtained" are often not as good or too fleeting compared to the effort to get it. — schopenhauer1

    Advocating for antinatlism is itself a project, and a goal, right? Is this suffering free world devoid of humans not also just some distant hope on the horizon? I just fail to see how the cessation of the world is in any way a solution. Nobody will be better off. Is the thought more relief than the actual action?

    What's the point of convincing others of your aesthetic view of the world?

    I'm going through your previous threads/posts now by the way, a lot of interesting stuff!
  • gurugeorge
    436
    Is any natural event or creature intrinsically right or wrong?

    Procreating is just something people do, something they're semi-compelled to do (most people have some degree of broodiness, and sexual intercourse is one of the most sought-after pleasures). It is in peoples' nature to procreate; we are a form of being that (among other things) procreates.

    In that sense we ourselves are a possible measure of "good" and "bad" (what's good or bad for us). Just as the world crystaliizes as objectively good or bad relative to any given point of view - a rock, a galaxy, a plant - so do we too have a point of view of our own, a nature, a way that we live. (In philosophical terms an essence or nature.) And the perpetuation of that through time, its flourishing, has some value, just naturally (again, it's just part of our nature to value ourselves).

    And in that sense procreation (making babies) can be good or bad only in relation to other things that are good or bad for us. (The limit to it would probably be something like "but not up to the point of fouling our own nest.")

    IOW, you just have to weigh it up, procreation is one value in the context of several important values. And here there's a hierarchy that fluctuates with circumstances (sometimes it's wise to hold off and build up a career for example, sometimes the opposite, it depends on the people and their circumstances, and it's for them to decide).
  • schopenhauer1
    2k
    Do you also see antinatalism itself as an ideation coping technique? Is anything learned about the nature of things by the ending of mankind itself?Inyenzi

    Yes, actually I do see antinatalism as a coping technique. I said one time here:
    I think pessimism can be productive as a philosophy of consolation. It can be a possible alternative to "pick yourself up by the bootstrap" theories. The inherent worth of the individual's suffering is taken into account rather than self-regulating phrases to ensure people do not get too upset by circumstances (by as you said before) "blaming the victim". Anyways, everyone has harms.. some similar, some more nuanced and individual.. It is quite alright to air those to others and find some solace in it.

    Besides being a consolation, it may provide perspective on existence itself. Rather than take it as "this is what must be", it provides the individual a way to look at existence as a whole. By questioning the foundations of the human enterprise itself, it lets us look at what is important and what is justified. It allows us to look at how our own psychological mechanisms work to create the structure needed for goals, how it is contingent harms play a role, and confronts the situatedness of being thrown in a world where we are experiencing the pendulum between survival through cultural upkeep and maintenance, and turning boredom into entertainment goal-seeking. All this structural/necessary harm in the background while being harmed by contingent factors along the way.. All the things listed here for example.

    Believe it or not, there can be a giddyness to pessimism.. To knowing we are all in the same boat, that it is all part of a similar structure. I dare say, there may be a joy and connectedness in pessimism.
    — schopenhauer1

    Advocating for antinatlism is itself a project, and a goal, right? Is this suffering free world devoid of humans not also just some distant hope on the horizon? I just fail to see how the cessation of the world is in any way a solution. Nobody will be better off. Is the thought more relief than the actual action?

    What's the point of convincing others of your aesthetic view of the world?
    Inyenzi

    I have never put emphasis on the final outcome of antinatalism. I don't think its going to result in complete cessation of human experience. So no I don't have "hope" of antinatalism's final goal. However, no potential person being born translates to no suffering for that future person, which is good. There is no need to adjust to whatever coping strategies (antinatalist, Stoic, pleasure-seeking, or otherwise) because there will be no need for the coping strategies in the first place.

    So in a way, the aesthetic view is more of a relief. It is seeing what is going on here and then acting from it. Perhaps I can reiterate the view from this quote:

    The life lived without reflection contains suffering. The life lived with reflection, for the person of a pessimistic temperament, sees the suffering and cannot readily accept with joy or (morose indifference) that this is life and so be it. To the pessimist, this is a basic truth of life and truth cannot be simply discarded once recognized. For the pessimist, there is a reaction of rebellion that life is this way in the first place. If one does not commit suicide, one will have to live life, but one doesn't have to view the situation as good. The indifference approach is cold and does nothing more than say a truism: "life is suffering and we know this". The pessimistic approach not only takes into account that there suffering and we know this, but sees the suffering as negative or an "evil". Perhaps it cannot be overcome, but at least it is recognized for what it is and not ignored or downplayed- discounting its pervasive part of life for many people in many instances.

    For those who do not "see" this truth or who overlook the suffering- it is their prerogative. I haven't seen a pessimist forcefully make anyone believe anything before. The pessimist has every right in a free society to state his views and see if he finds others who see the same thing as him/her. If people vociferously disagree due to temperamental or aesthetic differences, then they can explain their view to each other. I have no illusions that people have the exact same aesthetic tendencies towards the human condition. Each side can make their case, but this doesn't mean each side will win out the other person's view. Philosophy is all about dialectic, and the same basic themes unfolds over and over again throughout history.

    I will say this for the pessimistic theme though- the pessimistic theme is pervasive throughout all of civilization, has been embraced at times by many deep thinkers (not just philosophers), and at one point or another, crosses the minds of most adults at some point in life. Perhaps these fleeting thoughts are simply judged as youthful angst or a depressive mood, but pessimists are willing to stare at it directly and explore this understanding further. The aesthetic sensibility of the pessimist sees these ideas not as fleeting depressive states but as a truth about the human condition itself. They cannot help but see it this way. Life's flux, challenges, contingent suffering, annoyances, instrumentality and existential boredom seem so pervasive to life itself that being indifferent to the suffering is hardly an option if it is one at all.
    — schopenhauer1
  • NKBJ
    316


    I don't understand why the pessimist has to project his own feelings about the world onto everyone else to the extent of being an antinatalist. If your life sucks and you suffer, then don't have children. But certainly you must see that not everyone feels that way about life?

    I'm an optimistic realist. I like life, I enjoy more in life than not, and I think most people do. I decided to procreate, in part because I think that life has more good than bad to offer. Of course there is suffering, and potentially more suffering than joy, but it is more likely for a child growing up in the environment I can provide, that the good will outweigh the bad.

    Perhaps these fleeting thoughts are simply judged as youthful angst or a depressive mood, but pessimists are willing to stare at it directly and explore this understanding further. — schopenhauer1

    To paraphrase Nietsche, I have stared into the Abyss, and the Abyss has stared back into me. One can be an optimist even after having confronted the darkness of the human condition and existence in general. But ultimately I choose to live life with another quote in mind: "The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness." (Nabokov) I like to focus on the "brief crack of light" part, while the "eternities of darkness" are there to remind me to carpe diem.
  • schopenhauer1
    2k
    I'm an optimistic realist. I like life, I enjoy more in life than not, and I think most people do. I decided to procreate, in part because I think that life has more good than bad to offer. Of course there is suffering, and potentially more suffering than joy, but it is more likely for a child growing up in the environment I can provide, that the good will outweigh the bad.NKBJ

    What about life needs to be started for a new person in the first place? Is it some X experience you would like it to have? Is that the only experience it will have? Are you unwittingly doing the bidding of society's perpetuation (on the child's behalf)? What of the circularity- life is essentially survival, maintaining environment/comfort levels, and boredom-fleeing? Then what of the contingent suffering that is unexpected, unpredictable, and contextual.
  • NKBJ
    316
    What about life needs to be started for a new person in the first place? Is it some X experience you would like it to have? Is that the only experience it will have? Are you unwittingly doing the bidding of society's perpetuation (on the child's behalf)? What of the circularity- life is essentially survival, maintaining environment/comfort levels, and boredom-fleeing? Then what of the contingent suffering that is unexpected, unpredictable, and contextual.schopenhauer1

    I'll answer you in order:

    -Nothing needs to be started. But it also doesn't need not to be started.
    -Yes, there are a multitude of experiences I hope my child has.
    -Nope.
    -Also nope.
    -I don't believe that is true.
    -Life is risky, but that doesn't mean it's not worth having.
  • SherlockH
    73
    I want children one day and I want to adopt. It is selfish to add more kids when there is so many unwanted children. Kids are sweet becuase they are kind of like cats or puppies and motives are very innocent. They are pure and so are adorable and should be protected. I want to give a child the support and love I never got as a child. As well as that if possible id open a giant orphanage and teach them all good morals and to care about the future and others. That way we have a new generation of children who together will make a brighter, better future. Children are the future and us not teaching them anything is ruining our future. Children need a proper foundation. When we fail our children we fail our planet, our future and society as a whole.
  • schopenhauer1
    2k
    -Nothing needs to be started. But it also doesn't need not to be started.NKBJ

    Ok, what is the outcome of not starting the life for the child? There is no child to be deprived. Once the child is born, it is indeed deprived, needs to survive/find goals (and this possibly entails Schopenhauer's vision of constant deprivation), and general existential circularity on top of the contingent suffering of being born with certain traits, certain situations, and certain happenstances.

    -Yes, there are a multitude of experiences I hope my child has.NKBJ

    What about experiences needs to be carried out in the first place?

    -Nope.NKBJ

    How are you so sure? Where is the cues to have children coming from? Cultural cues, perhaps?

    -I don't believe that is true.NKBJ

    I doubt you can disprove that. Almost all goals fall into one of those three categories. At the bottom of things is restless will, the needs of survival the wants of something interesting to do, the middle-ground of comfort and maintenance seeking.

    -Life is risky, but that doesn't mean it's not worth having.NKBJ

    Are the potential goods of life that important for a new person to experience? If they don't exist, what do they lose? There is no they, so nothing can lose. Something can definitely lose once born. The goods of life needn't be an issue with non-existent nothings that are simply placeholders for potential somebodies.
  • NKBJ
    316
    Once the child is born, it is indeed deprived, neschopenhauer1

    Once again, you are assuming the same pessimistic outlook for everyone. Well, everyone doesn't share that view of life, including me.

    Almost all goals fall into one of those three categoriesschopenhauer1

    I know that's not true of me, so therefore it is not true of all humans.

    If they don't exist, what do they lose? There is no they, so nothing can lose. Something can definitely lose once bornschopenhauer1

    It's nonsensical to compare it's non-existence to existence. So existing can never be better or worse than not existing.
    You can have a good or a bad life, sure. But from what I have seen and what I've heard from most people, life has more good in it that outweighs the bad.

    But we're going nowhere debating whether life is worth living subjectively. I just still think all you can say with your pessimism, is that you personally don't see the point in procreation for yourself. Just, stick with speaking for yourself.
  • Txastopher
    118
    This is the conversation held by DM as mentioned earlier:

    schopenhauer1
    The state of non-existance prior to conception means that by not conceiving one is not alleviating the suffering of an extant being. The affected party in non-conception is the parent and to a diminishing extent the parents' social group, whereas only conception can affect the child. Consequently, the decision to have a child seems to be selfish by definition.

    Regarding suffering, the answer to the question, "Is it better to have lived than have never existed?", at least in my case, is a resounding 'yes'. Suffering is part of the human experience, and no doubt I have plenty in store. Maybe I should take Croesus' advice who claimed that one could not evaluate one's life until its end. Nevertheless, I suspect I'm not alone in being fiercely protective of my existence.

    Regarding 'antenatalism', It's too nihilistic for my tastes and I don't consider nihilism to be a logical outcome of philosophical enquiry, rather I consider that the purpose of philosophical enquiry to find a way out the clearly paradoxical reductio ad absurdum that is nihilism.

    Post McPostface: "I feel as though, there's a dichotomy being drawn between 'rationality' and 'human nature' here. Seems fallacious to me, as if one can speak about 'rationality' while excluding 'human nature' from the discussion."

    Reason is supposed to transcend human nature. Conception, like smoking and obesity is usually a result of non-rational impulses. Rationality, in the sense of positive freedom, is the control of these aspects of human nature; my reason is the master of me (or at least I'd like it to be). In this sense, the problem is not succumbing to our human nature, but the reason we have for doing so. Ergo, "Is there a rational basis upon which to bring children into the world (I'm thinking developed countries with some kind of welfare system)?"
    — jastopher

    Interesting, I'll answer you in the actual forum, but why don't you just continue it onto the suggested thread from Baden? If you want, copy and paste your response there so everyone has a chance to see it:

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/3306/are-there-any-non-selfish-reasons-for-having-children

    Also, I do see your thread still available in the forum, so not sure why you don't see that either. Maybe it was reopened?
    5 days ago
    schopenhauer1
    The state of non-existance prior to conception means that by not conceiving one is not alleviating the suffering of an extant being. The affected party in non-conception is the parent and to a diminishing extent the parents' social group, whereas only conception can affect the child. Consequently, the decision to have a child seems to be selfish by definition.
    — jastopher

    No, that is not the position though. You are not starting the suffering for a future person.

    egarding suffering, the answer to the question, "Is it better to have lived than have never existed?", at least in my case, is a resounding 'yes'. Suffering is part of the human experience, and no doubt I have plenty in store. Maybe I should take Croesus' advice who claimed that one could not evaluate one's life until its end. Nevertheless, I suspect I'm not alone in being fiercely protective of my existence.

    Regarding 'antenatalism', It's too nihilistic for my tastes and I don't consider nihilism to be a logical outcome of philosophical enquiry, rather I consider that the purpose of philosophical enquiry to find a way out the clearly paradoxical reductio ad absurdum that is nihilism.
    — jastopher

    Nihilism is a rather overused term and means too many things to too many people in my opinion. I am an out-and-out philosophical pessimist, so that term will do just fine with antinatalism :). So, I don't see how the purpose of philosophical inquiry is to find a way around a certain philosophical stance (like nihilism or philosophical pessimism). That might be your particular preference at this point in time as to why you pursue philosophy, but not sure that was or is philosophy's main goal.

    As to suffering being a part of human experience, I have laid out some details which were not addressed, so I'll point back to things I said earlier such as starting contingent and structural suffering for other people (and explained what that is), went into detail about causing certain responsibilities for survival, maintenance, and boredom-fleeing, the circularity of our repetitive existence, the deprivation of needs and wants, the emptiness behind facades like technological advancement, the violation of ethical of someone else's ethical principles, using people as an ends for X personal or social reason, etc. etc.
    5 days ago
    Posty McPostface
    Reason is supposed to transcend human nature. Conception, like smoking and obesity is usually a result of non-rational impulses. Rationality, in the sense of positive freedom, is the control of these aspects of human nature; my reason is the master of me (or at least I'd like it to be). In this sense, the problem is not succumbing to our human nature, but the reason we have for doing so. Ergo, "Is there a rational basis upon which to bring children into the world (I'm thinking developed countries with some kind of welfare system)?"
    — jastopher

    The epistemological argument I am trying to make is that we simply do not know what 'pure reason' looks like. Or if you prefer, then Hume comes to mind of reason being the handmaiden to the passions. That's about it.
    5 days ago
    jastopher
    The epistemological argument I am trying to make is that we simply do not know what 'pure reason' looks like.
    — Posty McPostface

    We may not have an exact picture, but developmental psychology, neuroscience, studies of feral children and so on give us a pretty good decent photofit. Although I doubt that an entirely non-rational human can exist, there does seems to be a cline of rationality upon which different individuals can be placed. Human nature, on the other hand, must be definition, be present in all members of the species.
    4 days ago
    jastopher
    You are not starting the suffering for a future person.
    — schopenhauer1

    On your account, surely you are increasing aggregate human suffering by the introduction of another individual? Or have I misunderstood you?

    I am an out-and-out philosophical pessimist
    — schopenhauer1

    Whether nihilism or pessimism, the role of philosophy as an exclusively human activity is to extract us from this kind of logical terminus. I mean, if philosophy is about how to live well and one concludes that everything is meaningless, then somewhere along the line in your enquiry something must have gone wrong. I would maintain, that it must be axiomatic that philosophical pessimism is wrong since were it be to be true philosophical pessimism would be meaningless also. Hence the paradox.

    As to suffering being a part of human experience, I have laid out some details which were not addressed
    — schopenhauer1

    There is a calculus involved here, and we clearly interpret the data differently. I don't deny the existence of suffering, but I sense that it is outweighed by the positive aspects of existence. I'll ask you the question directly,
    "Is it better to have lived than have never existed?"
    — jastopher

    Even if you answer "no", that is only one datum amongst every human that exists, has existed and will exist, and cannot, on its own, be a justification for antinatalism.
    4 days ago
    schopenhauer1
    On your account, surely you are increasing aggregate human suffering by the introduction of another individual? Or have I misunderstood you?
    — jastopher

    You have misunderstood me. I was using your in the general. To rephrase it, antinatalists think that by not having a child, one is not starting (or is preventing) a future person who will suffer.

    Whether nihilism or pessimism, the role of philosophy as an exclusively human activity is to extract us from this kind of logical terminus. I mean, if philosophy is about how to live well and one concludes that everything is meaningless, then somewhere along the line in your enquiry something must have gone wrong. I would maintain, that it must be axiomatic that philosophical pessimism is wrong since were it be to be true philosophical pessimism would be meaningless also. Hence the paradox.
    — jastopher

    No, SOME people think that the goal of ETHICS (not philosophy in general) is eudaimonia (roughly translates as flourishing) and is mainly linked with Virtue Theory, and not necessarily related with other ethical stances which may have goals such as minimizing suffering, following a categorical imperative, etc. Even if I was to grant you ethics is mainly about achieving eudaimonia, this does not diminish the antinatalist claim that once born, one may strive to achieve eudaimonia, but the best state of affairs was never being born. Philosophical pessimists may even agree that as long as the aesthetic view of existence was acknowledged that life is indeed (or contains much) suffering one can pursue certain courses of action that would achieve eudaimonia.

    However, most strong philosophical pessimists would argue that all pursuits are coming from a place of deprivation. The Will is unsatisfied and needs to pursue goals endlessly and all the other things mentioned in my first response. They would also argue that eudaimonia is a false hope. Rather, no one needs to get born to get better at something or to achieve x, y, z goal. In fact that might be using someone as a means to some end (i.e. seeing someone else try to achieve x, y, z is for the parent or some third-party reason, but not the child). Rationally, the best course of action is to not start the life in the first place. Combine with this the idea of contingent suffering- suffering based on particular context (i.e. location, genetics, causal factors), then there more compelling reason not to begin a life that contains suffering in the first place. Pessimists would argue that life is not a "progress" but a circularity of repetitive goal acts such survival, comfort-finding/maintenance, and boredom-fleeing. Though the goods of life are acknowledged (mainly aesthetic/physical pleasure, achievement, flow states, learning, relationships), these are not deemed strong enough to contend with the aesthetic understanding that indeed life has structural and contingent suffering.

    Hence the paradox.
    — jastopher

    No, Schopenhauer might argue that the best ethical stance (besides antinatalism), is to reflect on art/nature (to temporarily stop the insatiable will), do acts of compassion (to temporarily stop one's self-interested will), and most importantly to live an ascetic life with the least amount of willing possible. This not necessarily my stance, but just showing that there can be a pessimist ethics counter to Virtue Theory in general and specifically the claim that the summom bonum is eudaimonia or even more specifically that eudaimonia only looks one certain way.

    Even if you answer "no", that is only one datum amongst every human that exists, has existed and will exist, and cannot, on its own, be a justification for antinatalism.
    — jastopher

    First off, not every human would answer yes to that question. Also, there are many cultural factors that prevent people from acknowledging or publicly admitting pessimistic realities. Finally, appeal to the majority is one of the worst ways to assess ethical import. It is not the sole way (or best) to understand human nature- it is the best way to understand what people are willing to publicly admit to a loaded question.
    4 days ago
    jastopher
    No, SOME people think that the goal of ETHICS
    — schopenhauer1

    No, some people think that role of Philosophy is ETHICS, all the other questions dealt with by philosophers are thrown up as a result of ethical enquiry.

    Finally, appeal to the majority is one of the worst ways to assess ethical import.
    — schopenhauer1

    No. If anything, this is counter-example not appeal to the majority.
    3 days ago
    schopenhauer1
    No, some people think that role of Philosophy is ETHICS, all the other questions dealt with by philosophers are thrown up as a result of ethical enquiry.
    — jastopher

    Then I would say that is playing word games. Maybe they think ethics is most important and other things follow. If you really want to go deep, Schopenhauer, for example has Will at the bottom of all things, and so the basis of ethics is a slow-unfolding of a person's character as related to how well they can resist the will's individuated self-interest. So, I guess one can say in this case the metaphysics drives the ethics in such a way, but that is the reverse of what you are saying. Now, the philosopher Levinas did have an idea of "ethics is first philosophy" but that concept is grander then perhaps your meaning (which seems to be that ethics is most important). His idea has a lot of implications, one of being that what you "choose" as your metaphysics can also have ethical implications. I'm not so sure you really mean it in the way Levinas does though.


    No. If anything, this is counter-example not appeal to the majority.
    — jastopher

    Well, you said this earlier:

    Even if you answer "no", that is only one datum amongst every human that exists, has existed and will exist, and cannot, on its own, be a justification for antinatalism.
    — jastopher

    Besides being a false statement, I don't see how this can be interpreted as anything but an appeal to the majority. You are literally appealing to the fact that "every human that exists, has existed, and will exist" does not believe in antinatalism which is by definition an appeal to the majority. A quick definition from Wikipedia states: In argumentation theory, an argumentum ad populum (Latin for "argument to the people") is a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition must be true because many or most people believe it, often concisely encapsulated as: "If many believe so, it is so."

    So, this debate is kind of interesting, but I don't generally use this forum for a personal correspondence. I would like to continue the discussion, but anything further, I would like to respond in the public forum so that others can participate. I use internal messages like this to perhaps further clarify, or have meta-discussions about what is actually going on in the forum discussion itself, but not usually for protracted debates. So, I'll meet you in the forum!
    3 days ago
    — jastopher
  • schopenhauer1
    2k
    Once again, you are assuming the same pessimistic outlook for everyone. Well, everyone doesn't share that view of life, including me.NKBJ

    I guess its not a view, its a reality. You are deprived and have needs and wants, whereas, colloquially speaking, "nothing needs anything".

    I know that's not true of me, so therefore it is not true of all humans.NKBJ

    Really? Once born, the primary goal is survival. Humans with big brains, and social systems create complex cultural ways to survive. The human navigating this cultural landscape is part of survival. Also, humans prefer comfort, so there goes maintenance seeking activities that aren't about survival or entertainment. Then, our restless minds need entertainment- relationships, complex games and hobbies, and even meditation all fall under this. Its really quite simple in its complexity.

    It's nonsensical to compare it's non-existence to existence. So existing can never be better or worse than not existing.NKBJ

    You can compare states of affairs comparing being born and having good/bad experiences and not being born and not having any good/bad experiences, or even have an actual person to be deprived thereof. Of course, this is done retrospectively, but it is comparing them nonetheless.

    What you meant to argue I think was that, it is some sort of logical error to talk about non-existent people. But I believe you can since we use conditional speech all the time. Johnny could have done this, but he did that. If born, a human must survive, maintain, entertain, a condition that would not be the case if not born. Since humans are self-aware as well, there is always the existential question of why start it in the first place. As Zapffe might put it, we are in a sense, tragically self-aware.
  • NKBJ
    316
    You can compare states of affairs comparing being born and having good/bad experiences and not being born and not having any good/bad experiences, or even have an actual person to be deprived thereof. Of course, this is done retrospectively, but it is comparing them nonetheless.

    What you meant to argue I think was that, it is some sort of logical error to talk about non-existent people.
    schopenhauer1

    I'll quote for you from a piece that I read recently by philosopher Jeff McMahan (just ignore the part about carnism and apply it to human procreation for the sake of our argument, please):

    “The claim that benign carnivorism would not be worse for the animals that it would cause to exist is, strictly speaking, trivially true, while the claim that it would be better for them is necessarily false. This is because ‘worse’ and ‘better’ are comparative terms, and one element in each implied comparison is never existing at all.

    Consider the claim that it is not worse for an animal to be caused to exist. This is not a substantive claim. It is instead true as a matter of logic, since it is incoherent to suppose that an animal’s being caused to exist could be worse for it. Because ‘worse for’ is comparative, the claim that it is worse for an individual to be caused to exist implies that it would have been better for that individual not to have been caused to exist–that is, never to have existed at all. But there cannot be anyone for whom it is better never to exist.

    Similarly, to say that it is better for an animal to be caused to exist implies that it would have been worse for that same animal never to have existed. But again, there cannot be anyone for whom it is worse never to exist. In one clear and relevant sense, there are no individuals who never exist.”
    (Here's the link: https://philosophy.rutgers.edu/joomlatools-files/docman-files/Eating_Animals_the_Nice_Way.pdf)
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Is any natural event or creature intrinsically right or wrong?gurugeorge

    Yes.

    Procreating is just something people do, something they're semi-compelled to dogurugeorge

    The same can be said of serial rapists, murderers, pedophiles, thieves, etc. Your moral relativism is a non-starter for me.

    In that sense we ourselves are a possible measure of "good" and "bad"gurugeorge

    No we're not.
  • Michael
    7.1k
    No we're not.Thorongil

    I wonder what is the measure of right and wrong. One of my main concerns with moral realism isn't that it isn't even clear how one would go about verifying or falsifying a moral claim.

    If I say that it isn't wrong to hurt innocent people and you say that it is, what can we do to resolve the disagreement? Is there anything we can do, or is it just a case that we disagree, each believing that our respective positions are obviously correct, and if the other can't understand that then they have some fundamental problem?
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Nice quote! It cogently summarizes the primary reason I rejected antinatalism, which is basically that it tries to compare apples to oranges.
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