• Wallows
    8.7k
    Antinatalism seems like a popular topic hereabouts. There's something very psychologically satisfying about denying suffering to an unborn fetus. It almost strikes one as the ethical thing to do, and I do admit that I've been lured into the thought about not having children and burdening them with existence.

    Mind you, I am somewhat in a contradiction between the empowering psychological appeal of creating less suffering in a world that we have very little control over.

    But... I have realized that antinatalism is, in essence, an extreme form of psychological projection onto an unborn and unknown entity.

    What do I mean by this? Well, we all have visions of the future, or perhaps the antinatalist has an overabundance of concern for the future (anxiety, dread, angst). Those of us who have been mired in their misery, unjustifiably so in many cases, have taken their experiences and have created a fictional entity that is an unborn child.

    I don't know how far I can take this psychoanalysis, and perhaps @unenlightened or @Baden might be of help here; but, fundamentally, antinatalism is an extreme form of some cognitive distortion or psychological dissonance, that needs to find an outlet, which unfortunately manifests in the denial of life.

    Thoughts?
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    The idea of any ethical stance hinging on "suffering" isn't at all appealing to me, because I think that "suffering" is both (a) way too vague, and (b) not something that's inherently proscribable ethically.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    The idea of any ethical stance hinging on "suffering" isn't at all appealing to me, because I think that "suffering" is both (a) way too vague, and (b) not something that's inherently proscribable ethically.Terrapin Station

    "Gross-overgeneralization," would be the first thing that comes to my mind...
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    "Gross-overgeneralization," would be the first thing that comes to my mind...Wallows

    You mean to frame anything in terms of "suffering"?
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    You mean to frame anything in terms of "suffering"?Terrapin Station

    Well, not only that; but, also the issue of characterizing the life of an unborn fetus, which one never knows really how would unfold, as unworthy of experience. By what standards, or to what purpose?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    In my own experience antinatalism is based on the reality of suffering.

    Depression,anxiety, schizophrenia, two world wars, the holocaust slavery, cancer. MS etc . Noone has a right to inflict this on anyone or expose them to it and also to shore up gross global inequality.

    I am am impressed that the Antinatalism Reddit now has 32 thousand subscribers.

    Antinatalism in my opinion is also an enlightened view on the true nature and connotations of creating life.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    Well, not only that; but, also the issue of characterizing the life of an unborn fetus, which one never knows really how would unfold, as unworthy of experience. By what standards, or to what purpose?Wallows

    Right, I agree with that. It's up to each person whether they think something is worthwhile or not. We can't decide that for other people (pro or con).
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    In my own experience antinatalism is based on the reality of suffering.

    Depression,anxiety, schizophrenia, two world wars, the holocaust slavery, cancer. MS etc . Noone has a right to inflict this on anyone or expose them to it and also to shore up gross global inequality.
    Andrew4Handel

    OK, so is this depression and anxiety speaking or an unbiased and 'objective' analysis of the current state of affairs in the world?

    Antinatalism in my opinion is also an enlightened view on the true nature and connotations of creating life.Andrew4Handel

    What do you mean by that?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    OK, so is this depression and anxiety speaking or an unbiased and 'objective' analysis of the current state of affairs in the world?Wallows

    How is reading about the holocaust and other mass murders and tortures depression and not just an acceptance of harsh brutal facts?

    I think I became antinatalist at 11/12 when I watched "Escape from Sobibor" about the Holocaust and I wasn't depressed then. Ironical I was being bullied by class mates who had watched the film, directly after in the changing rooms.

    I see no reason why experience should not be a deterrent or ethical inhibition to having children. I know that several of the people that bullied me and watched that film have gone on to have children whilst leaving me with long term trauma.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    Antinatalism in my opinion is also an enlightened view on the true nature and connotations of creating life.
    β€” Andrew4Handel

    What do you mean by that?
    Wallows

    I have not met any antinatalist who has reached the position in a fit of temper or angst. People in the community are often the most healthily skeptical about social norms and not just conformist followers.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    How is reading about the holocaust and other mass murders and tortures depression and not just an acceptance of harsh brutal facts?Andrew4Handel

    What facts?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    What facts?Wallows

    The facts of depression suicide, millions of people dying in war and slavery and genocides.

    I'm not making this up. It's history Syrian civil war ISIS,North Korea,Iran etc
  • Wallows
    8.7k


    Yes, these are all terrible things; but, is this really an unbiased analysis of the world?
  • Tzeentch
    279
    But... I have realized that antinatalism is, in essence, an extreme form of psychological projection onto an unborn and unknown entity.Wallows

    This reflects in a large part my own view on the matter.

    I think antinatalists often perceive themselves as having to cope with some form of suffering they find unbearable, and, as they cannot find a legitimate reason to continue life for themselves, they seek to affirm their beliefs about themselves by delegitimizing the lives of others.

    As such, they point towards all forms of what in their eyes constitute unbearable suffering and conclude for all those cases that those people would have been better off never being born.

    What they fail to consider is two things:
    1. The vast, vast majority of people on earth do not perceive themselves as suffering unbearably.
    2. Even those who suffer unbearably at some point in their lives, are not necessarily of the opinion that never having been born at all would be a better alternative.

    Another, more skeptical theory would be that antinatalists perceive themselves as having very slim chances of procreating, and seek to validate their situation by "hating that which has been denied to them," much in the same way that people who have faced rejection in their lives can come to resent the opposite sex.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    Yes, these are all terrible things; but, is this really an unbiased analysis of the world?Wallows

    I don't comprehend your notion of bias.

    The fact that sticking my hand in fire will hurt does not create a bias in me. It is a factual piece of information about what reality is like.

    I cannot think of a rational humane world view that can incorporate and justify famine, slavery and genocide etc.

    I think that the majority of European Jews before WW2 imagined a genocide would happen but now we know this is a real crazy possibility. If they were more negative maybe they would have been more prepared. But now we have mountains of historical evidence to inform decisions.

    I was depressed before I became an antinatalist it did not automatically make me antinatalist.

    The depression creates antinatalism is merely an ad hominem. But it is not surprising the antinatalism would be associated with depressions because it is not a ringing endorsement of reality.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    I have not heard anyone accusing Richard Dawkins of being depressed after he wrote this:

    β€œThe total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    What they fail to consider is two things:
    1. The vast, vast majority of people on earth do not perceive themselves as suffering unbearably.
    2. Even those who suffer unbearably at some point in their lives, are not necessarily of the opinion that never having been born at all would be a better alternative.
    Tzeentch

    This sounds very similar to what I read as the antithesis of 'antinatalism', being logotherapy. Even in the most extreme forms of despair and powerlessness one's attitude or world-view can be controlled.

    Have you read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning? It details the life of a Jewish doctor/psychiatrist in an extermination camp, and how he was able to still choose what and how he felt to his predicament in life.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    The fact that sticking my hand in fire will hurt does not create a bias in me. It is a factual piece of information about what reality is like.Andrew4Handel

    All of life? Who's reality? Yours or the unborn fetus?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    All of life? Who's reality? Yours or the unborn fetus?Wallows

    What facts about life for you think are irrelevant when creating a new life?

    Avoiding being burnt is relevant to all life. I am really puzzled how issues life war, genocide and famine would have no impact on someones decision to have children.

    It seems like a lack of sensitivity and rationality.

    Even if you are not at all antinatalist there are numerous factors you could consider before creating a child. But no one has to or no one is expected to consider anything other than their own desires before creating someone else.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    A very good question. I personally felt that anitnatalism was too hardline a position. It ignores a good chunk of people who are "happy".

    It turns out that this group, the "happy" lot so to speak, aren't really happy at all. The first indication of this sad truth is the existence of religion and we all know religion is a thriving business. What draws people to faith? One thing only as far as anitnatalism is concerned- the promise of a better life - heaven. The question is simple: If people are truly happy why is religion such a thing with them?

    Also from a philosophical point of view how many people have actually achieved eudaimonia, the supposed highest state of living the good life?

    If one has to criticize anitnatalism then all that can be done is to say it's a bit too ancient in outlook. It comes very close to the Buddhist view that life is suffering and that was 2500 years ago. Who says Utopia is impossible?
  • T Clark
    3.8k
    Antinatalism in my opinion is also an enlightened view on the true nature and connotations of creating life.Andrew4Handel

    If you were king of the forest, would you put restrictions on when and if other people could choose to have children? If yes, what restrictions?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    If you were king of the forest, would you put restrictions on when and if other people could choose to have children? If yes, what restrictionT Clark

    There is absolutely no reason to have children

    We all have to confront our own death.

    In my opinion creating children is malicious. It is like if you were dying but started a fire to kill lot of other people rather than confront your own death and see what happens. Instead you left trails of continuing destruction (the random propagation of your genes) as an act of defiance.

    We know for a fact we, you and all your children , grandchildren, and great grand children are going to die. For what conceivable reason?

    There is no real immortality in leaving behind partial replicas of your genes to eventual go extinct.

    In a sense I feel cowardly for not dying and seeing what life was about.
    But the inevitability of death means you just have to sit and wait for the inevitable and creating children is not a pastime that would ameliorate this.
  • T Clark
    3.8k
    There is absolutely no reason to have children

    We all have to confront our own death.

    In my opinion creating children is malicious. It is like if you were dying but started a fire to kill lot of other people rather than confront your own death and see what happens. Instead you left trails of continuing destruction (the random propagation of your genes) as an act of defiance.

    We know for a fact we, you and all your children , grandchildren, and great grand children are going to die. For what conceivable reason?

    There is no real immortality in leaving behind partial replicas of your genes to eventual go extinct.

    In a sense I feel cowardly for not dying and seeing what life was about.
    But the inevitability of death means you just have to sit and wait for the inevitable and creating children is not a pastime that would ameliorate this.
    Andrew4Handel

    Well, you didn't answer my question, but then again, really, you did. The answer is "yes," if you were in power, you would prevent other people from having children. And that is the difference between an idea that is misguided and one that is evil.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    @Wallows
    What's the point of even bringing this up if you are only going to have, what, two antinatalists on this forum defend it against the hordes of non-antinatalists? That is a bit of trolling if you ask me. BUT I'll indulge your trolling attempts...


    So the problem that @Andrew4Handel brings up is a real one for the individual in a society. That is that people cannot choose the historical development and societal institutions/setup that he/she is brought into. That is just a fact. There is no "really" escaping it either. Your options are... be beholden to the forces of this behemoth technological economic giant and get by with the six or so "goods" to overlook the cirucular productive forces that we are forced into, or do the following- kill yourself, become a part of the underclass (homeless), become some sort of monk/hermit. These last three are not great choices, and the main de facto choice of just complying with the circular productive forces with six or so goods, is the default. These are just not great choices to be forced into. Keep the productive circular thing going with six goods to tide you over, experience contingent harm, and deal with problems and overcome them. By the time you realize that you don't want to be a part of ANY of these choices, IT'S TOO LATE. There is no collateral damage being not born. Nor is it a mission to bring anyone into the world. People are not just more productive forces of labor to be ameliorated with the six or so "goods" of existence (physical/aesthetic pleasure, relationships..).. But that's exactly what they become. It might not be intended that way, but that is the situation people become when brought into the world. It's not EVEN a matter of perspective on this.

    Despite his bitter protestations, I'm bringing in @Bitter Crank because I think he might shed some light on how we are circular forces of production.. He will shrink away from total pessimism on this.. but I think he has some wise insights on the whole shebang.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    What's the point of even bringing this up if you are only going to have, what, two antinatalists on this forum defend it against the hordes of non-antinatalists? That is a bit of trolling if you ask me. BUT I'll indulge your trolling attempts...schopenhauer1

    No trolling implied. I stand by what I said, that you didn't care to address.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    No trolling implied.Wallows

    Again, there are only two or three antinatalists here. Slim-pickins.. Of course you are going to have the satisfaction of almost anyone else who comments agreeing with you :roll:. So, I'm doing my own psychoanalysis here..as you were in your OP.

    Anyways, I don't really know what your argument is, except vague assertions that antinatalists are projecting onto the fetus. Well, literally, that is all we can do when we discuss a future person, project onto that future person, so that's not saying much. The antinatalist at the end of the day, does not want to bring more people into the world due to some sort of either structural/contingent form of suffering, or combination thereof that the world either "is" or "contains". At the very strongest case, there would be an appeal to how the world is structurally suffering for everyone, no matter what contingent circumstances the person experiences. At the very weakest end, they can say that AT THE LEAST, no collateral damage to some future person occurred. But, you knew all this I'm sure. So, I don't know what you're getting at other than trolling for the sake of trolling.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    At the very strongest case, there would be an appeal to how the world is structurally suffering for everyone, no matter what contingent circumstances the person experiences.schopenhauer1

    See, and that's a form of black-and-white thinking along with overgeneralizing. You prevent the unborn fetus to make up their own mind in regards to the issue, and project a fatalistic, pessimistic, and highly negative outlook on their future life, which manifests in the form of denying the fetus ANY life. That's just wrong, and I'm the first to point it out or make explicit.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    So, I don't know what you're getting at other than trolling for the sake of trolling.schopenhauer1

    Uhh, really? I used to profess a negative outlook on life; but, this isn't trolling in the least. And, you shouldn't care about what others think. I admire your doggedness in regards to the issue.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    See, and that's a form of black-and-white thinking along with overgeneralizing. You prevent the unborn fetus to make up their own mind in regards to the issue, and project a fatalistic, pessimistic, and highly negative outlook on their future life, which manifests in the form of denying the fetus ANY life. That's just wrong, and I'm the first to point it out or make explicit.Wallows

    First off, there is no "unborn fetus", unless we are discussing abortion. It's just a potential person. But, no you are not the first person nor the last to try to psychologize pessimism into a psychological stance rather than a philosophical one. I've written thousands of posts with probably hundreds of various arguments for pessimism. I can go over structural suffering of deprivation, how foisting challenges to overcome is wrong, no matter what the attitude of the foisted upon, collateral damage, you name it. Benatar's asymmetry is a good place to start- no one is deprived, but harm is prevented, etc. In fact, I just had another argument about de facto being used as a source of circular labor, that is supposed to be ameliorated by the inherent "goods" to justify being used as such. I can give many arguments, but you will then just say "that's black-and-white" thinking. Nothing will suffice at that point. No one has to go through any form of experience in the first place.
  • Wallows
    8.7k


    But, your position is inherently based on the subjective experience of suffering or strife, which you try to rationalize into an objective brute fact about existence. Is this at least correct?
  • leo
    573
    It all points again to the idea that we shape our own reality, that we do not witness an objective state of affairs but we are involved in the subjective reality we see. Whether life is seen as a net positive or a net negative is a subjective interpretation based on one's beliefs and experiences.

    There are beliefs that lead to have a more negative view of existence than some others. For instance the belief that we are biological machines blindly obeying unchanging laws, or that nothing comes after death, or that procreation is a selfish act to perpetuate one's own genes, or that suffering is more negative than happiness is positive, these seem to be beliefs shared by many antinatalists. But we can equally hold the opposite beliefs and have a rational justification for them too.

    Rather than imposing on others what they should or should not do, maybe we should just listen more? Maybe the antinatalists could listen more to the natalists to hear about what makes life good for them, and maybe the natalists could listen more to the antinatalists to hear about their suffering and think about how to relieve it. Really listen.
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