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Old 08-16-2014   #1
R.P.Dwyer
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A Thought Experiment Concerning Anti-Natalism

I've been reading some anti-natalists such as Ligotti and Benatar, and in trying to understand their point of view, I've come up with a philosophical thought experiment. I would be interested in comments and criticism of my thought experiment, for example if my experiment is stupid, or if it misconstrues anti-natalism.

There are two couples, lets call one the Smiths, and the other the Joneses. The Smiths are considering having a child. An All Knowing Entity tells that Smiths that if they have a child, that person will have a very happy life. The Smiths then decide not to have a child. While I would make a reasonable guess that a small percentage of people might disapprove of their decision, most wouldn't have much of a problem. (In order to avoid unnecessary complications in this thought experiment, Mrs. Smith was never pregnant and abortion was never an issue).

The Joneses, too, are considering having a child. The All Knowing Entity then tells the Joneses that if they have a child, that person will have a painful, unhappy life. The Joneses, with this knowledge, decide not to conceive. I submit that most people would not have a problem with that decision. And, at least, a small percentage might have a problem if they attempted to conceive.
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Old 08-17-2014   #2
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Re: A Thought Experiment Concerning Anti-Natalism

I study shamanism or mediumship as a field of misfortune . Regardless if it's from Tibet, Vietnam, S.Korea, or weird supernatural horror fiction. I'm trying to think of an English horror story connoting reconciliation but it's hard I guess I need to read more. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wall-Paper comes very close to that. That's probably a really good example. Shakespeare's Hamlet would be the example of that. So in answer to your question about an all-knowing entity claiming someone's life will go all wrong.. that's not how the daemonic muse in human affairs tends to work . I'd characterize my wife and I as anti-natalists in the sense that we both grew up in broken homes, and I guess I fall into the generation y camp even though I really hate 'em that we're still living with her mom and approaching our 30s because we have no savings / job to move out. by the time we move out on our own we'll be getting too old to have kids.

We've severed our family lines because of economic collapse.

My parents spent a lot of money throughout their lives on junk, skiing or whatever, without really being able to afford it at all. They saved nothing for us. My wife's father gambled his #### away until her mother divorced him. We get bursary for school and her brother tries to pitch in as well. Her mom works in telemarketing ( hurray for the Montreal economy ) .

I'd also suggest that the only solution to anti-natalism is ancestor or spirit worship because its a gnosis of the continuation of consciousness (not to be confused with immortality) . If my parents were gnostics and I use that with the little 'g' like if they had had mystical experienced they'd have lived more responsibly. It's easy to trash the environment under the tyranny of theism and transcendentalism.

We're all undying , really . Life is totally obscene and hideous. The mercy of life and an "after-life" or however you'd call it is at lest you probably won't remember that you were ever alive before. So transubstantiation is the realization that you're imprisoned through existence itself. No matter what you do whether you give birth or not it makes no difference.

Perpetually ####ed . No matter what.
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Old 08-17-2014   #3
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Re: A Thought Experiment Concerning Anti-Natalism

In your thought experiment, how would you define "a very happy life"? Life is suffering, which is the main teaching of Buddhism, Cioran, Schopenhauer, and the anti-natalists. From this point of view, a new life, is another mouth to deplete the planets resources. The "all-knowing entity" should know this.
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Old 08-17-2014   #4
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Re: A Thought Experiment Concerning Anti-Natalism

I think antinatalism isn't exactly concerned on the concepts of happy lives. If you live, sure, you'll end up enjoying many things (baked goods, sex, pets, friendshhip, etc) but you'll end up suffering somehow. Pain is inevitable. But if you're not born, there's no pain. And there's nobody to have pets, friends or indulge in sex and baked goods, so nothing is really lost.

But I can see how this might work from the perspective of those already here. I think it's true a good deal of people wouldn't object to a couple not conceiving if they somehow knew the kid will be born without brain or will be riddled with tumors by age 13 or will experience an unending existential angst that'll drive him to suicide at age 64. But I think the gist of antinatalism is that such a sentiment should spread towards every human being so everyone aims for a voluntary extinction and not trying to only keep people who'll be "happy."
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Old 08-18-2014   #5
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Re: A Thought Experiment Concerning Anti-Natalism

Happiness is not bolted down by our desires. There are many angles to confuse us. Such is Cioran's take on one aspect of happiness:
"This world is not worth a sacrifice in the name of an idea
or a belief. How much happier are we today because others
have died for our well-being and our enlightenment? Well-
being? Enlightenment? If anybody had died so that I could
be happy, then I would be even more unhappy, because I
do not want to build my life on a graveyard."
- Nothing is Important
ON THE HEIGHTS OF DESPAIR
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Old 08-18-2014   #6
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Re: A Thought Experiment Concerning Anti-Natalism

Quote Originally Posted by ramonoski View Post
I think antinatalism isn't exactly concerned on the concepts of happy lives. If you live, sure, you'll end up enjoying many things (baked goods, sex, pets, friendshhip, etc) but you'll end up suffering somehow. Pain is inevitable. But if you're not born, there's no pain. And there's nobody to have pets, friends or indulge in sex and baked goods, so nothing is really lost.
that would actually leave more available/potential friends, sex, pets, and baked goods for the people already here since there are fewer people around to deplete the supply. C is for Cookie, and all the cookies are for me.
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Old 08-18-2014   #7
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Re: A Thought Experiment Concerning Anti-Natalism

I think this hits on some elucidating points concerning anti-natalism, especially the status of current non-entities. Good thought experiment.
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Old 08-18-2014   #8
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Re: A Thought Experiment Concerning Anti-Natalism

There's also another argument for antinatalism, which I just remembered was made by a friend around 10 years ago. She thinks we have an over-population problem, so she says she will not have offspring, for having offspring will increase the problem.
This line of reasoning seems to implicitly accept the Utilitarian ism. Of course, the argument can be attacked by rejecting the premise that we have an over-population problem.
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