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Old 01-11-2018   #11
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by mkdavey View Post
Quote Originally Posted by qcrisp View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous View Post
Thanks, I found that provocatively helpful.

Quote Originally Posted by qcrisp View Post
Tenets were mentioned above. These need to be enumerated and examined for the case to be made.
Nihilism.
I know what you mean here, although I think this needs elaboration for the case to be made.

Since time is limited, however, I'll simply say:

I think that there is a stronger argument for antinatalism that doesn't rely on the negation of meaning in human life. So, as one tends to find with these things, there's more than one antinatalism.

I think another line I'd pursue with this argument would be to do with metaphorical procreation. I don't have time to give details here, but:

If AN is fundamentally about eliminating suffering, and if this requires the cessation of life, what do we do about those who are still alive? There is, at least, a tension here.

Do we negate their life? If so, this causes suffering, which is against one of the root principles of AN. If we don't negate their life we are implicitly encouraging the continuance of life.

I don't think I've phrased the above in an air-tight way, but perhaps you can see the direction in which I'm pointing.

As I've said elsewhere, I have strong AN sympathies, but also philosophical reservations. The above is one of them.


What do you mean when you say “do we negate their lives”?


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Yeah, well, this is why the argument requires elaboration. Unfortunately, I don't really have time to elaborate at present. I am not, myself, trying to argue against antinatalism, so such elaboration is not a priority for me, but I just thought I'd contribute to the discussion here a little.

However, to give some idea of what I mean, this is from another recent thread:

http://www.ligotti.net/showpost.php?...4&postcount=11

As far as I am able to determine, the desire to live in what might be a happy or fulfilled way correlates with something like 'hope' or 'affirmation', and these are in conflict with the imperative for the cessation of life.

Benatar, of course, addresses this when he talks about the distinction between creating new life and continuing existing life, and this distinction is obviously (and to his credit) made in order to be humane to those who already exist. However, I think that a tension still exists in that once a person is committed to the extinction of all (sentient) life theoretically, they are still continuing a life that is now (effectively) negated. I do think this causes suffering.

To some this will be immediately intuitively apparent, but to others it will require elaboration.

Of course, part of the point of philosophy is that in the course of such elaboration one discovers whether or not a certain view has inner consistency (and there are also empirical factors which tend to postpone conclusions indefinitely). I am not saying with any certainty that a perfect elaboration would reveal the view I'm stating as air-tight - I was simply adding to the discussion above.

I think this kind of elaboration would ultimately take a huge amount of time, and I'm not actually here to make that argument (just to point out that it's a direction one might take).

“Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved." - Max Weber
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Old 01-12-2018   #12
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Not being a native speaker, i worry if my limited vocabulary adequately expresses my thoughts, but nevertheless:

If the core tenet of AN might be summarized as the prevention of suffering through the cessation of procreation, this would mean, in the abstract, the prevention of a situation or circumstance ( life ) because it implicitly contains a certain circumstance ( in this case a circumstance thought negative - suffering ). This means, however, that all other implicit states or circumstances, thus all potentials in fact, will be equally annihilated along with the potential suffering, including all potentials that may qualify that suffering in any way; including the opposite of suffering by contrast with which suffering may be discerned or measured; including the very things that might give cause to desire the cessation of suffering. So antinatalism, in that way, negates itself in even the theory of applying itself.

So i guess Nemonymous has a point.

"What can a thing do with a thing, when it is a thing?"
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Old 01-12-2018   #13
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by Ibrahim View Post
Not being a native speaker, i worry if my limited vocabulary adequately expresses my thoughts, but nevertheless:

If the core tenet of AN might be summarized as the prevention of suffering through the cessation of procreation, this would mean, in the abstract, the prevention of a situation or circumstance ( life ) because it implicitly contains a certain circumstance ( in this case a circumstance thought negative - suffering ). This means, however, that all other implicit states or circumstances, thus all potentials in fact, will be equally annihilated along with the potential suffering, including all potentials that may qualify that suffering in any way; including the opposite of suffering by contrast with which suffering may be discerned or measured; including the very things that might give cause to desire the cessation of suffering. So antinatalism, in that way, negates itself in even the theory of applying itself.

So i guess Nemonymous has a point.
So you're saying the prevention of life negates happiness or boredom or a neutral state (whatever "the opposite of suffering" means and boredom is arguably a special case of suffering) and therefore makes a judgement of suffering not possible and therefore negates antinatalism.
This is only true if a person defines suffering as a lack happiness after they've experienced happiness. But is it possible for an individual to never once in life experienced whatever this happiness means?

I would say antinatalism doesn't opposite art. To reproduce doesn't merely mean to pass on genes, but to create an individual human. Have an artistic work ever come to life and become conscious? In Greek myth it happens to Pygmalion's statue, but I haven't seen such a thing in real life. Maybe you're thinking of eflism "The belief that life is inherently negative, and therefore should be voluntarily ended." That's a different thing.

"Tell me how you want to die, and I'll tell you who you are. In other words, how do you fill out an empty life? With women, books, or worldly ambitions? No matter what you do, the starting point is boredom, and the end self-destruction. The emblem of our fate: the sky teeming with worms. Baudelaire taught me that life is the ecstasy of worms in the sun, and happiness the dance of worms."
---Tears and Saints, E. M. Cioran
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Old 01-13-2018   #14
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

I wrote a line of poetry in 1965: "It is futile to call life futile as it is."

ON THE HOOF: My original engagement with CATHR in 2007 (with input from Mr Ligotti himself): ON THE HOOF - THE NIGHTMARE NETWORK

MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com
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Old 01-13-2018   #15
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous View Post
I wrote a line of poetry in 1965: "It is futile to call life futile as it is."

ON THE HOOF: My original engagement with CATHR in 2007 (with input from Mr Ligotti himself): ON THE HOOF - THE NIGHTMARE NETWORK
Ibrahim's post above seems to me the optimum extension of that line of poetry I have ever seen since I wrote it! Thanks to him.

Meanwhile, if you would like a link to my review, regarding the recent Emil Cioran ovation 'fiction' anthology that I reviewed over Christmas (including the review of a wonderful story by Jon Padgett) please PM me here on TLO.

MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com
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Old 01-16-2018   #16
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Theoretically, I guess, the ideal endpoint of antinatalist thinking is a world, a universe, without human life, though I would possibly extend that to cover all life, or at least all animal life capable of suffering.

Practically, though, I see the goal as being to provide a much-needed alternative perspective to the primary guiding values in human society, namely the social pressure to produce offspring and all the cheap, manufactured optimism that blindly drives the human project. No child should ever be born out of a misguided sense of "obligation", whether to family or social pressure or to some innate biological drive.

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Old 01-16-2018   #17
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

One thing that concerns me is how someone like Ligotti can believe the following:

(1) Human beings should cease reproducing.

(2) Human beings are biological "puppets" that lack free will.

(1) implies moral agency. But moral agency requires free will on some level to be meaningful. However, (2) precludes the existence of free will.

As someone who is largely sympathetic towards Ligotti's worldview, I can't help but find the above contradiction troubling. Schopenhauer encountered the same contradiction when he was unable to reconcile his "denial of the will to live" with the notion of a metaphysical (unconscious) "will" that determines our actions. A determinist should only be concerned with describing causal relations, not abstract moral philosophies suffused with normative assumptions.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 01-17-2018   #18
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
One thing that concerns me is how someone like Ligotti can believe the following:

(1) Human beings should cease reproducing.

(2) Human beings are biological "puppets" that lack free will.

(1) implies moral agency. But moral agency requires free will on some level to be meaningful. However, (2) precludes the existence of free will.

As someone who is largely sympathetic towards Ligotti's worldview, I can't help but find the above contradiction troubling. Schopenhauer encountered the same contradiction when he was unable to reconcile his "denial of the will to live" with the notion of a metaphysical (unconscious) "will" that determines our actions. A determinist should only be concerned with describing causal relations, not abstract moral philosophies suffused with normative assumptions.
I thought Ligotti himself didn't consider CATHR a proper philosophy dissertation, but I'll have to remember where I saw that. Anyhow in his reply to Des' review of CATHR, he wrote this:

Quote
About your hanging your head "in confused dismay for having been a ‘breeder’" during your lifetime, this is a facetious statement on your part, and rightly so. I hope that I’ve been clear in CATHR that no parent should expect me to expect them to feel any true dismay about taking on this role. While the attitude I’ve expressed about reproduction in CATHR is negative, often snidely so, I wouldn’t want anyone to forego this action out of guilt but out of a viewpoint, true or not, that human life is so problematic that one would best be spared from enduring it. This is an ancient sentiment, but I feel it cannot be repeated too strenuously or too often, however futile it may be to do so. Lost causes are not the worst pursuits a human being can engage in, since they are invariably harmless if carried out in full consciousness that they are futile enterprises compelled by one’s private imperatives. (No tyrant has ever believed himself to be engaged in a lost cause. No one who has tried to end world suffering has thought himself engaged in anything but a lost cause.) To reiterate what should be eminently clear in CATHR, I unequivocally believe that to be alive and conscious is to be doomed to an undeserved condition. There are reasons that I continue in the vertical state, but they have nothing to do with any appeal that life has for me. That this attitude may be unwarranted or pathological is something that each of us must decide for himself. My function--and indeed my pleasure--has been to present reasons why this attitude is neither unwarranted nor pathological. In this endeavor, I know that I will fail. But like the desire to be a parent, I cannot resist it. You are quite right in saying that composing CATHR has on the whole given me the sense of my life being "more worthwhile." At the same time, this delusion faded several times while I was working on the book, and I expect it will dim and flicker out entirely should I live many more years. However, the fact that I completed this project, as with other projects in my life, will remain a satisfaction to me, if only in those moments when I feel satisfied with anything I’ve done.
You can find it here.

"Tell me how you want to die, and I'll tell you who you are. In other words, how do you fill out an empty life? With women, books, or worldly ambitions? No matter what you do, the starting point is boredom, and the end self-destruction. The emblem of our fate: the sky teeming with worms. Baudelaire taught me that life is the ecstasy of worms in the sun, and happiness the dance of worms."
---Tears and Saints, E. M. Cioran
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Old 01-17-2018   #19
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
Schopenhauer encountered the same contradiction when he was unable to reconcile his "denial of the will to live" with the notion of a metaphysical (unconscious) "will" that determines our actions.
From (distant) memory, he did reconcile it, the exercise of the "denial of the will to live" was posited by Schopenhaur to occur when it was one of the few pathways the Will could still exercise if it was to will at all. It was still willing but "willing to death" as no other option was possible -this interests me a lot - the failure to reconcile you mention, ( I do not necessarily accept S's description of things) - where do you draw this from? I am genuinely interested in this area - thanks for raising it (I am no expert and happy to be corrected in any respect)

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Old 01-17-2018   #20
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Re: Anti-Natalism, Can It Really Exist?

Quote Originally Posted by Acutely decayed View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
Schopenhauer encountered the same contradiction when he was unable to reconcile his "denial of the will to live" with the notion of a metaphysical (unconscious) "will" that determines our actions.
From (distant) memory, he did reconcile it, the exercise of the "denial of the will to live" was posited by Schopenhaur to occur when it was one of the few pathways the Will could still exercise if it was to will at all. It was still willing but "willing to death" as no other option was possible -this interests me a lot - the failure to reconcile you mention, ( I do not necessarily accept S's description of things) - where do you draw this from? I am genuinely interested in this area - thanks for raising it (I am no expert and happy to be corrected in any respect)
Although there's plenty of evidence in Schophenhauer's World as Will and Representation alone which suggests there is a problem with both doctrines, you can find relevant information in his dissertation, The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, in conjunction with books II and IV of WWR.

His dissertation is an account of "reasons" or "causes" from a quasi-Kantian perspective. One of the forms of causality Schopenhauer discusses is what he calls the "law of motivation," which states that every action (human or animal) is preceded by a motive (abstract or concrete) presented to the intellect. The issue is that, for Schopenhauer, causation (which includes human agency) only occurs on the level of the phenomenal "world." The "will" is free, but only in the sense that it lies outside the realm of causality, i.e., it belongs to reality as it exists apart from experience. The law of motivation does not apply to it at all. Not only that, the will is incapable of doing anything contrary to its essence given its metaphysical status. This is why Schopenhauer resorts to obscure religious language when describing how the will's denial actually takes place in book IV of WWR.

Broadly speaking, I have great sympathy for both Schopenhauer and Ligotti's pessimism. I cannot, however, ignore the fact that there are parts of both worldviews that are philosophically incoherent.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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