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Old 11-02-2014   #1
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Antinatalists Corner

Seeing as how corners are all the rage at the moment on TLO I thought it only fair to start one for those who think procreation is a bad idea.

First item, a horrific story from Russia that involves dead children, a mad 'genius' who digs them up, mummifies them in the hope of post mortem communciation, and a mother who having gone through all this has another child that has 'restored her faith in life'.

Russian mother relives nightmare of seeing dead daughter turned into a doll by Anatoly Moskvin | Daily Mail Online
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Old 11-02-2014   #2
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Re: Antinatalists Corner

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Old 11-02-2014   #3
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Re: Antinatalists Corner

...saying it could never happen to them and called me a pussy.

And therein lies the rub. Or as an acquaintance of mine put it in an expression of seeming banality which is actually quite profound:

It isn't a problem until it is a problem.
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Old 11-02-2014   #4
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Re: Antinatalists Corner

Seems to me that having children is an obvious affront to what philosophers call "common sense morality". Say that if I press a button, there's a 90% chance that some random person (who hasn't consented to the button-pressing) will receive a million dollars, and a 10% chance that both of his kneecaps will explode. Obviously I've done something unacceptable. It would be unacceptable even if the odds were 99.99% that he'd win the million and 0.01% that his kneecaps would blow up. There's no principled distinction to be drawn between clearly impermissible gambles of this sort and procreation, such as to vindicate the latter. One could even argue that procreation is worse, since at least in the button scenario there's someone who almost certainly wants to be benefited, while supposed recipients of the "gift" of life cannot possibly have interests in it given that they don't exist. Every natalist argument I've ever seen never gets beyond laughable hand-waving. The AN argument offered here is never taken head-on as a normative ethical thesis. Immediately, natalists will bring up second-order questions ("Well, does morality exist?" (where the latter would never be asked if someone were to posit that rape is wrong)), pragmatic questions ("But how could we ever get people to stop procreating!?" (again, to use the rape example, would anyone ever suggest that we should stop fulminating against rape because fully eradicating rape is unlikely?)), and related nonsense.
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Old 11-02-2014   #5
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Re: Antinatalists Corner

Antinatalism is a had sell. It goes against our libidinous playfulness, of which babies are usually the end product, not to mention the almost instinctual reaction to see them as "cute".
The only reason to justify antinatalism is that the planet is overpopulated with human beings, and each birth is a mouth that will drain more the precious resources we need to live, in other word the Malthus argument. Wars of the future will be more for the control of fresh water resources than fossil fuels.
However, there is a danger that antinatalism has devolved into a cult, a caricature of itself, and a mask to cover an attempt to make mental illness and nihilism cool. It is like the parody of the Spanish Inquisition, by Monty Python, sans the humor. At least Cioran had a dark sense of humor.

" When a depressed psychotic begins to recover, that is, when
recovery becomes possible, the illness makes a final all-out
attack, and this is the point of maximum suicide danger. You might say the human race is now at this point, in a position for the first time, by virtue of knowledge which may destroy us, to step free of self-imposed restrictions and see all life as a fact. When
you see the world direct, everything is a delight, and boredom or
unhappiness is impossible.
The forces of negation and death are now making their all-out
suicidal effort. The citizens of the world are helpless in a paranoid
panic. First one thing and then another is seen as the enemy,
while the real enemy hesitates-perhaps because it looks too easy,
like an ambush. Among the Arabs and the East in general, the West (especially America), or domination by foreigners, is seen
as the enemy. In the West: communism, queers, drug addicts."

This is William S. Burroughs writing to Ginsberg around 1955.
Very prophetic.
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Old 11-02-2014   #6
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Re: Antinatalists Corner

I think trying to reduce Antinatalism to a caricature of 'cool nihilism' is merely a way of avoiding serious moral issues. And the pro-life position is so cliched and a caricature of itself that it can safely be summed up by this splendid music.

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Old 11-02-2014   #7
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Re: Antinatalists Corner

I have a t-shirt, which I wear proudly, that has EVERYTHING SUCKS printed on it. That is a reaction to the EVERYTHING IS AWESOME crap. On the other hand, that doesn't mean that I condone the extinction of the human race. Maybe cull it a little,but that is why we have viruses and other nasty things to keep us in line.After all, the universe does not care whether we survive or not.
Using the Lego movie to characterize the "pro-life" position is ingenuous. Read the Burroughs quote carefully.It is more a deal with the facts position.So if you are really sincere in your antinatalist beliefs, why are you still here?
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Old 11-03-2014   #8
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Re: Antinatalists Corner

Well, the Burroughs quote is a load of rubbish in my opinion. "Everything is a delight and boredom or unhappiness is impossible". Tell that to those being beheaded by ISIS, or any of the other innumerable horrors that go on every second of every day.

As for why don't all ANs commit suicide, the philosophy is about non-procreation, not suicide. Anyone, AN or not AN, can commit suicide. Most people who do are not.

I'd also like to add that after seven years of debating the topic online and in real life I'm not particularly interested in having another ding-dong here; I'm happy to leave that to others, or not, as the case may be. For anyone who wants the technical ins and outs read David Benatar's book and the various academic papers available online. My aim was to start a corner, however unfrequented, where ANs could squat and look across at the Catholic corner(s) and the Atheist corner, so that's done.
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Old 11-03-2014   #9
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Re: Antinatalists Corner

Burroughs aside, the problem with the argument for antinatalism, to use an analogy, is that it is like making a house without windows and trying to sell it. Work it out. How would you go about selling a house without windows? You could say,"Living in a house without windows is better than living in a house with windows because you do not have to look out upon a world that is horrible. Then I could reply, "Yes, I agree. The world can be horrible, but that does not mean I do not want to look at it through a window."
Again, the facts must be faced: the vast majority of people see antinatalism, if they are aware of it at all, as a crank idea. My point is, whatever merits it may have, it is a hard sell
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Old 11-03-2014   #10
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Re: Antinatalists Corner

Philosophy aside, let's look at the basics of antinatalism: these folks don't want to have kids.

Are there myriad, logical reasons not to have kids? Oh yes.

Are there myriad, logical reasons TO have kids (that aren't completely selfish ones)? No.

I write this as someone who has a kid and wouldn't change the reality of her birth for anything. But there was no sound, rational reasoning behind our decision to bring her into this world. Call it a biological drive. Call it an irrational, desperate desire to exist somehow beyond mortality. But don't call it a sound, rational decision.

"...the uncanny is to me the defining trait of this strange and terrible world and our strange and terrible minds." --Thomas Ligotti
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