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Old 06-18-2009   #21
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Re: Antinatalism- The Greatest Taboo

The "greatest taboo" is by definition not a possible thing, universally, as everything that is has some limitation, even if it is that of being. A taboo is a societal or universal norm, yet each thing that thinks has its own perception of limitation, and only by elimination of that final hurdle does one breach one's greatest taboo. So, if there were something, someone, that broke every rule possible, what could it even be, considering that the ultimate rule, in what is, is being itself. Hence, it is no more, so no taboo.

And, as The Black Ferris pointed out, there has always been a contingent of at least one person who has thought of his/her/its own (consciousness of) being as negative in aspect. And, generally, that philosophical following is greater than, say, the group that actually wants perpetual suffering for at least a contingent of conscious life, be it torture killers or whatever... Which is more generally perceived as "the greatest taboo" than, say, "common" misanthropy.

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Old 06-18-2009   #22
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Re: Antinatalism- The Greatest Taboo

This is a fascinating thread. I may be in over my head, but I can see some merit to both of the main points of view herein expressed. I am not overly enamored of general existence myself, but I figure that since I am already here, I may as well make a go of it. And while life may be pain, I have managed to find bits of it that, to me, most certainly are not. I expect that is the case with most people who are not suicides.

As for children, I know some people who had them as a consequence of absentmindedness or inebriation rather than a heartfelt desire to procreate. They mostly say that they are happy things turned out the way that they did; while that may be true for some, I have my doubts. Myself, I do not feel this desire, and I do not plan to have any children.

I am also recently married, and these feelings lead to a particularly sweaty conversation with my then-fiancee's parents. My now-wife and I had been over all of this long ago, but when I went to seek their approval to ask their daughter's hand in marriage, we had a lengthy and wide-ranging talk about this very subject.

In the end, they did not really understand my viewpoint, but they accepted it, and me in general. I feel the same way about those of my friends who revel in their children and seem to be truly happy with their decisions. I don't really understand it - I don't think I can - but I accept it, and I wish them well.

This all reminds of the famous quote from the sage Douglas Adams: "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people very angry, and has been widely regarded as a bad idea." Douglas Adams may well be the anti-Ligotti, but I find pleasure in the works of both men. To quote another sage, the thoroughly eldritch Alan Moore: "Duality, it whispered."
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Old 06-18-2009   #23
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Re: Antinatalism- The Greatest Taboo

The Silent One,

Hey. I can't say I disagree with what you've said, or I should say I don't want to disagree with what you've written, because it seem logically solid.

I don't care to defend the assertion that antinatalism is the greatest taboo. I just used that as the title of this thread because that is the title of the video series that I posted. Even though I agree with much of what is said in the videos, I don't feel like I have to defend the way antinatalists go about advertising the idea.

I do think it is a major taboo, as far as taboos go. For one thing, it is very difficult to discuss the idea in public, because everyone is a child of their parents, and many people are parents themselves, so it can be expected that most people have reasons to dislike the conclusion of antinatalism. There are other reasons, also.

I am surprised that most people don't at least acknowledge the difficulty of raising the idea in public. Even if you disagree with the conclusion, you can at least see how it is an unpopular idea, right?

Misanthropy might be one of the most common reasons for expressing antinatalist sentiments, but it is not a reason that factors in to my own view to a significant degree. I am often surprised at how rarely I feel misanthropic sentiments.

In your second paragraph, you seem to be saying that, strictly speaking, it is a greater taboo to wish for perpetual suffering than it is to wish for the cessation of suffering. I kind of agree. Antinatalism at least appeals to 'common sense' ethics that are almost universally agreed upon, such as the idea that reducing suffering is a good thing. But almost no one will come out and say that they hope that people continue to suffer, and that they even hope that they suffer as much as possible for as long as possible.

I would argue that the latter sentiment is more common than the former, though. At least in actual practice. How many people actually have well thought out reasons for wanting to see the human race (and conscious existence) cease to exist as soon as possible? Peter Wessel Zapffe, David Benatar, Thomas Ligotti... and? I can count them on my fingers and toes. On the other hand, how many people take pleasure in suffering and wish to see it continue for as long as possible? I would include all serial killers, and go on to include everyone that works for the continuation of suffering, consciously or not, which is almost everyone that exists, if not everyone.

In my experience, most of the people who express the wish to see others suffer are also parents. What are the odds?
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Old 06-18-2009   #24
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Re: Antinatalism- The Greatest Taboo

Sam,

I wouldn't be surprised if most of your friends with kids are being honest when they say that they are glad that they have them, even if they didn't plan on having them. I'll take this further and say I think most parents wish the best for their kids. That is probably one of the reasons why it is so difficult to discuss antinatalism with them. Because they just don't want to hear it. It is related to what you said about being born, "I am not overly enamored of general existence myself, but I figure that since I am already here, I may as well make a go of it." It has already happened, so there is very little point in obsessing about what could have been (or, more to the point, what could not have been).

But it is that little point that nags at my consciousness.
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Old 06-18-2009   #25
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Re: Antinatalism- The Greatest Taboo

Quote Originally Posted by The Black Ferris View Post
I postulate no such premise. In fact, that postulation seems to me to be borne by the antinatalist. Those of us of a more, er, materialist bent have a difficult time believing in something that has never been experienced, i.e. nonexistence. Those of us who are of a less materialist bent deny that such a thing could not exist, or any such combination of all forces extant and non, certainly in the face of so much evidence, i.e. the incredibly unlikely fact that we are having this conversation.
The argument becomes no less absurd by denying the possibility of anything. However, It is not I who wants to return to a Platonic pre-birth limbo. Nor to some Edenic garden of non-existence, place or not.
What I am arguing is that this all smacks of familiarity. Like Sumerian gods arguing about how their children make so much noise and "can we not just kill them and get back to sleep?" Like christians whining about a paradise lost.
I am arguing that it is better to know than to not know. This all sounds like 'ignorance is bliss' to me.
Should I be expected to keep my knowledge to myself? Shall I tempt you with what I know?
I know that it is all the same. There is no argument because there is no difference. A Platonic pre-birth limbo, a Cullipherian post birth limbo.
The twilight limbo of this conversation on the 'internet'.
Where are we? And what is this?
I believe that antinatalists should not have children and that this may ultimately prove to be something like Darwin's natural selection.
Besides, I can't imagine a parent who wishes their child, or they, themselves, had never been born being worth anything.
In this existent world, to me, anyway.
Nothing prevents a materialist from believing in something she has never herself experienced—perhaps you are thinking of empiricism? Still, I see your point: the existence, as it were, of non-existence is of course a postulate of mine, albeit one which I take to follow non-controversially from certain assumptions (materialism or naturalism, broadly speaking). Naturally, if this claim is rejected, the argument is moot.

Ignorance, or at least the kind of ignorance in question, is in fact bliss, as far as I am concerned. Another banal expression which, to some extent, sums up antinatalism is "better safe than sorry": avoiding life entirely is better than enduring all its mixed blessings. I see no prima facie reason why it should be preferable, not to mention mandatory, to engage with the world rather than reject it outright.

Maybe I just lack the sense of perspective possessed by a practising magician. I think we shall have to agree to disagree.
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Old 06-18-2009   #26
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Re: Antinatalism- The Greatest Taboo

Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Coleman View Post
In my experience, most of the people who express the wish to see others suffer are also parents. What are the odds?
I've had this experience with pet owners. Personally, I don't feel right treating a pet in a way I wouldn't want to be treated and imprisonment and neutering/spading aren't how I would want to be treated. Yet people claiming to be animal lovers tend to commit these violent acts with casual disregard.

It would seem that for these people, fulfilling their desire to "nurture" (and perhaps dominate) overrides genuine empathy or respect for the object of nurturing.

"The failed magician waves his wand, and in an instant the laughter is gone." - Martin Gore
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Old 08-18-2009   #27
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Re: Antinatalism- The Greatest Taboo

Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Coleman View Post
In your second paragraph, you seem to be saying that, strictly speaking, it is a greater taboo to wish for perpetual suffering than it is to wish for the cessation of suffering. I kind of agree. Antinatalism at least appeals to 'common sense' ethics that are almost universally agreed upon, such as the idea that reducing suffering is a good thing. But almost no one will come out and say that they hope that people continue to suffer, and that they even hope that they suffer as much as possible for as long as possible.

I would argue that the latter sentiment is more common than the former, though. At least in actual practice. How many people actually have well thought out reasons for wanting to see the human race (and conscious existence) cease to exist as soon as possible? Peter Wessel Zapffe, David Benatar, Thomas Ligotti... and? I can count them on my fingers and toes. On the other hand, how many people take pleasure in suffering and wish to see it continue for as long as possible? I would include all serial killers, and go on to include everyone that works for the continuation of suffering, consciously or not, which is almost everyone that exists, if not everyone.

In my experience, most of the people who express the wish to see others suffer are also parents. What are the odds?
But this all, however, is dependent upon what parameters we create to define "suffering". If we define life itself, without qualifiers, as suffering, the purpose is defeated; A serial torture-murderer becomes, in the long run, a negater of the overall suffering of the world, as does someone who bombs cities, plans wars, plans genocide... Which is inherently self-contradictory.

Perhaps the definition should, then, in the context of this discourse, be limited to "conscious" or "overt" suffering. It keeps things at least comprehensible. To an extent. (As if anything, ultimately, is comprehensible or overt.)

And, yes, it does seem that those most inclined to cruelty tend to be either parents and/or (in the case of classic sociopaths) prone to promiscuity. A manifestation of their vanity, I gather, through the (at least unconsciously attempted) distribution of their genes. That, and ignorance.

I really do hate stupid, mean people. Considering that I will admit to hating very few things, that does indeed mean something.

P.S. When I mention promiscuity, I refer to that in the sense that it is seen accompanying the other symptoms of mild to extreme sociopathy; That is, a combination of emotionally disconnected and excessive sexual behaviour married to recklessness and a predatory nature. Namely, a surprising number of individuals....

"And into his dreams he fell...and forever."

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Old 08-18-2009   #28
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Re: Antinatalism- The Greatest Taboo

The Silent One,

I don't think that life itself is suffering. But conscious life is a prerequisite for suffering. Conscious life must exist for suffering to exist. I also think that any conscious being will experience at least some amount of suffering. Given those assumptions, I say that anyone who reproduces contributes to the continuation of suffering. If every conscious being refused to reproduce, then suffering would eventually cease to exist, at least unless/until nature causes conscious beings to come into existence again, and the whole process starts over.

A torture-murderer does reduce the overall suffering in the world, once their victims are dead. I guess I was working from the assumption that torture-murderers don't want their pool of victims to disappear. They want people to continue to be brought into existence indefinitely, so they can draw out their torture as long as possible.

What is a torture-murderer without his victim-sufferer?

I think I wish that the murderers and the victims never existed in the first place. And given that they already do exist, I think it would be best if they ceased to exist as soon as possible. The most humane way to do this seems to be to stop reproducing.
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Old 08-18-2009   #29
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Re: Antinatalism- The Greatest Taboo

Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Coleman View Post
I also think that any conscious being will experience at least some amount of suffering. Given those assumptions, I say that anyone who reproduces contributes to the continuation of suffering. If every conscious being refused to reproduce, then suffering would eventually cease to exist, at least unless/until nature causes conscious beings to come into existence again, and the whole process starts over.
Cathars rejected sex as a continuation of the human soul's entrapment in earth-bound carnal evil. According to Cathars, marriage was a form of prostitution. Children were born as demons until they could be consciously lead to choose salvation in the Cathar path. Cathars believed that the human soul could pass on its journey through animal life, thus they were vegetarians: they did not eat meat, eggs, cheese or any fat except vegetable oil and fish. [from "The Cathar Faith"] CATHER CHURCH A Critical Intro

What you just wrote sounds something similar to what Cathars once believed. Sometimes I am tempted to think similarly.

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Old 08-18-2009   #30
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Re: Antinatalism- The Greatest Taboo

Quote Originally Posted by Russell Nash View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Coleman View Post
I also think that any conscious being will experience at least some amount of suffering. Given those assumptions, I say that anyone who reproduces contributes to the continuation of suffering. If every conscious being refused to reproduce, then suffering would eventually cease to exist, at least unless/until nature causes conscious beings to come into existence again, and the whole process starts over.
Cathars rejected sex as a continuation of the human soul's entrapment in earth-bound carnal evil. According to Cathars, marriage was a form of prostitution. Children were born as demons until they could be consciously lead to choose salvation in the Cathar path. Cathars believed that the human soul could pass on its journey through animal life, thus they were vegetarians: they did not eat meat, eggs, cheese or any fat except vegetable oil and fish. [from "The Cathar Faith"] CATHER CHURCH A Critical Intro

What you just wrote sounds something similar to what Cathars once believed. Sometimes I am tempted to think similarly.
What a pathetic existence. Meat, eggs, cheese, and fish are yummy.

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

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