Thursday, June 24, 2010

Antinatalism- A Path to Transcendence?

In the previous comment thread, new commenter Cactus Jack writes-

...I always felt that there was something not quite right about this whole show (being life) on this planet, and it seems as though the not quite right aspect was life itself. Before reading the contributors work I had never even considered the concept of antinatalism, let alone it being an option. I don't suppose it's a natural line of thought, must need to be learned. Now that you all have dismantled any objections I may have had with antinatalism before reading older posts, a state of despair has made itself felt. You know, the whole evolutionary thing, passing on genes, meaning of life. Any thoughts? I'm just concerned for myself (very selfish I know, blame human nature) that it may be a long and miserable life down this road.

To which commenter Karl replies-

Cactus Jack, you've hit the nub of the problem. Once you've transcended the conditioning to procreate, you're left in the void.

Commenter Compoverde's advice?

Refrain from procreation. Stay adrift. Look at the void head on. Do not give yourself a false sense of identity, anchoring your meaningless existence into one of a parent. Life is meaningless. Understand this, and do not pass the inherent meaninglessness to another generation. Don't enslave or condemn another human being to suffering and meaninglessness because you are having an existential crisis and you want to anchor yourself.

The commenter Shadow nails the whole thing down with this emphasis-

Look at the void head on!

Cactus Jack remarks on the feelings of despair he is experiencing as the exposure to antinatalist thought sinks in. The reaction many people have to these ideas is that life becomes meaningless. But what has changed? A pro-natalist lies down to sleep, dreams a nightmare. He awakens drenched in sweat, clutching at his sheets. He is now an antinatalist.

But nothing in his room has changed. The same sun shines down upon his face as yesterday. Nothing's really different, other than his perspective on things. And it occurs to him that life never had any meaning in the first place, other than that which he personally cast upon it. The world is the same. He is different. He has simply lifted the curtain, and seen the void behind it.

What's left, then? Utter despair? Suicide? I'm reminded here of Dante's Inferno, and of the saying at the gates of hell, "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate", or "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." I think a lot of people would post this message on this blog if they could :) Cactus Jack's own sense of hopelessness seems on the surface to vindicate this warning. And yet, when I read a lot of the comments, I can't help but feel that some have managed to accommodate themselves to that initial dread, perhaps weaving hopelessness with purpose, and punched through that void, much like Dante escaping hell by going through the very center of it. Or if not exactly fighting through, learning to face it until they're not quite as afraid anymore.

I'm also thinking of transcendence via the 'heroic journey' motif, with the twist that instead of fighting to slay the dragon head on, antinatalism is taking the more practical route of simply burning all the crop it feeds upon. Brave knights usually end up with their heads stuck up on pikes, anyway :)

Ikkyu Sojun is a personal hero of mine. Eccentric, iconoclastic Zen priest and poet, he often walked about with skulls attached to his belt to remind others of the transience of personal existence-

nature's a killer I won't sing to it
I hold my breath and listen to the dead singing under the grass

As horrible as it can feel sometimes, there's something uplifting about staring into that horror without flinching...isn't there? We spend so much of our lives turning our heads to the side and considering existence askew, maybe the very act of looking forward is its own vehicle of enlightenment, yes? Meaninglessness remains, but it is a meaningless imbued with clarity, which seems to make a difference. At least, to some. Be well, my friends.

Only One Koan Matters...You (for Ikkyu and Mori)

Sad, boisterous, lecherous, drunk, suicidal-
Ikkyu embodied the flux of human existence.
He found transcendence in the dung of his master, Keno,
and spiritual release in the mouth of a 19 year old blind girl.
What wisdom coats your dead tongue, Mori?
Does he carry your skull on his belt, as he walks the fields beyond the moon?
Give us a kiss, sweetheart, and then another round
on me.

The Last Messiah by Zapffe, contributed by Karl. Good read. Thanks to Zapffe and all here for inspiring this morning's post.


metamorphhh said...

Or perhaps this is all about transcending our conditioning, and a feeling of being unshackled. It's an interesting paradox, as now I'm thinking along the lines of Ligotti's puppets. Freedom in recognizing the nature of our chains, perhaps?

'Having once and for all descried the leprous hand of the puppeteer...'

The Plague Doctor said...

In this sense, I do not quite agree with Zappfe.

I agree with Eliezer Yudkowsy that “I suspect that most existential angst is not really existential.” Or more precisely, that what one calls existential anxiety is the state in which one has exhausted all normal methods of attaining happiness and nothing seems to work. Spinning your wheels as it were.

People's desires are much more animalistic than we would like to admit:

Looking at the Pew Happiness Study and my own rummaging through the GSS, I can conclude that those people who are
(1) married (2) healthy (3) wealthy are almost always (99%) happy, the majority of them very happy. The majority of people who are (1) unmarried (2) unhealthy (4) broke (I am currently in this situation) are unhappy.

The main benefit of marriage is probably that married people have a much higher sex frequency than singles.

Of course there is still the whole correlation is not causation thing, but on the whole it seems clear, it is not a mystery what makes people happy (survival and sex/reproduction). What is a mystery is why some people think it is more complicated than this.

(Interestingly, the number of kids one has no effect on happiness, except that divorced people with kids are unhappier.)

So the conclusion is: seek health, wealth, and marriage (or lots of sex). Of course that doesn't help me, or anyone who cannot attain the unattainable, one bit.

My main (social) problem is I feel disconnected from and bored by societal concerns. This was always the case, but has reached new heights. And being in such a mental state does not one make attractive to the opposite sex.

That said, there is an aspect of mourning my lost ambitions (I used to be hugely ambitious a few years ago) that might be called existential anxiety.

P.S. And another one bites the dust.

P.P.S. another interesting (unrelated) post re: "the greatest taboo".

metamorphhh said...

Plague Doctor:

Certainly I'd be the last to argue that happiness isn't tied into circumstance. Your happiness estimates amongst the well-off might be a little inflated (and maybe a lot, depending on the questions you're asking), but I agree with the general point I think you're making, that our happiness quotients are shaped in large degree by our circumstances.

One thing: I've read several studies which suggest that marital bliss goes WAY down with the advent of having children, and doesn't return to original levels until after the kids are out of the house, if at all. Same goes with the sex least, with each other :)

This next thing is strictly anecdotal- I did construction for a long time, and my clientèle was generally near-wealthy to wealthy (Newport Beach and vicinity). Lots of successful doctors mixed in there. Generally speaking, I didn't find them or their families to be any happier than the norm. At least, in the positive sense, though I wouldn't argue that not having to worry about the necessities and diversions money brings doesn't add to the pool of relative happiness.

metamorphhh said...

Plague Doctor:

Oh, and thanks for the Overcoming Bias link. Top notch!

Kalki02 said...

According to the Greek "Father of History", Herodotus, the Thracians, the Hellenes kindred group to the north, welomed a newborn with tears and lamentation, aware of all the suffering it would face in life. A funeral was a time for mirth and jesting, in knowledge the deceased had escaped suffering. I saw this first in Schopenhauer's main work.

Curator said...

That's the key problem: how to be happy once you realize life has no inherent meaning, and all our pains are ultimately for naught - otherwise known as the condition of absurdity.

Paradoxically, it helped my happiness immeasurably to realize that suicide is a completely morally viable option - if a somewhat practically difficult one. I conceive of one's life as something to be played with until one is tired of it, and then discarded - like a lover (KIDDING! well, about the last part).

Plague Doctor sums up the happiness research as I understand it rather succinctly. Be healthy, have as many of your Maslow needs met as possible, have lots of sex, interact with good friends . . . excellent advice if you can make it happen, but sadly not easy to accomplish. (And what about the 1% who can manage it, but for whom it's not enough?)

I do have one piece of concrete advice: marijuana.

Curator said...

Kalki02 - see also Richard Thompson's The End of the Rainbow re: that sentiment.

metamorphhh said...

Kalki: Thanks, think I'll look into that a bit more.

Curator: That's sort of what I was trying to get at in the post. More specifically, I was thinking about Plague Doctor's remark from the other day about something 'snapping' inside, and his letting go of the illusory escape strategies for straight-out acknowledgement of the grim situation. I've passed through a few similar thresholds in my lifetime- not always with pleasant outcomes, mind you- and it sounds like you're describing something like that as well.

The Plague Doctor said...

"Your happiness estimates amongst the well-off might be a little inflated"

You're probably thinking of income, which is less correlated with happiness than net wealth. This is Thomas Stanley's distinction between BAs (Balance Sheet Affluent) and IAs (Income Statement Affluent). The latter might appear rich with big houses, but may be in debt (think Michael Jackson).

According to the GSS, "Shiny Happy People", which I will define as married people who are in "excellent health" (of course they might be delusional) with wealth above $250000 (of course they might be lying) break down into the following percentages:

For "Losers" such as myself, which I will define as unmarried, unemployed, below $100000 it's


(There appears to be cluster of intercorrelated traits, "WASPness" broadly speaking, such as political conservatism, religiosity, monogamy and early marriage that are highly conducive toward happiness.)

The Plague Doctor said...

* I forgot to mention poor health in the second definition.

Compoverde said...

The Plague Doctor, I really disliked that "rationality" website link you provided. Unlike the theorists on that website, I do not believe happiness is simply this thing that can be rationally deduced through hedonistic cost/benefit choices. Instead of this niggling with particular cost/benefit choices, you must realize it from a holistic perspective. In this perspective, life itself is not good. It never was, never will be. Whatever you do will be for naught, whether you feel a particular sense of contentment at a particular moment or not. This is what I'll call the "Eastern" or "Stoic" perspective. Life in itself is just a leaky bucket. Goal-attainment, dissatisfaction, boredom, another goal attainment, in finitum. I think I remember reading a post about how this culture is so obssessed with self-improvement and self-discovery to answer questions. I tend to think that none of these can solve the problem of the existential disatisfaction. Being born is likened to a disease. The best outcome was not to have had it spread to you. We are here now, so what to do? Well, no it isn't cost/benefit rationalistic hedonistic decisions, but it is to "punch" through the void, as Jim inidicated. We must look at the meaningless, the leaky bucket as it were, head-on, join forces and defeat it.

metamorphhh said...

Good conversation, guys. I wanted to make it clear that I'm not advocating some sort of Camusian Sysphus approach to living- embrace the absurdity because there's nothing else one can do. Although I suppose that's fine and dandy from a personal level if you can do it, it stinks when used as an objective truth statement. Life doesn't stop sucking just because we've looked into the void.

However, I think it's safe to say that part of the existential despair actually arises from the strain of trying to see things otherwise. Avoidance takes energy, although its often the sublimated kind that goes unrecognized a lot of the time. Life's illusions are borne at a cost, I believe. The truth of this is indicated in the feeling of relief when they are finally laid down. This doesn't come all at once, nor does it wipe away all our concerns. We're not talking about the acquiescence implied in some schools of 'enlightenment', be they Buddhistic or something 'new agey'. I think it's more like simply refusing to run away from the facts. Or maybe just being too tired to run away anymore, something I think is indicated by some of the testimonies I've read on this very blog.

I'm not so sure that existential angst is a categorically different thing from a natural response to the circumstances of existence, and I hope I haven't led anyone to believe I feel that way. There's a continuity between the circumstances of our lives, and the resulting psychological models that form and actually feed back into the environment.

Yeesh, all this can get so very sticky. Whenever I start getting too bogged down in the primal asymmetry that Benatar addresses, I usually tend to go back to the simpler argument that pretty much anyone can at least relate to, if not accept. I don't really believe there's ANYONE who cannot imagine SOME set of circumstances under which it would have been better not to start a new life. Once that's been admitted to, one only has to apply some rudimentary risk assessment in terms of his/her own potential child, and the choice is made much clearer, I think.

CM said...

Plague Doctor, it's not that being married, healthy, or wealthy is valuable in itself. It just so happens that those things happen to be near the high end of the human context of experience. This also explains why people in poor countries who are well-off compared to their compatriots are happier than average-income people with a much higher objective standard of living in developed nations. It doesn't matter what your contextual range is, the outcome is the same.

If the worst thing that happened to anyone was a mild headache, that mild headache would be excruciating, not mild. And if The Backup Plan and Plan 9 from Outer Space were the only movies available, one of them would be the best movie of all time.

Allen Parducci even developed a theory of happiness based on things like the above and numerous social psych experiments (I'm writing an essay about how this theory relates to David Benatar's asymmetry).

I think existential angst is really more about looking at your life sub specie aeternitatis and recognizing that even if you were born in a better world, you would not be able to tell because whatever is good in our world would lose a lot of its value in a better one. At the same time, the existence of your contextual range implies that it is bound to have a low end, and it is impossible to avoid it without avoiding context altogether, which is only made possible by never existing.

Cactus Jack said...

Plenty of interesting posts to stew over. In a world of scant comfort, I've found some on this blog. Ah, teary eyes....

metamorphhh said...


I'm really looking forward to your essay. Question: Do you think there's a persuasive way to frame the asymmetry that doesn't require reference to the contextual spectrum?
You know, a sound bite syllogism that doesn't wind up equating with the risk assessment arguments? It might go a long way in counteracting the automatic dismissal of Benatar's primary thesis, which seems to carry through from review to review.

Compoverde said...

Jim, by defeating the "void" I do not mean we are going to make everything better, and somehow existential dissatifaction will go away. What I mean, is we will defeat it by not having children to experience it.

metamorphhh said...


I just didn't want to be misunderstood in the way I was using the term 'transcendence', since it's often used as a justification like "If you could only see the greater scheme of things, you'd understand why things have to be this way, and that everything is ultimately leading towards..." pick your Nirvana.

Shadow said...

Or like Cioran, the romenian philosopher of despair, once said:

"To defy heredity is to defy billions of years, to defy the first cell."

Adding all the links and references to my list of new readings! Thanks guys!

Compoverde said...

Jim, I think I get what you are saying with the "a sound bite syllogism that doesn't wind up equating with the risk assessment arguments? It might go a long way in counteracting the automatic dismissal of Benatar's primary thesis, which seems to carry through from review to review." You are on to something. I don't like that the opponent ends up arguing "Well, my life is pretty good, my genes are good, the child will have a 90% chance of having a life where he will feel the good experiences outweigh the bad". There are so many things wrong with this way of cost/benefit analysis in my opinion. Is it weird that I think, life for all individuals is bad in and of itself? Or am I just a crackpot miserable wretch? It seems to me the premise of striving after goals, never being completely satisfied and being deprived in all moments of waking life, is just categorically, indisputabley a bad thing and to be avoided, and prevented for future generations. Am I doing more harm by shifting people's perspective to understand this view? Maybe most people are not stepping back from what they really do when they pursue their short to long term goals. They arent seeing the bigger picture about how this is a bad situation. Maybe the argument is that people don't have the correct perspective. I am trying to think of an analogy. Analogies can be a useful tool in this case. I guess the best one I can think of is Plato's Allegory of the Cave argument. People are in the Cave seeing shadows on the wall, and not seeing reality for what it truly is. Maybe, because when the Truth is actually a bleaker picture than the vague shadow figures of everyday living, we think this to be too counterintuitive and shy away. As this post emphasizes, we should not do that. We must get people to look at the Truth of the pessimistic bigger picture, understand that it is that way, it is reality. Maybe the outcome is people will be more sensitive, in tune, and understanding of each other. Certainly, the best outcome is people will stop procreating. Overall, what I am trying to say is we must get away from JUST cost/benefit analysis reasons for not having children. It is a good argument, and Benatar's arguments and rebuttals, are very useful in this approach, but it should be used in conjunction with other approaches.

Compoverde said...

As a side note. This is David Benatar's Princeton email address. If anyone is a good persuasive writer, it might be a really good idea to try to solicit him to join our website for really good insights and analysis. I believe he is only a visiting professor at Princeton, as he is the head of philosophy at the University of Cape Town. I say its worth a try, right?

Compoverde said...

Curator said...

"the existence of your contextual range implies that it is bound to have a low end, and it is impossible to avoid it without avoiding context altogether, which is only made possible by never existing."

This is the wisest sentence I've read in a while, Compoverde. The problem in a nutshell. Lovely.

Curator said...

RE: Professor Benatar - he knows we're around and he reads our blogs occasionally, from what I hear.

Compoverde said...

That is a good quote Curator. I didn't use that one, CM did though if you were giving me compliment for that, it should go to him. If you were just giving me direction to it, then I see the validity in the statement.

I am intrigued Benatar knows about this site. How are you aware? Is there a way to get him to write on here or would that compromise his academic integrity?

Also, do you think my idea on changing people's perspectives is way off as that is purely subjective? If person believes A about the good of life than A must be true? OR can A (the good of life) be false, despite one's belief that one "feels" A is true at the the time he claims it. I am not sure I am making this clear...

metamorphhh said...

Compoverde: Here's the problem as I see it. Yes, most people who actually even consider such questions (which is relatively few) tend to overestimate their own happiness, and that spills over into their risk assessments regarding procreation. However, this can be dealt with without even having to address optimistic biases. We'll take your arbitrary number- 90% chance of a child leading a relatively happy life. But that leaves a 10% chance that the child will NOT be happy. From there we jump to simple risk assessment, asking ourselves under what circumstances would we accept a 10% risk of severely damaging or killing a child, ESPECIALLY when that risk is 100% UNnecessary regarding the welfare of a child who has not yet been conceived. I have yet to see that challenge answered without at least a bit of fudging.

On the other hand, we've seen the knee jerk reaction to the premise that nobody is really happy. "What? Who the hell are you to say what my inner states are? You don't even know me!" I'm not saying the principles behind the argument aren't valid, but so far neither can I say that they are swaying. It seems to be the kind of argument that somebody already has to believe in beforehand, if they are to accept it...or even consider it, for that matter!

On another matter, I just spent half an hour cutting and pasting for a new approach I informally dub 'piling on', then I fucked up and lost everything. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Maybe this weekend.

Again, I'm not contesting the asymmetry. I'm just looking for ways to make the concept a tad more convincing to those outside the choir.

Compoverde said...

Jim, I'm not contesting the asymmetry either. I also agree with your cost/benefit approach. It all works in that regard. Look at me, I wish I wasn't born, I was in the unlucky odds of someone who has a negative evaluation of life.

I am just wondering if there is a way around the knee-jerk reaction. If there is a powerful thought experiment or any device at all to make people realize there might be a perspective which they are not understanding, that is wiser. It is hard I know, but I cannot get passed that knee jerk reaction that I cannot judge people's internal states as wrong. why should I accept that as a good internal state? Is it not wrong to teach people that compassion is the better perspective? Now lets apply that to life.. Looking at it as this great merry-go-round of fun, that is not a good perspective.. It may seem happy but lets step back and see the bigger picture.. we are never satisfied.. our desires get frustrated and are ceaseless, ennui, despair.. etc.. Though these are "negative" emotions", can't they be seen as the greater truth? Is there an analogy, such that the more negative someone thinks of something, the more right they are about it? I don't know maybe I am pursuing a dead end. However, Schopenhauer didn't seem to appeal to cost/benefit analysis.. he used emotive writing. He tried to contest people's optimism with simply loading them with instances of life suffering, about the spectrum of goal-attainment and boredom.

metamorphhh said...

Compeverde: I agree with everything you've said here. As for this-

"He tried to contest people's optimism with simply loading them with instances of life suffering, about the spectrum of goal-attainment and boredom."

You're reading my mind! LOL! I'm thinking of shifting my emphasis a bit, and letting the brainier people around here mind all the p's and q's for a while. I was working along these lines an hour or so ago, but I somehow managed to fuck up and lose the info. Ah, well...I've been writing quite a bit lately. Might be a good idea to unpack for a while, watch some MST3K, do some more bowling, catch up with what Joanna Angel's been up to lately...that sort of this :)))

Anonymous said...

Jim, haha, glad to be of service, maybe it can help you recall some of the ideas regarding "piling on". Rest a bit, entertain yourself. That's probably what I'm going to do myself.. I think I'm heading out to the bar for a drink or two. I would say "distraction" is a better fit.

Compoverde said...

Distraction, sublimation, anchoring, and ignoring are really useful tools. Thank you Zapffe :).

Compoverde said...

Sorry that last anonymous was me. Beer beer...

Compoverde said...

Sorry, that last anonymous was me. Beer beer...

CM said...

Do you think there's a persuasive way to frame the asymmetry that doesn't require reference to the contextual spectrum?

Maybe, but I can't think of one. I'm yet to fully organize my thoughts on this, but I think it would be helpful to demonstrate how far people's judgments are removed from their own subjective experiences.

Consider this influential study of pain. It seems insane that people would prefer to prolong their pain, and yet that's exactly what happens. Even more striking is this study. In it, the group of patients whose medical procedure was both shorter and less intense according to !their own! immediate introspective reports throughout the procedure (as compared to the second group) was less willing to repeat it afterwards than the second group. This phenomenon is called the Peak/End rule and it means that the peaks and final moments of any given episode are what people remember the most and what they use to make decisions.

So it seems to me that the same can be said of existence; pleasure is just like that lesser pain that makes the stronger pain more bearable, and is useful because there is a built-in spectrum which non-existence necessarily lacks. But it would be absurd to say that people were compensated for the pain from 14 degree water by the pain from the 15 degree water, yet Professor Benatar's reviewers and common folk routinely assert that pain is compensated for by pleasure just because people prefer the latter. I'm sure there is a more coherent way to put it. I haven't read all the relevant literature yet, either.

Dr. Kahneman discusses the implications of his studies here. He introduces the concept of "objective happiness", which is pretty close to what we talk about here all the time. I think he puts it very profoundly when he says: "Although wholly devoid of
permanence, the experiencing subject deserves a voice."

Oscar Bajner said...

Antinatalism cannot be a path to anywhere -- or do you not take yourselves seriously?

The rational inevitably leads to inaction, for action is the province of the romantic.

Will you really abstain from procreation? Perhaps you will. Perhaps you will manage to join the celibate elite, those vestal virgins, who precede you by millennia.

I wish you well, the world needs more more benign souls, to make room for the rest of us.

Shadow said...

Hey Oscar Bajner,

I don´t know if I understood all your motifs there, but here is the thing:

Life sucks.
It doesn´t matter, anything we do.
Existence is nothing, a mere delusion in the fabric of space.

We just don´t want to bring more people into this, that´s all.

Human Waste said...

Isn't the anti-natalist philosophy just as meaningless, then? What's the point of preventing some worthless individuals from suffering some worthless pains? Why not feed the void? It's clearly hungry.

Oskari said...

Human Waste:

Oh it will be fed. Don't you worry about that.

Garrett said...

Oscar Bajner:
My point here, is that natalism cannot be a path to anywhere. It all leads down a road which terminates in a sheer bluff. It should be quite clear that I DO take this subject very seriously, but I do not take myself seriously ;)Capice?

Feel free to join the legions of the "romatics". I prefer to respect the individual by not forcing life as we know it into being.

What kind of question is that? But I will continue to abstain, thank you :) Though, I can't say that I see myself joining anyone in doing so. The concept lends itself to the opposite side of the fence, in fact. Those of you who collide, actually divide. Interesting, no?

Is that last part an attempt at facilitating an atavistic reaction? Hmm, I'm just not feeling it. But I do hope you'll stay and drink in the discussions!

Human Waste said...


I'm not worried. I'm just curious as to why it means so much to everyone here. Life's hell, to be sure, but our struggles against it make it quite comical. And what's a comedy without actors? Breed, you swine! The hilarity must ensue!

(Maybe misanthropes just aren't cut out for anti-natalism. After all, what better way to (legally) make your own species suffer than by throwing more meat in the grinder, to create suffering out of nothing, to deepen that "coastal shelf" until it collapses in infinite pain.)

Shadow said...

What the hell was that last paragraph by The Human Waste?

Oskari said...

Human Waste,

I kind of agree with you in that I'm not concerned with the human race on the whole. I have grown to take pleasure from other peoples' misfortunes, which,in turn, only reinforces my hatred for humans including myself. We're the most fucked up species on this stupid planet. And I guess it means nothing to me.

Maybe I shouldn't be posting here at all.

Shadow said...

Oskari and Human Waste,

C´mon guys.

You can loathe and hate the human race all you like it, no one is gonna stop ya.

I´m sure not gonna do it, because a little misanthropy only can do you good.

Just what´s the problem with the non-reproductive state? It doesn´t negate hate, necessarily.

Hate human race, but don´t be a part of it, right?

Shadow said...

Antinatalism is also a political statement, in which you proclaim you dont want your progeny to be a part of society.

Ultimately society needs our kids. Even for paying social security money.

Dont forget, antinatalism if followed through will anihilate society, by definition.

And if you deny society your kids, it´s like saying you want nothing to do it, saying you don´t conform to it´s absurd and idiotic rules and schemes.

So what more do you want to do to represent your misanthropy? Start bombing things?

Human Waste said...


"Just what´s the problem with the non-reproductive state?"

It reeks of one of those compassionate human ideals.

Oskari said...


The thought of bombing things has occurred to me more times than I care to admit (nothing new there).

Can't help but agree with you on most of what you said. English isn't my native language so I'm left with deep fucking frustration, as always.

Shadow said...

Human Waste,

Thanks for answering.

Uh,... ok, but how do you figure that having kids is any better?

I mean, you are going to seduce a lady, go out with her some times, so she gets pregnant... so she have a kid, so you feed the kid for long years... and care for him/her.

How is that misanthropy?




And I´m a non native speaker also. You are from somewhere in the nordic countries, I assume from your website.

metamorphhh said...

Human Waste, Oskari:

Naturally, philanthropic antinatalism is motived by a sense of sympathy for the human condition, and for most of us, life in general. If you really wish to 'make your own species suffer', that sounds a lot more like sadism than antinatalism. I can't imagine you have much in common with the impulse driving this blog.

As far as 'meaningless' existence is concerned, to my mind it's only meaningless in the sense that there's no grander context to existence to give this 'sub-existence' meaning, which is always a relative state of affairs, after all. But plenty of things are meaningful to me, the abating of
suffering be one of them.

Anonymous said...

Philanthropy and misanthropy could be the two sides of the same coin. You can both love and hate humanity, I guess. You can love it for the Geneva Conventions, you can despise it for war crimes. You can love nuclear energy you can hate the Bomb. After all, no other than humanity is to blame for its sorry condition, and no other than humanity can cure itself. I tend to hate humanity for a year, and to love it for two days. Not with you, not without you, humanity. But in the name of love, and to put and end to the hate, we'd be much better without humanity.

Josep said...

Sorry! The last "Anonymous" it's Josep.

Josep said...

Of course, all this love/hate affair of mine could be the result of dyspepsia, an unsatisfactory relationship or the unremitting snoring of my partner (perhasps the cause of the marital insatisfaction) Right? Funny how the demiurg is in the fucking details...
What I love of this blog (among many other things) is that you're allowed to rant and whine freely and not being called "cry baby", as would be the case in more manly and virile blogs.

Oskari said...


I've just ordered your book, looks interesting. You do have a knack for writing.

BTW, some of my thoughts could be classified as sadistical, I guess, but I wouldn't act on them (except if the need rises...). Always been a miserable, fucked up individual.

The fact that my sister recently had a daughter of her own has stirred some conflicting emotions. Of course, I don't hate her kid - like I do most others - I mostly feel sorry for her.

And now I'm more sure than ever that I'll never have any of my own.


Yeah, I'm from the icy wastes of Finland. I hate it here.

It's warm here now, though...

Josep said...

I know that "conflicting emotions" you mention in your post, having experienced them in the course of some christening ceremonies. (I call them "The Herod Syndrome").
Plato said (I don't remember where): "Good men dream what bad men put into practice" O something like that. Dreams of mass killing can be a consolation sometimes... Anyone who denies it is a liar.

timcooijmans said...

I can't imagine hating people in general. I can sympathize with arsonists, businessmen and child rapists alike. Hell, I can even sympathize with such cold-blooded scum as PARENTS! People just can't handle themselves; their souls can only watch as their bodies go to work.

Even if we somehow managed to convince people that procreation is terrible, they would most likely still have kids. Most people have been convinced that environmental pollution is the terriblest of terrors, but that doesn't stop them from polluting. (Regardless of whether environmental pollution is actually terrible.)

This does not mean that we can't stop procreation. We simply need to hit people's bodies where it hurts. In other words: MONEY. Brains dig the moneys!

Of course, having a kid already costs many moneys, and it hasn't stopped people from having kids. But that's because the trade-off isn't clear up front. The short-term benefit of fulfilling a childwish outweighs the long-term costs. Similarly, incentivizing sterilization can make the short-term benefit of having a ferrari outweigh the long-term cost of not being able to fulfill a childwish.

Human Waste said...

Shadow and Jim,

I was being a bit facetious for the sake of argument (I was trying to make it obvious by my comically exaggerated misanthropy and questionable logic). I really do, for the most part, subscribe to Jim's (and Benatar's) philanthropic views, and I prefer my life of peaceful solitude over chaos and war.

I enjoy reading this blog and all of the readers' intelligent comments.

CM said...

Jim -

I'd love to hear about piling on. I selfishly hope that your frustration with losing the text will not prevent you from re-writing the post.

Josep -

I think you hit the nail on the head about mis- and philanthropy. I sort of feel a general goodwill towards people, kind of like I do towards cows. I don't eat cows for that reason; it doesn't mean I want to hang out with them or share their interests.

Human Waste -

You made me feel bad for the poor hungry void, lol.

Cactus Jack-

I don't have any real advice to give other than what has already been said, but turning to the problem-solving robot once in a while may help.

Josep said...


The more I know men, the more I love cows :)
By the way... I invented the problem solving robot!

Shadow said...


I knew it. I´d like to know more about what you think of your homeland. I think it´s interesting this whole internacional exchange, that we see here.


Human Waste:

It´s cool man.

I think ideas are to be exposed. We are here to somewhat rant, learn and discuss (non-violently) with one another.


My two cents:

As I have exposed before somewhat, I also think there´s a thin line between misantropy and philantropy.

And it´s also hard to define cause antinatalism, if followed through will end human race, so I think we gotta a paradoxal problem here:

We are going to end human suffering, by ending human existence.

In the end, the riddle of existence appears again, we cannot actually separate the concepts very well.

After all, ending human existence may not be interpreted always as an act of philantropy.

But I also think that, it´s a safe starting point, to call this particular case of antinatalism of philantropic.

The problem only arises afterwards.


Cheers to all!

Ujo Daja said...

We really need one of these

I have to admit, if there ever was an agency/freedom fighter-terrorist organization dedicated to making earth an inhospitable environment and if necessary chasing down every single human and do the killing =joins! It would give me that selfish purpose and if i fail at least i quickened earth's/mankind's demise.

I better be careful and avoid typing in keywords that are being flagged lol.