Wednesday, June 8, 2011

From 'The Philosopher's Magazine'

Something fairly recent from Dr. David Benatar, being basically a re-statement and fleshing out of his premise that all lives fall short of a good justification for having started them in the first place. It's well worth a read or three, and any commentary from me probably isn't really necessary. I WOULD like to offer the final paragraph, since it sort of encapsulates most of what we talk about here-

What does follow, I think, from the conclusion that life is not good, is that we should not create more of it. When we bring new people into existence we start more lives that are not good – and we necessarily do this without the permission of those who will live those lives. We have no duty to create new people and failing to create people can do no harm to those we fail to create. Not having children might make our own lives less good, but starting lives that are not good, merely for our own gratification, is unduly selfish.

On this blog, we sometimes practice a bit of mind coitus, like 'what if I were king of the world?' sort of stuff, and in doing so often get into rather controversial conversations. You know, the stuff that the press would immediately fasten onto if we ever got their attention-

"So, Mr. Metamorphhh, your goal is to either forcibly sterilize everybody in the world, or just blow the whole thing up? Can I quote you on that?"

I just wanted to emphasize for anyone new who might drop in that the thrust of this blog is to promote awareness of the problems inherent in existence, and to offer what I and others here see as a fairly simple and elegant solution i.e. IT IS WRONG TO BRING LIFE INTO THE WORLD, SO STOP HAVING CHILDREN. Of course, when I say 'simple', I'm describing the essence of the solution, and not the practical applications in a world where the vast majority disagree with the basic premise. Thus, from time to time some of us here dally in the fringe arguments in the context of this or that hypothetical tomorrow when attitudes might be different, and political powers shift. But please don't be mistaken! Speaking for myself, the emphasis is and always will be on awareness and personal choice FOUNDED IN EMPATHY. Where that awareness takes us in the distant future is beyond my ken. Yes, if things go my way situations could, and probably will, get ugly; such is the nature of the collective human beast. On the other hand, the path of sympathy and peaceful acquiescence to the truth of antinatalism's position always lies open to us. Right here, right now, this generation could choose to end all human suffering and death, and the result would follow shortly.


Thanks to commenter Compoverde for the Benatar link. And thanks, as always, to David Benatar.


Karl said...

Jim! Have you seen the latest Inmendham video? He's bought your book! How cool is that!

metamorphhh said...

Really? Cool, I'll check it out when I get a chance. Got a link? Funny, I was just watching some older stuff of his this morning.

Karl said...


Or go to
and it's pretty early on in the [1] Re. pyrhho and barklord [1 of..]vid.

Francois Tremblay said...

All right guys, I've made the forum:

Come register, check it out, post... I've made a couple threads already for people to join in.

Also, Jim, if you want to be admin eventually, you're welcome to. I assume the role in the meantime.

Rafa T.m said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shadow said...

Jim and Karl: how is it hanging?



Congratulations on the forum man. Hope to be around to see it flourish.

Compoverde said...

Jim, one of antinatalism's biggest problems is getting over the optimism objection..Many people might say that one is only an antinatalist if one is an unhappy person. Can we find examples of very happy, happy-go-lucky people that think that think that bringing a new being into the world is absolutely wrong?

Compoverde said...

Also, how do you contend with people who like struggle?

JasonSL said...


Do you mean prominent people? Richard Stallman (developer of GNU) is an antinatalist and appears to derive a fair amount of pleasure from life, and doesn't exude saturninity. If I were motivated, I could pursue my MIT leads and see whether he can be gotten on record as a counterexample.

Or do you mean just anyone? There are lots of generally happy people who probably have misgivings about creating more persons, but they don't hang out on antinatalist websites and probably aren't even aware of the word.

I for one am actually pretty happy with my life, and, despite having read and thought about everything I can find written by Jim, Chip, and Sister Y, my considered judgement is that my existence is good for me and for others. Time-integrated this may not be true, given an emotionally devastating year-and-a-half which has recently subsided into normality again, but prospectively, I believe it is, provided that I don't have kids, which I am less likely to now that I have been exposed to lots of antinatalist material.

Liking struggle is not the same as liking disappointment, or liking shame, or liking loss. Fighting and winning is great. Fighting and losing, or, perhaps worse, fighting and being ignored, sucks.

Tim Cooijmans said...

For those who like struggle, struggle is simply not a harm. People get stuck up on words like "pain" and "suffering" and "bad" because they think we are deciding what is good and what is bad for the potential person. It is just one of many ways in which the argument is misunderstood.

Compoverde said...

JasonSL, I mean anyone, celebrity or not. I am glad you found some examples of people (including yourself) who consider themselves generally happy antinatalists. This is necessary in order to counteract the claim that antinatalism is purely an argument based on people who are generally sad, melancholy, etc. Although this may be true for a lot of antinatalists, we need to emphasize the fact that antinatalism is a rigorous, rational argument for not having kids and is not just a derivation of being a depressed or unhappy personality-type. Do you see why, to me, this is an important point to make to those who may see antinatalism as just a consequence of depression or sadness? We must ensure this is something even generally happy people can embrace based on its logic, not because of the whims of an individual temperament.

Tim Cooijmans, good points about struggle. If people like struggle, then that is not a harm to them. Also, if it is not a harm to them maybe it is not suffering, so struggle is not = suffering. Or, as JasonCL said, even if struggle is preferred, that is not the same as other negative things which we would rather not experience.

The Plague Doctor said...


DerivedEnergy had a nice counter to that: dismissing antinatalism because the antinatalist is depressed is like dismissing someone who speaks out against racism, because that person has been a victim of racism himself. If anything, it only strengthens his case.