Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The making of an antinatalist

What creates an antinatalist? What would turn otherwise ordinary folk going about their day into evil pessimistic cretins, knitting the fabric of reality into ugly curtains and such? The answer in my case has simply been a hatred of what goes on in the world combined with a hatred with what goes on in my life which led me to be susceptible to such claims. But what actually pushed me from "Ha well it would be nice if the human race died out but I don't think there's a moral reason for it" to all high-and-mighty, antinatalism spouting arrogance-master estnihil was just time. I just had to be exposed to the ideas time after time, and given time for the ideas to sink in, and after giving myself time to try to refute such arguments to no success, I eventually arrived at antinatalism.

And I expect the same is true of most antinatalists. I don't expect that every antinatalist hated the world and looked for reasons to justify their hatred - though a good amount certainly walked my path I'd guess. But what I do expect is that, for some reason or other, pre-antinatalists became antinatalists simply through repeated exposure, and possibly through innate susceptibility (caused by knowledge of world already). Now being exposed repeatedly doesn't have to happen through world-hatred per se. It could easily develop merely by hearing about antinatalism and viewing it as an interesting subject, even if untrue.  If you go through the arguments enough, find yourself constantly unable to pick out any flaws, then you will eventually find yourself becoming an antinatalist, as a rule, unless you are in some way biased in favour of natalism.

So no, we aren't all depressed freaks waiting for the bus, trying to pass some time by writing a blog (I am, though). Antinatalism does not require depression. It doesn't even require Weltschmerz. You don't have to hate the world to be an antinatalist - though it CAN help you get to that point. DON'T MISQUOTE ME, you really, really don't have to be in a comatose, destroy-the-world, I-wish-I-was-never-born kind of mood to favour antinatalism. I have met several such people who are not of that opinion (though they have no blogs). This post is for you, critics. Antinatalism is not a mental illness, nor is it revenge against the world. It is a philosophical position justified by a heck of a lot of logic. If you can argue with it, then fine. You're justified in saying it is wrong, and if I see your arguments I will change my position. But if you can only say "you guys are whiny/emo/depressed" or "antinatalism is absurd/unsound/based on faulty logic" and expect me to change my position, then you will sadly be mistaken.


  1. Agree that morality that is affect-dependent is extra suspicious. (That is, if your moral positions depend heavily on your emotional orientation and emotional orientations vary across the population, that's a problem.)

  2. In order to make an antinatalist, one first has to be born! Sad but true. Also, Weltschmerz and general misanthropy help too.

  3. A potentially crackpot-y explanation I've been thinking about: do antinatalist folks have less "team spirit" than normal people? I seem to have about as little team spirit as possible - most people seem to get pleasure from "winning" what they perceive as a competition, from beating someone else, even an imaginary entity. I have almost none of that, and I don't see much of that in the other AN folks. It seems to be a major source of meaning for normal people.

    Part of the model could be not identifying oneself as special - I think of myself as trapped in my body and brain, rather than identifying with my body and brain the way most people do. The other part could be empathizing with others rather than defining them as enemies. Do we have less in-group/out-group feeling than normal people? Is that a good thing? It seems morally good, but it might be that life is not livable without that kind of made-up competition/meaning.

    1. Sister Y, that is a fascinating observation. I have never had any competitive drive whatsoever. I have always been interested, and still am, in continually learning and improving, but I don't really feel any need to compete with other people.

    2. Equal Opprotunity Troll3 June 2012 at 02:07

      Francois Tremblay smells like team spirit.

    3. An excellent point. Can anyone with an especially good GPS locate me and point me to the nearest bottle of scotch?

      Har har. All reflexive booze jokes aside, yes, team-feeling can give a great illusion of meaning. With no illusion of meaning, there seems to be no pay-off for the suffering. My child would be likely to feel no more team spirit than I do, and therefore I feel morally unjustified in putting him/her in a mind/body.

      I think what people forget in this debate when it gets really heated is the personal decision versus the whole-granfallutin' ideas we work ourselves up to over what other people should do. I wish I could keep everyone else from breeding, but I'm more likely to get myself punched in the face. So I'm a point where I just sit quietly in my corner with my barren womb going, well, kid, I'm gonna be a lonely old woman but I at least saved you from my assburgers.

  4. Couln't agree more with Sister Y. Have never had a competitive urge in my life. Competition always struck me as not only repugnant but pointless. And as for those whose self-esteem comes from comparison with others, I pity them. Think of Leinniz's windowless monads that can only reflect another monad but are without any content themselves. X's esteem comes from Y's opinion of him, but Y is fundamentally empty, and vice versa. Smoke and mirrors all the way. Only solutude can reveal the self, which may be why most people loathe it.

  5. I'm not that much into competition myself, though I recognize it as a tough but necessary element for survival. Even here, ONLY properly regulated competition can be helpful in the long run. In fact, markets and athletic competitions cannot be healthily competitive without rules that are both sound and do not cause pointless and unnecessary suffering. Sad, but that's the best this world can hope for.

    If you ask me, the (apparently) negative correlation of antinatalism with competition stems not so much from any distaste for competition in and of itself as it is seeing "grab all you can" and status seeking as pointless and unnecessarily tressful. The prevailing value system among AN simply considers it all irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. That's not to say non-competition is a vitally necessary component of AN, for reasons I just gave. It's just the tendencies among ANs are different from the mainstream in that regard.