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Thoughts on Anti-Natalism

Madeleine Ouellette

Posted on October 12, 2020 23:13

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Anti-natalism is the philosophical idea stating that birth is inherently bad and that procreation by humans is morally wrong.

I read a newsletter every week put out by Haley Nahman, a former writer for Man Repeller, and this week she discussed this article by Joshua Rothamn in The New Yorker. It's a fascinating read if you have even a small interest in this subject, and it really made me think about my philosophical position in this debate.

The author of the article spoke with David Benatar, an anti-natalist and author of the book Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence. Benatar posits that human life, as a whole, is not a positive experience. He lists the negative experiences of everyday existence, such as waiting in line or having an itch, as well as the things we all fear: illness, death, loss of a loved one, etc. to back up this idea. He preemptively counters the question that he's heard many times, "If life is so bad, why don't you just kill yourself?" by stating that death is just as bad as life and that he would rather not have to make the choice in the first place. 

This line regarding pain versus pleasure from the article got to me: "It's [pain] is also more powerful: would you trade five minutes of the worst pain imaginable for five minutes of the greatest pleasure?" 

Benatar is also adamant that the answer to this predicament isn't improving the world. He believes that things cannot get better, that people never learn, and that, "unpleasantness and suffering are too deeply written into the structure of sentient life to be eliminated." I can agree with Benatar on this front. I believe that humans truly never learn and are doomed to continue making the same mistakes, century after century. 

Since I can remember, I've always wanted children. But, I've definitely thought more carefully about it as I age. I have thought about how terrible the world seems to be in innumerable ways. With our environment becoming increasingly damaged, will my children and grandchildren even exist in a livable world? Pain and suffering are inevitable and terrifying, and who am I to thrust these things upon a new human being? 

Then, there are the selfish reasons for not having a child: freedom and not having to spend the huge sum of money that it takes to raise a child (what is it estimated at now, a couple million dollars over their lifetime?). These ideas are battling my innate and evolutionary want to become pregnant and raise a child of my own. I think of the love that I would have for that child and the ways that I could raise them to be a good and decent human. I think of the brief and beautiful wonder that children possess before being exposed to the horrifying thing that is Earth and human existence. 

It's a hard thing to wrestle with, but I hope that we all put in a good deal of thought before bringing a child into this world. 

Madeleine Ouellette

Posted on October 12, 2020 23:13

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Source: Fox13now

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