Antinatalism

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Antinatalism is a philosophical position that assigns a negative value to birth; quotes are alphabetized by author or keyword.

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A[edit]

  • Although there are many answers to the question of how people should live, few thinkers have wondered about whether it is really moral to create people. Antinatalism undermines what seems obvious: that people should be created.
    • Author: Karim Akerma, Was ist antinatalismus?
  • Among the people who are created, there are always some who will have to suffer unspeakably. This fact, having been considered not only by Schopenhauer and other so-called pessimists, should influence anyone prepared to have a closer look only – and especially – at the 20th century to philosophize. Thus far, nobody has succeeded in demonstrating that the inconceivable, though immeasurable suffering inflicted upon human beings, in Auschwitz and elsewhere throughout time and space, can be compensated by the former or future happiness of the sufferers or of others.
    • Author: Karim Akerma, Verebben der Menschheit?: Neganthropie und Anthropodizee
  • Only by means of relative or absolute childlessness, resulting in mankind’s ebbing away, could happen what might be named – borrowing from the Greek myth – Sisyphus’s revolt. He would give up his work, not in order to commit suicide but rather by refraining from having children who otherwise would have taken his spot. In such a way that in some point in time there would be no one in the rock’s path which would eventually roll out. In terms of the Asian primordial decision: By means of abstention from procreation the wheel of suffering would be deprived of its impetus until it comes to a standstill.
    • Author: Karim Akerma, Verebben der Menschheit?: Neganthropie und Anthropodizee
  • My father has perpetrated this crime against me; I am guilty of none.
    • Author: Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri, Arab Socialism
    • Description: Al-Maʿarri is said to have wanted this verse inscribed over his grave.
  • But I am aware of some that murmur: What, say they, if all men should abstain from all sexual intercourse, whence will the human race exist? Would that all would this, only in “charity out of a pure heart, and good conscience, and faith unfeigned”; much more speedily would the City of God be filled, and the end of the world hastened.
    • Author: Augustine of Hippo, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: First Series, Volume III St. Augustine: On the Holy Trinity, Doctrinal Treatises, Moral Treatises

B[edit]

  • Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries.
    • Author: Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
    • Description: the words spoken by the character, Vladimir.
  • “No,” he replied, when I asked him if he had ever wanted children, “that's one thing I'm proud of.”
    • Author: Lawrence Shainberg, Exorcising Beckett
    • Description: about Samuel Beckett.
  • Time and again he targets parents as irresponsible criminals although, of course, in life courtesy prevented him from expressing his real feelings. Hamm denounces his parents in “Endgame” as “accursed progenitors” and Molloy is bitterly unable to forgive his mother for bringing him into the world. In private I knew Beckett to express a passive anger at those who insisted on having families.
    • Author: John Calder, The philosophy of Samuel Beckett
    • Description: about Samuel Beckett.
  • A few of my critics have claimed that I am committed to the desirability of suicide and even speciecide. They clearly intend this as a reductio ad absurdum of my position. However, I considered the questiions of suicide and speciecide in Better Never to Have Been and argued that these are not implications of my view. First, it is possible to think that both coming into existence is a serious harm and that death is (usually) a serious harm. Indeed, some people might think that coming into existence is a serious harm in part because the harm of death is then inevitable.
    • Author: David Benatar, Still Better Never to Have Been: A Reply to (More of) My Critics
  • It is curious that while good people go to great lengths to spare their children from suffering, few of them seem to notice that the one (and only) guaranteed way to prevent all the suffering of their children is not to bring those children into existence in the first place.
    • Author: David Benatar, Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence
  • Even at the risk of being thought mad, we must not be afraid to say that our parents, like theirs before them, were guilty of the crime of procreation, which means the crime of creating unhappiness, of conspiring with others to increase the unhappiness of an increasingly unhappy world.
    • Author: Thomas Bernhard, Gathering evidence: a memoir
  • Procreation is something impossible for me. I would never forgive myself for putting someone on death row.
    • Author: Elisa Brune, La mort dans l'âme: tango avec Cioran

C[edit]

  • In the light of natural ontology, it is not correct the argument that we do not know anything about our possible offsprings, for example, about the capacity they will have to overcome structural pain; because even we do not know, for example, whether they will enjoy traveling, working or studying classical languages, we do know they will be indigent, decadent, vacating beings who will start dying since birth, who will face and be characterized by systematic dysfunctions, who will have to constitute their own beings as beings-against-the-others – in the sense of dealing with aggressiveness and having to discharge it over others – who will lose those they love and be lost by those who love them, and time will take everything they manage to build.
    • Author: Julio Cabrera, A critique of affirmative morality - a reflection on death, birth and the value of life
  • We undoubtedly would not morally justify the behavior of someone who sent a colleague to a dangerous situation by saying: “I sent him there because I know he is strong and he will manage well”. The “strengths” of the newborn do not relieve in anything the moral responsibility of the procreator. Anyone would answer: “This is irrelevant. Your role in the matter consisted of sending people to a situation you know was difficult and painful and you could avoid it. Your predictions about their reacting manners do not decrease in anything your responsibility”. In the case of procreation, the reasoning could be the same, and in a notorious emphatic way, since in any intra-worldly situation with already existing people in which we send someone to a position known as painful, the other one could always run away from pain to the extent his being is already in the world and he could predict danger and try to avoid being exposed to a disregarding and manipulative maneuver. In the case of the one who is being born, by contrast, this is not possible at all because it is precisely his very being that is being manufactured and used. Concerning birth, therefore, manipulation seems to be total.
    • Author: Julio Cabrera, A critique of affirmative morality – a reflection on death, birth and the value of life
  • Would a genuinely rational agent choose to be born? I could reread my argumentation against R.M. Hare, in Critic of Affirmative Moral (especially in page 207 and the following), partially repeated in my article The Analytical Ethics regarding the question of Birth, Death and the Value of Human Life (Goiânia, 1997). There I suggest that, in the experiment where the non-being is magically consulted about its possible birth, Hare is wrong in supposing uncritically that “he” would choose without a doubt to be born. (This is the habitual affirmative tendency). Let’s suppose then that he’s human, that is, a rational creature capable of pondering reasons. The information that is given that possible being, in Hare’s experiment, is incomplete and tendentious. We should also tell him that, if he’s born, he has no guarantees of being born without problems, that if he manages to be born problem-free, he will suffer, almost surely, of many worldly evils; that if he manages to get rid of them (and this is possible, if also hard), we cannot give him any reassurance about his life span, nor about the kind of death he will have, besides having to suffer the death of those he comes to love and having his death being suffered by those who love him (if he’s lucky of loving someone and of being loved by someone, which isn’t guaranteed). We would also have to say to him that, if he manages to avoid a violent accidental death, he will deteriorate in a few years (just as the people he cares about), and that he has a high chance of becoming terminally ill, who could suffer terribly until the time of his demise. If it were still the case for the non-being that, after having assimilated all this information, he would choose to be born, couldn’t we harbor well founded reasons to doubt its quality as a rational agent?
    • Author: Julio Cabrera, Porque te amo, NÃO nascerás! Nascituri te salutant
  • Cathars believed the whole of humanity, and each man individually, are the children of Satan. Why, then, serve their reproduction, if not for the duplication of suffering, and the triumph of Satan?
    • Author: Katarzyna Skrzypiec, Sekretna wieczerza, czyli o heretykach budzacych sympatie
  • Man dares to allow himself to be cruel, when he's already committed, tranquilly and repeatedly, the crudest act of all: engendering, condemning beings that do not exist or suffer to the horrors of life.
    • Author: Guido Ceronetti, The Silence of the Body: Materials for the Study of Medicine
  • She asks, “How long shall men die?” Jesus answers, “As long as you women bear children.” Writers like Julius Cassianus take this as an implicit injunction to defeat death by ceasing from procreation.
    • Author: John T. Noonan Jr., Contraception; a history of its treatment by the Catholic theologians and canonists
    • Description: the dialogue of Jesus Christ with Salome from Greek Gospel of the Egyptians (the further part: Salome: “I have done well, then, in not bearing children?” Jesus Christ: “Every plant eat thou, but that which hath bitterness eat not. I have come to destroy the works of the female.”)
  • Compassion makes you not want to be a "progenitor”. This is the cruelest word I know.
  • I was alone in that cemetery overlooking the village when a pregnant woman came in. I left at once, in order not to look at this corpse-bearer at dose range, nor to ruminate upon the contrast between an aggressive womb and the time-worn tombs-between a false promise and the end of all promises.
  • If attachment is an evil, we must look for its cause in the scandal of birth, for to be born is to be attached. Detachment then should apply itself to getting rid of the traces of this scandal, the most serious and intolerable of all.
  • If it is true that by death we once more become what we were before being, would it not have been better to abide by that pure possibility, not to stir from it? What use was this detour, when we might have remained forever in an unrealized plenitude?
  • In Buddhist writings, mention is often made of „the abyss of birth”. An abyss indeed, a gulf into which we do not fall but from which, instead, we emerge, to our universal chagrin.'
  • In the Council of 1211 against the Bogomils, those among them were anathematized who held that „woman conceives in her womb by the cooperation of Satan, that Satan abides there upon conception without withdrawing hence until the birth of the child”. I dare not suppose that the Devil can be concerned with us to the point of keeping us company for so many months; but I cannot doubt that we have been conceived under his eyes and that he actually attended our beloved begetters.
  • Nothing is a better proof of how far humanity has regressed than the impossibility of finding a single nation, a single tribe, among whom birth still provokes mourning and lamentations.
  • To procreate is to love the scourge - to seek to maintain and to augment it. They were right, those ancient philosophers who identified fire with the principle of the universe, and with desire, for desire burns, devours: annihilates: At once agent and destroyer of beings, it is sombre, it is infernal by essence.
  • We do not rush toward death, we flee the catastrophe of birth, survivors struggling to forget it. Fear of death is merely the projection into the future of a fear which dates back to our first moment of life. We are reluctant, of course, to treat birth as a scourge: has it not been inculcated as the sovereign good-have we not been told that the worst came at the end, not at the outset of our lives? Yet evil, the real evil, is behind, not ahead of us. What escaped Jesus did not escape Buddha: „If three things did not exist in the world, disciples, the Perfect One would not appear in the world...” And ahead of old age and death he places the fact of birth, source of every infirmity, every disaster.
  • What sin have you committed to be born, what crime to exist?
  • When every man has realized that his birth is a defeat, existence, endurable at last, will seem like the day after a surrender, like the relief and the repose of the conquered.
  • For through their abstinence they sin against creaation and the holy Creator, against the sole, almighty God; and they teach that one should not enter into matrimony and beget children, should not bring further unhappy beings into the world, and produce fresh fodder for death.
  • Programmed by nature and socialized by the collective, which demands conformity, we are required to play the “game” of life. But as one of Beckett’s characters put sit, “why this farce day after day?” Where is all this leading to?
    • Author: Ken Coates, Anti-Natalism: Rejectionist Philosophy from Buddhism to Benatar
  • Life is a mixture of good and bad, or so they say. Trouble is, there’s no way to determine where a particular life might fall along fortune’s spectrum. For every child born into the lap of luxury, there’s another born on the point of a knife. There are no guarantees as to what may transpire as the immediate present unfolds into the uncertain future. Things change in an instant. Two things, however, are certain. Everyone will suffer. And everyone will die. Back to where we came from. Knowing this, and understanding full well that any particular life embodies the potential for experiencing extreme pain and unhappiness unceasing in some cases is procreation really worth the risk?
    • Author: Jim Crawford, Confessions of an Antinatalist
  • If a child, for whose existence I was responsible, were to ask me why he or she were here, what happens after death, whether I could guarantee he or she would not suffer a fate like that Furuta Junko suffered in 1988/89 (please look it up, as there’s no room to describe it), what would I say? To me, the fact I have no answers that would not be guesswork, evasion or dogma indicates that having children is selfish and cruel.
    • Author: Quentin S. Crisp, Antinatalism: A Thought Experiment

F[edit]

  • Where shall I be a hundred years from now? Where will all the present dwellers of the earth be? To die, for ever and ever; to have existed but for a moment! What a mockery! Would it not be better a hundred times over never to have been born? But if it be our fate to live eternally and never to be able to change anything of the fatality that carries us along - having endless eternity always before us - how can we bear the burden of such a destiny? Is that the doom awaiting us? If we should tire of existence, we should be forbidden to fly from it; it would be impossible to end it. In this conception there is far more implacable cruelty th in that of an ephemeral life vanishing away insect's flight in the fresh evening breeze. Why then were we born? To suffer uncertainty; to find after examination not a single one of our hope a left; to live like idiots if we do not think, like madmen if we do?
    • Author: Camille Flammarion, Uranie

G[edit]

  • If destruction is violence, creation, too, is violence. Procreation, therefore, involves violence. The creation of what is bound to perish certainly involves violence.
    • Author: Mahatma Gandhi, Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, volume 32
  • Suppose for a moment that all procreation stops, it will only mean that all destruction will cease. Moksha is nothing but release from the cycle of births and deaths. This alone is believed to be the highest bliss, and rightly.
    • Author: Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, volume 24
  • Another argument is often made by the irresponsible ones who breed us - that it is an act of „leaving a trace” - strange impulse! Let us immediately observe that from an ethological point of view this is akin to the attitude many mammals have to leave droppings on the ground to mark their path or territory. The dog urinating against a lamp post also leaves a trace, one however which, unlike the baby, benefits from the privilege of not having to endure the grueling stresses of life...
    • Author: Theophile de Giraud, L'art de guillotiner les procréateurs: Manifeste anti-nataliste
  • Answer without flinching: if there existed a solution that could abolish the totality of all evils inflicted on disastrous humanity, if it was possible, by some simple remedy, incredibly cheap, immediately accessible, scrupulously inoffensive, of absolute and definitive efficiency, to stop all distress, all cries, all cries of pain, all pathologies, all protests of ill-being, all despair, all cataclysms, all anxiety, all unhappiness, in short all tortures afflicting the human species, would you have the macabre stupidity to reject such a remedy, to disdain such a miracle cure? No, that goes without saying. Well this solution does exist, and the mysterious is thereby delivered to us: it consists simply, in its saintly simplicity, to not procreate…
    • Author: Theophile de Giraud, L'art de guillotiner les procréateurs: Manifeste anti-nataliste
  • If it was otherwise, if procreation was not the result of the most scandalous narcissism, if our odious parents were really moved by some generosity, prospective adoption candidates would be incredibly more numerous than the millions of children who wait, right now, to be adopted! But talk about adoption and you’ll see a big frown of „yes-but-not-for-me” form on their face, greedy to possess a prey coming entirely from their bodies. „Orphans? Someone else’s baby? Come on, get scientists to help vanquish my infertility instead!”
    • Author: Theophile de Giraud, L'art de guillotiner les procréateurs: Manifeste anti-nataliste

H[edit]

  • Humans are the most destructive creatures on the planet. We cause vast numbers of animal deaths (both directly and indirectly). We destroy habitats. We damage the environment. We are currently heating up the world’s climate in a way that is likely to be detrimental to countless numbers of animals (ourselves included). And we have the means, nuclear weapons, to destroy everything at the push of a button. We came perilously close to pushing that button on one occasion (the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962). The best way to stop the destruction is to remove the destructive force; to remove humans by refraining from procreation. In short, the colossal amount of harm caused by humans gives us a moral reason to boycott the human species.
    • Author: Gerald Harrison, Julia Tanner, Better Not To Have Children
  • It might be pointed out that we cannot gain someone's consent to exist; we cannot gain their consent before they exist and by the time they exist it's too late. But the fact that we cannot gain their consent does not mean that we are free to do without it. Suppose you wish to torture someone against their will, you cannot seek your victim's consent – the torture would not then be against their will. It would be absurd to argue that for this reason we are permitted to torture people against their will. Similarly, the fact that prospective parents cannot get the consent of those they plan to bring into existence doesn't magically mean it's OK. Quite the opposite – if you can't get the consent of the person you're going to significantly affect by your action, then the default position is that you don't do whatever it is that's going to affect them. There are exceptions. Pushing someone out of the way of a falling piano is morally right even if no prior consent can be given (if, for instance, there isn't time). But in this kind of case you are preventing someone from coming to great harm. To procreate – to subject someone to a life – does not prevent them coming to harm. Not being created cannot harm them because they don't exist.
    • Author: Gerald Harrison, Julia Tanner, Better Not To Have Children

J[edit]

  • How can anyone take seriously a insane idea that the world was created by a good God, and sign up under the most criminal of all imperatives: “be fruitful and multiply”?
    • Author: Roland Jaccard, Sexe et sarcasmes

K[edit]

  • Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth’s biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense.
    • Author: Les U. Knight, Environment and Natural Resources
  • I beget you - we hear a parent saying - in order to see with pleasure what is inside you and what is not. By the same token, however, I am forcing upon you a lot of suffering and, finally, the ghastly catastrophe of dying.
    • Author: Kurnig, Der Neo-Nihilismus. Anti-Militarismus. Sexualleben (Ende der Menschheit)

L[edit]

  • All of us are brought into existence, without our consent, and over the course of our lives we are acquainted with a multitude of goods. Unfortunately, there is a limit to the amount of good each of us will have in our lives. Eventually each of us will die and we will be permanently cut off from the prospect of any further good. Existence, viewed in this way, seems to be a cruel joke.
    • Author: Marc Larock, Possible preferences and the harm of existence
  • Perhaps the day will never come when people realize that moral patients like us should cease to exist. It would be an unconscionable tragedy if we never do. I remain optimistic, however. Some very interesting arguments have recently been advanced in support of the conclusion that it is always worse for a person to live than not. I suspect that many more will follow. Until the day that individuals begin to take non-procreation seriously on a widespread scale, perhaps all we can do is follow Schopenhauer: „The conviction that the world, and therefore man too, is something which really ought not to exist is in fact calculated to instil in us indulgence towards one another: for what can be expected of beings placed in such a situation as we are? From this point of view one might indeed consider that the appropriate form of address between man and man ought to be, not monsieur, sir, but fellow sufferer, compagnon de misères. However strange this may sound it corresponds to the nature of the case, makes us see other men in a true light and reminds us of what are the most necessary of all things: tolerance, patience, forbearance and charity, which each of us needs and which each of us therefore owes.” (On the Sufferings of the World)
    • Author: Marc Larock, Possible preferences and the harm of existence
  • Being asked for what purpose he thought men were born, he laughingly replied: To realise how much better it were not to be born.
    • Author: Giacomo Leopardi, Operette Morali, Remarkable sayings of Philip Ottonieri
    • Author: Description: the words spoken by the character, Philip Ottonieri.
  • Perhaps in every state beneath the sun,
    Or high, or low, in cradle or in stall,
    The day of birth is fatal to us all.
  • Despite the fact that neither anti- nor pronatalists can prove their positions, pro-natalists have to live with the possibility that they might be wrong. That is a heavy burden to carry, and a heavier burden to pass on to subsequent generations. Antinatalists don’t have a similar burden. When action is taken on their side and a child is not born, no harm is done. No one has to suffer and die.
  • As their numbers tapered off, these dead-enders of our species could be the most privileged individuals in history and share with one another material comforts once held in trust only for the well-born or moneygetting classes of the world. Since personal economic gain would be passé as a motive for the new humanity, there would be only one defensible incitement to work: to see one another through to the finish, a project that would keep everyone busy and not just staring into space while they waited for the end. There might even be bright smiles exchanged among these selfless benefactors of those who would never be forced to exist.
    • Author: Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
  • Personally, I’m afraid of suffering and afraid of dying. I’m also afraid of witnessing the suffering and death of those who are close to me. And no doubt I project these fears on those around me and those to come, which makes it impossible for me to understand why everyone isn’t an antinatalist, just as I have to assume pronatalists can’t understand why everyone isn’t like them.
  • And yet, it is not to be denied, that both the father and mother have Corrupt flesh, and that the seed itself is full, not only of filthy lust, but of contempt and hatred of God: and thus, it is not be denied, that there is sin in procreation.
    • Author: Martin Luther, Select Works of Martin Luther: An Offering to the Church of God in “the Last Days”

M[edit]

  • If anyone condemns human marriage and has a horror of the procreation of living bodies, as Manichaeus and Priscillian have said, let him be anathema.
    • Author: bishops, The companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: a compendium of texts referred to in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
    • Description: the resolution of Council of Braga I.
  • I tell myself: Reluctance to think to the end
    Is lifesaving for the living. Could lucid consciousness
    Bear everything that in every minute,
    Simultaneously, occurs on the earth?
    Not to harm. Stop eating fish and meat.
    Let oneself be castrated, like Tiny, a cat innocent
    Of the drownings of kittens every day in our city.
    The Cathari were right: Avoid the sin of conception
    (For either you kill your seed and will be tormented by conscience
    Or you will be responsible for a life of pain).

N[edit]

  • We may ask ourselves whether we have a moral right to create people and thus condemn them to life and death without their consent.
    • Author: Martin Neuffer, Nein zum Leben - Ein Essay

O[edit]

  • By hedonistic logic, we ought to avoid imposing anything, existence included, onto anyone who hasn't asked for it.
    • Author: Michel Onfray, Theorie du corps amoureux
  • Not having children derives not from dislike, but from love too great to bring them into this world, too limited, too vain, to cruel.
    • Author: Michel Onfray, Journal hedoniste: Tome 2, Les Vertus de la foudre
  • Those childless by choice love children as much, if not more, than their fertile breeders. When asked why he does not have children, Tales replied, "Because of my concern for children."
    • Author: Michel Onfray, Théorie du corps amoureux

S[edit]

  • When we decide to have a child, we endanger an innocent one without ensuring his well being. We place a bet with his life on the line, without any consent. We play russian roulette with a gun pointed at the child.
    • Author: Thiago Lenharo di Santis, Porque te amo, Não nascerás! Nascituri te salutant
  • If you hold eternal damnation, then having children is a very grave business indeed. You are gambling with infinite stakes.
    • Author: Martin Smith, No Baby No Cry
    • Description: eternal damnation in the main currents of Christianity is the punishment for sinners consisting of going to hell and suffering torments forever.
  • “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.” (Zechariah Chafee)
    • Author: Martin Smith, No Baby No Cry
    • Description: libertarian principle of non-aggression quoted by the author in the context of burden someone with life as an example of a significant influence on someone by our action without consent.
  • “Be fruitul and multiply” is a recomendation that fits more into god of rabbits than to god of humans. No offense to rabbits, of course.
    • Author: Giovanni Soriano, Finche c'e vita non c'e speranza
  • Procreation is an act far more authoritarian than killing; and just as one should not take the life of someone else, one should also not impose life on someone else.
    • Author: Giovanni Soriano, Malomondo. In lode della stupidita
  • What is needed is not happiness, but lack of unhappiness. Procreation expands the horizons of suffering and is therefore ethical misconduct. It provides the space where evil is done.
    • Author: Miguel Steiner, De la felicidad y los hijos: De la felicidad y los hijos: La evolución del pensamiento ético y la dimensión demográfica de los problemas

V[edit]

  • Those I've most loved are my grandma Raquel Pizano and my dog Bruja. I also loved my dad. But after all he is guilty of imposing on me the burden of life. Life's a burden, it's a curse. Those who I loved, now dead, drag me to the grave. It's very hard to carry on without them. The only way I can live is by forgetting them.
    • Author: Fernando Vallejo, La desazón suprema: Retrato de Fernando Vallejo

Z[edit]

  • Above all, we must make the reproductive question ethically relevant. A coin is turned around before it is handed to the beggar, yet a child is unflinchingly tossed into cosmic bruteness.
  • For me, a desert island is no tragedy, neither is a deserted planet.
  • The sign of doom is written on your brows - how long will ye kick against the pin-pricks? But there is one conquest and one crown, one redemption and one solution. Know yourselves - be infertile and let the earth be silent after ye.