natalism and progress
December 5, 2017 | by oemb1905
The first misconception in the anti-natalist position is the premise that “life is so bad, so painful, that humans should stop having children out of compassion.” This is a comforting false narrative that replaces the religion mythos and social control mechanism. On the contrary, we can see that people are freer, safer, and healthier, and enjoy more human rights now, than ever before. Although advancements are eternally matched by equivalent degradation, this is the cosmic balance and cannot dissolve virtue of its own skin in the game. It is simply not true that life is painful and bad, nor that it is getting worse. This notion seems tied to a false trajectory, and an incorrect assessment of the current ways of being.
Many modern philosophers conflates happiness, pleasure, and the good together into some type of reified composite existential state of being, but unlike others, this author uses this to justify an opt-out of the entire experience. There are many possibilities for disconnecting from self-growth in this approach. I can see a value in the mental exercise of presuming it to be true – but that would only be an exercise, gymnastics for the mind, as it were. Life is – that’s the only thing that can be known with absolute certainty. There is no mystery, no quest, nothing. Just life. For whatever reason, humans have a glimpse of the infinite universe while they are in existence. It is a gift of life given by developmental accident because that’s how being works, that’s ousia. There is balance and evil, to be sure, but there would likely be no beauty and magnanimity of being without that binary.
Although our stature pales in comparison to the macro aspects of the infinite cycle of interstellar creation, humans can and do have micro-agency and finite causality aspects in the scheme, as they can leverage competition and advancement to improve their own existence and that of the world they live on. Humans can improve the yield of plants, harness fossil and other fuels and energy sources, symbiotically working with Gaia. Humans not only can do these things, but do them regularly to improve survival and continuance of the infinite glimpse – and reflect upon them in an act described as philosophy.
It is ironic that this author argues against suicide given his position on these matters – I suspect this must have been a real contradictory pit. His rationalization for continuing to live is predicated on an alternate thesis that amazingly escapes his thinking, i.e., if you choose to live instead of commit suicide, then you have, by your actions and thoughts, declared existence and life to be superior to non existence. This would not be logically true if there were external agents forcing this play – but there are no such agents – humans have free will. Arguing that “life is bad, but so is death” is a mental fallacy – humans know life, they do not know death. This false premise seems to be a prevailing perspective within this author’s approach, measuring everything around in negatives, arguing that everything is a deprivation of certain levels of good. It is also concerning that the list of woes are hardly woes at all; a philosopher that finds “waiting in lines, hunger, thirst,” and other biological drives as indications of life’s grand pain seems a bit odd to me. Natural drives are not painful – they are perhaps, examples of entropy and/or physiological striving, but they are not painful per se. And even if the premise was true, it would not follow that we should give up.
There may be a case that humans are, indeed, somewhat parasitical and anti-environmental in nature. But, we are also a particularly well suited symbiotic steward. Native and primordial populations were more harmful to ecological systems than modern humans were, but are we perfect? No, and we will never be so. With great power comes great responsibility and so we are still on the journey to create safer nuclear power, safer waste mechanisms, safer ways to harness energy, and safer designs that can sustain us longer/better. Solar and wind technologies have potential, but are in their infancy. Aside from design, we should laud the freeing of borders and international exchange. Our great tools of technology rely on rare minerals that come from freer countries and patterns of economic exchange. Without this increase in life’s freedom, there would be no advancement in the symbiotic methods of humans. The harnessing of energy and the responsibility of harnessing in general, go hand in hand. Imperfection makes a case for improvement – not capitulation. What is needed now is not a Discourse of death, but a new Discourse a new methodology – a better practice.
There is an idea that this particular epoch is more morally depraved than other epochs. It is often repeated that the United States is in “existential crisis.” I would have to note firstly that we have been in that crisis since our founding. And moreover, are people forgetting Eugenics, Hoovervilles, Long Walks, and Jim Crow? Let’s also not forget Eastern and Western colonialism and white privilege while we consider the modern age. The Spanish Inquisition. Industrialization and technological advancement have caused these freedoms to improve generally, exposing systemic hegemony, networking the traditionally under-served economic class together. There is no existential predicament, rather, there is more agency to fight the same forces of evil than there has ever been.
The US is a colonial hegemonic society that crushed Native Americans and erected a ‘free’ society on top of its ashes. As we know, this free society was in name only, with minority groups unable to participate in it, worse, explicitly relocated, murdered, written out by voting laws and legal precedents of all sorts. It takes time to improve and there will always be idiots. The existence of foolishness does not negate the upward motion and Discourse of virtue. If anything, the existence of the foil to foolishness should only motivate people to procreate more, in order to help the eternal balance. It is an amazing time and there is a responsibility of helping it continue to be so. One way to do this is by having your own children and instilling within them the same healthy Discourse. And the disagreement over the nature of the healthy Discourse only makes the Discourse healthier. Every family bestowing these gifts upon themselves provides a micro-system of virtue building, and that balance will continue to build the being of us all, allowing us all a form of the infinite glimpse.