Is Antinatalism a Humanism?

We can speak of a humanistic attitude where people see themselves as self-creating beings. This means that people are neither products of a God nor are they simply the results of biological evolution.

Against this background, humanism holds: there is neither a religious nor a natural commission for procreation. Rather, in view of the past history, the present and the future to be expected, people must decide whether they want to have descendants or not, whether the “burden of existence” (Voltaire) is justifiable or not.

As opposed to believers, humanists assume that there are no compensating otherworldly, paradisiacal institutions (and no hellish penal colonies). Antinatalism is humanism, at least inasmuch as it takes very seriously the lack of otherworldly or rebirth-based compensation. Antinatalism is deeply humanistic because it takes seriously the burden of existence (the school and workload to be carried out by each individual, shame, betrayal, experiences of the death of the near and the dear ones, the own catastrophe of dying and much more). Pronatalists will oppose this, saying that every person has to have her own experiences and that there is always HOPE for a better future. Humanist antinatalism cannot accept this, since it rejects experimenting on people. And it has the character of experimenting, and human lottery, to bring forth new humans in the sign of “hope” that they may be spared a hard school and working life, serious illnesses, experiencing the death of the near ones and, eventually their own catastrophe of dying.

Humanism and Antinatalism

Some critics doubt the antinatalists‘ humanist vision. Many of those critics envision mankind’s future under the sign of hope. To have given up hope, in the eyes of the critics, is a moral blemish. Saying this, however, the critics are disregarding that – under the sign of hope –they are prepared to experimenting on human beings. They are prepared to experimenting on human beings inasmuch as they are in favour of propagation with uncertain outcomes. Experimenting on human beings would not deserve to be called humanist.

Horror non exsistentiae (Horror of non-existence)

Why is it so difficult for people to even discuss antinatalism? Aristotle and many others, well into the 19th century, didn’t accept the idea of a vacuum (the so called Horror vacui in Latin). Nature, according to those thinkers, abhors a vacuum. Probably many of those thinkers themselves, together with a wider public, abhorred the idea of a vacuum.

In a similar manner people seem to be haunted by some horror of non-existence. If antinatalism would reign, they assume, they would never have begun to exist. And, as a matter of fact, they think this would have been bad for THEM.