The core proposition of philosophical anthropology is the theorem that Man is, as it were, a cultural being by nature. The meaning conveyed by this paradoxical dictum is that however far back we trace the history of Man we at no point encounter human beings without some sort of culture and cannot, indeed, even conceive of the former without the latter. Palaeo-anthropology has discovered, wherever it has discovered any traces at all of our human ancestors, also traces of culture and cultural practices.
But if it is indeed the case that to think “Man” is at the same time necessarily to think “culture”, then it follows that Man must be conceived of as a cultural being throughout the entire duration, backward and forward, of his existence – that is to say, as a cultural being not just from the very start but also to the very end. And as such a “cultural being to the very end” it would be incumbent on Man not just passively to wait until Nature – in the form of material catastrophes, and finally and definitively of the expanding sun itself – puts an end to his existence as a species but rather to cultivate this end himself. Antinatalism is the theory of the cultivation of the end of humanity. If one refuses to pair with the theorem of Man as a cultural being by nature the statement that Man is also a cultural being to the very end, then one has thereby halved the cultivatedness of Man and made of him, after all, once again a half-natural being, that is, a natural being to the very end.
What we have said about this core proposition of philosophical anthropology applies all the more there where the natural and the cultural aspects of Man are most closely intermeshed with one another and where the facts of nature penetrate most deeply into our culture: namely, in the sphere of procreation. As the ambit of what is cultural in Man increases and our species takes a greater and greater distance from all that is natural both around us and in us, the begetting and birth of new human beings becomes less and less a casual and accidental matter and more and more a matter of conscious decision.
Gehlen, Arnold (1904–1976)
Gehlens thesis that Man is a being “one of whose most important characteristics is that he must take up some stance with regard to his own self” (Der Mensch) has a dimension to it which was most likely not perceptible to Gehlen himself: no “stance taken up with regard to ourselves” – as a species – can be comprehensive unless we adopt the anthropofugal perspective or, in other words, unless we succeed in gaining a distance from our own selves sufficient for us to be able to raise the question of whether human beings should exist at all, thus “ethicizing” the blind process of Nature.