Enlightenment, Natalistic

Well-known is Kant’s dictum defining “enlightenment” as “Man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity”. Now, each person’s coming into the world is something not “self-imposed” but rather imposed by his or her parents. Consequently, we need to qualify and situate this “self-imposition” of a state of “immaturity” diagnosed by Kant. A part of a human individual’s “immaturity” is always imposed by, and the responsibility of, the parents. Kant himself, indeed, indirectly recognizes a partial responsibility of parents for all such “immaturity” when, in his Metaphysics of Morals, he assigns to parents a duty to raise and care for their children until these latter have achieved existential autonomy. With regard to Kant the question (albeit an apparently crude one) arises: if “immaturity” is reprehensible because it runs counter to the essence of human autonomy and liberty, why does Kant not unequivocally call for an end to be put to the bringing into the world of more or less “immature” beings? The answer, of course, is that Kant – entirely aligned here morally and intellectually with the spirit of the Enlightenment – believes firmly, if not in the absolute perfectibility, then at least in the partial improvability, of the species Man.

Natalistic enlightenment is a drawing of attention to the fact that the “self-imposed immaturity” of which Kant speaks is, in the last analysis, imposed by others, i.e. imposed by each child’s parents (Parental Guilt). The ultimate aim of natalistic enlightenment is the antinatalist abolition of all parentally-imposed “immaturity”, for example through making all potential parents familiar with an Evaluation of the Consequences of Begetting Children.

Despite a large number of antinatalist statements and insights already on record – the present handbook included – we continue to live in antinatalistically unenlightened times. Here there applies the following formula: the degree of parental guilt of a procreating couple corresponds to the degree in which these latter have been natalistically enlightened. Paraphrasing Kant, we might say: “Enlightenment always also consists, in part, in Man’s emergence from an immaturity imposed by parents and thereby from that legacy of Nature that is the nexus of procreation.”   

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