Freedom of Begetting

The “freedom of begetting” is that historically developing freedom of men and women to call into question the social, religious or biological imperative of procreation. Freedom of begetting is constitutive with regard to >Parental Guilt. The individual can be burdened, or can burden him- or herself, with parental guilt only where said individual enjoyed the freedom to resist – without having to suffer any extremely grave harm or disadvantage through this resistance – any imperative to procreate that was laid, or that they felt to have been laid, upon them.

There corresponds to the freedom of begetting a certain social-historical index (>Index of Guilt). An example of this is a problem which became a very weighty one in the context of Buddhist and Hindu aspirations toward salvation: namely, whether or not one has the moral right to become an ascetic who renounces the world (sramana/samana) if one has not yet begotten any progeny. The question was: did the sramana enjoy the right to deprive, through his own childlessness, his forefathers of those ritual services which would normally have been secured for them by the cult of ancestor worship also present in the societies that produced Hinduism and Buddhism?[1]

Especially in the West, the general availability of modern >Contraceptives along with the equally general decline in religious belief has given a tremendous boost to the freedom of begetting. Correspondingly graver, then, is, today, the >Parental Guilt for the suffering of all children.


[1] See on this topic the accounts of Hinduism and Buddhism given in Max Weber’s books on The Sociology of Religion: Ges. Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie, Vol. 2, p. 180.

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