Saturday, August 25, 2007

Anti-Procreation Movement

Anti-Procreation Movement

The Anti-Procreation Movement is a philosophical movement that claims that the human condition is one of profound suffering and that one should refrain from spreading this suffering to a new generation by abstaining from procreation.


Connections with other movements

Roots in Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophical pessimism

Looking back in history, the Anti-Procreation Movement (or anti-procreationism) is very similar to the philosophy of early 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. In his magnum opus, The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer laid down a metaphysical, and ethical framework concerning the nature of existence. According to his views (which have been labeled as Philosophical Pessimism by later philosophers), existence is really a seething, striving, force, or "Will" that manifests itself in representational form as the phenomena of the physical universe (see neutral monism). Schopenhauer's claim is that the Will is categorically suffering for all living beings, and is especially so for human beings. The reason for the greater suffering in Humans is the assertion that Humans, can self-reflect on their own pain as well as feel pain more acutely (in the everyday strife of living, natural disasters, emotional anguish, boredom, and the ceaseless striving for goals). In his work, Schopenhauer advocated aesthetic contemplation and compassion as two lower level ways to solve the problem of suffering. However, he wrote that the most fundamental way for the individual to end suffering is to retreat to living as a hermit or ascetic who cuts all physical relations with the world, therefore "ending the Will-to-Live". Along with this, one should not act in the supreme Will's command by procreating the will unto another individual and thus, giving into the ultimate demand of the Will-to-Live (procreating the Will and its suffering to a new individual human form).

Contemporaneous anti-procreation and childfree movements

The Anti-Procreation Movement is a modern day movement that has its roots in the Philosophical Pessimism of the 19th century. However, the modern Anti-Procreation Movement elaborates more on the inherent reasons for the suffering of the human condition. It also differs from its Schopenhauerian forbearer because it does not see a solution to the problem of suffering in the already existing human, only a solution to future suffering (by preventing the birth of a future possible being). Anti-Procreation can also be associated with other contemporary movements that have less philosophical and more political tones. The biggest movement related to this is the Childfree movement. The Childfree movement is a loose association of individuals who choose not to have children. This movement however, is mainly geared towards those individuals who simply do not desire to have children, rather than advocating that no other individual should have children either. A group more closely related to the anti-procreation philosophy, is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. This movement advocates the end or the gradual end of human procreation (but for environmental reasons rather than reasons regarding suffering of humanity). Some smaller groups have closer ties to the Anti-Procreation Movement such as the Moral Childfree Movement, which advocates that people should not have children for moral reasons, specifically because of the suffering that the child would have to endure.

Major concepts

The three categories of the human condition

Anti-Procreationism is a kind of Philosophical Pessimism in the tradition of Arthur Schopenhauer's pessimistic Weltanschauung. Its main idea is that there are three categories of human existence: survival (sometimes interchangeable with "work"), boredom, and entertainment. These categories are forms of suffering that are inherently bestowed upon all evolutionarily normal, self-reflecting humans.

The first category is Survival which is the constant struggle to stay alive and keep metabolic and physiological comfort levels in stasis. The struggle of survival, which is believed to take place in a certain socio-economic cultural context, is one form of suffering that cannot be avoided easily once one comes into existence.

Boredom is the second category of suffering inherent in the human condition. According to the Anti-Procreation Movement philosophy, the unique human brain/mind is in a constant struggle to flee from boredom which is described as a deep emotional feeling of ennui and despair. This category of boredom usually takes place after all apparent survival activities have been achieved, but may also take place during survival activities as well. Boredom, is an unpleasant feeling similar in to the existential void discussed in psychologist Viktor Frankl's book, Man's Search for Meaning. Anti-Procreationists claim that this boredom, is not confined to one's culture or to only modern cultures, but is a cross-cultural phenomenon that occurs in all human societies.

The third and last category of this tripartite system is Entertainment. Entertainment, according to the Anti-Procreation Movement, is viewed as any goal an individual must contrive to "flee" the feeling of boredom (the second category). This entertainment can be seen as the endless real and potential ways that humans fill their time (other than survival). The various forms usually take place in a cultural context but can have some cultural universals such as: religious expression, art, and philosophy. However some forms of entertainment are restricted to specific cultures (i.e. watching tv, creating new business ventures, going out with friends, etc. are all Westernized forms of entertainment). The entertainment can go on infinitum in various combinations and varieties, and range the whole human gamut of behavior and thought that are not associated directly with survival. The common world view that entertainment should be seen as a desirable pursuit, is turned on its head in Anti-Procreationism. According to this philosophy, entertainment is the struggle against boredom and the realization that one cannot "just be". According to this reasoning, humans subsist in a constant battle against boredom or a constant pursuit of "finding the best way to kill time".

Solution to suffering

According to the Anti-Procreation Movement, the inherent suffering in the human condition can never be overcome for those already born into existence. However, it can be prevented in a future generation. By not procreating, one is not bearing the burden of the three categories of the human condition on a potential next generation and thus preventing suffering in a potential future being. This movement does not advocate suicide for two reasons. The first is that we are naturally averse to suicide for evolutionary and psychological reasons, and suicide, and thoughts of suicide can add to one's pain and suffering in the lead up to the actual suicide attempt.

The second reason is the idea of "annihilist Utilitarianism". Utilitarianism is an ethical system whereby the the moral worth of an action is determined by whatever brings the greatest pleasure for the greatest amount of people. Annihilist Utilitarianism claims that the greatest good is preventing future potential beings from being born (being "anti-procreation"). The only way to maximize the greatest good (preventing future potential beings from being born) is to spread the "good word" of the Anti-Procreation philosophy so that the greatest amount of people already born will be affected by this philosophy and consequently not procreate.


Similar movements