How to Live As an Antinatalist

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:11
Antinatalism is a philosophy that holds the premise that pain and suffering are bad and that pleasure, while good, is not needed by those who don't exist. New human lives will inevitably contain pain and suffering. Therefore, antinatalism...
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Antinatalism is a philosophy that holds the premise that pain and suffering are bad and that pleasure, while good, is not needed by those who don't exist. New human lives will inevitably contain pain and suffering. Therefore, antinatalism concludes through philosophical reasoning that it is better for human beings not to be born. By not being born, a potential but as-yet-unborn person has avoided the suffering of life, all of which was preventable if the parents had not procreated and brought that person into existence.

The philosophy draws in particular on the work of David Benatar, a lecturer and philosopher at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. How do those who adopt or advocate this philosophy live? Here are some philosophical and practical suggestions.


  1. Step 1 Do not start any additional lives.
    If you have not yet had children, do not have any. (If you have had children, don't have any more.) Do not allow yourself to procreate, either deliberately or “by accident.” Take complete responsibility for contraception, remain celibate, or seek an early abortion so that you do not bring another being into existence. Just as they say to “let sleeping dogs lie,” allow the uncreated to remain in their undifferentiated, painless state.
  2. Step 2 Learn about antinatalism.
    Read the book Better Never to Have Been - The Harm of Coming into Existence by David Benatar. This book will explain the logic behind the philosophy of antinatalism. Continue to read other online articles and book reviews about antinatalism.
  3. Step 3 Consider how your antinatalism will express itself.
    Be forewarned that this is a misunderstood and unpopular philosophy, calling into question as it does the very meaning of human existence. Be discreet, and consider the potential social, familial, employment, and religious ramifications in your life. To whom will you talk about antinatalism? How can you explore or discuss the philosophy without having friends and family worry that you're depressed? A gradual, “theoretical” approach may help you test the conversational waters, such as making a general comment like, “I recently learned about an interesting philosophy, antinatalism, which suggests that being born is actually harmful to humans.”
  4. Step 4 Discuss the philosophy with other people.
    Once you feel confident and conversant with the antinatalist philosophy, as a person who was born yourself, stick up for the moral right of those who would not want to be born.
  5. Step 5 Become informed about various religious perspectives.
    Learn what each religion professes about the meaning of life and death; pain and pleasure; procreation and suicide. Buddhists may be influenced by the concept of “avoiding rebirth. Christians may be swayed by the idea that their children could end up suffering eternally in Hell. However, keep in mind that many people object to antinatalism on religious grounds, and you are unlikely to leverage someone off of a position which is based in faith -- particularly with a philosophical discussion -- no matter how logical or rational your arguments.
  6. Step 6 Consider non-human suffering.
    Extend your antinatalist philosophy to non-human sentient beings, and work to minimize their suffering as well. Treat animals compassionately. This may include eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, not owning pets (or only keeping rescue pets), or taking care that animal products you consume are from animals who were treated humanely while alive.
  7. Step 7 Prevent unnecessary pain.
    Once a person is born, they are no longer in the category of the “never born” and thus should not be denied human compassion, love, and medical intervention when needed. You can live a long and productive life as an antinatalist. Murder and suicide cause pain to victims and survivors and thus should not be indulged. If you are depressed or suicidal, you may benefit from professional medical or psychological intervention.
  8. Step 8 Keep in touch with others.
    Don't restrict your social life to fellow antinatalists – the pool is too small, and you won't be able to entice others to dive in and openly consider your philosophy. If you are in danger of social isolation, consider becoming active with a philosophically non-dogmatic religious group such as Unitarian Universalism or Zen Buddhism.
  9. Step 9 Share honestly.
    Tell others about your personal experience with life, without minimizing problems or overstating pleasures.
  10. Step 10 Take care of your health.
    Get sufficient sleep, good nutrition, and regular exercise. Don't invite suffering by ignoring your physical health.
  11. Step 11 Don't be a downer.
    While the antinatalist philosophy is often considered to be against sentient human life, recognition of the misfortune of having been born does not relegate you to dourness, suffering, complaining, or misery. Antinatalists can be as happy as the next person, yet still recognize that everyone's suffering could be obviated if those people had never been born in the first place. Still, once a person has been born, they may as well make the best of a bad situation. Pursue pleasure for yourself and others, and avoid contributing to suffering.
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  • Abortion can be difficult to access depending on where you live and how old you are, so ensure that you use contraception.
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  • When conversing about antinatalism, most people who are unfamiliar with the philosophy will assume that you must be either depressed or suicidal. You can reassure them that antinatalism is a well-considered philosophy independent of emotional mood.
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