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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Antinatalism is the philosophical position that asserts a negative value judgment towards birth. It has been advanced by figures such as Sophocles, Arthur Schopenhauer, Heinrich Heine, Emil Cioran, Brother Theodore, Peter Zapffe, Philipp Mainländer, Gustave Flaubert, David Benatar and Thomas Ligotti.

Sophocles wrote in his Oedipus at Colonus:

"It is best not to have been born at all: but, if born, as quickly as possible to return whence one came."

Heinrich Heine, who spent the last eight years of his life paralyzed, partly blind and heavily sedated on his “mattress grave” (death bed), said:

"Sleep is lovely, death is better still, not to have been born is of course the miracle."

Gustave Flaubert wrote:

"The idea of bringing someone into this world fills me with horror...May my flesh perish utterly! May I never transmit to anyone the boredom and ignominies of existence!"

Schopenhauer, in his essay On the Suffering of the World articulates the position as follows:

"If the act of procreation were neither the outcome of a desire nor accompanied by feelings of pleasure, but a matter to be decided on the basis of purely rational considerations, is it likely the human race would still exist? Would each of us not rather have felt so much pity for the coming generation as to prefer to spare it the burden of existence, or at least not wish to take it upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold blood?"

Similarly, David Benatar argues from the hedonistic premise that the infliction of harm is generally morally wrong and therefore to be avoided, and the intuition that the birth of a new person always entails nontrivial harm to that person, that there exists a moral imperative not to procreate.

The unorthodox Biblical writer Qohelet maintains:

I further observed all the oppression that goes under the sun: the tears of the oppressed, with none to comfort them; and the power of their oppressors—with none to comfort them. Then I accounted those who died long since more fortunate than those who are still living; and happier than either are those who have not yet come into being and have never witnessed the miseries that go under the sun.

See also

See also

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