Born under a bad sign: On the dark rhetoric of antinatalism

Paper by Brian Zager, published on May 1, 2018 in Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication

Offering a pointed response to the perennial question of being, those sympathetic to the philosophical posture of antinatalism proclaim the suffering of the world does not ultimately justify bringing life into it, consequently advancing a moral stance towards procreation. As this particular topic of conversation is unlikely to curry favor with a majority of interlocutors, the antinatalist-as-rhetor faces a seemingly Sisyphean task in issuing a harsh alternative to the more pervasive narrative espousing birth as an occasion for celebration. Cautious to dismiss antinatalism as simply a profane social discourse, I first consider its communicative import as type of tragic rhetoric which identifies birth as a phenomenological disaster that warrants more critical appraisal. Additionally, I examine the utility of embracing a performative writing style to explore this topic insofar as it adds rhetorical dimension to the attempt at communicating the horrors of existence.