Morality’s Collapse: Antinatalism, Transhumanism and the Future of Humankind

Paper by Jeroen Robbert Zandbergen, published on December 9, 2021 in Journal of Ethics and Emerging Technologies

In the present work I explore the unignorably momentous responsibility of contemporary philosophy to conclude the project of humanism as inherited from Enlightenment-era thinking. I argue that there are presently two avenues open to us. On the one hand there is antinatalism, according to which humankind must be gestured towards self-imposed extinction and thereby overcome. On the other hand, there is transhumanism which inspires the hope that we may transcend any limitations to our being and flourish as a result of radical enhancement, thereby also overcoming humankind. On both accounts, the ‘human’ is something to be overcome, either negatively (antinatalism) or positively (transhumanism). As both have a common ancestor in radical Enlightenment-era humanism, this choice between radical resignation and affirmation becomes all the more pertinent now that we find ourselves in modernity’s wake and in the ruins of morality’s collapse.

Wailing from the heights of velleity: A strong case for antinatalism in these trying times

Paper by Jeroen Robbert Zandbergen, published on March 12, 2021 in South African Journal of Philosophy

The twenty-first century is teeming with larger-than-life threats to our larger-than-life existence, such as famine, war, natural disasters and climate change, viruses, incurable disease, etc. At stake is the future of the human species as a whole. But it is not just external threats that herald the prospective end of humanity. We also face the general exhaustion of many of our earlier and more comfortable modes of philosophy. This is arguably a much graver threat. It is this gloomy atmosphere that the philosophy of antinatalism taps into. Antinatalism is the philosophical view according to which human reproduction should be brought to a halt for any of a variety of reasons. It will be argued here, however, that we can only come to the antinatalist conclusion when we affirm that humankind (somehow) represents a very persistent anomaly in the universe at large. Otherwise, we could simply resort to (much) less radical steps than the ones advocated by antinatalism. Based on this, an important distinction will be made between reactionary (or activist) antinatalism and its more philosophical, so-called originary, counterpart. Ultimately, against recent attempts that push for a moderate embrace of antinatalism, the present work makes a strong case for it. It is argued that this is warranted by the very writings most usually associated with this radical philosophical position.

Between Iron Skies and Copper Earth: Antinatalism and the Death of God

Paper by Jeroen Robbert Zandbergen, published on December 17, 2020 in Zygon

The proclamation of the death of God came at a pivotal time in the history of humankind. It far transcended the concerns of the religious faithful and dented the entire fabric of human existence. Left to its own devices, humans intended their consciousness to replace God's. This proved to be a terrible mistake that collapsed the entire modern project. One of the worldviews that emerged in the wake of this eruption was antinatalism, which refers to the conviction that human reproduction should be brought to an absolute halt. This is the most modern outgrowth of the death of God and represents the most radical face of secular humanism. In spite of the admittedly dark fumes that leak out from the term ‘antinatalism’, this philosophical position emerges quite naturally when we consider the depletion of our traditional sources of philosophical enquiry.