Saturday, October 29, 2016

Natalists need to argue for natalism, not just against antinatalism

In philosophy, practically nothing should be is taken for granted. To do so without proper justification equates to question-begging. This is why many things, such as theology, can be placed under the radar of skepticism. Theologians tend to start with the assumption that so-and-so existed, or that such-and-such text is reliable, or even that the divine actually exists (whatever divinity or existence actually means). Other examples would be common-sense talk of ethics without a proper meta-ethical analysis of what morals and values even are, or naive realist metaphysics without a sufficient epistemological basis. All of these result in an ungrounded framework that is held together only if you accept the premises, which are not justified.

Natalism, for the most part, is one of these question-begging nonsense positions (as are most life-affirming positions anyway). It doesn't take an extended journey in the procreative ethics community to realize this. Some natalists play dress-up and call themselves "anti-antinatalists" - a clear indication of their ungrounded premises. By "refuting" antinatalism, these self-styled anti-antinatalists think they have proven natalism. Yet this natalism is precisely what still needs to be justified!

Almost all the natalist rhetoric I have read depend on this fallacy. They take it for granted that the majority is right, and that the burden of proof is on the antinatalist for everything.

It is correct, of course, that the antinatalist must present arguments for antinatalism. And we have. But this also means that the natalist must present arguments for natalism, not just against antinatalism. For the null position here, for any discussion, is agnosticism, i.e. we are not sure whether or not birth is moral (or recommended or acceptable or whatever).

Say, theoretically, every single antinatalist argument currently available was suddenly refuted by a super smart natalist (a contradiction in terms, ah but I'm just being polemical here...). This does not prove natalism. We start out in the agnostic position; if all antinatalist arguments are shown to be false, we still remain agnostic. For we haven't heard any of the natalist arguments, for natalism, yet! To assert otherwise is to beg the question, i.e. assume natalism as a premise without justification. This is quite literally the same reasoning that agnostic atheists use to sneak in atheism as the "null" position.

In other words, those natalists who think disproving antinatalism justifies natalism are essentially "agnostic natalists" - they don't have any arguments for natalism, yet for some ad hoc reason have adopted it anyway. It's incoherent.

But what do the natalists have in terms of arguments for natalism? Nothing too impressive. Appeals to the majority (I consistently see antinatalism described as being "implausible" to "most of us", even in professional ethics), appeals to emotion ("but I waaaaaant kids!"), rules passed down from religions, or even political enforcement of childbirth. Perhaps the only decent argument for natalism that I have seen is one that bites the bullet of the mere addition paradox and accepts that we should maximize how many people exist. That one at least is grounded in some sort of rational deliberation.

If antinatalists went about the same strategy, would anyone accept antinatalism? Why should appeals to majority or emotion or religion prove anything

In any case, resting one's belief on a refutation of another's is inherently unstable. You are dependent on the contingency that the opposition has no further arguments to present. Ideally, the fact that other people are willing and able to criticize your own beliefs ought to make you realize that you need a better justification for your views, instead of just accepting them as self-evident.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Life: a supremely underwhelming something

Three cheers for life! wooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Life is great, isn't it!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Pleasure and "authentic" pessimism

The reason people matter is because they can feel pain and can suffer. Pain is the most poignant and universal sentient experience; it traps, surrounds, and subjugates the sufferer, rendering them unable to cope. It is the body's enslavement of itself, unleashed to its full potential. The mind becomes captive of its own body. Because of this, pain and suffering forces us into ethical disqualification. We are unable to act ethically when we are suffering - yet we can hardly be blamed for doing so. We must tend to our own wounds, perhaps the only rational self-interested action that is ethically justified.

Yet the apparent polar opposite, pleasure, is quite different. While pain is pressing, pleasure is intoxicating. While pain enforces self-interested action, pleasure teases it. Pain is a need, pleasure is a want. We want to feel pleasure, but if this want becomes to intense it becomes a need, and no longer do we pursue pleasure because we want it but because we need it and will suffer without it.

This means that we need to toss out the idea that life is a mixture of pleasures and pains, as if it's a bag of marbles, some good, some bad. Pleasure is reactive to pain. Although pleasure is not just the subtraction of pain (as deprivationalists erroneously believe), pleasure is nevertheless linked to pain. Pain is a structurally necessary component of life, one that pleasure contingently depends on. One cannot have truly good, pleasurable experiences without eliminating the bad; you must go through the desert before you get to the oasis. Sometimes the oasis justifies the desert, but it nevertheless is the case that the oasis cannot exist without the desert.

But the important aspect I want to focus on here is the captivating nature of pleasure. Pain makes us recognize and confront our existential condition. Pleasure distracts us from it. Just like alcohol and heroin, pleasure in general inebriates us and makes us ethically myopic. As Adorno said, pleasure is maintained by an ignorance of others' suffering. Indeed that seems to be why so many of us eat the flesh of other animals while conveniently ignoring that this is the flesh of a corpse, or how the millionaires and billionaires can hold great banquets and parties and have fun while ignoring the plight of the poor.

From this perspective, pleasure becomes quite suspicious. It is poetically ironic how reflection on this is similar to a hangover, the sober realization that one has wasted so much time and energy on something so shallow and harmful. It makes you want to not do it again ... yet somehow it manages to creep in and pretty sure you find yourself hung over again, wondering how the hell that happened.

Furthermore, the nature of pleasure (and happiness especially) makes it incompatible with a pessimistic thinker. It is not that pleasure refutes pessimism; rather, pleasure makes the pessimist forget why she is a pessimist to begin with. It was, after all, pain and suffering that prompts the pessimistic conclusion, and following the aforementioned Adorno quote, pleasure is maintained, in part, by a ignorance of the plight of others. Pleasure, being an intoxicant, ends up making the pessimist forget that she is a pessimist, because she can hardly feel genuine pleasure (and happiness) if she keeps in mind the reasons she is a pessimist.

In other words, to experience pleasure (and be happy) requires one to not believe in a pessimistic position for the duration of the experience. True, whole pleasure can only be experienced if it is as if pessimism was incorrect. How else could you have a good time, except by minimizing your interaction with reality? And if the pessimist has an accurate depiction of reality (I think she does), how else if she to experience truly pleasurable things if not by setting aside her belief temporarily? How can something be pleasurable if the person experiencing it thinks it ultimately isn't enough to justify her or others' existences as a whole?

This differs from the common, and ill-founded, complaint that pessimists are disingenuous for not committing suicide. It's plain to see that suicide is not generally a realistic, if not preferable, option. It is outside of our control, we can't override our instincts. This is just the tu quo que fallacy - the pessimist may hold that suicide is the best option, but may not actually be able to carry out this task.

Yet it seems that a pessimist who is experiencing true pleasure is indeed being disingenuous, because by experiencing pleasure, she must, for the time being, let go of her pessimistic convictions. She no longer holds the position for the duration of experience. In order to experience true pleasure, one must be in the mind-set that the joy experienced justifies existence, something the sober pessimist would reject. At least I would find it contradictory that a pessimist would say "I couldn't help myself!" - well, clearly you could, you just don't want to. Reality is harsh, and the pessimist should not skirt away from this by distracting herself with pleasures.

That is, after all, why Nietzsche made the distinction between the Dionysian and Apollonian, the happy drunk and the melancholic sober, and is why someone like Schopenhauer is considered a pessimist because he realized that the drunken acceptance of one's fate is transitory and contingent, something that cannot be realized when in such a drunken state. This is why Schopenhauer thought that the aesthetic could "calm the Will" - it does so by getting you to forget that you are a manifestation of the Will (according to Schopenhauer).

Again, the existence of true pleasure does not dent the pessimist's argument. The pessimist would be narrow-minded to not include these experiences. But what the pessimist ought to do, in order to be responsible and consistent, is to reject getting intoxicated, because becoming intoxicated causes someone to lose their convictions regarding the act and content of intoxication to begin with. You can't criticize the feebleness and transitory nature of pleasure if you are actually experiencing pleasure - such criticism must occur in a sober, usually hung over position.

So what is the pessimist to do?

The authentic pessimist, the one that isn't just pessimistic when they don't get what they want, is one who integrates her belief to every aspect of her life, as any authentic person of any substantial belief would do. The authentic pessimist does not sit on the fence or ride the seesaw, sometimes pessimistic, sometimes not. They don't have sober, hangover realizations, because they don't get drunk in the first place.

But like any sort of intoxicant, pleasure can be "consumed" responsibly. You don't have to get drunk to drink alcohol, and you don't have to forget your principles to feel pleasure. The authentic pessimist limits her experience of lofty pleasures to a minimum, constrained by necessity. She should never let her guard down, or allow herself to fully relax and allow the fantasy of a good world comfort her. Comfort should be earned, not administered. The clearest sign that something is wrong (apart from pain, of course), is when the pessimist realizes that she is not slightly anxious or sensitive to reality, which should be a sign that it is time to move on.

The best way of maintaining this almost-Stoic perspective is to continually keep suicide as a possibility, not out of morbid depression but of a way of "anchoring" one to reality. Everyday should the pessimist tell herself that she has the power and perhaps responsibility to see herself out of life. She thus leads a melancholic life of reflection, never depressed nor drunk, and always active. The only reprieve the pessimist has is when she lays her head down to sleep. It is a constant and productive vigilance, a life of meaning and responsibility, which can be enjoyed but only by dipping ones' toe in the water. In other words, the pessimist does fun and exciting things because they're something to do.

This idealist, authentic pessimist may not be possible to achieve, at least not immediately (habits). Perhaps that's just another argument for pessimism - we can identify the cycle of drunken-ness and sobriety and yet never fully escape. Realistically, it seems that everyone psychologically needs illusions. The ideal pessimist may not, in fact, be attainable in the long-term. We are all pleasure-holics. The cycle of ignorance and irresponsibility will continue.

So perhaps the practical authentic pessimist is one who works hard, and ensures that when they inevitably get drunk, they don't fuck up anything major. They make sure their dives into pleasure are limited and safe; although they are dependent on pleasure as much as anyone else is, they can at least be responsible and safe. Nothing extravagant, excessive or manipulating, just the bare minimum required to maintain a steady equilibrium.

The best the practical pessimist can do is to attempt to align their own desires with their ethical responsibilities. Make it so that helping others makes you feel good. Make it so that your pleasure does not significantly harm others. Another option is to have "background pleasure", like music, a comfortable room, or a hot shower, that do not affect others significantly and allow you to enjoy them without being immersed in them. On the opposite spectrum would be the risk-takers, those who enjoy putting themselves in the line of fire in order to fulfill some ethical responsibility. There seems to be no better way of reinforcing pessimistic ideals than by facing a threat head-on. In any case, the practical pessimist would gain more pleasure from the fulfillment of their own ideals than by an administration from some external stimuli. Another option would be to get in the habit of fact-checking (in the same way those who try lucid dreaming do during waking hours), or perhaps getting a small tattoo in a convenient location as a reminder.

Maybe I am asking too much of pessimists like myself. In fact maybe the sobriety during the hang-over is necessary to keep a fresh and strong perspective, i.e. we pursue pleasure when we lose sight of our principles, and a drunken episode of pleasure is necessary to "bounce back". Indeed it does seem to be the case, phenomenologically speaking, that I don't feel nearly as burdened by the existential and ethical nature of our condition when I'm in a LAN party with friends, or when I'm studying for a midterm (not "pleasurable" but certainly a distraction from our condition). Maybe it's just enough to recognize our see-saw nature and not try to pretend like we can control it. Or maybe we should try to relish the irony of it all, so long as we make sure we don't significantly harm anyone else. But ultimately I do think we should only pursue pleasure when we need it, not when we want it. Let the pigs have pleasure, we're better than that. Pleasure should only be administered when one has either earned it or requires a reprieve from life (like a therapy).

In any case it does bother me immensely how contradictory we tend to be - in my case, I have a tendency to become complacent and affirmative when not focusing on our condition. I fundamentally have major issues with life in general, and yet still (require?) seek satisfaction in it. Tempering our expectations may work to help us feel satisfaction - but as soon as we feel satisfied we forget our own origins, like all the pain in the past (and the future too!) and how we had to temper our expectations to begin with. It's a vicious cycle.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Properties: An Introduction

To begin my sublimation series on properties, it is important that I give an introduction to the general terrain.

Underlying our judgment of qualitative similarity and difference, and qualitative nature in general, is the notion that there is something which makes multiple numerically distinct entities qualitatively the same, or similar to, each other. What makes these things resemble each other, as well as make them what they are, are known as properties.

For instance, two blue bouncy balls are similar to each other: they are both blue, bouncy, and round. They are similar in virtue of them both being blue, bouncy, and round - they fulfill a requirement necessary for being similar. And a bowl of chocolate ice cream has certain traits to it: soft, cold, brown, sweet, etc. Soft-ness, cold-ness, brown-ness, and sweet-ness are all properties of the ice cream, just as blue-ness, boucy-ness, and round-ness are properties of the two similar balls.

Properties are often referred to by different names: qualities, traits, ways-of-being, attributes, modes, features, characteristics, types, classes, sets, kinds, tropes, concepts, appearances, et al. Some of these are purely aesthetic names, while others describe a particular ontological claim about properties, usually in regards to the problem of similarity. But all terms are referring to the same issue at hand: the qualitative identity of particulars. And a robust articulation of the nature of properties is essential for any robust, all-encompassing metaphysical theory in general, since certain positions about properties include or preclude certain related metaphysical positions.

Relations hold between particulars, and the same concerns about properties can be applied to relations as well. In fact relations are an important part of the property discussion, as will be seen later.

Propositions are statements that are truth-apt; they can be true or false, depending on what the relevant conditions are for truth and falsity (depending on one's epistemology). They differ from other utterances, like "Waaaah!" or "Excuse you!" because they are meant to refer to some entity or fact, which acts as its truth-maker (in the realist sense).

A propositional statement generally takes the form of subject-predicate notation. The subject refers to the particular entity in question, and the referent refers to something about the particular entity in question. Thus, the classic trope "Socrates is wise" has "Socrates" as its subject, and "is wise" as its referent. Socrates is described as being wise. Thus, being wise, or wisdom, is the property associated with Socrates; Socrates is wise in virtue of having the property of wisdom.

Another important distinction must be made here, that of between particulars and universals, and concreta and abstracta. Both distinctions are common in modern analytic metaphysics, although both have also come under fire as arbitrary or flat-out wrong (where alternatives are presented). For sake of brevity and simplicity I will continue to use these distinctions for the most part, but I will offer a presentation of other views later (mostly because I myself accept some of these alternatives).

The first distinction is between particulars and universals. Particulars can be generally defined as unrepeatable entities, usually existing in one, single spatio-temporal location. The most common analytic term used under the umbrella of particular is an object, also sometimes called a thing, entity, existent, or substance, or, if we’re coming from an alternative view to substance ontology, a process or structure. Again, there is ambiguity to many of these terms and so for simplicity I will use the term “object” unless needed. I will present alternative views to objects in general at a later time when discussing process and naturalistic metaphysics. In any case, an object is what instantiates properties - Socrates is an object, wisdom is a property of the object of Socrates. Universals, on the other hand, can be defined as repeatable entities, or entities that can exist in more than one single spatio-temporal location in virtue of being instantiated by particulars in these locations. It is in this latter entity that the problem of universals emerges: what makes things similar or different, or what gives objects their identities? We’ve already seen that “properties” are general term for whatever it is that makes this association so, but we still have to figure out the nature of properties. Therefore, the problem of universals (excluding Quinean desert theory for now) does not revolve around the existence of properties, but rather the explanation of what properties are. Do universals exist? Or do only particulars exist? Universal realists will uphold the distinction between universals and particulars, and anti-universalists, or “nominalists”, will deny the existence of universals and focus only on particulars. The problem of universals is a classic metaphysical debate, and probably the most important problem related to properties as a whole. It’s also my personal favorite metaphysical problem.

The second distinction is between concreta and abstracta. Concrete things are those that exist in a space-time location. As we’ll see, concrete things are not just everyday objects but potentially immanent universals, or universals that exist in space-time. Abstract things are those that “don’t” exist in a space-time location, and are thus commonly referred to as transcendental. Universals aren’t just the only potential candidate for abstracta; some people argue that abstract particulars can exist as well (such as numbers, or tropes).

An alternative account of concreta and abstracta is the type-token distinction. A type corresponds to an abstracta, and a token corresponds to an object. Thus, an individual zebra is token of the type “zebra”, just as a specific instantiation of red is a token of the type “red”. I am not going to use the type-token distinction unless necessary.

In any case, an ontological account of properties is going to make use of both distinctions, either by affirming them or denying the existence of some parts. Classic Quinean desert theorists are going to be adamantly against the existence of any abstracta whatsoever (however this has not been entirely successful). Trope theorists will deny the existence of universals, both immanent and transcendental, but retain the distinction between abstracta and concreta. While universal realists will accept the existence of universals and particulars, but may not accept the distinction between concreta and abstracta. And both distinctions aren’t set-in-stone, crisp canon - which opens them up to attempts at dissolving the distinctions in the first place.

The following diagram shows how these two distinctions are commonly set up in analytic metaphysics:

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As we’ll see, there are more questions related to properties than the problem of universals. There are questions related to the abundance of properties, the "natural-ness" of properties, our knowledge of properties, the nature of the relationship between properties and objects (theories of object-hood), the nature of the instantiation relation (or similar relations), the role of properties in causality (and the existence of dispositions and quiddities), the relationship between properties and essentialism, the grounding relation of properties, the different kinds of properties (if applicable), and properties under a metaphysical anti-realist framework. The prevalence of property-related question goes to show just how important a coherent framework of properties is for a metaphysical framework in general, and I hope to cover most or all of these topics in future posts.

Every metaphysical theory of properties has its strengths and weaknesses - and most of the time they end up being empirically equivalent, or equivalently useful, at least in the way analytic metaphysics is practiced today (I will address this concern much later). Decisive moves against other competitor metaphysical theories will typically not be claims of incoherence, but rather a lack of coherence with other tangentially-related claims, such as continuity with science, or feasibility within epistemology. I personally do not find theoretical virtues to be reliable indicators of truth, but I also think they can often be used to eliminate outrageous theories. A theory may be internally-consistent, but if it comes across as ad hoc or irrevocably bulky, that is a reason to raise suspicion.

Thus ends the introduction to my series on properties. As I write new posts on property-related issues, I will update this page accordingly to act as a table of contents.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Personal update: status of blog

Currently I am pursuing a degree in electrical and computer engineering, with a minor in philosophy. This means that I am busy as fuck and don't have nearly as much down time as I would prefer. This is a good thing and a bad thing: a good thing because it staves off existential panic and anxiety in general, and a bad thing because it means I can't focus on much of my own personal interests, including philosophy (outside of classwork).

Given this, future updates will likely be inconsistent, not because I'm out of material to write but because I just don't have the time or energy to think about anything outside of classwork. In any rate, the intention of this blog is to put my own thoughts on issues down; not to entertain, but rather to stimulate discussion and solidify my own understanding of these issues.

Despite the lack of time and energy, I do have some tentative plans for future philosophical topics on this blog, such as

  • Defenses of certain meta-ethical positions (to be determined)
  • Metaphysical, ethical, and practical aspects of the artificial intelligence discipline
  • Meta-philosophical analysis of intuitions, such as their ontology and epistemic value
  • Selective metaphysical questions, such as:
    • The problem of universals, and a thorough dismissal of nominalism as incoherent or irrevocably awkward
    • Causation, and a defense of Aristotelian hylomorphic theory (and the theological implications of such)
    • Series on various philosophy of mind positions
  • Practical, Sidgwickean-compromising antinatalism
I am also going to either delete many of my previous posts, or sort them into a "historic" folder by themselves, because I no longer accept what is written in them. Many of the initial entries are cringe-worthingly amateur and reactionary and I don't want them to reflect the current status of my own beliefs.

Additionally, as the above list shows, I am going to try to focus on some topics outside of the antinatalist and pessimist literature. This includes my obsessive episodic posts regarding the asymmetry of David Benatar, whom I respect and admire yet disagree with on a purely formal, but not conclusive, manner. For some reason, Benatar's asymmetry is simultaneously intuitive and unintuitive, and my own efforts to explain why have succeeded in some places but as a whole, failed. It is not healthy for me to devote as much time as I have on these fringe topics, no matter how strong my beliefs are. At some point, I guess, you just have to hang up the coat for a while to let it dry, and come back later with a fresh perspective and attitude. 

I have also considered perhaps creating a YouTube channel and joining the conversation there, although I'm not quite committed to this idea. In my experience, YouTube tends to be an armpit of the internet, more focused on comparing dick sizes than substantial debates, especially within the antinatalist community that resides there. I'm not sure how much I have actually gained by watching the more popular antinatalist's videos. I've already had poor experiences with others in the blogsphere; I don't know if I want to extend this to YouTube. The last thing I want is to get embroiled in some ad hominem chauvinistic pissing contest and leave with a sour taste in my mouth.

I guess that's it.

Monday, October 3, 2016

What are the consequences of antinatalism?

Not including, of course, the elimination of the whole "birth" thing.

If antinatalism, then what? I'm not just talking about the theoretical implications of a political institutionalization of antinatalism. I'm also referring to the practical life choices an antinatalist faces.

This is perhaps the one single thing I have been consistently disappointed in when reading pessimistic/antinatalistic literature (at least the stuff I have read) - there's a whole lot spent on the tragedy of life, but very little is spent on how to either fix this, or eliminate the problem. The authors seem content with pointing out the flaws, then sitting back and smoking their pipe. Like, okay, interesting ideas, but how are we gonna implement these? How do we even continue to live our own lives if we accept your ideas? Schopenhauer pointed out how the pain of the prey always outweighs the pleasure of the predator - yet he did nothing about it. Meanwhile the prey continued to feel extreme pain at the maw of the predator. How is this not compelling?! How do you, on one hand, criticize something like life in such a penetrating fashion, yet not do anything about it?! So, under an antinatalist view:

What happens to the typical nuclear family unit? Is there still a relationship between parents and children? What about child-rights? Are children entitled to compensation for being born into the world against their will? How far does this compensation extend? Should they be allowed retribution or justice if they want? Certainly that would stop birth pretty damn quickly, if retribution on the parents by the children was legalized, whether that be by economic compensation or even execution (some folks over at the antinatalism subreddit seem to want to right to murder their parents out of vengeance...yikes?). Is this too extreme of a view, or is it justified, considering birth is a one-way ticket to death? Are parents murdering their children, and if so, ought they be punished?

Does it make sense to love your biological mother and father despite being an antinatalist? Personally speaking, I have a decent relationship with my biological parents. I oftentimes wish I hadn't been born (although I have had some pretty awesome moments in the past, as well as some really, really traumatic and shitty experiences: came close to drowning several times, went through a horrible school shooting, have uncontrollable panic attacks, was accidentally poisoned once...). But I don't hate my parents, in fact I usually enjoy visiting them when I do. Parents are, after all, just kids having kids (to quote Rick and Morty). But should I hate them? Am I being coherent by being an antinatalist yet not cutting ties with my parents? What about other parents, should I hate them for having children?

What should the public face of antinatalism be? A cursory look at the antinatalist literature reveals a quite dark and depressing series of ideas. Can antinatalism ever be not-depressing? How else can we argue for antinatalism in a penetrating fashion other than by pointing out how much life sucks?

What about the environment and biology in general? Personally I don't really care too much about the environment, especially since it harbors so much useless suffering. From what I can see, the difference between antinatalism and efilism is one of scope - do we only focus on human reproduction or all reproduction?

Certainly I don't approve of current agriculture and the processing of animals as if they were simply slabs of meat to be eaten and not feeling, sentient creatures capable of suffering and having future interests. Antinatalism without veganism/vegetarianism is, at least to me, quite strange and difficult to justify; veganism/vegetarianism without antinatalism even more so.

So much of society seems to be held together by the promise of a future continued by our children - we go to Mars for our children, we fight global warming for our children, we fight wars for our children, we write educational textbooks for the next generation of learners, we fund schools, universities, and other forms of educational systems for the future generation, we upkeep parks and recreational facilities so parents and children can have fun together, etc. The list is almost limitless. The promise of a future after we die is what keeps us sane as a collective. We pass the torch to the next courageous wielders, yada-yada.

Is it moral to indirectly support a society that itself supports birth, by means of being involved in the economic process? Does political inactivity equate to support, similar to the doing/allowing distinction? What if some of my favorite music artists have children - should I still listen to their music? Just as feminists today tell us not to support stuff that is oppressive to women, should antinatalists not support stuff that supports or advocates birth?

What will happen to the sexual and gender images, in particular, that of women? Many cultures prize women on their ability to bear children - what will the fallout be if this image is discarded? How difficult will it be to create a new image for women, especially since most women (at least on the surface) seem to enjoy this image anyway?

Religion is gonna be a goner - or is it? Aren't some philosophical views quasi-religious in some sense? Just look at the mythological character of The Last Messiah in Peter Zapffe's eponymous essay: it's quite literally an apocalyptic religious narrative. Religions already are derivative death-cults; with the relevance and prevalence of death in pessimistic literature, is it not plausible that an antinatalist or an antinatalist society would adopt a death-oriented outlook? Indeed, antinatalism does seem to succeed in tearing down the Manifest Image of man - how do we survive this?

This is only scratching the surface. For myself at least, I feel like quite the contradiction, indeed, for some time now. On one hand I can't submerge myself in society's illusions and don't approve of many of its practices. On the other hand, I'm not sure if I would particularly like to live in a society that accepted everything I do. It's like some of my convictions, in particular antinatalism, can only ever be idealism.

Maybe that's why so many pessimists were/are misanthropes. They didn't have to worry too much about this stuff, because they didn't care what happened to others. They could/can sit comfortably in their cushioned chairs, writing whatever they had to write, yet in the end not give a damn whether it was implemented or not. In which case, their writing becomes more like therapy than advocation. They write to themselves, not to others.

But that's just it: it's easy to criticize and pretend that your string of words is actually doing something productive. But it's hard to practice what you preach. And I'm struggling with the latter.