Antinatalism Hall of Fame

Welcome to the “official” Hall of Fame of Antinatalism.
This is a humorous way of giving a pedestal tribute to people we feel deserves to be seen as important when it comes to origin, influence and evolvement in what we broadly call antinatalism. This can be seen as a bit of a guide as well.

Every installment in this gallery includes a personal text, links to their works and an exclusive portrait. All drawings has been drawn by Stein-Christian Fagerbakken.

Peter Wessel Zapffe

Peter Wessel Zapffe

Peter Wessel Zapffe (1899-1990) was a famous norwegian philosopher, multi artist and mountaineer from Tromsø in Norway. Zapffe had some of the most pessimistic ideas around, claiming human conscioussness was a tragedy. His book Om Det Tragiske (1941) is about the claim that all kinds of happiness is just defensemechanisms from seeing how horrible nature really is. He thought humanity should cease to be.

He was paradoxically also one of Norways most famous comedians of his generation, especially known all around Norway for his humorbook Vett og Uvett (1942), which has been played to full theatre audiences (your grandmother has probably laughed at it). He was a close friend of philosopher Arne Næss, was married twice and lived a long active life, but refused to ever have children.

“A coin is turned around before it is handed to the beggar, yet a child is unflinchingly tossed into cosmic bruteness.” 

David Benatar

David Benatar

David Benatar (birth unknown – still alive) is a professor in philosophy at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is the inventor of the term ‘antinatalism’, which he presented in his infamous book Better Not To Have Been – The Harm Of Coming Into Existence (2008). He argues that coming into existence is always a harm, and that it is morally wrong to create more human beings.

His book started a wave of debates and caused a lot of confused and puzzled minds. It also inspired a lot of followers and communties dedicated to antinatalism, and endless plans about how to make a world without humans. There’s no known picture of Benatar, and he is considered somewhat of a mystery.

Jim Crawford

Jim Crawford

Jim Crawford 
(birth unknown – still alive) is a poet, an author, internet personality and a residing cook somewhere in USA. He is probably most known for his infamous book Confessions of an Antinatalist (2012), where he tells about what it means to be an antinatalist and defends the position against common misconceptions and criticisms. He also runs the biggest antinatalism blog on the web and likes long cigarettes.

Jim has two daughters, which in his own words admittedly makes him somewhat of a hypocrite, although someone who didn’t know better at the time. He dedicates the book to them, and writes a sorry note to them in the preface of the book.

Arthur Schopenhauer 

Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was a classical german existensialist philosopher living and working in the 1800s, a long time before the antinatalism term was invented, but he was talking about the same thing and is seen a father figure of the movement. Schopenhauer is traditionally known to be the grandfather of Pessimism. He is widely known for his excellent grumpy witty charm!

He has been very influential in philosophy, to people like Fredrich Nietzsche, but has actually been even more influential in art, like painting and literature.

“Life is a business that does not cover the costs.”

Herman Tønnesen

Herman Tønnessen

Herman Tønnessen (1918-2001) was a professor in philosophy in California and later in Canada. Tønnessen was a close friend of Peter Wessel Zapffe, and envied Zapffe’s pessimism all his life and tried as good as he could to out-Zapffe him.

He’s infamous for his quote “Happiness is for pigs, I choose the truth.” (“Lykke er for griser. Jeg velger sannheten.”) which was also to become the title of a book by Herman Tønnessen and Peter Wessel Zapffe which consists only of a lengthy discussion between the two. Tønnessen was also described as a very energetic, funny, loudmouthed and someone known for doing impulsive and strange things. Like once while waiting impatiently for dinner in a resturant started doing gymnastics by hanging from the beams of the roof, accidently making the ceiling crash down.

Les U. Knight

Les U Knight

Les U. Knight  (birth unknown – still alive) is the founder of the antinatalistic organization The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. This organization is a different breed of antinatalists in the sense that they’re more environmentally concerned and like to picture a world without any humans corrupting, polluting and destroying the planet.

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“May we live long and die out!” is the VHEMT slogan.

Emil Cioran

Emil Cioran

Emil Cioran (1911-1995) was an existensialist philosopher from Romania, as well as an author who wrote books in french that reflected a radical skepticism and melancholic worldview about reality and existence. He usually wrote in poetry.

His most antinatalistic book The Trouble Of Being Born (1973) as well as most of his books are very celebrated and he almost gained a “rock star”-like status in Romania.

“Trees are massacred, houses go up — faces, faces everywhere. Man is spreading. Man is the cancer of the earth.”

Gary Inmendham

G. Inmendham

Gary Inmendham (birth unknown – still alive)
Gary is his actual name, while Inmendham is his nickname online originally based on the fact that that he’s residing “in Mendham”, in New Jersey, USA.

Gary can be considered the bad boy of antinatalism, as he’s quite infamous for his emotionally charged angry and assertive rants! He has over the years steadily attracted quite a following on the internet (as well as enemies!) through his dark pessimistic view of life, his mysterious background and reclusive lifestyle.
Anybody who disagrees with him can be expected to be shouted down.

He is the originator of the term Efilism. Efil is “life” backwards. Efilism is considered to be a more aggressive form of antinatalism, preaching for the extinction of absolutely all life.

Thomas Ligotti 

Thomas Ligotti

Thomas Ligotti (1953- still alive) is a contemporary american cult author of existential horror literature. He debuted in 1985 with the short story collection Songs Of A Dead Dreamer, and has written many horror books since then. Ligotti is inspired by authors like H. P. Lovecraft and underground horror. He writes with very dark themes that seems to claim that reality itself is the real horror story.

In his first non-fiction book The Conspiracy Against the Human Race (2010) he writes for the first time in length about his view of life and reality, which interestingly enough is often referred to, inspired by and even dedicated to norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zapffe.

Kirk Neville 

Derived Energy

Kirk Neville
(birth unknown – 2013) is on the internet known as Derived Energy. He is a teacher from England, and an internet personality who has been very active making many videos on youtube promoting antinatalism and the argument that the human race should ideally go out of business. He died in 2013 due to tragic circumstances.

 

 

70 Responses to Antinatalism Hall of Fame

    Sleazy Nihilist says:

    All these genious have understood everything about the meaning of life.
    Especiallly Emil Cioran!!!
    Thanks for this great Hall of Fame!

  1. Did Tønnesen really hold the view that coming into existence is a harm? And/or that it is wrong to procreate?

    In the last paragraph of his paper “Happiness is for the Pigs” (1966) he prods: “Man, let’s go on – not because we have a mission in the world, not because it makes us happy or proud, but merely because we are different. We are accidentally thrown into this world as its sole principle of uncertainty [on the macroscopic level].”

    Also, at http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?t=7327 he is reported to speak in rather conditional terms: “If we can’t genetically fix our nature I agree with Zapffe. To leave world to a deserted behind is better than to continue this grotesque carousel of procreation.” Note the “If” at the beginning.

    • Thanks for the comment. I’m a quite big Tønnessen fan. When he was added to this “hall of fame” the only thing I knew was that he agreed with Zapffe on most things and by rumour an antinatalist, but after reading his stuff(and seeing TV-programs), its true that he saw the the idea of normal antinatalism(like we know it from Benatar, Zapffe, Ligotti, etc) as a second option. In the sense of going extinct, at least. He was more some kind of very early transhumanist, although he was sympathetic to Zapffe’s views. He believed that with the right use of genetics and science, humans could erase suffering, aging and even death, and only die if we chose to. Which he defended.

      Still, even as a transhumanist he still saw procreating as a negative. He found the cycle of procreating/death/procreating/death to be “wasteful”. (Like resetting everything every generation.) He would rather have the same humans live on forever, or as long as they’d like. He has even implied, controversially to even Tønnessen fans, that he would even stop sex, as he found it a primitive feature of our nature. So in a sense he was a transhumanist antinatalist, if that makes any sense.

      • Thanks, Andreas!

        Could you please tell me where exactly did Tønnessen say that he would even stop sex, as he found it a primitive feature of our nature?

        • Vlastimil,
          He said so in a TV-program aired in 1985 on Norwegian broadcasting (NRK), on a feature on him on a program-series called Livvsyn Uten Kirke(translates to “View Of life without the church”).

          “We have to stop this crazy procreation-carousel.. being born, die, being born, die, being born and so on. All of that we must get rid off.” The host asks if we should stop to procreate then. “Yes, yes. Stop to procreate, stop having sex, copulate, masturbate, and all of that disgusting nonsense.”

          This was said in the context of an ideal future genetic human that wouldn’t age, die, etc. It should be noted that he did have kids himself. He claimed in another interview that he had “robbed nature” by having kids, but insisted that it would have been worse if the children was planned.

  2. A couple of people I’d like to nominate to be put on this list
    – Fernando Vallejo : famous for this speech he gave https://youtu.be/ShGUySxb5nU
    – Rust Cohl : fictional character who’s an antinatalist in True Detective and I’m sure a lot of people learned about antinatalism thanks to this show (or maybe I should nominate the writer of the show…)

    • Hey Riverhead, thanks for your nominees to the Antinatalism Hall Of Fame. I didn’t know about Fernando Vallejo. That was indeed a strong speech. Thanks for that.

      As for Rust Cohle it is a bit difficult. Reactions from those who adheres to antinatalism has been very mixed. Some like him, some don’t. I wouldn’t have problems adding a fictional character, per say, so it is not that, and granted, he probably is one of the first fictional characters that is based directly on antinatalism. That in itself is interesting. It might be true that some people learnt about antinatalism through the show. But there is a problem. As far as I understand, the series ends in a way where Rust has a ever so slightly change of heart about his worldview. I also know scriptwriter Niz Pizzolatti does not agree with antinatalism, so that shouldn’t be too surprising. Pizzolatti for some odd reason lumps together antinatalism and nihilism(along with alcoholism and some violent behavior) and attempts to make it a revealing story-arc that Rust is not in really a nihilist, since he cares about certain stuff. Rust just mistakingly think he is a nihilist, and therefore he is neither an antinatalist, since Pizzolatti does not seem to seperate nihilism and antinatalism. Instead Rust was simply a man who lost his daughter and feels a lot of guilt. According to the arc of the story his antinatalist views was most likely just a strong emotional response to that. His views starts to evoporate as he comes to term with the past. Pizzolatti does portray this in a quite subtle and not entirely disrespecful way, as I’ve seen worse ways of psychoanalyzing people who agrees with antinatalism, but it is still a bit disappointing. It could even be argued that Rust Cohle is even an attempt to challenge antinatalism. So it would probably be wrong to put Rust in the Hall of Fame.

      David Benatar wrote an article on Rust Cohle I would recommend.

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