Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Sunday, May 7, 2017

WTF?

I have to confess that blogging is weird.  It has its pleasures, but from time to time the conversation here takes a genuinely strange turn.  Anti-natalism?  Seriously?  With all the challenges that face us, with the disaster that is American politics, with the signs, at long last, of a grassroots progressive surge, we are talking aboiut anti-natalism?

Look, far be it from me to stifle discussion.  When you are done, I will go on talking about the world.

11 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

I'm not a philosopher and I have no interest in anti-natalism. However, I have seen the subject discussed previously in philosophy blogs among professional philosophers.

You, Professor Wolff, are retired and you have chosen, wisely and generously, to dedicate your time to leftwing political issues, but I suspect that back when you were working as an academic philosopher, you too discussed whatever issues your academic philosopher colleagues were talking about with them.

Chris said...

Let me defend the discussion. David Benatar's book on anti-natalism, Better Never to Have Been, is new. And it has generated A LOT of controversy among practicing applied ethicists. The amount of publications defending and criticizing it are staggering. Moreover, his book is responsible for 1) actually making 'anti-natalism' a coined term in philosophy now and 2) providing a systematic argument in favor of it, that isn't directly tied to the pessimism of a Schopenhauer, Sophocles, or Shakespearian tragedy.

I teach it often because it's such a powerful and iron clad argument that really forces students to think about the ethics of procreation. Most people just take it for granted that procreation is fine, but shouldn't we at least have a discussion about it?*


*Maybe not on this blog, but in general.

Chris said...

By the way, I have no intentions of quelling your talking about the world, hence why I visit the blog everyday and read your take on the worldly affairs everyday. But:

"With all the challenges that face us, with the disaster that is American politics, with the signs, at long last, of a grassroots progressive surge, we are talking aboiut anti-natalism?"

If we were anti-natalists, these challenges would soon not face us ;)
Only those that exist face challenges.

I. M. Flaud said...

It could be worse: we could broach the Hypatia affair (which hasn't suffered for lack of discussion), and I could advance the really intellectually unserious argument that as long as we're talking about marginalized voices, we might admit that insisting on expertise in the areas relevant to the controversy marginalizes the unpublished.

Chris said...

hahahaha

LP said...

I was leaning against having kids even before Trump was elected, but his election sealed it.

The world is changing rapidly, and great challenges are ahead of us--threats of nuclear war (or conventional war), climate disaster, political and social instability, vast economic upheaval (and rising inequality), autocracy, etc.

I have no confidence in my fellow human beings to handle these challenges. We just elected Donald Trump after all. And look at poor Venezuela. Maybe we will get lucky and the robots will save us. Probably not.

I have no wish to subject another person to the horrors that await us.


TheDudeDiogenes said...

An episode of the podcast "Very Bad Wizards" that I listened to recently (a psychologist and philosopher talking about issues in ethics and science) discussed Benatar's book on anti-natalism. I am, emotionally, an anti-natalist, even though I don't think the arguments in its favor are decisive. I will never bring children into this world that is fucked up beyond belief.

I think that is the Nietzsche in me coming through. The Camus in me is far more concerned with Right Wing politics rising in the US and Europe.

I. M. Flaud said...

I'm looking for ex post justification myself. "It has gradually become clear to me what every great philosophy up till now has consisted of--namely, the confession of its originator, and a species of involuntary and unconscious auto-biography; and moreover that the moral (or immoral) purpose in every philosophy has constituted the true vital germ out of which the entire plant has always grown" -- "... who said that?" Beckett, Waiting for Godot, (1.32).

TheDudeDiogenes said...

I.M., perhaps you're making a joke that I simply don't get (and if so, apologies for my literalism), but that's Nietzsche, from Beyond Good and Evil, and I cannot find it quoted anywhere in Waiting for Godot.

Jerry Fresia said...

I'm lost.

I. M. Flaud said...

My apologies. The quote is obviously Nietzsche. At (1:32) in Beckett's play, Vladimir says, "...Hope deferred maketh the something sick, who said that?", which refers to Proverbs 13:12. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." Well, the desire doesn't just cometh, it gets fulfilled, but that's the KJV for you.

As for anti-natalism, I should explain. Prof Wolff's argument with his television was so strong that it was the best counterargument I could come up with. Admittedly pathetic, but seekers of the truth should nevertheless pursue ideas wherever they may lead...except possibly on other people's blogs.