Disclaimer: It is not possible to ask for Thiago’s permission to translate this chapter into English (sadly, he ended his own life in 2015). However, Cabrera (who knew Thiago personally and was a co-author of this book) informed me that Thiago would certainly wish to see his chapter translated, and Thiago’s channel on Youtube contains a video about this book in English, which seems to me to clearly indicate that he wanted to share this message with the English speaking community as well.
With that said, please enjoy.
CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT THE DECISION TO CREATE A NEW BEING (FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW)
Thiago di Diabolis, 2120
This is the likely final version of my text, “Considerations about the decision to create a new being.” It contains a line of thought developed over many years. The considerations published here are faithful reproductions of these thoughts, and are the result of very mature and well-defined reflections, even though they come from a young author.
This work is ideally intended for people who are starting the decision-making process of creating a new being, or who are not yet going through it, but who have already begun to reflect, to think about the issue. It is preferentially destined (perhaps uselessly) to people in the “public square,” and also to philosophers, in the more general sense of the term, not specifically to philosophy professionals, because it is not a technical text, but to a diversified audience with certain philosophical traits. Therefore, I invite you to consider broadly what can be experienced (and what will be experienced) by each party involved, what are the consequences of the procreative act, as well as its possibilities.
The approach presented here is somewhat unusual, since it adopts as a main reference the perspective of the new being and not that of the parents, for reasons that will be explained and understood throughout the development of the issues.
This text is constituted by the exposition of ideas and thoughts related to procreation, without worrying about quotations and references to other thinkers, trying to faithfully reproduce the author’s own thought, although at some aspects it may be similar to what was already presented by other thinkers. It is directed to everyone, not needing to be situated in certain “regions of thought” with particular presuppositions. The objective is to have a small number of assumptions here, so that as many people as possible can understand and recognize the possibilities raised, the necessities mentioned, without great effort or commitment to a particular frame of thought or belief.
It is important to highlight that the exposition occurs in a movement that starts from a more general frame of thought (first part) to a more specific one (second part), in a flow in which the levels of seriousness and commitment to the considerations about procreation increase sequentially so that each reader can follow this movement until it reaches its peak.I consider this work to be of utmost importance, especially, I would say, for the new being, and should really be seriously read and re-read by all who are thinking in procreating, because since it is a very frequent, old and extremely trivialized act (the moment the reader finishes reading this paragraph, more than ten new beings were created by the world average), the true dimension of this tremendous act is lost and its non-trivial nature is hidden. In this work, this nature is elucidated and the implications of the procreative act are broadly observed, helping (so I hope) in an enlightened decision-making, to understand everything that is involved with the act of creating a new being.
It seems to be common for cautious authors to wait until reaching far more advanced ages to make their favorite publications, perhaps in order to “digest” their ideas well, to express themselves more pompously, and to avoid later changes in their works. Considering this, I will not be so cautious (though I have already thought about it about ten years ago): I will not wait more to publish this little work, going through risks.
Such caution could be useful for a better elaboration of the text, but could also determine a non-publication of it. I cannot trust that some time from now the opportunity will still exist, neither with myself nor with so many other things. I can only count on something that has always floated through the air, a kind of miasma, a painful omen, which can become ataraxic at any moment.
I cannot take for granted what is, certainly, doubtful: that I will be able to do this work some time from now. I have no time, we never have, we are already dead and we can do nothing about it.
A RAW CONSIDERATION ABOUT PATERNAL AND MATERNAL RESPONSIBILITIES (“IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, THEN KILL YOURSELF”)
Warning: non-tautological exposition of tautologies
This section intentionally makes a number of considerations that may seem trivial. Before the reader shudders at them it is worth noting that, as a result of various concealment mechanisms present in the common sense social imaginary, one must be reminded even of such obvious and commonplace things. Therefore, I ask the reader to intelligently read these ordinary considerations, because within the routing of the text they fulfill a function, ultimately showing their tremendous relevance.
1. Everything seems to point in the same direction
When two people decide to “have a child” (to create a new being, another person), they are often motivated by the idea that it is also pleasurable to them, even if it implies a lot of work for them. They seek to procreate in order to have a “personal fulfillment,” because it is often the accomplishment of a project, and even a dream, such as the desire to experience motherhood and fatherhood, the expectation of giving some continuity to themselves and to those close to them, or the desire to form a family with children.
Not to mention that parents’ projection of narcissism onto their children often occurs (which could be characterized as a psychic motivation). There are people who even feel more “complete” (at some stage in their lives) by having children and by creating a product of a rewarding relationship.
This act also fits nobly in religious worldviews, in addition to being broadly characterized, socially, as a habit that has long been maintained and valued, and whose continuity is highly stimulated. Conception also has an obvious association with activities of intense immediate sexual pleasure, which constitutes a kind of very positive reinforcement, a “prize” of such activity.There is also usually a more specific social pressure to procreate, for the more complete compatibility of individuals in the community, also from people close to us
(friends, relatives), and even from one of the couple’s members (“when will we have our child?”).
Observed from the point of view of the parents, this would be a very interesting choice, because why not pursue something that, besides being pleasant, is also the accomplishment of a dream or a project? Why not give in to the “charms” (psychic tendencies) and “forces” (physical apparatuses) that lead us to procreation?
2. Thoughtless and insensitive consideration versus thoughtful and sensitive consideration
If observed solely and exclusively from the perspective of those who make the decision to have a child, and if these individuals tend to yield to these natural charms and forces (or even simply do so without properly taking a “decision”), being motivated by the elements mentioned and disregarding others, there is no reason not to procreate, no reason not to reproduce.
However, in a more thoughtful and more sensitive consideration, certain concerns arise both with the actions taken and with their effects on the other involved. These concerns about the procreative behavior may begin to define a new type of behavior, which includes reflecting on the action taken or the action to be taken, thinking about its implications, considering the possibilities and perspectives involved, and then deciding how far to give in, but especially where not to give in to the aforementioned tendencies.
This new type of behavior stands in contrast to the usual behavior which is thoughtless and insensitive, yields unconditionally to the natural impulses and even the most elaborate desires (socially, for example), and uses this as an exemption from responsibility and to totally disregard other parts of our humanity, such as our rationality and sensitivity. (A position of general rejection of natural impulses is not advocated here, but a rational and sensitive consideration of its implications is proposed only in the particular case of the natural impulse to procreate.)
3. Thoughtful and sensitive attitude towards procreation
In the present text, a thoughtful and sensitive consideration will be adopted in relation to procreation, pointing to the concerns mentioned with the procreative act, to define an informed, aware, responsible, rationally and sensitively based behavior. It should be remembered that the act of “having a child” is in itself the creation of a new being, a new individual, a new someone (person), the creation of a conscious, rational and sentient life, or that will be walking towards that stage and will arrive there if there are no impediments. It begins, therefore, the consideration that although for many people the act of “having a child” is something that gives pleasure(s), satisfies need(s) and/or brings about accomplishment(s) one should think about who will be involved in this circumstance, who are the parties involved, and what will be experienced by each party, and not only by the parents.
4. Parties involved and the three moments of reference (X1, X2, X3)
There are thus three parties involved in the act of procreation: mother and father (initially) and child (later). Moreover, there are also three moments in this act:
Moment X1: This moment is considered to be “existential” in relation to the parents and “pre-existential” in relation to the child (therefore, prior to his existence).
The mother and father already exist and therefore have a physical apparatus developed (brain) and are able to consider the issue of birth consciously, to reason about the aspects involved and to make a decision. Observe that one can make the decision without consciously considering the issue and without reasoning about all the aspects involved (which, in fact, seems to be very common), but at least there is the possibility of making these types of consideration, since the physical apparatus is available for this.
The child, however, does not exist in X1. They have therefore no (cerebral) physical apparatus or any other to consider the issue, there is no consciousness, there is no reasoning, there is no decision-making. If such a tool is not available, it is absolutely impossible that there be any awareness or choice about the issue by the new being¹.
Moment X2: This moment is considered as the beginning of the existence of the child. From this point onwards, there will occur a series of processes of development of the new created individual.
Moment X3: This moment is considered as one in which the individual who was before in development is already developed.
1: In the description made here, one observes the tendency for the causal closure of the physical world, not adopting, therefore, supernatural and/or religious elements. This closure is in fact being adopted for the beginning of our considerations. If the reader feels some discomfort with this element, it is enough to wait for a later consideration that takes into account religious points of view. Until then, consider that this natural referential is the one adopted.
Several years later, therefore, after the series of processes of development of the individual, he himself will have the same characteristics that the father and the mother had at the moment X1 (boldly assuming that when they had the child these were already developed!), that is, a physical apparatus (brain), consciousness and reasoning. At this point the child can make decisions that they can justify, ground and defend.
When these three moments are observed, it is clear that the decision of procreation was limited only to the mother and father of the child, since the child did not participate in the process of choice about their own coming into existence (which occurred at the moment X1). It is impossible for the child to give their opinion about whether they would like to exist or not, as well as to know about the conditions of existence (because even at the moment when the child comes into existence—moment X2—they do not have the necessary conditions for any reflective act, which will only happen in X3, several years later). (Important trivialities to remember.)
Therefore, due to the fact that the choice has been made exclusively by the father and the mother (the only ones potentially aware, from the moment X1 until the moment X3), existence comes to the child as an obligation², an imposition, a bestowal (which can also only be perceived by the child several years later, from X3 onwards).
Those responsible for this obligation, imposition or bestowal are the father and the mother, because they have created this child, this person, this new being who walks into a conscious, rational and sentient life (a condition that will be fully updated in X3). This condition of obligation is an important feature of life, regardless of how long it lasts. But it can be said that once the new being is created, they will also be forced to live for several years, from the moment X2 until (minimally) the moment X3.
2: It should be avoided that the terms “obliging,” “imposing,” and “bestowing” be understood as characterizing the pre-existence of any part of the child, which would then be forced into existence in another way, in fact, from moment X2 forward; it is nothing like that. But it would be reasonable to assert, by ordinary verbal transitivity, that one who imposes an obligation, forces someone into something, and that it is not possible to force someone who does not exist into anything (and thus characterize a kind of pre-existence of that someone for them to be forced into something). The use of these terms was only to elucidate the difference between something that the individual decides for himself and something that someone decides for the individual (even without his knowledge), and the latter is what was called “obliged,” “imposed,” “bestowed.”
Such a language trap happens because the two verbal objects (someone, life) are intimately connected elements, and the verb (“to force”), in a strict consideration, could only be used from the confirmation of the existence of both. But all this occurs at the same time, that is, the “obligation,” “someone,” and “life.” In this way, it would be more appropriate in all occasions to use the expression “force someone” or simply “force,” without putting other verbal objects (such as “someone” and “life”), and with the sense of “creating someone.” However, in this case one would have the impression that there are missing complements, as if there were a syntactic error in the sentence. For this reason, the text will use constructions such as “force someone into life,” “force someone into being,” “force someone into existence,” “force the child into being,” among others, although they’re not the best option due to the mentioned language traps. The expression “create someone” would be more appropriate, but it seems to hide or lessen the problematic nature of the issue (which “force” clearly conveys).
5. Priority of the perspective of the new being
The considerations of the father and the mother as to what will be experienced by them (because they are, in the initial moment, conscious beings), are not of the highest importance, since each one of them with their peculiarities can start thinking and conclude by themselves if the part that will be experienced by them (the effort they will have to make to take care of the children, the difficulties they will face, the contingencies that may arise, the pleasures they will have, the satisfactions of their needs) is pleasant or not, favorable or not.
However, the considerations of what will be experienced by the child (or from the perspective of the child) also have to be made by the father and the mother (since at the moment X1 the child does not exist), and these are of the highest possible importance since the father and the mother are responsible for the existence of the child (since they created him in his very being), and it is observed that the child can only perceive where he finds himself in, why he exists and how he exists from the moment X3 onwards (many years after having already been born—moment X2—that is, too late to ask).
Precisely by virtue of this necessary innocence of the new being (being born without knowing why, without knowing the conditions of existence, without having made a choice, being thrown into the world), the present text prioritizes their perspective and not that of the mother and father.
It is already known that in deciding to “have a child,” what will be experienced by the child is life, and that from the moment X3 onwards it will be a particular life: conscious, rational and sentient. One could ask the question: why is it problematic to force someone into that life? Or, simply: why is it problematic to “force someone” (in the sense of the “obligation” arising from “creating someone,” see note 2)?
To say the truth, anything that was created was forced into being, by the fact that things do not have power over coming into being or not, and commonly we do not see any problem in this, when talking about things. But in the case of a person this is a much more delicate issue because it involves precisely this specificity of the conscious life in an equally created matter, having been forced into being because of the fact that this someone did not have power over coming into being or not, and it is only from the moment X3 onwards that they will notice this clearly.
Initially, let’s just consider the act of forcing someone into something, whatever that may be. Whatever the thing that one will be forced into (independently of the person knowing or not about the characteristics of that thing), it seems bad to have to do something that one has not been able to choose. If one does not know the characteristics, the situation seems to be even worse (even though there may later be agreement with the choice made by the one who made the imposition). This hurts the desire for control, power, and freedom that people seem to have, forcing them to powerlessness, lack of control, and lack of freedom to choose their own way.
So the act of forcing someone into something, whatever it may be, would already bring this problem, and the procreative act could already be judged as authoritarian, impositional and unjust. This could be a more general first response to the question put at the beginning.
7. Phenomenology of speeches, groups of people and contingent aspects
But in particular regard with the obligation to life, other relevant factors should be added. When observing people and considering their speeches, we notice that there are basically three groups: some who say they are very optimistic about life, who say they love living. There are many other people who say that they are not very concerned and who simply go on living without manifesting particular love or hatred of life (or just loving or hating it at particular moments but without a general reflection on the subject). And finally, there are some people who call themselves very pessimistic about life, who say they hate living.
It is also observed that there is no way to establish reliable covariance patterns to relate life events of a particular person to one of the three indicated groups.
For example, consider taking someone as a reference and asking them to talk about someone else’s life. The first person, in an observer position, may consider the life that the other person lives as great. Imagine then that millions of other observers with different characteristics were selected to make an assessment of the life of that same individual and that their judgments matched that of the first evaluator.
Suppose now that the same group of examiners were exposed to the life of a third individual, and suppose that a judgment was again given, but now, with a consensus to the contrary: they all considered the life of the individual to be very bad. It is perfectly plausible, however, that the first person evaluated is in the last group and commits suicide, for example, and that the second individual evaluated is in the first group.
This reveals the subjective nature of these discourses, which depend particularly on the psyche of each individual, which was not the result of a choice: they simply are like that and cannot decide from day to night not to be as they are. The psyche of each person has no necessary relation, therefore, to living in a period of war or peacefulness, in a culture with certain social, political, economic characteristics and not in another, in one family and not in another, being of one gender or another (it is not meant to say that these conditions have no influence at all, but that they are not absolutely determinant).
It is not, therefore, only about the peculiarities or contingencies of the subjects’ experiences, as some people claim. In this way, any criteria (especially the behaviorist criteria) that is adopted to predict the group which a person will be in, from events that they may live, will not be reliable.
This issue seems to be related to the levels of expectation and acceptance of each individual. Imagine that someone has the desire to be an amoeba with regard to a certain group of characteristics. Imagine further that this person cannot fulfill such desire, but they accept this fact calmly. This hypothetical individual could be considered to have a very low level of expectation and a very high level of acceptance. Someone with this profile tends to be in the first group, but we also cannot establish this as a reliable standard, because of the difficulty of situating individuals at these levels. And even more important, by the powerlessness one has against these levels, either in relation to oneself or in relation to the other (as with the new being). There is no way to regulate these levels, their regulation is a result of uncontrollable factors.
Taking into account the many difficulties presented in the previous sections, let us now reflect about the new being (before he exists, in other words, at the moment X1). He, who cannot know the conditions of existence and neither opine about them, would be in which group? Would he be a naive optimist or an arduous pessimist? Would he be an unconditional lover of life or a tormented and suicidal youth?
There are those who wish to flee from these reflections by claiming that he himself will later choose how to “look at life,” which is false: no one wakes up on a beautiful sunny morning, breathes deeply, smiles and declares themselves a naive optimist or an arduous pessimist. This “looking at life” is not a starting point (where a choice would be made as to which are the favorable and unfavorable elements), but an inevitable arrival point (consequence, effect, result).
Worse still: if one thinks they are able to choose how to “look at life” (as if it were like the choices of a restaurant menu), one seems to be only choosing between illusions created by themselves or by other humans, instead of having a genuine way of “looking at life.”
Returning to our reflections: it is quite obvious that it is not possible to know, then, which group the person will be in, whether they will say that they love life or that they hate it, whether they will be suicidal or not. Thus the new being (at moment X1) is unknown in these respects for the parents, and some possibilities available to him are terrible and devastating.
9. How bad can it get?
To illustrate of one of these possibilities, consider, for example, a suicidal person. Commonly the suicide wishes, at any cost, to stop feeling what they are feeling (and that has a great significance for them). There is no doubt that during a period of time until the moment of suicide (if successful), one suffered intensely, one felt several types of pain, and a painful process occurred that led the person to suicide. This period of time can be of several years, where every hour has been painful. At the moment X1, it is not known whether or not a person like this will be procreated.
There are, again, those who say that these considerations are irrelevant, because if he, the new being, later wishes to commit suicide, so be it (considering, moreover, that suicide is an option like that of which color of shirt to wear). The only thing that the father and mother did (they say) was creating that life and, from then onwards, he, the new being, is the one who will have to deal with the problem. Here again there seems to be an attempt of exemption from responsibility: if these considerations are not related to the father and mother, who are they related to?
If the new being, at some point, wishes to commit suicide (which is likely to happen only from the moment X3 onwards), he can do so. But what is he trying to get rid of in this case? It seems clear that it is from this feeling that bothers him, by getting rid of his own body (since it is the body that allows him to have this feeling). But, speaking of a body, when did he “gain”³ that body that now makes him have those feelings? Answer: At the moment X2.
But why? Because the father and mother decided to have a child, and with this, give him a body. This connection is obvious and is seriously related to the responsibilities of the parents.
3: The term “gain” a body was only used to facilitate understanding, since to “gain” something it is necessary to exist and it would not be possible for someone to “gain” a body, because one exists only with the existence of the body. Thus, we could construct the sentence in this way: “But, speaking of a body, when did he start to exist, being able to feel? At the moment X2. . . .” Obviously, with this term (“gain”) we are not indicating the existence of “any part of the child” prior to the moment X2 (as already mentioned in the definition of these moments, where X1 is “pre-existential” for the child. See note 2). But maybe this is not really a good term, after all, when one “gains” something (even if the giver is impolite) one can always reject the “gift”; but the body comes as an obligation and not just as a “distasteful gift to an ungrateful suicide.”
10. They just created a life
Yes, the only thing that the father and mother did was creating that life (and we take advantage of this moment to remember the motivation: for the parents’ own satisfaction). And what else was needed? What else was necessary to expose the child to possibilities like the one mentioned (the process of suicide)? Simply nothing else. It was enough to just create that life.
To a certain degree, it is the same as saying that the only thing a certain individual did was, for example, “take a step forward,” “throw a coconut out the window,” “push a button,” simple things, daily and common, if taken this way. Without observing that when taking a step forward, one collided with another individual, resulting in injuries; that as one threw the coconut out of the window, another individual passed by; that when one hit the button, missiles were fired at civilian human targets. And when those involved were questioned about this, the answer given beforehand might be: “I just stepped forward,” “I just threw a coconut out the window,” “I just pushed a button,” “I did nothing beyond this.”
All right, if we accept, for example, that the death of a thousand people by the firing of missiles has no direct relation to the push of that button, and if it is accepted that the questioned individual “did nothing else” besides pushing a button (as if it were the button of a coffee maker), then one can agree that the father and mother “did no more” than to simply create a life. Just that, and nothing more. From then onwards, the new being will have to manage on his own, and if he wants to, he can kill himself.
Clearly this characterizes a thoughtless and insensitive attitude that does not even consider the next five minutes, exactly the stance contrary to the one we are trying to adopt here. From that moment onwards (moment X2) the problem of existence will be the child’s problem, he is the one who will have to deal with all this; but because of the parents, because they decided to make him exist, “to create a life.”
11. It is not trivial
The suicide is trying, even if he is not fully aware of it, to get rid of something that came to him as an obligation, which he could only perceive after having lived for several years, probably in the way his father and/or mother wanted, and whose purpose was the personal satisfaction of the father and/or mother.
Notice how a very common decision, whose purpose was to bring joy and whose habit is generally considered noble, can bring an immense and immeasurable suffering, to the point of the person wanting to get rid of what has been “given” to them (including the already mentioned unilateral authoritarianism, always involved in procreation, and immediately exercised over the child, for whom in principle one would not want to cause suffering). Notice then how the real non-triviality of this decision appears here, and how much a prior and greater reflection and sensitivity should be necessary on this subject, always from the perspective of the new being and not only from the parents’ perspective.
12. Extensive risk
Certainly there is a risk involved in procreation. But the real problem is not that there is a risk, but that this risk extends to the child, not being limited just to the father and mother. The decision, when taken in favor of procreation, exceeds in execution and implications the parties who made the decision, involving a necessarily non-aware and powerless being. The implications of the action will also, and mainly, affect the new being, who had nothing to do with the decision since he did not participate in this process, being loaded with impositions from this moment onwards (including, potentially, that of suicide).
The risk refers not only to the extreme case of the suicide, but also, minimally, to the entire third group. For these people, the sufferings of existence “speak” very loudly, are of high weight, and often refer to immutable aspects of life, leaving little hope for a “group change” (only possible by adopting illusions, but few that reached this group achieve this possibility). In this context, and always from the perspective of the new being, the act of suicide becomes the least of problems, since he finally kills himself and eliminates these sufferings and feelings.
Perhaps we should have a greater concern for other beings who would rather not have been born: they wish to kill themselves and endure similar conditions to those of the suicide, but they do not carry out the act because they do not have the courage to do so or because they have beliefs (religious, like most people) contrary to the act. These beings long for death, but unlike the suicide, they indefinitely prolong their sufferings.
Knowing how intense the suffering of the people in this group can be, even if it is alleged to be proportionately small in number, there is always a very considerable risk in forcing someone into life: what if the new being is, at some point, a person from this group? As much as it is claimed to be statistically unlikely⁴, this is never a situation in which parents would wish to see their child in (now speaking from the maternal and paternal perspective).
And even worse: would they wish to be responsible for the existence of a person who can be so vulnerable, hurt, devastated, and even destroyed by the pains of existence? Well, when one decides to have a child, one answers “yes” to that question. With procreation one opens up the possibility of placing in this undesirable situation an “innocent” being (for having no knowledge or power whatsoever over the existential decision that was made and its conditions), and who “will pay”⁵ for existing.
4: It is observed that a probabilistic treatment of suffering is especially disrespectful from an individual perspective. Try telling someone who is experiencing terrible suffering or terrible (physical) pain that they are the only person who is going through it all over the world, or that they are part of a proportionally small group of the population. See if such information has in any way alleviated their suffering or their pain. Obviously not; from the perspective of the sufferer, whether the whole world is in the same condition or in a diametrically opposed condition is irrelevant to the degree of intensity of their pain or suffering. And this is precisely the position that a new being can be in, namely, the position of an intense sufferer. What if this happens? If they are in this position, will they be told that this was unlikely to occur? That there was such a small chance? Is this going to help them in any way, when they are already in existence? Not at all. This type of probabilistic information is only useful for governors to advertise their supposed deeds and for people (disrespectful of human suffering) who feel well by thinking that extreme suffering only applies to a small percentage of people. This kind of information can be useful from the government perspective, or from the perspective of a distant person, but never from the perspective of the person who suffers and even of the people close (not just physically, but emotionally as well) to them.
5: The term has been metaphorically used to characterize that existence has something that is costly to the being, and in the context of the above group, unbearably costly. A necessarily innocent being (who did not choose to exist or influenced his existence in any way) will bear these costs; he will have to pay a debt that he did not incur. And what a debt!!! Impossible to be taken away and that is inevitably paid by each cycle of breathing (a kind of “I suffer therefore I am”). It would not be erroneous to attribute the term “intergenerational tyranny” (commonly used by environmentalists when referring to interventions in nature made by a certain human generation, which will have problematic implications for the next ones, if they exist) with respect to parents and children (respectively seen as tyrants and victims). In fact, if taken in a somewhat more general way, this idea of intergenerational tyranny may well characterize the act of simply having a child.
13. Serious and respectful consideration
Thus, without knowing which group the new being will initially be in, which group he may be in on other occasions (from the moment X3 onwards, for example) and, even worse, without ever having the power to place him in another group (even if it hypothetically were the best father and mother in the world, with all of the best conditions, see note 4), the act of forcing someone to be born will always have this highly problematic nature from the point of view of moral responsibility.
Such issues should be seriously considered in a thoughtful and deeply respectful attitude toward human suffering and sensibility, contrary to the usual attitude of disregard and attempt of exemption from responsibilities, which always claims there are many possibilities for the child, such as optimistically facing life—if he wants to—and if not, in the worst case, he can still kill himself—after all, the problem is his alone from X2 onwards.
As I commented in the preface to this second edition, I decided to publish everything together, that is, my own text and the exchange of letters with Professor Julius von Kabra. If the reader prefers, they can read this text in an interspersed way with the letters referring to the topics discussed, so as not to run the risk of forgetting the issues if they leave everything to the end. If the reader opts for this reading route, they should now go to the “Preface Letters” and “Letters of Definitions” (in the first part of chapter 3), and then return to “the Ego of the issue,” I. If the reader, on the contrary, does not want to interrupt the momentum of the text, they should ignore this warning and continue reading in the usual linear way. (Anyway, the conclusion will always be the same: better not to procreate)!
THE EGO OF THE ISSUE⁶
I – Ultra-egoism. Why force someone into being?
1. Necessary Aspects of Human Life (I)
It has been mentioned very briefly (in note 5) that existence has something that is costly to the being (to all beings, regardless of the characterization of groups that was made before). In order to clarify this point, some considerations will be briefly presented, which will cause the procreative imposition (which, in the first part, was perhaps not very severe) to become significantly more problematic.
A characteristic of any life is its end: this applies to a bee and to a human. The insect, however, is not aware of its death. The mammal, at some point, becomes aware of its most assured destiny, and until the moment of its consummation arrives, he will live with its shadow (always present), pervading everyday situations and possibilities, including being a potential element of frustration of any project made by him (even that of surviving one second more).
6: Usually expressions such as “the core of the issue,” “the heart of the issue,” “the X of the issue,” are used to refer to the central or most important element of a subject. On the other hand, the ego is traditionally the central structure of one’s personality, and in this sense it presents an analogy with those other expressions. Moreover, one of the main points advocated in this section is that a special kind of egoism is behind all procreations as their main motivator. Thus, in speaking here of “the Ego of the issue” it is not only said that this is going to be the nucleus of the issue, but the filling of this nucleus is also shown: the ego.
Frequently this creates some discomfort in human mammals, a kind of insecurity, of not knowing how much time one will have to do what one wants to do, of not being able to know if one will die now or not, the when and how of death (as happened with birth).
It is also known that the human body is regularly attacked by organisms, or it undergoes certain physical-chemical actions causing weaknesses or limitations to its condition. This is how many people, who once did certain activities very easily, have to make an immense effort to do the same thing after a given moment. And many other people are totally unable to do what they used to do.
Such a condition is by itself not pleasant at all, but for a being who is fully aware of his present condition, has a good memory of his previous habits (of having so often performed certain activities without effort), and who now has to live with his new weaknesses, it is something terrible and is a cause of much suffering; the person is taken by feelings of strangulation and limitation, feeling restricted and diminished.
And humans are fully aware that they can be in such a circumstance at any point in their lives.
2. Necessary Aspects of Human Life (II)
In addition to these factors, it is highly probable that the new being will have to experience the death of his own parents, his father and his mother. It is also at least possible that he will have to experience the death of a son or daughter. And it is extremely likely that he will have to experience the death of other family members and friends. In one or some of these affective relationships, he must go through a period when the other is ill, either in an initial or terminal phase.
In this opportunity, he can closely follow the suffering of a very dear person, with whom he has strong emotional bonds; and when their suffering ceases forever, there will only remain the suffering of the one who will have to deal with the loss of the loved one.
And again, he is fully aware that he will have to go through all this.
The created being will also have to make choices, and therefore give up many other things; he will have many more things to give up than things to achieve or complete. This is because in choosing something, concomitantly, one cannot cover all other possibilities. To improve his criteria of choice, many frustrations and failures will make him realize the particular weaknesses of his individuality, making him evade options that would surely lead him to new failures.
In the midst of this situation, of course, he must also have, besides natural disasters, all the disrespect of others, with all the difficulties they will impose on him, even if they seem to be avoidable.
3. Exceptions as the rule?
It seems to be a commonplace to assert (at least when one adopts an attitude of respect for human suffering) that here we are taking exceptions as the rule. Many prefer to think that few people are experiencing intense suffering or pain, and that for an individual the unpleasant periods of time represent little, after all, in relation to the total time of their lives.
To this we can reply, first of all, that not so few people are experiencing these states: it would suffice to visit the many crowded hospitals. (At any point in time, most of humanity is sick.) And even if these situations were exceptional, a consideration has already been made of this purely statistical treatment of suffering and the non-assurance about a participation in a given group (see note 4).
Concerning the assertion that for a person the periods of time of suffering or pain would represent little in relation to the temporal whole, there are many variations, and probably many people in group three would not agree with such a statement. But even supposing the case of people who agree with it, note that the consideration of time that has been made is merely physical, that is, how much time one has suffered compared to the total time of a life. The existential perception of time, however, is very different.
If one were to reconsider the initial comparison between the time of suffering and the total time of one’s life, but now in existential rather than merely physical terms, the result would be quite different, hanging overwhelmingly on the side of time of suffering or pain, especially if the reference is given while the pain is still happening.
Even if (according to the discourse of a certain group of people) one could indicate that, in a purely physical-temporal reference, the time of suffering and pain is comparatively small, note that we are talking about a human being, and not about a machine, that is, an animal that has a peculiar perception of time, whose specificity is existential rather than purely physical. In this way, the moments of suffering and pain will be very significant for him, even in a temporal consideration, since in these circumstances the existential time is incommensurable if considered in relation to purely physical time.
4. “Recipe” for a suffering being
The human being is endowed with a great sensibility together with a strong knowledge of his limitations and conditions: with this, one has the right “recipe” for a suffering being. That is to say, a being who is fully aware that he will die, that he will be regularly attacked by organisms, who gradually and inexorably advances towards decrepitude, who knows that he will most probably have to suffer the death of his parents, his father and his mother, as well as the death of other family members and friends, and who cares very much about all this, who wishes he did not have to go through those experiencies, who feels harmed by all these necessities of his life.
5. “Life is like that, it can’t be helped”
It is possible to understand that anyone who is already in this situation, that is, a sentient and conscious human being (and therefore a sufferer) who was forced into life (without any choice, power, responsibility or knowledge about the situation that awaited him), a being who can experience joys, but also goes through sufferings, pains, worries (and who is aware that he will still have more ahead of him, if he continues to live, which is also uncertain), a being who suffers with natural limitations (that he did not choose either and which are immutable), advancing towards decrepitude and condemned to make decisions, anyway, perhaps such a being would want to adapt to this situation with phrases such as: “Life is like that,” “This is natural,” “It can’t be helped,” and other similar statements.
It should be noted, however, that the fact of it “being like that” (“inherent to life”) will in no way diminish the sufferings that the new being will be exposed to or in no way improve the condition of the being that you are about to create. On the contrary, what might happen is that even more suffering than necessary is added (such as those due to diseases, congenital problems, malformation and other peculiarities) or even social complications of this situation (bad material conditions, among others).
6. Is there anything that can be done for the new being?
There is, however, something that can be done, a power that we actually have. This power is the choice to repeat or not to repeat this situation or circumstance, the option we have to force someone into this situation or not to do it. One did not have the power to choose or to influence, in any way, his own condition, one did not have responsibility for his own existence and for the set of circumstances that configures the situation of human life described above. But one is able not to force someone into this, not to be responsible for putting someone in this painful situation, not to repeat what was done to us, not to continue the cycle of suffering, not to mimic the actions of others.Metaphorically referring to this set of things to which a new being is forced into as a “package,” one may say that the already existing individual was forced into it, but what he can still do is not impose the same package on another being, with whom he would have a link of responsibility for their existence (since the being that he could create would be absolutely innocent in relation to the package, without knowledge, power, and responsibility).
The situation for the already existing individual is that of obligation (he was forced into this), but one has the power to not put another individual in the same situation of obligation. After all, it is not because the package is “inherent to life” that one should impose it on someone else. One has the option of doing it or not, that is, one has the option of forcing it on someone or not. And this is the decision that existing beings have to make. While the package is necessary for the parents (it is “like that”), for the children (if and only if kept in X1) it is contingent (it may not be), and the parents are the ones who will decide whether or not it will be.
Since the new being will be forced to suffer, very intensely in particular moments, and always of great existential significance, it would be interesting to ask the following question: why force someone into life? Why create a new being?
7.0.1. Distraction and joy
At this point it is important to make some distinctions and exemplifications of different categories: egoism, super-egoism, and ultra-egoism⁸. When we finish developing them, we will return to the issues raised in the previous section.
7: At the beginning of the exposition of this important topic, of this special kind of egoism, ultra-egoism, the numeration “7.0” was used instead of simply “7” (afterwards, there will be numbered sequences such as 7.0.1, 7.0. 2, etc.). This is not totally gratuitous. Since ultra-egoism is crucial for understanding the motivations behind procreation (it is procreation’s most central and original point), the “0” has been used due to it being a crucial number in mathematics. In addition, we usually represent the “0” graphically as an ellipse or a circle. In its geometrical representation as a circumference, it refers to this issue of the centrality of a point, of the fundamental element, of the core of the issue around which all the rest is oriented. Like the center of a circumference, ultra-egoism exerts this centrality and defines everything around it for the occurrence of procreation.
8: It would be possible to rethink these classifications by reducing them, perhaps, to only two categories. In that case one would have only ultra-egoism and another category, for example, egoism. Perhaps the distinction between egoism and super-egoism can be mitigated, but never the label of ultra-egoism in relation to the other category(ies). In no case could this distinction be mitigated.
We humans can distract ourselves, or have satisfactions, pleasures, and joys in very different ways, sometimes through some activity that does not involve the participation of other people, such as thinking, idealizing, or dreaming. Other times, we distract ourselves with something that involves other people, such as talking, playing sports, having a sexual intercourse, and so on. In these activities involving another person or other people, some of them are either between moments X2 (inclusive) and X3, or in moment X3 (inclusive) onwards.
On occasions when there is the involvement of another person who is in the moment X3 or beyond, one may or may not have concern for that person’s feelings. In case there is no such concern, one may not feel a strong enough connection to think and feel from the other’s perspective; one may not notice a strong enough connection to feel responsible for that person. In this case, the individual is solely focused on satisfying his own needs, without any fear of the suffering (and other side effects) that he may cause to the other person. This kind of attitude could exemplify the category of egoism.
7.0.2. Non-innocent victims
Notice here some nuances: since the people involved are either between moments X2 (inclusive) and X3, or in moment X3 (inclusive) onwards, these are already existing people. They may be individuals in development (between X2—inclusive—and X3), such as children, who should have some assistance from the father and mother, to prevent them from being placed in situations of interaction with people who do not worry about their feelings (as, for example, in the extreme case of pedophilia).
If this were done with a child, such an attitude could be characterized as super-egoism, because the levels of power, responsibility and knowledge of the situation are very low for a child.
But they can also be already developed individuals (from the moment X3—inclusive—onwards) and, in this case, they could (because they have, unlike children, a developed physical-cerebral apparatus, consciousness and reasoning) ponder about the situations in which they were putting themselves in. That is, asking oneself if that environment one shares with the other is safe, asking oneself about the other’s potential intentions, considering the possibilities even without being sure of them. Knowing the possibilities that the other could being lying to get what he needs, and deciding whether if, even then, they will carry on this relationship, having knowledge, power and also responsibility for deciding to enter and stay in the situation.
This person is not completely an “innocent” (i.e not aware, powerless and not responsible) “victim” (an individual which another person took advantage of without having any concerns about their feelings); if they were “victimized,” it was because they allowed themselves to be. It is common for people (even those from the moment X3 onwards) not to do this kind of reflection, but at least they had the possibility of doing it, because they have an apparatus for doing so, because they have such a tool available.
Even if they have not used it, these people cannot be characterized as “innocent victims” (in the sense indicated); at most, they could be characterized as naive victims (a feature that is inevitable between moments X2—inclusive—and X3, but no longer from moment X3 onwards).
In egoistic and super-egoistic attitudes, then, there is the involvement of already existing people. One may have a necessarily naive victim if they are situated between moment X2—inclusive—and X3, in the case of super-egoism. The person has restricted levels of knowledge, responsibility and power over the circumstance in which they are involved. One may have a not necessarily naive victim (if located in X3 onwards, in the case of egoism), granted that they have full knowledge, power and responsibility on the circumstance, since they had an apparatus for that and allowed themselves to be transformed into a victim.
7.0.3. Cause and purpose in the ultra-egoist
Let us now look at what is ultra-egoism. While the egoist and the super-egoist have relationships, pursuing only self-interests (entertainment, satisfaction, pleasure or fulfillment), with other already existing people with whom they have no link of responsibility for their existence (understood only in the sense of relationships of fatherhood or motherhood), the ultra-egoist has a relationship with another person whom he created for his own satisfaction, pleasure, fulfillment or entertainment (Nascituri te salutant), only by self-interest (even if, often, also to please other people one likes⁹).
9: This means that in the ultra-egoistic attitude, even if it is discursively argued that the child was created “to please others that one likes,” it is considered that this equally goes in the direction of attending exclusively to one’s own interests. To better clarify this point, consider for a moment the motivations that are usually presented to have a child. When asking people in general about their motivations, there are often answers like the following:
1. Because I want to please or satisfy myself, my partner, my parents, grandparents and family.
2. Because I have always dreamed of having children, I love children, I find them cute, and babies are the most beautiful thing in the world.
3. Because I would like to go through the experience of fatherhood or motherhood.
4. Because I want a family with children.
5. Because I want to feel more complete.
6. Because I want to create a product of a loving relationship.
7. Because I want to have someone to leave my possessions to.
8. Because I want to obey, follow, or satisfy God or other supernatural entities of my belief.
9. Because I want a social compatibility and participation in a tradition.
10. Because I want someone like me to do what I could not do.
11. Because I do not want to be alone, I want to have someone to take care of me in old age and/or in emergencies.
This group of answers reveals that the goal of having children is always the satisfaction of the parents. And what is clear in the indicated motivations is the centrality of the “I” (because I . . . because I . . . because I . . . I . . .). Even if one indicates some external elements to the procreator as parts of the motivation, the central elements are always the procreator’s desires, beliefs, fears or interests. The procreator wants to please himself, his partner (because he wants this other person and is afraid of losing them), his father and mother, his grandparents and family, society, but the desire to please is always his; he wants to please, he wants this or that. It is the procreator who wants to obey, follow, or satisfy the supernatural entities of his belief. In the case of wanting to please his partner for a fear of losing them, he will say: “I do not want to lose my partner”; the issue always remains centered at the “I” (thus the “ego” of the issue)!
That is, prior to the existence of this person, in the moment X1, the ultra-egoist has already thought about what he could do with that still non-existent person: how he could have a relationship with them, how this relationship would be interesting for his own accomplishment, and how beautiful that little baby would be with whom he (and particularly the mother) would initially have a feeling of fusion. Thinking only in his own interest, he thus tried to put into action the creation of a person (the “obliging someone” mentioned above in note 2), so that he could achieve these aspirations, as the accomplishment of a project.
Thus, here we find both the link of responsibility for the existence of the other person, and the fact that this existence (created, forced into being) was made to satisfy the parent(s) in their desires or needs. Putting it a little more explicitly: the ultra-egoist has created (or was the cause of) another person for his own accomplishment only with self-interest. Thus, the cause and purpose of the existence of the other person rest concomitantly on the ultra-egoist.
7.0.4. Incommensurable injustice with the new being
In the case of the egoist and the super-egoist, the people with whom they have relationships with, in addition to not having with them the link of responsibility for existence, they have total (in the case of the egoist) or at least some (in the case of the super-egoist) ability to think, to make judgments, to maintain or break the relationship, from the first moment it begins. In the case of the ultra-egoist there is not even the slightest chance for the being with whom they have a relationship with.
The ultra-egoist (like a predator that goes out to hunt) performs an absolutely indefensible and cowardly attack, truly constituting an innocent victim, the ideal type of victim. In the minds of the parents, the new being was already a victim before he existed, at the moment X1; and he begins to exist, at the moment X2, because of the direct desire of the parents and only to satisfy them. And, just like the egoist and the super-egoist, often little concerned with the painful consequences for the victim.
Notice how impressive this obvious realization can be: two people who are in X3 or beyond, that is, supposedly aware, are the cause of another person whose original purpose is to be the satisfaction of their parents. This new person, absolutely innocent, will have on their shoulders the mass (or the burden) of existence. (It is not to be forgotten that many other burdens remain for the father and mother, but, for the most part, this could have been thought and foreseen by themselves, because they were conscious individuals.)Considered the perspective of the new being, observe the dimension of the injustice committed: they have their cause outside of themselves and without any possibility of influencing it; they also have their purpose outside of themselves. What will certainly remain within them while they are alive is pain, as already indicated by the very words sometimes used to refer to the father and the mother: generators and procreators*.
* Translator’s note: in Portuguese, the original text is written as “gera-dores” and “procria-dores.” This is a pun on the word “dor,” which means “pain” in Portuguese. “Procriadores” (procreators) and “geradores” (generators), written with a hyphen, would be akin to “(someone who) procreates pain” and “(someone who) generates pain.” This word play appears in some portions of the second and third chapters, and since there is not an expression of approximate similarity in English (at least not to my knowledge), the full significance of this word play gets lost in translation. Because of this, I have decided to just use the words “generators” and “procreators.”
7.0.5. There is only one ultra-egoistic (ultra-manipulative) human act
While the egoist and the super-egoist might not feel a strong enough connection with the other person with whom they have a relationship only by self-interest, in order to be able to put themselves in the perspective of that person and to think and feel themselves responsible for them, the ultra-egoist on the other hand would not lack reasons for such responsibility. He is, in the first place, responsible for the existence of the other person; secondly, the purpose of the new being is the satisfaction and fulfillment of his desire (the desire of the ultra-egoist); thirdly, that person is genetically and perhaps even culturally (with great influence, if there is family coexistence) constituted by him (the ultra-egoist).
If all this does not establish a motivating link to be able to put oneself in the perspective of the new being, if having created them does not make the creator feel fully responsible for them, then there is nothing that could establish it. Thus, if he does not simply try to exempt himself, it seems quite reasonable, given the circumstances, to require of him to think and feel in the perspective of the new being and be responsible for them.
But notice that, in relation to the issues proposed above, thinking and feeling in the perspective of the new being should have been done, strictly, at the moment X1, that is, before their existence, considering that, if they are created, the situation of ultra-egoism has already been established. In this case, everything that comes from existence without choice, without power and without knowledge of the new being, will have to be faced by them. This characterizes a higher degree (and, therefore, above egoism and super-egoism) of egoism, precisely what is called ultra-egoism. From what has been presented, it is easy to see that there is only one human act that reaches such a high degree of egoism: the act of creating a new being, the act of forcing someone into existence.
7.0.6. “People who do not have children are selfish”
Curiously, people who decide not to have children are often labeled as selfish: they would not have children because they would not want to share and devote their time, their money and their attention to the arduous task of raising a child. On the contrary, these abstainers would want to devote all this to themselves. In these arguments there is the hidden premise that it is not possible for the human being simply not to desire to have children; so, according to this criticism, people would not have children just because of these burdens, but in fact they wanted (like everyone else) to have children.
But there seems to be many kinds of motivations for not having children, and the answer to that criticism would then depend on the motivation of each person who abstained, and many would possibly have no problem in acknowledging their “selfishness” in this sense. But in considering the issue more broadly (as we do here), it can be observed that people who have children (whether they realize it or not) are far more selfish than people who do not have them, even the “egoists” in the sense referred to, since these could only be labeled as egoistic, but never as ultra-egoistic.
8. From the perspective of the new being, why force them into being?
Before, we asked why we should force someone into being, since in doing so they were forced into the whole “package” with all the sufferings (some very intense) inherent in the human being. Considering the recently exposed ideas, there is now an answer to this question: the ultra-egoists seek their own fulfillment, they seek to satisfy a desire (a dream), and for that, they force someone into being, they create another person specifically for this, considering the perspective of the child to be irrelevant, in an ultra-egoistic overflow of indifference and insensitivity.
If one were really concerned about the well-being of his future son or daughter, rather than with his own well-being, and one wished, by creating someone, not to be an ultra-egoist, thinking of creating someone with whom one had serious concerns about their feelings, for whom one felt responsible and, mainly, not being solely focused on the satisfaction of one’s own needs, in this case, the question to be asked would be: why create a new being? Why, from their own perspective, force them into being?
9. Forcing someone into being only for a compensation?
For an existing being who has been forced into the “package,” it is common to try to evaluate the “favorable” and “unfavorable” elements of his life, to affirm that there are many sufferings (some intense), guaranteed by the human condition, but there are also “compensations” and that “life is like that, with ups and downs.” But when thinking about who has not yet been forced into being, who has not been forced into the package, if it includes favorable elements, but also many unfavorable others, and considering that “imposing the package on another being” is not something necessary, the following issue must be seriously taken into consideration: for the new being, it makes no sense to try to justify forcing them into being based on the “favorable” elements of life.
By analogy, one could say that the existing being is someone who has been forced to go to work in a place where he is harmed every day, physically and morally, where he experiences hunger, cold, heat, where his life is at serious risk, and he has no one to help him, but he, on the other hand, receives a very good salary. For this individual, there is some sense to say that this situation is bad, but that it has a good compensation. This is a possible rationalization for him to adapt to this situation. But when having the option of not putting someone in this situation (in the case of a still non-existent human being), would it not be interesting to seriously consider this possibility? After all, for someone not yet involved with debt or employers, is it justifiable to involve them in an unpleasant situation solely by virtue of wage compensation?
Consider, furthermore, that even if the father and mother think that money is, in their hierarchy of values, the most important thing in life over anything else, the son or daughter can have a radically different set of beliefs and values. In this way, what parents call “compensation” (or “favorable elements” of life) may represent not even a small benefit to the children! It must also be considered that the existence of compensations does not nullify or even diminish the relevance of what it is attempted to compensate. We could conclude with another analogy: creating someone for them to enjoy the pleasant aspects of life would be like shooting someone else with the intention of not being fatal, so that the victim has the opportunity to go to a hospital considered very comfortable by the aggressor, and where the victim could delight in all the hospital’s comfort. Absurd, is it not?
10. Inexcusable calculation
If the package of human life were constituted of only entirely favorable elements, it would be less difficult to defend someone who forced another person to accept it. If the package were made up of entirely favorable elements and an insignificant (but insignificant for whom?) unfavorable part, still in that case it would be extremely difficult to defend someone who forced another individual to endure it (since they could have not done so). But since the package is, in fact, constituted by a significant bad part, it is simply impossible to defend someone who has forced another innocent (that is, without choice, without power, without responsibility, without knowledge, and with his perspective absolutely disregarded) to accept it.
11. Forcing someone into being without ultra-egoism?
Therefore, those who have been forced into the package try to constantly escape the unfavorable elements and meet the favorable ones, always pervaded, however, by the first, the necessary ones, such as their mortality and their awareness of it. But thinking about the perspective of the new being, regardless of the joys he might have, there would always be the guaranteed sufferings and pains.
But would there also be an undoubted and necessary reason for all beings to come into being? It should be remembered that the search for a reason to make the new being come into being is the attempt to find a possibility of creating someone without ultra-egoism, without being guided by self-accomplishment independently of what this entails for the new being. It is the yearning for a coherent attitude between having the son or daughter and, at the same time, desiring for their well-being.
Following the attitude of concern for the well-being of the new being, and trying to reconcile it with the desire for one’s own satisfaction, there are several possible actions that do not imply in the creation of a suffering being. If, however, there is no possibility for many people of an accomplishment without forcing someone into life, one must find a basis to resolve the conflict between the well-being of the child and the desire for one’s own satisfaction.
12.0 The system ends up fine, but the agent ends up worse off
There are those who will point, as a motivation for procreating, to natural elements such as the continuity of the species, descent with modification (as Darwin called it, inappropriately called by many of “evolution”), the continuity of a natural message passed down through the generations, in part constantly altered (DNA), and other exaltations of nature. Although some beauties may be recognized in nature and in these continuities, note that if observed from the individual point of view, the situation is nothing beautiful¹⁰. In this view, the sentient and conscious human individual is an agent of this non-sentient and unconscious system, nature. He carries within himself this natural message.
But it is he, the agent, who pays for existing, for carrying this natural message; he is the sufferer, who feels all the pain and anguish of being; it is in him that all this hurts, and it is he who cries. To condemn someone to be an agent of this system could indicate, in any case, love for the system or the natural message, but not for the agent, the son or the daughter. In this case, love is directed to the non-sentient element, not to the sentient one (the agent)! Thus, the act of forcing someone into being in the name of nature or some of these natural continuities also does not conform to an attitude of concern for the well-being of the son or daughter.
10: Darwin elucidated that although nature is often visualized as “amazing and jubilant,” what is happening, especially in an individual perspective, is a constant struggle and destruction. Individually there is nothing beautiful; there is no room for ethical or aesthetic considerations. In fact, it seems that if there was any moral animal or being, it died out as soon as it arose; it probably did not even get a chance to reproduce, and if it had, it obviously did not (precisely for being moral). We are necessarily descendants of non-moral beings or animals.
13. Guaranteed harm, doubtful benefit
There are also those who will indicate, as a reason for procreating, certain supernatural elements, entities such as devils, gods, spirits, souls, ghosts, angels, saints, archangels, elves, fairies, gnomes, among others, pointing for the relations between some of these elements and procreation. One way or another, what can be said with certainty is that, in the sentient reality opposing the magical and fanciful world of supernatural entities, there continues to be much pain and much suffering.
On the other hand, some people believe in only one of those entities, others in some of them, others in all, others in none. This hurts the very reasonable requirement of having a single reason—undoubted and necessary—for all new individuals (otherwise one cannot know which of these groups of supernatural beliefs the new being will be in).
In any case, one tries to justify forcing someone into being by virtue of the supernatural beliefs of another person (the parent). We have here the cause of a guaranteed harm in the sentient world for the new being (sufferings, pains, among others), in the name of something that is not guaranteed, referring to a magical world that he can believe in or not. Thus, forcing someone into being for supernatural reasons or for beliefs in a supernatural system also does not conform to the attitude of concern for the well-being of the son or daughter (in the next section, a more broad consideration will be made on belief systems, involving some of the entities mentioned).
If the reader has accepted the route of interspersed reading, they should now go to the “Letters of the Ego I” and then return to the following section.
II – Being is non-being. The two nothingness. Belief systems.
14. First nothingness (nothingness-nothingness),
second nothingness (nothingness-mortality)
Following my initial proposal to think of the emergence of the new being from his perspective, and not from an external reason (such as the satisfaction of the parents or the accentuation of natural or supernatural elements, among others), the question is: what reasons would he have to come into being? The answer is that there would be no reason at all—after all, he does not exist. From the perspective of what does not exist, there is nothing “lacking.” There is no problem in not being. Out of nothingness (or rather, from this nothingness), nothing was “taken.” One did not prevent, one did not deny, one did not deprive the new being of joys or experiences, because he is not a nothingness that has become nothingness due to something having been subtracted from him (this would be another nothingness, a “subtractive nothingness”). He’s nothingness by never having existed.
It can be very difficult to understand this because we always speak from the perspective of the being, already being: and therefore nothingness seems to one who already exists as something undesirable, bad, negative, as a kind of “second nothingness,” since for an existing being to reach nothingness, something needs to be subtracted from him, taken away from him, preventing him from being. This “second nothingness” therefore refers to mortality. But in relation to the new being (at the moment X1), this is not the case, because at that moment he is nothingness, or rather, he does not exist (and we can call this “first nothingness,” nothingness of the first type). By simply never having existed, there is no way to be subtracted, hindered, decreased or denied in any aspect (there is no second type of nothingness, there is no mortality). For us who are already here, indeed, to go to nothingness we have to be subtracted, decreased; but if one never existed, remaining in nothingness does not imply any impediment, subtraction or diminution.
15. Being is non-being, that is the problem
Usually associated with nothingness (or non-being) is weakness, and power with being. If considered within a physical perspective this can be true since something that exists, a body, for example, has mass, dimensions, gravitational and electric potentials, kinetic energy, entropy, among other properties. However, in an epistemic perspective—conscious, rational and sensitive—to be something is to be exactly that something, only that, nothing more and nothing less than that, nothing different from that, having these properties, these definitions, these limitations, these powers.
Being something is, at the same time, not being all other things (all other possibilities), and one is fully aware of this. One knows, then, that although one has several properties and powers, one does not have an infinity of others. One knows of several limitations, including that of not being able to be different from what one is; there is an immutability with respect to one’s own being. One notices that the powers and properties that one has are very small in relation to those that one does not have. Anyway, one notices that by being, we are not¹¹ much more than what we are.
In this way, the non-being (given the epistemic perspective) can be more powerful than the being; to the non-being, a general power of zero value could be attributed as a result, and to the being, considering a “sum” between powers and weaknesses (between what one is and what one is not), a general power of negative value could be attributed. Thus, by creating a being who possesses an epistemic perspective (such as a human being), although it is usually believed that one is “giving” something to them, “giving life,” “giving possibilities,” what is in fact being done is “taking away” something (their first nothingness, or their nullity) and, in a certain sense, “taking life” (considering that one is “giving” a subtractive life, in encounter with the second nothingness, a mortal life, the inevitable prospect of the subtractive nothingness, from the perspective of someone who exists, and already has existed—after the moment X2), that is, one is “taking away possibilities” precisely because one is “giving” a limited existence to a particular being with a negative power.
11: In the physical consideration that was made, approaching some properties, an opposite result was obtained to that of the epistemic reference. If, however, other aspects were considered, there could be a concordance between the physical and the epistemic. For example, both in the macrocosm (although it has been spoken about dark matter) and in the microcosm there are, apparently, more emptinesses than fillings. In everything that is constituted there seems to be more ‘nothingness’ than anything else, more ‘non-being’ than ‘being.’ In short, the “by being, we are not much more than what we are” seems to hold true for the human, the galaxy, or the atom.
As if it were not enough for a rational, sentient and conscious being to know all this, being also a being with desires, sooner or later he will want to explore the regions which are impossible to the type of being he is. In other words, sooner or later he will “miss” the powers he does not have (or will lament having them), the properties he does not have (or will lament having them), he will miss not being what he is (or will lament being it), and perhaps he will even desire not to exist (or will lament existing), or not to have existed (or will lament having existed). The condition of the first nothingness is of absolute freedom, not limited, not defined, without properties, not describable, without powerlessness, without pain, without suffering, without disturbance, without fear, without anguish, without lament, without loss, without subtraction, without reduction, absolutely without anything.
16. The only possibility of respecting the nothingness of the new being
The first nothingness takes place by an unvalued emptiness (at the moment X1), unlike when a new being is created and “given” (forced into) the inescapable prospect of the second nothingness (the subtractive nothingness) and the possible desire for the first nothingness. By existing (and only then), the second nothingness will be valued, commonly, as a bad emptiness, constituted even by unpleasant physiological and psychological experiences, since “feeling empty” throughout lived experiences is frequently not a good experience, be it the feeling of the empty stomach or the feeling of the “empty heart” (in unrequited love and loneliness).
By existing (and only then), the first nothingness can also be valued as a good emptiness, as the non-filling of what fills this nothingness, as the non-constitution that constituted it, the only (in X1) hopeful possibility (from X2 onwards, definitively frustrated) of not being limited, powerless, of not suffering, of not always having the prospect of the second nothingness in front of oneself, of not advancing towards decrepitude, of not being diminished, subtracted, reduced, of not losing oneself every day, in short, of not being. It is better, therefore, to harm the non-being’s right to come into being (which is not an effective injury) than to harm the being’s right to not come into being (undoubtedly an effective injury).
17. Maintained in X1, there is no problem at all!
Thus, in not forcing a new being into being, he (or she) will not be denied, since in that case, that is, remaining in X1, he (or she) never existed and never will exist. The new being, therefore, is not denied any joys, experiences, or anything else. Thus, the first nothingness is maintained, in which nothing was denied and nothing was affirmed in relation to the new being. Note that the act of not forcing someone into being does not bring a denial in relation to the new being, but just does not bring an affirmation. When, however, one forces someone into being, the new being is affirmed, and then it is too late . . . The “button” has been pressed; the missiles are already on the way. The whole “package” comes, the subtractive nothingness, the sufferings and pains, the powerlessness of being exactly something and not being able to be all the rest, and everything that has already been mentioned.
There is, therefore, in the act of not forcing, nothing reactive in relation to the new being. What could be said is that one acts reactively in relation to other things and not in relation to the new being. One denies what exists; one reacts to the present regencies. It could be said that one rejects the tendency of repeting the acts of one’s ancestors, a simian inertia based on imitating and repeating a tradition, the habits of a society, a set of rules of some group of individuals, among others. By not forcing someone into being, one would attempt to take a genuine action, not guided by an unthinking custom, one would try not to have only the responsibility of a little monkey.
If considered from a biological perspective, one could affirm to be denying, in the act of not forcing, certain parts and functions of our body; if the reference is a psychological perspective, one could affirm to be denying certain tendencies that would lead us to force someone into being; if considered from a pure natural perspective, one could affirm to be denying the direction that the system imposes on us, placing us in a scenario full of nature’s procreative devices. And some other (even more abstract) considerations could still be worked out, but surely it cannot be suggested that, in the act of not forcing, something is denied to the new being, or even that one acts reactively in relation to him (after all, he simply does not exist).
18. From the first to nothingness to raw jelly
In relation to these important topics one could remember (in an illustrative way) the poem of Augusto dos Anjos, A um gérmen, transcribed below:
And you will grow further, in your silence, so large
Which, is natural, still some day, the crying
will flow from the shape which you took!
The water, in conjunction with the bare earth,
wins over the granite, depressing it . . . the fright
Convulses the spirits, and yet,
Your development continues!
Before, human jelly, do not progress
And in undefined retrogradations,
Return to the old calm of nonexistence!
Before the Nothingness, oh! Germ, You shall still
Reach it, like the germs of other beings
To the supreme misfortune of being!
19. Belief systems
It is observed that there is a wide variety of belief systems, with many explanations about the world and even about worlds in general. There are supporters all over the world for all these systems. It should be noted that, in relation to certain aspects of the descriptions presented by these systems, it would be impossible for all of them to be right (due to asserting things that would be impossible to exist simultaneously), that is, there are incompatibilities between the systems. If it is thus assumed that system Y properly describes the world or worlds it describes, systems I, F, and L (for example) could not describe it or them properly.
An interesting question would be: why adopt (for example) system Y? Why not adopt system I, or F, or L, or any other? Let us consider that this is an interesting question, but without an understandable and communicable answer, and that there might not be a criterion external to the individual to tell them which system to adopt, such that the adoption of one of them would take place internally, depending on the faith and beliefs of the person, according to their particularities.
In this way, belief systems could not have an external confirmation, a criterion that could be adopted to say which is the best, whether Y, I, F, L, or any other. Hence we have the picture described above, that is, a multiplicity of systems and adepts for all of them. If there were an external criterion, there would be only one universal belief system of which all would be adherents.
19.1. Working with diverse possibilities and extracting patterns
Since it is not possible to affirm which belief system is correct (assuming there is one), it is necessary to work with doubt. An interesting way to do this is to assume, as a first possibility, that a certain system (A, for example) is the correct one (the true one, which describes the world or worlds properly) and that all others are incorrect. From this first possibility one can think of the consequences, that is, the implications of this particularly for the issue addressed here: procreation (with two possible outcomes, procreation or non-procreation).
The terms to think about would be the same as mentioned initially, that is, to think of all those involved in the issue and what will be experienced by each one (as if one were a gambler, who does not know what will be the outcome of a game, but has to take a gamble). Once this is done, a second possibility is raised, in which another system (B, for example) is assumed to be the correct one and all others incorrect, and the procedure of extracting all the implications for the issue of procreation follows. This procedure is continued until all belief systems have been examined; This gives a general picture of the implications for all those involved in this action, regarding the issue posed.
Whatever the system is, there are at least three involved (father, mother and son or daughter, that is, natural elements, but, as we have seen, possibly related to supernatural elements) and the relations and implications described (like the ones synthesized in the scheme of title 27 and many others). What the systems will do (in relation to the proposed framework) is to add one or more elements (the supernatural elements), and relate the first elements to the new ones (the necessary natural or supernatural elements related to them).
For example, consider a hypothetical system E, which states, among other things, that it is necessary to create a new being so that a spirit (of another world) can incarnate in the body (in this world) and evolve, including through suffering (by the way, in order to evolve by this means, it seems that they have come to the right “place” with all the necessary “ingredients”). In the case of E, one could add another element involved: the spirit. We would also have that, in the possibility of assuming this system as the correct one and the others as incorrect, in procreating, the child would be involved and associated with the spirit, which would be evolving through the experiences of suffering.
Notice that this (the presence of this spirit) does not alter anything that has been demonstrated before about the life of the child: he will have to go through all the sufferings mentioned, he will be limited, powerless, he will be exactly one type of being and not all the others, it is he who will feel (in his body) all the pains of existence and will pay for existing. But now there is a little story that gives meaning and explanation to all these sufferings, pains and limitations.
Thus, within this story, by taking the decision to procreate, one sacrifices the body (understanding by this all that we can say about a body, including thoughts, feelings and sensibility) of the child for the well-being of a spirit (of another world) which will incarnate in the body of the child. Therefore, in parallel with the constant decrepitude of the body of the child, there is a possible “evolution” of the spirit embodied in them. In this way, the body of the child receives the injury, and the spirit receives the benefit (or harm).
If the decision taken, however, is that of non-procreation, one can (in this perspective) have the problem that the spirit cannot incarnate and evolve (not at least in the child’s own body), and whoever made that decision can be considered a limiter. In this way, the spirit receives the injury, and perhaps also those who have decided not to procreate, in case there is some “punishment” for making the incarnation of that spirit in that body impossible. The one benefited (pre-existential), in this case, would be the body of the child. As it will never come to exist, it will maintain the privileged status of the first nothingness. If one wishes to indicate an existing beneficiary, one could mention those who made the decision not to have him, because they did not force the (body of the) child to come into being and because they were not responsible for his existence.
If a similar reflection on other belief systems is made instead of the hypothetical system E (which bears similarities with some existing ones), there will be some interesting patterns (in this reflection), which apply, if not to all, to a large part of them. Some of these patterns are listed below.
19.2. Loving the child above all else
The decision to create a new being sacrifices the child’s body (which is necessary and includes thoughts, feelings, sensibility, among other things) in favor of some contingent supernatural element(s), causing injury (various natural restrictions, not in the supernatural sense) to his body while attempting to benefit the element(s), which in one system is a particular one, and in another system is different (there is no external criteria to decide on them, and it is even possible that they do not exist). On the other hand, the decision not to have a child benefits the body of the child (necessary and recognized as existing¹² if not by all, by a number far greater than the number of adherents of any belief system) and, therefore, his thoughts, feelings and sensibility; and may bring harm to the supernatural element(s) and to those who have taken the decision, if there is any sanction (of supernatural origin) for that act.
Thus, in having a child with a religious motivation, one devotes oneself to love and follow a supernatural system of dubious existence (if it were not, it would not be necessary to have faith, and there would not be so many different beliefs), and, on the other hand, one does not devote oneself to love and to worry about the body of the child (which he will probably live with for many days), with his thoughts and feelings, his sensibility, condemning him to guaranteed natural sanctions. By not having a child, however, one devoted, loved, and cared for their child, with his thoughts and feelings, his sensibility, and if there is any sanction, the responsibility lies with those who have decided not to have him and not with the new being; if there is any damage, it will be to the supernatural element(s) and not to him.
Anyway, by not creating a new being, one takes a responsible attitude, keeping the implications of this action to the very individual who made the decision. On the other hand, by creating a new being, one throws the whole package on the shoulders of the child (in the cases examined, in the name of a supernatural element or system), with a myriad of implications, and from then onwards (starting from X2) the new being is the one who will have to deal with the problem (since he now exists), and not the parents.
Summarily, in creating a new being with a religious motivation in mind, one sacrifices what necessarily exists (the body of the child) for the sake of what only possibly exists (Devil, God, spirit, or any supernatural element or system). In a terrifying picture, imagine that a needle was stuck in some of those supernatural elements; can you imagine the spirit, God, the Devil or any of those elements feeling pain? Now try to imagine your little boy or your little girl with a needle stuck on them. It is easier to assume that he or she is in pain, is it not?
12: In these passages it is always assumed that the body necessarily exists in a world perceived by the (five) senses, and is distinguished from elements of doubtful existence, situated in magical worlds, or perceived only by some. In these references, however, we seem to have discarded the (at least experimental) possibility of the non-existence of a part of the body (often associated with the image of a “brain in a vat,” which undergoes certain stimuli and believes to have a body and live in a world in which it does not actually live, as shown in the movie Matrix). This possibility, however, is not totally discarded here. If one wishes to accept it, considering that one is in an experiment of this type, it seems that it is up to this individual or these individuals, the power to not impose the “package” on the other. Note that if this hypothesis were accepted, there would be one more reason to try not to procreate: to not put someone in an “explicit experimental condition,” like a guinea pig (possibly worse than the “explicit non-experimental” condition). It was referred to an “explicit experimental condition” because, in a way, our natural condition seems experimental, or even worse. In what concerns manipulation, for example, the ultra-egoist performs it with the new being in a way that no scientist could achieve, whatever his object of study may be. Even if the manipulation of an animal by a scientist seems cruel, for example, by cutting it entirely, by modifying parts of its body (even with experiments involving genetic alterations), he will never be able to manipulate the animal at the level of its very being, which is successfully done by the ultra-egoistic procreator.
19.3. Humility and uncertainty
It is important that adherents of any belief system consider all that has been exposed here, that is, they should have the humility to recognize the possibility of being adherents of a system that does not perfectly describe the world(s) (in virtue of the multiplicity of systems and incompatibilities between them, being impossible for all them to be correctly describing what they describe). And thus, they should make their decisions through the doubt that reason presents to us, which is an important part of the human being (who, if created by God or by some superior force—as many believe—is sacred and, therefore, cannot be overlooked). Regardless of the humbly acknowledged possibility being true or false, the one who will be paying for the decision of the parents will be the son or the daughter (because then he or she, regardless of the association with the supernatural element, will vehemently feel all the pains of existing). But if it is true, he or she will still have the burden of existence on their shoulders only and solely because the parents wanted¹³.
13: Forcing someone into being by virtue of this religious motivation refers in fact to the purposes of the very parents of the new being, by translating into their desire to obey some supernatural element (of their particular beliefs), to covenant with some supernatural system (according to their creed), and ends up constituting, in any case, a self-satisfaction (which one has tried to project to another world or to the supernatural in general). As stated, then, in regard to ultra-egoism, this also characterizes an ultra-egoistic attitude. A clear example of this is a believer in the system U that has a child and believes that they are doing something, but someone in the system J already does the same thing, believing that they are doing something else, and another person of the system L does the same thing and thinks to be doing a third thing. What do we have in common in all three cases? Ultra-egoism: two individuals forcing a new being into being. The little story told is different in each case, but the act is the same. They decide to have a child by virtue of their beliefs, values, interests, causes and inventions, and afterwards the new being ends up worse off (who may have no identification with such beliefs and configurations). No matter how much the parents point to outside of themselves, having each system a different direction, the common nucleus is always a “pointing” individual, who points back and forth as a result of his desirous being, which reveals, in all cases, the centrality of the “I.”
19.4.0 The well-being of the new being as the main or sole objective
It is important to consider the above because often the adherents of any belief system, or most of them, declare that they want, in relation to their own children, the same as the author of this essay, that is, the well-being of the new being. I suppose there is this nexus of intentions between the author and his readers. Having this same desideratum, there seems to be a link or connection that will possibly allow us to reach the goal, that is, the well-being of the new being. It is proposed that this be not only the main objective, but, preferably, the only one. Or, if put in terms of the procreators, their satisfaction will at least be to do no harm to the new being. After all, if it is possible to obtain satisfaction by doing harm to an absolutely innocent individual, and it is also possible to obtain satisfaction by not doing him harm, is the best option (morally) not the last one? Would it not be better to satisfy yourself without harming an absolutely innocent individual? This is the question that I leave for you at the moment.
20.0 The worst problem of optimisms
In a brief consideration of some types of optimisms, some possible relations with procreation and its implications are made explicit.
An optimism that ignores all evidence and affirms, for example, before those who live in pain and suffering, that “everything is going well” or that “everything is for the best” is not only erroneous and illusory, but essentially cruel. But this cruelty has not yet reached its maximum peak. The ultimate cruelty is achieved by forcing someone into being by thinking that “everything will be possible for the new being,” that “everything is going well,” “everything will improve,” “my child will live in a better world than the one I lived in,” “my child will have better conditions than I did,” and so on.
Note that by creating another being by virtue of this imaginary naïveté, in one’s abusive exercise of one’s right to be optimistic, one hurts the right of the new being to be pessimistic. The optimism of the parents (whether economic, religious, social, political, familial, or whatever it is) ceases to be connected only to them, thus invading the space of the other, and of a particularly innocent other, the new being. Any pessimism that he may have will already be tarnished by the original optimistic choice, not made by him.
True pessimism, that is, not being born, is no longer possible, only a secondary pessimism, already within the original optimism of the parents.
21. In short: always ultra-egoistic
Recalling some points from the previous exposition, we have that it is not possible (for everyone) to justify forcing someone into being based on “compensations” (relative and contingent). An attempt has been made to find at least one undoubted and necessary reason for all new beings to come into being, and it has been shown that from their perspective there is no reason to come into being, there is no internal reason, there is no reason that rests on themselves. In this way, the pretension to create someone without ultra-egoism (that is, worrying about the well-being of the children, thinking about their perspective, not being exclusively focused on one’s own satisfaction) fails. There are only external reasons for the emergence of the new being. These reasons become explicit when looking at those who force them into being, and observing where they look, whether to themselves, their businesses, their assets, their family, to society, or to the projection that they do of themselves. Only by existing (from the moment X2 onwards) will the new being have internal reasons, perhaps to smile, but also, undoubtedly, to lament, to suffer, to anguish.
22. There is no ultra-egoism in fortuitous adoption
The only option left for someone who desperately needs to go through (at least in large part) the paternal or maternal experience, but without acting in an ultra-egoistic way, is what I call “fortuitous adoption,” the adoption of someone without any devise or control. This is because one could always, following the desire to exempt oneself from responsibility, try to “change the victims” of adoption (as in the case of murders in the film Strangers on a train—by Alfred Hitchcock), where one would premeditate, for example, an adoption exchanged between two known couples. This or any other type of planning (such as maintaining one breeding group and another for adopting the ones created) would still remain on the level of ultra-egoism.
But in fortuitous adoption, that is, in the case of people adopting an already existing person without premeditation, although adoptive parents may be considered equivalent to “natural” or “biological” parents in certain domains, they certainly are not in the domain we can call “ontological.” In this context the difference is glaring, and for the understanding of the relationships described in this essay, adoptive parents did not force the adoptive child into being, and therefore there are no maximum manipulations that are observed in ultra-egoism.
23. It is only possible to be a good father and a good mother by not being a father or a mother at all
In this way, the search for a coherent attitude between wanting the well-being of the child and the fact of having him fails here. There is an incompatibility between the well-being of the new being and the act of forcing him into being. Once he has been forced (from X2 onwards), one will not be thinking, in general, about the well-being of the new being, one will not be concerned with the child himself (one can then guide him to a better path, or something along those lines, but it is already too late, because the worst has already been done). This act (having a child) can even reveal a certain veneration of a non-sentient system; it can reveal, at the heart of the issue, a certain loving dedication to oneself, in such a degree of involvement with oneself that one cannot think about the well-being of one’s own son or daughter, only in one’s own ultra-egoistic satisfaction.
24. It seems better to convince him that it was the stork. . . .
What answer should be given to the new being if he asks you some of the following questions?
— Why did you make me exist? Why did you put me here?
— Did you want to love someone else? You were loving each other and you wanted a product of that relationship? Or did you want me to bring joy to you or somebody else involved?
— Or would it be to constitute a family, to go through the experience of motherhood and fatherhood, to give meaning to a life that seemed to no longer have it? Or to solve a marital, existential, spiritual, social, political, or any other type of crisis?
— Or maybe to be part of a tradition, to give continuity to a family, to be socially accepted (after all, everyone has children)?
— Or because a baby or a child is the most beautiful thing in the world?
— Or did you want to have someone to leave your possessions to? Or to have someone to care for you in old age? Or to continue the species?! Or to exalt God!?
If these were the justifications, the new being could then rightly complain: “You were in love and now I have to face the world?”; “You were in a crisis and now the burdens are mine?”; “You wanted a beautiful baby and now I have to endure all this?”; “What do I have to do with all this?”
In fact, he has genuinely nothing to do with this. He is just the one they needed to love, the product they wanted of that relationship; the source of joy they needed, the missing family member, what they wanted in order to experience motherhood or fatherhood, to give meaning to their lives, to solve their crises, to be part of a tradition, to give continuity to a family, to be socially accepted (after all, everyone has children!). He is what they wanted to aesthetically satisfy themselves with (he is this “most beautiful thing in the world”); or to receive their possessions, to care for them in old age, to continue the species and to exalt God. But these justifications are so egoistic (ultra-egoistic) that it seems better to convince him that it was the stork who brought him into the world and that nothing could be done to stop it.
25. Quick to make amends
There is a curious irony in the educational guidance of the parents, that which is given by the father and the mother who guide their children regarding the adversities they will face throughout their lives. It is common for the parents to impose on them a series of precautions and tasks, after all “life is very difficult and one needs preparations in order to thrive.” It is also common for the parents to not allow or at least recommend to their children that they do not have relationships with “certain people,” because “the world is full of evil and selfish people who want to take advantage of you, who will make you sad, treat you unfairly, and even hurt you.”
Perhaps at first, the children will be very glad to have someone so concerned “for their well-being,” even if against their will. In a second moment, though, insightful children might find it interesting to ask the parents: “But, mom and dad, if life is so difficult and requires so much precautions that prevent me from doing what I want, and if the world is so full of evil and selfish people who want to take advantage of me, who will make me sad, treat me unfairly and even hurt me, and I thank you very much for your guidance, but first, why did you put me in such a dark world?”
The greatest irony in this attitude of the parents is that they themselves were, in a sense, the first to commit the disregards (whose victims are their children) of which they subsequently try to protect their children from (that is, from being victims of others), as if they wanted an “exclusivity contract”: since they created the children for themselves, they are now their owners and they do not want others to enjoy them.
When parents warn their children that the world is full of selfish people who want to take advantage of them and who will treat them unfairly, they do the same thing as warning them that there are other people in the world like the parents themselves. It is tantamount to informing them that, even with a world full of people like that, exploitative and unjust, and even with life being very difficult, the parents (who knew this) forced their children into being, even though it was avoidable.
But committing a crime and then protecting the victim does not erase the first action. In that case, on the contrary, one will only have to protect the victim by first having made them a victim. This primordial act will then enable all future “victimizations.”
26. Trilogy of responsibility: three tragedies in the same act
As announced in the preface, the present text followed a certain movement that allows us to glimpse three types of imputation or accountability. Initially we have what we could call the first imputation: the problem consists in forcing someone innocent (not aware, powerless and not responsible) into something. Afterwards, a second imputation in which the problem consists in forcing someone into something that is not known whether it will be good or not (for them, the particularly innocent other). And in the second part (in “the Ego of the issue,” I and II) a third imputation, in which the problem consists in forcing someone (the prototypical innocent victim) into something that will certainly be bad for them. Following the cumulative exposition that was made so far, the immorality of procreation is more fully configured with all these imputations, further aggravated by the fact that the parents abandoned the possibility of abstention, open to everybody.
27. Relational schema between the parents and the new being in procreation
The following diagram illustrates some relations between the parents and the new being. In it is explicit: “who receives what” and where the cause and purpose of the existence of the new being (and therefore also the links of responsibility concerning his existence) rest. The elements mentioned in this schema were discussed in detail throughout the work and are presented here only graphically and summarily.
28. Minimum proposal: only one approach
Adopting the proposition of having the well-being of the new being as the sole or main objective, one realizes that one can yield to natural “charms” and “forces” to a certain extent (to “say yes” to some extent), that is, until it involves an absolutely innocent being who will pay for existing by virtue of having been forced by two other individuals who might not have done so. We can thus perceive the precise point where one should not give in to these natural “charms” and “forces,” in which all optimisms should be limited. Adopting an attitude of radical and profound respect for human suffering, and particularly with regard to one’s own son or daughter’s suffering, one can do whatever one wishes to do, except force a new being into existence.
If the reader has opted for the route of interspersed reading, they should go to the “Letters of the Ego II.”
[End of the second chapter]