Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pain - The Negative Motivator

The last blog entry dealt with pleasure as a positive motivator in keeping us alive and to reproducing. It also dealt with pleasure as one part of a two-pronged strategy some types DNA use to perpetuate themselves. This post deals with the second part of that strategy – pain, particularly its role as a negative motivator.  In this blog, pain is defined much more broad than the common every day sense. In this case it is defined as any unpleasant sensation, no matter how trivial, signaling to us that we are experiencing threatens our life or well-being (or will do so soon); whether physical or psychological, whether the threat is direct or indirect.  I will not address masochism because it is ultimately a form of pleasure, and therefore is more appropriately considered in terms of the previous post.

Pain is caused by pain receptors, a nervous system transmitting those signals to the brain, and pain generating regions of the brain itself. In some ways, their role is identical to the “pleasure receptors” – only in the opposite direction.  As mentioned in the last post, pain also motivates us to consume resources and reproduce. Furthermore, it signals to the organism that it is in a situation or environment that is not conducive to maintain its life, reproductive ability, or both.  This means any organism takes a potentially substantial risk when disregarding pain sensations generated by its nervous system.

Therefore, at the basic level and in normal circumstances, pain – especially excruciating pain - is to be avoided at all costs. This is particular true if we accept the following two statements as axiomatic:  “Pain in all forms is bad” and “Bad things are in some form painful”.  It is safe to accept both as axiomatic; for it is difficult to recall any occasion where even one single person did or would have disagreed with either of the two statements, it is safe to accept these two as axiomatic.

However, common everyday experience shows there are many exceptions to the above rule. Therefore, it’s better rewritten as “Pain – especially excruciating pain – is to be avoided at all costs unless the organism cannot gain a pleasurable thing (especially a vital one) without experiencing pain in the pursuit or maintenance of that pleasure.”  Hence, our brains allow us, to a degree, to overrule our pain receptors in order to produce substantive long-term gains. This brings us to the part of the motivation system

The motivational itself is dividable into two aspects, depending on the ultimate goal “sought” by the nervous system’s ultimate creator (DNA) and by the nervous system itself.[1] The goal sought by the nervous system itself is the avoidance of pointless and unbearable pain for its own sake.  If we assume our very consciousness and personhood is located within the nervous system, this ought to be sufficient justification for avoiding pointless and unbearable pain. However, when we remember that the nervous system is itself the product of DNA, plus that the nervous system’s role is to protect our physical bodies and psychological state, then it is difficult to see how the nervous system cannot be anything but a means to an end. The end is to grant a higher probability than otherwise that the DNA will make more copies of itself.

At this point, we have to ask whether it is more important for the DNA to make copies of itself or to avoid pain. If you prefer, you can also ask if it is more important to have a conscious, happy existence or to avoid pain. Either way, we can ask if it is right that the DNA uses the pain (especially the thread of pointless and unbearable pain) as a way to get us to reproduce, or even to keep open the possibility of future pleasurable experiences for the organism.  In other words, given that it is generally unethical to use pain in order to compel humans in particular to do something they otherwise would not think of doing (whether due to their conscious deliberate choice or to indifference about the matter), then how can we say it is right for the DNA to compel us to use pain to make us produce more copies of DNA? [2]

The answer depends in large part, if not wholly, on whether life itself is a long-term gain or loss.  Antinatalists happen to believe life is an objective long-term loss, for reasons given in a later post dealing with David Benatar’s asymmetry.  For now, it’s enough to say that antinatalist position is that because non-existent people can neither feel nor need pleasures, the inevitable pain suffered in life is gratuitous even for pleasurable lives. This does not begin to get into the consent issue (it is not possible to either ask the person before its birth if it wants to be born, nor is it possible for a pre-conceived person to request and/or grant permission to the prospective parents to birth them).  


 [1] As non-aware entities, DNA and individual nerves can’t be aware of anything.  Those objecting that consciousness cannot exist without a sensory nervous system may want to consider hereditary sensory neuropathy or congenital insensitivity to pain (i.e. congenital analgesia). Those with these conditions lack any ability to feel pain at all. Also, psychopaths placed under fMRI scans appear to have little or no emotional response to outside stimuli, no matter how pleasant or horrid the vast majority of people would find the stimuli.  Yet, there is no evidence for diminution of any other mental abilities, self-awareness or other possible forms of consciousness in people with any of the aforementioned conditions. For this reason, the blog takes the position that self-awareness and consciousness are based in the strictly cognitive/rational sections of the brain, or the emotional sections of the brain, or some combination of the two.

[2] Some may object that DNA cannot be evil because it is not a conscious entity and therefore cannot be held blameworthy for the mutation that causes it to create the blueprints for a nervous system, any more than we can blame oxygen for the formation of rust when it reacts with iron.  While this is true, this misses the point.  The DNA brought forth phenomena unique in all creation – consciousness, the survival instincts, and especially the ability to feel pain (physical or emotional). As argued above, pain being a bad thing is axiomatic despite the fact that it increase the odds we will “live to enjoy more pleasures another day”. Even then, pleasure is just the positive motivator that inspires the organism to stay alive.  However, this gets into the question of whether a life filled with pleasure serves any objective purpose (addressed briefly in the previous blog entry and further explicated upon in a later one) or if it is even necessary to bring into existence another organism that can feel pleasure even in copious amounts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Pleasure Principle

The last post briefly described how our survival instinct emerged; essentially stating that it evolved due to random chance mutations within the DNA molecule and nothing more.  This mutation produced the first primitive nervous system . Subsequent mutations produced DNA segments compelling the creation of more sophisticated nervous systems, eventually leading to advanced neurological life as we know it today.  

The post also described the basic sensations produced by these nervous systems and the purpose thereof:  pleasure and pain. Both constitute a two-prong strategy the DNA uses to make copies of itself. Generally, the animal (i.e. the vessel containing the DNA) feels either pain or pleasure sensations when performing certain actions or present in certain environments; pleasure if acting in ways or existing in locales that increase odds of survival or reproduction, pain if the the opposite is the case. The "goal" of all this is to perpetuate the DNA ad infinitum, although to say DNA has a goal is an anthropomorphism – attributing human types of qualities, actions, or thoughts to non-humans (in this case a self-replicating molecule).

The role of pleasure is to inspire the organism to perform actions that cause it to live and reproduce. Physical pleasure’s goal is to inspire consumption of nutrients and energy sources plus engaging in actions that prolong either (directly) the survival of the organism or (indirectly) the survival of the species, i.e, the type of DNA molecule.   Psychological pleasure’s role is to inspire us to remain alive, namely by holding out the prospect of emotionally fulfilling experiences either at present or in the future. Again, increasing the odds for the survival of both the individual organism and the species. Thirdly both the physical and psychological aspects combine to create the urge to pair bond and to reproduce, yet again increasing the chances of both individual and species survival.  The role of pain (including fear) is to keep us away from situations that can cause us to lose our life or reproductive ability.  This sensation to be avoided at all reasonable costs, unless (from the organism’s perspective) there is something pleasurable to be gained that adequately compensates for the pain. 

This post will focus on the pleasure side of our sensations.  Pleasure (or the prospect thereof) is probably an organism’s strongest motivation to remain alive, particularly for  humans.  In fact, it is said to give the organism something to live for, its very reason for being, as discussed below. 

The Meme: Definitions of the Terms
Recognizing that pleasure is a strong, if not the strongest, motivator for a creature to remain alive, particularly a conscious and intelligent one, there exists a common meme among antinatalist members of YouTube: The purpose of life (i.e. its reason for being) boils down to “consumption, reproduction, cannibalism, and addiction”.


The definitions of both consumption (of resources) and reproduction deviate little, if any, from the conventional, common everyday ones.  However, cannibalism and addiction are defined much more broadly.  In this case, cannibalism mean the consumption of at least any neurological lifeform. This definition emphasizes the fact that all living things are related to each other. From this, many, but not all, antinatalists conclude that demarcations between non-relatives (i.e., edible life) and relatives (non-edible life) is arbitrary at best and illusory at worst, especially among neurological lifeforms.[1] Theoretically, at least, this could include even plants, fungi, and microbes, although most adherents to the meme limit the definition to neurological life on the grounds that such lifeforms possess neither a consciousness nor the capacity to experience pain. Nevertheless, even many antinatalists disagree that this broad definition of cannibalism makes any sense outside the abstract one. Even so, many antinatalists still argue that if in the process of obtaining nutrients we inevitably cause agony to a lifeform, then we ought not consume it.  Hence the meme's broad definition of cannibalism.

Addiction, as used by most antinatalists, also has a broader definition than the conventional one.  As used by many antinatalists, addiction appears essentially indistinguishable from need.  In this context, it includes any need for a thing, or any need for a pleasure or prospect thereof. This  includes pleasures or things universally seen as harmless or even necessary for survival. Therefore, addiction can include consumption and reproduction themselves, for these activities are also pleasurable. Still, addiction also includes consuming things or performing activities that may not be pleasurable, yet are necessary for its survival or reproduction.

Evaluation of definitions

While it may sound absurd to say that consuming sensible amounts of healthy food is addictive, a lack of food will make a person just as obsessed with finding food as any drug addict will be for his or her next “hit”.  It does not matter if the desired substance is absolutely vital or truly destructive for the organism. The point is that the organism needs it, to the point where it likely would become mentally unhinged without it.  By definition, this is an addiction in a very real sense, even if not the common every day one.

Thus, according to many antinatalists the four factors above not only compel the organism survive and reproduce but it also serves as its very reason for being, for the simple reason that the organism’s genes contain instructions / programming that tells the organism’s body to make a nervous system; one that compels it to pursue these four factors.   The consumption, reproduction, cannibalism, and addiction serve as positive motivations for continuing our existence. Together with the pain avoidance for its own sake, it forms a very deeply coded genetic programming in our psyche which may be called the survival instincts.

The four aforementioned positive motivators are partially accurate.  Consumption and reproduction usually are pleasurable for their own sakes, and certainly necessary to keep the species a going concern.  Regarding consumption especially, it is a drive even when it is not particularly pleasant, especially if there is no other resource to consume (e.g., people trapped for days away from sources of water have been known to survive by forcing themselves to drink their own urine).  

Some also argue that consumption is not limited to physical resources.  Pleasure itself can be a form of consumption insofar that the pleasurable thing or activity provides us with joy.  In a very real sense, this is true; especially if we agree as sensible the saying “soak up the glory”, “take in the beautiful scenery”, etc.  It is hard to see how this cannot be intelligently interpreted as consuming the glory or scenery – at least in the sense of our aesthetic sense creating satisfactory states within ourselves. Because of this, we can well argue that admiring the beauty of scenery or a painting, or feeling pleasure when people display admiration and respect for you, is a kind of consumption; given that our souls feel like they are absorbing something when we are inundated with these experiences. Therefore, it is certainly legitimate in many contexts to see this as a form of consumption as well.

The same principle about pleasure derived from consuming physical resources goes for reproduction, or at least activities that lead to reproduction (having children, even if with a less favored mate), although even many non-antinatalists regard reproduction is necessary for happiness.  Even so, as a general rule, most people do have a drive to either have children or perform acts that can result in children.  Likewise, the same idea that consuming abstract but pleasurable sensations also applies to sexual or romantic activities as well – arguably even more so, especially in the poetic or metaphorical senses. 

Cannibalism seems redundant vis-à-vis consumption. While many, perhaps most, antinatalists do consider consuming animals as such, I suspect they use this term only because it highlights an important aspect of the often brutal nature of living existence. Therefore, the consumption of living things is just that - consumption, one of the basic activities increasing the probability that the DNA molecule will continue to make copies of itself. Therefore, while adding cannibalism is a good way to highlight the point they want to get across, it robs the meme of its strictly logical elegance.  This does not mean it is wrong through and through, just, as said above, rendering it rather inelegant.

Addiction as defined by antinatalists is agreeable - a mental state that compels the organism to do whatever it takes to acquire the things that give organisms pleasure, regardless of how good or bad they are for the organism.  As implied above, it does not matter if the substances the organism seeks out is bad or good for its health; it is a matter of whether they seek out the substance obsessively and fanatically in the first place.

The definition of addiction is are on stronger ground than cannibalism. Unlike the flatter, the notion of being addicted to even a vital need is not just academic - it is an everyday reality for all of us.  The antinatalists recognize that our ultimately maniacal desire to be alive is, by characteristic, irrational. Therefore it follows that consuming anything for the purpose of remaining alive is likewise irrational - unless our starvation or dehydration either (a) translates into an actual substantive and needed relief of another's pain or (b) is necessary to prevent a substantive loss(es) for another,. Even then, the other person's gains or loss prevention must be commensurate with loss of life in question.

Returning to the topic of food consumption as an addiction, people consider obesity caused by eating excess amounts of food an extreme case of food addiction, even if the excess food does happen to be of great nutritional value; which most people will very likely agree that it is.  In practice, both the mainstreams of the medical community and society will only call it an addiction if it causes serious health problems.  Nevertheless, antinatalists emphasize the fact that any deprivation of even a vitally necessary substance that causes us to act irrationally and maniacally is indeed and addiction - to pain avoidance at the least and outright pleasure at the most. This includes consumption and reproduction as well.

This is quite agreeable where the issue’s jargon is concerned, especially if we question what the real point is in pursuing this pleasure. Is it really for our own sakes or merely because a molecule possesses a segment that programmed us to have these sensations – and that programming just happens to be one better able to sustain the molecule's existence long enough to make another copy of itself (i.e. reproduce).  In short, what’s the point of this DNA making a copy of itself?  If there is no objective point, then we are hard-pressed to say that our existence serves any purpose beyond allowing a non-sentient molecule to perpetuate itself. In that case, our desire for even the most basic pleasures is a kind of addiction, even if some of them are necessary to keep us alive. 

However, if there is an objective point in the DNA molecule making more copies of itself, then that point must come from something outside ourselves.  Just as it’s difficult to say what purpose a von Neumann machine would have if its creator created it just to see if he or she could create it, so it is that it is difficult to say what objective purpose a self-replicating molecule would have if nobody created it.[2]  In fact, the DNA is in an even worse position.  At least the von Neumann machine served the purpose, however temporary, of giving satisfaction to its creator.  The DNA molecule doesn’t even have that much going for it, at least barring the existence of a supernatural creator, which not all people agree with. This aspect will be discussed in a later post. Suffice to say that even assuming any one supernatural belief system is, in fact, true, this need not be a real obstacle to antinatalism.

For the above reasons, perhaps the meme is better rephrased “Consumption, reproduction, pleasant sensations, and addiction”, or we can drop the “pleasant sensations” and possibly even the “addiction” parts if we wish to be the most parsimonious about it (if we're thinking strictly in terms of what it takes to keep a living thing a going concern). If we choose to focus on the nervous system's pleasure-pain psychology instead, we can say that we live only to satisfy addictions; with consumption, reproduction, and ultimately pleasure being the things we are addicted to.  No matter which aspect is the focus, it is still meeting needs and engaging in pleasures that will never be permanently satisfied; and in any case must come to an end for all of us at some point - whether as individuals or as a species.

The DNA strategy is to the compel the organism to perform activities that lead to survival on both the individual and species levels reproduction – namely consumption and reproduction. Success in these endeavors results in the pleasure sensation. If something is pleasurable, yet the activity leading to that pleasure furthers the DNA “agenda”, totally aside from whether its pleasurable, then the DNA achieved its goal – compel the vessel that contains it to perform activities that allow the DNA to produce another copy of itself, or at least the increased probability thereof. Consumption, coupled with the pleasure generated from it, is the shortest term goal of the nervous system and ultimately the DNA molecule that created it. 

While reproduction is usually a pleasure itself, it is more accurate to say that it is the activities leading to reproduction that are pleasurable.  Reproduction is usually a pleasure itself, it is more accurate to say that it is the activities leading to reproduction that are pleasurable.   In fact, many unplanned pregnancies are the result of obtaining sexual pleasure for its own sake, if we focus only on the neurological aspects of pleasure and go no further (which almost everyone does, barring a few to near the vanishing point).

However, pleasure is not enough to compel an organism to consume and reproduce.  There has to be negative motivation to further increase the chance that the organism will do the bidding of the DNA molecule it hosts. That negative motivation is pain, which is will be discussed in the next post.


[1] Anticipating the possibility of discovering extraterrestrial life, one might try to justify hunting and consuming extraterrestrials possessing a vaguely human-like intelligence or even a human-level one, even species possessing a civilization as we define it  – for the simple reason that if we already consume this planet's life, then why should we not consume life on other planets, even species that possess advanced civilization? They are in no way genetically related to us, after all.   However, practically every conscious human alive today would violently oppose this view, and on the same grounds as they oppose human cannibalism besides. For this reason, it is more sensible to believe that cannibalism means consumption of intelligent sentient life, regardless of any relationship (or not) we have to it and no matter where in the cosmos it is.

[2] A von Neumann machine is a hypothetical  machine that can make replicas of itself; in short, a self-replicating machine.  The concept is named after mid-20th Century mathematician and computer science pioneer John von Neumann; though others at the same time contributed greatly to the concept.  More recently Eric Drexler, nanotechnology pioneer (manufacturing machines at the level of nanometers, or the size of only several thousand atoms) uses the self-replication idea to advance the notion that nanometer-sized self-replicating machines could in principle exist.  Given that DNA is an already-existent self-replicating molecule, it is easy to see how the purpose issue can apply to both artificial and naturally produced self-replicating entities.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In the Beginning...

…,there was nothing, depending on what you mean by it. Certainly there was nothing in the common everyday sense of the word – nothing that could shine or reflect visible light or other segments of the electromagnetic spectrum. Nor did the said spectrum itself exist, for photons themselves were not present  either. The same goes for the other fundamental building blocks of matter (i.e., quarks, leptons, gluons, etc.).  However, it is not like the beginning was a complete void. If nothing else, at least one definition of time existed.[1] Also existing in the beginning, according to the Inflationary Theory, there existed a "singularity" - a region of possibly infinite density. This singularity underwent "quantum fluctuations" - random changes in the state or nature of the singularity. One of those changes lead to the Big Bang itself.  Although disagreements currently exist about the details of the pre-Big Bang situation, one thing is clear:  there was not – could not even be - any conscious material entity in the beginning.  

Of course there are supernaturalism-based views to the contrary, but not all people agree that supernaturalism is based in truth. This is not a religion blog, so I will not touch on them at this point; for I want to start from a basis that the great majority of people agree with, or at least find highly plausible.  For now, it is enough to say that, even assuming that one supernatural belief system is true, I don’t find its claims strong enough to defeat antinatalism. 

Current cosmological theories state the singularity inflated about 13.75 billion years ago, plus or minus 0.945%. The “Inflationary Event” led directly to the Big Bang that we have come to know. Where it concerns the beginning of the tangible universe, there was in the beginning super-heated matter (the very building blocks of subatomic particles), energy, the fundamental forces of nature, the laws of physics, and little else.  For the next 10.25 billion years comes the “story” most of us are familiar with – the long chain of events linking the first collapsing clouds of hydrogen and helium to Earth’s first DNA molecule. 

This molecule could and did make, for the most part, very accurate (though not perfect) copies of itself.[2]  Eventually, after many evolutionary steps, one type of DNA arose that contained another set of molecular codes;  instructions for forming both the sensory and the motor systems. Which system evolved first is difficult to say.  Regardless, the resulting systems allowed the organism to crudely sense its environment plus react to changes in it - the very first steps in life being an active entity instead of a passive one.  These systems gave the organism a better than dumb luck chance of being in locales both safe and nutrient-rich. This increased the odds that the organism (and it’s DNA) would make multiple copies of itself. In other words, the creature, the vehicle through which the DNA would self-replicate, increased its odds of having offspring if it had impulses causing it to migrate to locales both safe and nutrient-rich.  Additional random mutations caused further developments in the organism’s descendants. Chief among these was the nervous system.  This created the ability to feel both pleasure and pain, the very beginning of the survival instinct. Thus came the first  true neurological lifeforms (if defined as lifeforms with at least a crude nervous system). 

So for at least semi-conscious self-awareness, in the beginning there was the survival instinct – the set of built-in mechanisms enabling the organism to survive with a probability better than mere dumb luck would allow (at least vis-à-vis less developed organisms).[3]  The organisms that could and did avoid environments not conducive to its survival survived and made further copies of themselves, those organisms that did not or could not did not survive and reproduce.[4]

The DNA apparently developed two different basic means to compel behavior that increased the probability of the organism surviving and reproducing: seeking pleasure and avoiding pain: pleasure to motivate the organism to acquire and consume resources for survival and for reproduction, pain in order to discourage venturing into environments that lessen the probability of continuing that living existence (and ultimately prevent the DNA molecules from making more copies of themselves). 

For hundreds of millions of years, the process continued. This is quite understandable given how deeply engrained the survival instinct is in the very nervous systems of animals, the animals themselves being merely the vehicles through which the DNA perpetuates itself. Never mind that the DNA molecule’s continued existence itself served no apparent purpose, let alone its replication.  The molecule was just passively following the laws of physics and chemistry, as if it had a conscious choice as to whether to follow them. Even the genes for the survival instincts (i.e. pleasure and pain nerves) were simply the product of chemistry and physics and nothing more.

Then, about 200,000 years ago somewhere in Africa, came an animal that could not only manipulate its environment but, thanks to its opposable thumb and fingers, could throw things great distances thanks to its well-developed ball-and-socket shoulder joints. Combine that with its uniquely intelligent brain, with its capacity for abstract thought and vocal chords to make precise sounds, which enabled it to precisely communicate these abstract thoughts, and this animal was destined to rise to become the Alpha species of the planet in a very short time.  Critical in this regard was, as mentioned, the animal's ability to capture highly complex ideas in words and transmit those words and the ideas they represent from one person to another - in other words, culture.  After this creature learned how to control its own food supply, civilization arose.  Shortly thereafter followed writing, and, a few thousands of years later, philosophy – the pursuit of truth in a logical, systematic manner.  The animal questioned the very nature of things, whether what it thought was true really was so, substances and laws of nature, what the right way to conduct ones self is, and many other things.

Eventually, some among these animals even questioned whether their own species ought to bring more offstpring into this world at all (or this kind of cosmos, for that matter), whether because they saw no objective purpose in the molecule's continued replication or because of the method the molecule used to better ensure its replication.  What does it mean that the current Alpha species most important competitive advantage eventually leads them to use that advantage to ask questions about whether their own existence itself has any point, or even moral standing? What does this imply about the very nature of advanced consciousness itself?


[1] I define time as “a non-spatial property of the universe that allows the potential for change - change in position, condition, or both". While this definition might not pass muster with many, if not most, physicists, this is relevant for real-world day-to-day human-scale interactions.  Regardless of the precise characteristics and details of the phenomenon known as time, it is difficult to see how time is not the phenomenon that allows for the potential for changes in position, condition or both.

[2]Here is the first real issue:  given that only neurological life can feel it has needs, feel desires, and even possess the concepts of “good” and “bad” (regardless of how you define each term), how can we say there was a need or desire for a molecule to reproduce when there was nobody around to care if it did or not?  In absence of a conscious entity that could or would care, the DNA molecule was just undergoing chemical interactions with its environment and nothing more.  What purpose did it serve then, or (by extension) even now?  Where it concerns neurological life - especially the more advanced varieties - what purpose does it serve to create a happy being? These questions form the basis of Teleological Antinatalism (i.e. antinatalism based on purpose, or in this case, the lack thereof). However, teleological arguments alone do not seem a sufficient basis for antinatalism. One can then ask “if it doesn’t matter whether or not DNA molecule reproduces, then why not have children anyway – especially if most people will be reasonably happy with their lives?” However, teleological arguments can be powerful supplementary evidence to the extent that people would suffer from a sense of purposelessness.

[3] There may be some question as to whether mobility organelles or the sensory ones came first. Some say mobility provided a better than dumb luck chance for an organism to survive.  While quite interesting to speculate about, this is ultimately a “Red Herring”. Regardless of which ones evolved first, the fact remains that both were already present when the first organism with even the slightest iota of self-awareness came into being. Therefore, from the antinatalism perspective, the issue of which organelles came first is only suitable for academic parlor debates.

[4] Here, we have to ask if merely allowing DNA to make copies of itself is sufficient justification for subjecting the organism to pain and suffering, even if without a life there could be no pleasures and happiness. More to the point, is it right to create a being who will inevitably suffer in some way even if it is overall happy?  This is the Ethical Argument, whether the Philanthropic or Ecological forms of it. Saying we just have a natural desire to reproduce assumes that the reproduction serves a purpose, which brings us back to the teleological arguments.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Major Rewrite Underway

It's been over a year since I last posted on here, but it's not like I've been totally absent from speaking out in favor of antinatalism (commenting on the various blogs, and on YouTube - the latter has a particularly active debate about antinatalism, etc).

Since my last post edit in May 2011, I've learned quite a bit about the arguments for and against antinatalism. Accordingly, I plan to update (not to mention "reorganize") my blog so as to reflect my new understandings of it and to present the material in a more coherent manner. It will be slow going, as I do have a lot to post.  The 2010 posts will NOT be updated again, though I will keep them on here as a kind of record of my intellectual journey. 

Although I don't find the earlier posts particularly unreflective of my present thinking, these earlier posts are to be regarded as increasingly out of date. Therefore, any post dated on or after Dec 7, 2011 must be regarded as superseding the 2010 posts

As I said, it'll be slow going, given the mass of material I must write up and (even more so) likewise the number of angles I have to consider.  But stay tuned and be patient, and you will be rewarded.