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I was listening to a discussion with David Benatar, and the point that Buddhism seems to be antinatalist was raised. It seems that people argue this both ways. Can Buddhism be said to be antinatalist? Or some strands but not others? If it is, what consequences does this have?

I have always kind of dismissed Benatar's ideas as being a kind of Larkin-esque pose, and making a mistake in hierarchy that puts pleasure above meaning, like utilitarians. But if the charge of antinatalism sticks, it seems I am going to have look more carefully at which of his points also apply to Buddhism.

  • Do you have a reference for the discussion with Benatar? – Frank Hubeny Jul 11 '18 at 14:39
  • Somehow I occasionally (no) turned up on wikipedia antinatalism page and it states that Hari Singh Gour said Buddhism was antinatalist. But since Buddha himself didn't say it (or if he did, no source has survived till the present), I would not call Buddhism antinatalist. – rus9384 Jul 11 '18 at 14:50
  • @rus9384 But surely if the natural conclusion of buddhist thought is antinatalist it may be said to be antinatalist even if it's not explicitly so? – JeffUK Jul 11 '18 at 14:56
  • What consequences? I guess it could be argued that antinatalism would stop the endless round of suffering by stopping new births. Tolstoy came out the same way I believe with his Christian Anarchy (I think this was what it was called). – Gordon Jul 11 '18 at 15:06
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    According to buddhist thought human beings are in the best position to achieve enlightenment, even when compared to deities. Ceasing birth of human beings would therefore cease the birth of beings capable of achieving enlightenment. Antinatalism wouldn't stop the endless cycle of suffering but would rather make enlightenment impossible. – transitionsynthesis Jul 12 '18 at 6:23

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