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Every Cradle is a Grave: Rethinking the Ethics of Birth and Suicide

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Millions of years ago, humans just happened. Accidents of environment and genetics contributed to the creation of sentient beings like us. Today, however, people no longer "just happen;" they are created by the voluntary acts of other people.

This book examines several questions about the ethics of human existence. Is it a good thing, for humans, that humans "happened"? Is it ethical to keep making new humans, now that reproduction is under our control? And given that a person exists (through no fault or choice of his own), is it immoral or irrational for him to refuse to live out his natural lifespan? All these questions are answered in the negative - not out of misanthropy, but rather out of empathy for human suffering and respect for human autonomy.

250 pages, Paperback

First published July 16, 2013

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Sarah Perry

2 books25 followers

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5 stars
139 (39%)
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59 (16%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews
Profile Image for Anita Dalton.
Author 2 books157 followers
June 23, 2015
Sarah Perry wrote this book from a place of philosophical intellectualism and factual integrity. She exhaustively researched the hows and whys of suicide and procreation and makes a very compelling case for making suicide accessible for people who do not want to live and for considering whether or not it is ethical to continue to create new humans whose lives may be more a burden to them than a gift. As she deftly picks apart the arguments against suicide and antinatalism, she bestows upon mankind a dignity and respect for self that anti-suicide and pro-birth crusaders deny us as we are asked to suffer and to mindlessly recreate ourselves because of tyrannies of tradition and religious mores.

This is a super-long discussion, some may say heinously long, so you can read the entire thing here.
Profile Image for The Brain in the Jar.
114 reviews33 followers
April 21, 2017
Two ideas are hard-wired into our minds. We believe life is good and that forcing people into existence is a positive thing not because of rational thinking. Genes make us think this way, because this is how they progress. Without these ideas, an organism kills itself and doesn’t produce offspring. Genes die, and genes’ purpose is to continue.

People always killed themselves. Some cultures even claimed it’s virtuous in certain situations. We’ve made huge ‘progress’ (Or, more correctly, changes) over the years thanks to doubters who kept tearing down ideas and replacing them with new ones. The general ideas about the value of life and birth remained the same, though. One famous philosopher talked about how we shouldn’t have kids, but is there any major literary work that asks this question?

You can’t blame Perry for not digging deep enough. She’s in the toughest stage of philosophy. Ethics and the meaning of life are both hard subjects, and going against your own genes is even harder. Few people made that journey – many who tried just said suicidal people got some chemical imbalance and called it a day. If her exploration is sometimes a little shallow, it’s only because she has few sources to draw from.

Her section about suicide is the most disappointing one. It’s a shame, because it’s also the most important one. Of all the ideas in this book, assisted suicide is the most practical one. The suicide prohibition is harmful and no different than oppression of minorities.

We treat suicidal people like criminals. Voicing misogynistic or racist thoughts is less dangerous than voicing suicidal thoughts. People can be hospitalized against their will for wanting to die. No suicide prevention is willing to actually talk to suicidal people, to deal with the arguments behind why suicide is a valid option. At least when people argue against misogyny, they got science and philosophy behind them. When people talk about suicide, they write people off as ‘irrational’.

There are a lot of ways to look at this tricky subject. Suicide is a private action that causes great distress to the environment. Perry doesn’t delve enough into why suicide should be protected. The main arguments suicide are the value of life and the harm it causes to others. The harm it causes to others is especially important, since ethics often blur when freedom, pleasure and pain mix.

While Perry explains briefly the principle of consent that transform murder into assisted suicide, it’s not enough. Suicide causes extreme pain and we need more allegories, more rephrasing of why it’s okay for a person to kill themselves. There’s a whole chapter about the suicide contagion which feels a little pointless – sure, it’s a thing but not as central to the debate as other things.

The chapter about social pain is fantastic and too short. It’s a new way to approach the problem of suicide and is informative even if you don’t believe in the right to die. The common narrative is that people kill themselves because they’re depressed is common and pretty comfortable. It makes the problem more complex – how do you solve depression? – but it erases responsibility. Perry’s idea that people kill themselves because of failed social belonging demands a revolution in suicide prevention. Suicide prevention should start earlier, and constantly happen. If people kill themselves because they don’t belong, we need to create a more welcoming, a more social society.

This type of idea is easy to explain, since people experience a lot of social pain. Suicide is causing social pain, actually – you reject people, deeming them not worth the time. It’s also the only moral type of suicide – suicide prevention by improving life, rather than stopping the act itself.

Suicide is a difficult subject. There are the practical side of how we make assisted suicide available – who’s fit, who loses the right to die, whether there’s an age of consent. The issue of how people feel after someone dies to suicide cannot be ignored. No matter how integral the right to die is, suicide leaves a huge pain (In fact, it’s considered the worst way to lose someone). Perry doesn’t do enough to explore such an alien idea to many.

Her writings about antinatalism is far better. She does write off the subjective perspective too easily, though. This higlight the core difference between the right to die and antinatalism. Both rely on different versions of morality. The former values freedom and the subjective perception, the other one is about preventing harm.

So even if life is overall bad, the fact people perceive it overall to be worthwhile is important. People who behave in a ‘suicidal’ way, according to her, may just be optismitic enough to believe it’ll be worth it in the end. Maybe they take these huge gambles because they value life so much that even if the gamble fails, life is still worthwhile.

Nevertheless, her anti-life arguments can’t be written off easily. They demand questioning our genes. Picking apart our daily schedules is important even if you believe life is worthwhile. By showing us how much time we waste on doing nothing, how much of our life is actually unpleasant she motivates change. If you truly think life is worthwhile, then you must act in ways that’ll prove it. If social pain encourages suicide, we must build a more friendly, communal society. Our morality relies more about not doing harm than actually doing good. What kind of society is it where we only avoid harm but don’t do good? A good life isn’t defined by lack – happiness due to absence rarely lasts. We’re happy when we have friends, but we’re not happy because we’re not being bullied.

The chapter about the natural world is also essential reading. It’s a radical and rare view of nature – not as a friendly, optimal place but one whose behavior is actually anti-life. So many animals die so young. Yet we don’t interfere when the female mantis eats the male’s head. How do animal rights work in this context? Why is it wrong to kill animals, or to ignore murder but okay to ignore it when it the organism aren’t human beings?

What makes the book so valueable is that even if you don’t agree with Perry’s thesis – many won’t, since they either love life too much or they can’t resist their genes – the ideas here are still useful and thought-provoking. It’s not just about how bad life is, but what to do with it. The last chapter, “Living in the Epilogue” is both horrifying and comforting. If things are really that bad, we can at least speed up life by enjoying it. Also, who has it worse? The person who’s about to die or the person who has 90 unwanted years ahead of them?

It’s an incomplete book, but antinatalism and suicide are difficult subjects. Perry at least confronts them instead of writing them off. Maybe someday in the future – if we have one – this book will become slightly outdated because of some basic sections. For now, this is a book that stares at difficult subjects in the face, provides tough answers and plenty of room for discussions or to move forward. You don’t have to agree with Perry to enjoy this. Many of her ideas can be used to improve society. As she said in the beginning, and something we often forget – we’re all humans, and what drives ethical philosophy is compassion for others.

4.5 cradles out of 5 graves

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1 review2 followers
June 21, 2016
First off, it probably is important to understand the author's background. After multiple failed attempts at suicide, she seems to have become frustrated with a world where social nicety prohibits you from even speaking about suicide. This book is her attempt to change this.
While I don't want to charge her with being biased in favor of one position, you might want to keep this in mind while reading the book.

Nevertheless this little book, only a little more than 200 pages in length, is dense with intriguing ideas. Even if you think that death is a fundamentally terrible thing, it should at least enable you to come to some form of understanding about why anyone would hold the position that life might not be such a great thing.

Antinatalism, negative Utilitarianism and related positions aren't particularly new perspectives. But the author does a good job of elucidating the economic, psychological and philosophical foundations necessary to understand why it might be rational -- in an economic sense, as well as an evolutionary one -- to kill yourself.
While the author herself calls the book a work of philosophy, it is not the terrible kind of philosophy which often makes people outside the field think that philosophy is a absolutely useless. Rather, the book is empirically grounded no-nonsense philosophy.

While I definitely liked this book, that is not to say that all the arguments are flawless. At times, the author contradicts herself about the main reasons for death, seemingly changing her angle from lack of personal connections, to lack of perceived control, to bad economic situations, to whatever. At other times, her arguments are based on assumptions which are not as clear as she makes them out to be. It is *not* clear that everyone will die (in the foreseeable future), depending on who you believe with respect to the future of biotechnology, artificial intelligence etc.
However, in the context of the book, this is not all that bad. The point she tries to make is not that one reason is the most important, but that there are "rational", or at least decent, reasons why some of us kill themselves. And the intuitions that people have about suicides' motivations usually doesn't hit close to the mark.

Even if I thought that all her arguments about suicide, antinatalism, etc. were terrible -- which I don't -- her discussion of the origins of meaning itself was sufficiently delightful to believe that my time reading this book was well spent.
Profile Image for Jacob Williams.
445 reviews7 followers
December 16, 2021
I hope to write a longer review of this at some point. In short, I object to both of her main conclusions, but there is one theme in here that I really like, discussed primarily in chapter 10 and the appendix:
Why are drugs, prostitution, gambling and suicide illegal, when they clearly give so much relief to suffering people? I think it is because, at a societal level, we are deluded into thinking that happiness is possible, maybe even easy or likely, without these things. I have called this “cheery social policy.”

The fundamental problem with this sort of cheeriness is the assumption that a good life—a pleasant life—is relatively easy to achieve. Cheery people are able to hold such a belief because they are able to ignore—and perhaps can’t even conceive of—the suffering of a significant minority of the population. A good life is not easily achieved for many of us.

Of course, there are other arguments against legalizing those things. But I do think it's true that our expectations of ourselves and each other are often shaped by an unstated assumption that a normal person in normal circumstances should find their life at least moderately satisfying. Those who don't may then think there's something deeply wrong with themselves. But the assumption might be wrong; how to enable even a decent life for the average person may be an unsolved problem.

At a personal level, I think what this suggests is: if you find yourself deeply dissatisfied with life, you should be open to making radical lifestyle changes that seem very abnormal. "Normal" might just not actually work very well. At a societal level, the implication is that we should not be complacent: our culture, our government, our economy, our technology may all fall short of what's necessary to ensure that most people live adequate, let alone excellent, lives, and we should be actively seeking ways to fix that.
75 reviews48 followers
July 26, 2015
This is a peculiar one. Probably not for the faint of heart, but I highly recommend it. I didn’t find myself agreeing with every line, and I think Sarah is guilty of (unintentionally) minimizing the number of suicides that may be impulsive, but I walked away with a very different view of the ethics of birth and suicide.

After finishing it, I had a brief conversation with Sarah— you can see the start of the thread here: https://twitter.com/ctbeiser/status/6...
Profile Image for Jason Roy.
12 reviews10 followers
January 4, 2016
Thought-provoking, insightful, and very well written. Highly recommended for people interested in moral philosophy, bioethics, or who just like to have their sacred beliefs challenged.
Profile Image for Jem The Voracious.
11 reviews1 follower
February 28, 2015
The legal and moral arguments set out in this book will be of use to lawyers, policy-makers, and anyone else looking for counterarguments to the "pro-existence bias" present in conversations around, for example, abortion or euthanasia. However, this is far from a scholarly work: Perry cheapens her arguments with snide remarks about the life projects that people choose to give their lives meaning, preferring those undertakings that fit with her biases. So, graduate school is a "gamble", but housewifery, marriage, and writing books (she does all three) are valid choices. That said, her idea of "social policy as palliative care" is intriguing and offers a more compassionate stance toward people who are simply trying to ease the pain and suffering of existing in the world.
Profile Image for David McLeod.
15 reviews4 followers
February 3, 2021
This, as Perry points out in the preface, is a book about ethics. She doesn't aim to persuade the reader to change their views on suicide or birth as much as pose inquiries and poke holes into long-held ethical beliefs that many are too (self) satisfied to question. She illuminates every dark alley in Suicide city. Did you know that successful suicide rates among women are equal to or greater than men in places where lethal poisons and other non-violent methods are readily available? Neither did I.

She vacillates between thoughts on suicide and antinatalism, taking a refreshingly existential (and funny) stance. The central question, in a nutshell, is whether "Life, perhaps, would be more enjoyable and less miserable if it were not mandatory."

You will probably find, in reading this, that you hold certain values and practices sacred. Things that you take to be givens or common-sense. The book will reevaluate these values and treat you to a vantage point askew-yet-striking.

642 reviews28 followers
October 18, 2019
This is a book about ethics. However, Sarah Perry is clear that people do not change their views on ethics from exposure to reasoned argument; so she is not out to persuade. She is also very clear that she is arguing points that most people would consider evil. Basically, that life is very bad and that people should not have babies or create aware beings (whose interests are very hard to predict before that being is created) and that suicide is not bad but an ethically rational response to the badness of life.

She believes (and I agree) that childbearing is a moral decision affecting a new human being, rather than an event that just happens to the new parents. Do we prevent harm and suffering by staying childless?

She methodically posits the evidence for her argument. And she is extraordinarily thorough, bringing forth all the arguments that are pro life and against the right to end of life and answering each one.

What I LOVED about this book was her exposition about the filters we inherit or absorb from which we perceive and experience life (values, status, social belonging, religious beliefs etc). All of these filters become sacred cows, and she is definitely having fun skewering EVERY SACRED COW that we hold dear. If you do not want your preciously- held assumptions questioned, then this is not the book for you.

The essence of consciousness is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. The ability to create a narrative has been a key to our evolutionary success and is hard-wired into each of us. But these stories are not real. There are no stories in the universe, no gist or hidden meaning. Our need for meaning in order to have life be “all right” creates the social and cultural taboos, the social policies regarding not breeding, abortion, suicide, that reinforce the illusion that life is worth participating in. It is the ultimate “party line” and most of us march in tune with it.

This is a fascinating book. Written by someone who is not only extremely intelligent and articulate, but someone who has been through the hell that life can be, and knows what she is talking about.

And I have to say; she had me with her dedication. For Dread Pirate Roberts.
You gotta love it.
Profile Image for Ali Al Maadeed.
47 reviews6 followers
May 27, 2020
Every line screamed out my inner thoughts saying “yes!”. It awesomely describes the intricacies of the socio-memetic fabric in shielding the self from conscious existence in a marvellous way. A terribly underrated book. I haven’t read Benatar yet, but this is a pretty solid anti-natalist book and Sarah has dealt with the topic with objectivity and logic. Other than the philosophical arguments, I appreciated the sociological and psychological aspects as well!
Profile Image for Daniel Hageman.
324 reviews40 followers
March 5, 2022
"The prevailing views on birth and suicide, I will argue, are very misguided. But they are misguided in characteristically human and evolutionarily adaptive ways. In order to reject them, we must approach what David Eubanks has called the Frontier of Occam--the highest intelligence achievable by a civilization before it figures out better ways to achieve its ends than by continuing to pursue the goals of its alien creator, evolution."

Special shoutout to Perry for highlighting the tragedy of wild animal suffering, in her final chapter.
95 reviews5 followers
October 26, 2021
An excellent examination of the ethics around suicide and birth-I found many of the ideas fascinating, and if anything the book has helped me be more empathetic to those contemplating suicide as an answer to their problems, and to help those who have lost something significant in their lives to provide support as they need it. Great book!
60 reviews
July 31, 2017
one of the easier anti-natalist positions to be completely unconvinced by if your not also inclined to believe oversimplisitic and at times wilfully ignorant and contradictory narratives like 'zeitgeist' and hypernormalisation
Profile Image for Jordan.
80 reviews47 followers
February 17, 2017
One of the best books I've ever read. An unflinching, jarring book that took a lot of courage to write. If you want to challenge/doubt your most sacred, unquestionable beliefs, read this.
Profile Image for Tija Bija.
81 reviews6 followers
April 25, 2022
"since only a million people per year commit suicide, creating life is obviously the right choice."

And obviously the author says this with a little smirk and this statement shows very well the style of her writing in this book.

Although this is the first Antinatalism(shortly -the idea that bringing sentient beings to life is immoral) type of book I have read, I gained more thoughts on topics I didn't look for:

chapterSacredness Old and New
Religion and other meaning- creating groups as “social technology”, the "tool" for grasping/ignoring our sufferings.
"The heavy modern self has a hard task: it must do for itself what human religion and community did in the past. It must provide itself with meaning," to be self-as-source-of-meaning, and thus may fall into existential pit if doesn't succeed to make meaning above the suffering.

chapterAesthetics and Religions: A Minor Distinction
Aesthetics and religions as natural experience machines for humans in order to create meaningful experiences.

chapterWhat Really Causes Suicide
Investigates some most occurrent reactions, mainstream opinions on suicide and attempts to debunk some stigmas and myths regarding the causes.

chapterOn Contagion
Some examples of suicide being contagious. And some arguments going against this pro-life reason for suicide prohibition.


Some people say that it's selfish, ignorant, or courageous, or cowardly, or insane, or tragic, shameful or other, anyhow this book tries to show that there must not be one "appropriate way to speak of suicide, one appropriate attitude toward it". The same with birth. Author dares to question unquestionable axioma of "life is good", "life is sacred", "being born is a good thing".
Profile Image for Joshua.
123 reviews21 followers
May 14, 2021
I knew nothing about Perry going into the book, and her arguments seemed at first to be wide-ranging and disconnected from each other. Connecting the book to her personal history, however, ties it together much more effectively. She settles into a kind of absurdism: we are here, we want meaning but can't have it without making it ourselves -- she deviates here from absurdism by choosing not to make meaning, or be part of a story -- living instead in an "epilogue." Maybe a third way between herself and Camus.

I certainly can't consider myself an antinatalist. It's an unrealistic philosophy that ultimately shrugs its shoulders and lives in impossibility.
1 review2 followers
December 4, 2019
250 pages of depression masquerading as philosophy and logic.

The authoress wasted their time because they said in 250 pages what can be said in a single sentence: every child will suffer and die, therefore creating children is bad. Does that mean creating scientists is bad because then scientists will suffer and die? Scientists make vaccines which increase the population, and thus the number of children, so according to the authoress, even the scientists are bad themselves! Clearly, the authoress and their beliefs are invalid.

Their whole philosophy is a consequence of being depressed and not being able to function when faced with reality. There are many like her out there and they are the enemies of Mankind. They want there to be no scientists, no artists, no music, no value, no true beliefs...

Moreover, not once in 250 pages did they address the obvious fallacy of their thesis: The Baker's Fallacy. Just because a specific something is bad, and an absence of said something causes said something, does not mean the absence of said something is bad like said something is bad. That sounded convoluted so here it is in formal notation: (0=bad->(0->(x->0)->x=bad), where x != 0. That is The Baker's Fallacy. That is the fallacy the authoress, and her type, are committing.
Profile Image for Peter.
101 reviews1 follower
July 20, 2021
excellent introduction to suicide and antinatalism

Before I had finished this book, I thought it was written by a Professor in philosophy or ethics from some fancy University. Imagine my surprise when the author turns out to be "a housewife in San Antonio, Texas". Apparently she has a blog too, which, I'm sorry to say, I haven't read yet.

The author's credentials aside, this is an excellent introduction to the ethical side of suicide and creating new life. I was particularly impressed with Mrs. Perry's arguments pro-suicide, which doesn't mean that we shouldn't help people who are in emotional or physical pain, but which does allow each individual the decision about the value (meaning, happiness, or whatever you like to call it) of their own lives and if a person decides it would be better for him/her to end life, then society should provide the means for it. I realize that this isn't a particularly popular idea, but it is definitely worth thinking about. And the author certainly gives us plenty of things to think about.

P.S. But please change that hideous cover of the book (a painting by the late Dr. Kevorkian).
Profile Image for Professor_lgd.
11 reviews3 followers
March 16, 2020
The first chapter is great for someone who has never been confronted with the immense stigma of suicidality and doesn't understand it.

But reading the next chapter I had to put it down, because her use of terms like "meaning, value, purpose, belonging, status, self-worth, etc.." shows - in my opinion - that she has not really constructed a solid philosophical framework to build upon. She doesn't define these terms, or not sufficiently, uses them interchangeably, uses them too loosely. Since this is advertised as a philosophy book I was really disappointed by her shallow analysis.

Well I gave it a shot.
Profile Image for Ben Arzate.
Author 27 books100 followers
April 8, 2016
This is a controversial book, for sure. However, it's one well worth reading. Perry's conclusions on the ethical implications of suicide and birth go completely against the grain. Even if you don't agree with them, this book will force you to rethink your views on life, meaning, and how the human mind works.

Full Review
Profile Image for Josefima.
15 reviews1 follower
May 19, 2019
This book is shockingly good.

I've always felt bad because I hated social constructions such as the wrongness of suicide and this book just pointed that I may not be in a bad morality after all. Maybe the world doesn't understand this yet.

I learned. I nodded continuously.
Profile Image for Vaibhav.
31 reviews
July 24, 2020
Crisply and intelligently written. Refreshing to get a clear-eyed view of these weighty topics that are unfortunately grossly neglected or mistreated in dominant culture.
11 reviews
April 18, 2021
The parts on (apparently) free disposal of life, moral foundations of suicide and benefits/harms asymmetry are insightful but the following concerns could be addressed for the thesis' robustness:

1) The position against procreation and in favour of suicide is contingent on the fact that suffering is an inevitable facet of life but what does that mean? Is suffering inevitable on the subjective or objective level? If the reply is that this distinction is not necessary, then why establish it to challenge proponents of the inherent meaningfulness of life (i.e. chapter 4)? Similarly, why would, say, death be one of the great harms of life? On what bases/values do we argue that sufferings are harmful to existence or even that they are sufferings, and that sufferings are inevitable? Ultimately, like the conceptions of meaning/purpose and pleasure in human life, the case for suffering as a concept needs to be made before suffering can be convincingly weighed against human life's meanings and pleasures.

2) At one point, the author stated that '[t]he suicide victim being "glad it happened" after the fact does not render interference morally justifiable.' How so?

3) Anthropomorphism is still very much present in the final chapter, despite the author's awareness of her position being as such, and it is present in a way that does not serve her argument. In particular, what is the end goal for human action to prevent suffering of individual animals in the natural world? There is a larger point to be made from this reasoning given that it runs contrary to natural developments (not that natural = good, but that natural = leaning toward some sort of equilibrium that is always shifting) but it is not made. Also, tying in again from 1), the case for suffering (whether in the human world or the natural world) as a concept needs to be made.
June 27, 2020
I think of Perry's writing a continuation of Camus's claim that "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide." Perry's perspective can be categorized as anti-natalist, that is she argues that human beings should seriously consider ceasing to reproduce as it's morally bad.

Part of the antinatalist that I've never fully understood is this: Even if life is fundamentally bad, even if suffering and pain are inherent and overriding aspects of life, even with the guarantee that suffering outweighed pleasure or happiness or any other positive value, even then, couldn't life be preferable to nothing, to nonexistence, at least some of the time? For antinatalists, nonexistence seems to be treated as a zero-value and existence is treated as a negative value. Like: life is going to be somewhere between -3 (a life with very little suffering) or -1,003 (a life with tremendous suffering), but no matter what it's going to be in that negative range and whoever says otherwise is fooling themselves. What follows, then, is that since 0 > -3, nonexistence is preferable; therefore, as a species, we should seek nonexistence while minimizing the amount of suffering necessary to achieve this nonexistence. However, it's fairly easy for me to imagine that -3 or -67 or even -999 are preferable to 0, to pure nothingness. This is a bit of a messy argument I'm making, but simply put I don't understand the valorization of nonexistence. If nothing else, nonexistence is quite dull and I disfavor pursuits of dullness.

Still, Perry is a brave, ardent, and challenging philosopher and folks would benefit from reading her, if only because she requires that we ask deep, "truly serious" philosophical questions about life and the ethics of living it.
Profile Image for Karalovic.
107 reviews2 followers
September 23, 2021
This book examines suicide and birth from sociological and moral perspectives. The sociological part is very interesting as it points out some misconceptions, lies, and deep-rooted beliefs regarding the perception of suicide, suffering, and joy. The author paints a very persuasive picture of a society that forces people to live as it couldn't exist otherwise, but all of that is blamed on the suffering individual.

The end of the book dives entirely into the ethics of suicide and, while it makes some good points, it creates a lot of unaddressed questions. The book is at its best when it shows how an individual has no real reason to find his life worth living but it breaks down when it proposes some "global" moral framework that would apply even to animals. The fundaments of the proposed ethics are not explored enough to mean much.

What this book lacks is a distanced, philosophical, look at the issue. This is masterfully provided by Thomas Ligotti in The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. Sarah Perry suggests in passing that animals are machines, forgetting about humans. Ligotti shows that there is nothing but machines and that by merely wanting to be happy we commit ourselves to an insane delusion. Together, these books provide a great basis for thinking about suicide and antinatalism.
Profile Image for Gianfranco Nerdi.
64 reviews19 followers
December 12, 2021
I'll be honest, I expected a handbook for refuting the most common objections to suicide and antinatalism, and what I got was a few long (and somewhat disjointed) essays on meaning and other stuff. It does discuss antinatalism and suicide, but for only, like, 20-30 pages in total, and I'm probably being generous. The penultimate chapter, the one on animal suffering, is almost embarrassing, too; she can't conceive of why we should not apply human morality to animals but offers no real solutions...it's as if she's trying to imply we need to train a whole bunch of veterinarians and spay every wild animal on the planet, ignoring our own needs and creating even more conscious suffering. Which is ridiculous and definitely impossible. Other than that, there really isn't much to say. The only really useful part of the book is the one where she debunks the "suicide contagion" myth and shows just how shallow it is. I'd only recommend this book to someone who used to read her blog (which is now basically abandoned).
18 reviews
November 2, 2019
A very reasonable book that's ahead of its time.

Perry argues that the topic of suicide in our society is taboo and filled with misinformation due to the "sacred" values that we hold about life and meaning. It's intriguing to think through the full ramifications of a world where suicide is readily available and accepted ("free disposal").

Perry also discusses antinatalism, whether it's moral to bring another life into existence. I particularly like Benatar's asymmetry argument: "Preventing bad experiences (even by preventing experiencers from existing) is good. But a good experience NOT happening to someone is only bad if the person already exists such that he can be deprived of the experience". It reminds me a lot of Pascal's wager!
Profile Image for Trevor.
31 reviews1 follower
July 2, 2019
Pain and suffering are real. This book does not praise suicide and antinatalism, but takes a step back and goes into a thorough discussion of the subject. Is it truly a good thing to have been born in the first place? The questions and subjects in this book are not often talked about, and when they are, it's often with a lot of censorship. This book can open your mind to think critically about two very important subjects regarding everyone alive, and yet to be born.

Some chapters are slow and boring, and can be partially skipped over. But for the most part, I found this to be very critical content that I believe should be discussed more.
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