• Vex

Athkneovism – Antinatalism in an Explicitly Non-Materialist Package, or a Truly Distinct Philosophy?

For the first part of a series on small, niche philosophies I explored Athkneovism – a very new philosophy that was ostensibly spawned on Discord and other messaging services which has now found its way to Reddit through the efforts of a user known only as TruffleRain250 (referred to henceforth as TR). In the Introduction to Athkneovism thread on Reddit TR lays out the primary tenets of the philosophy, provides an origin story for the name “Athkneovism”, and explains some of their personal history. I recommend at least skimming the introduction thread before continuing with this article.

The two main pillars of the ideology, as I understand it, are that nature itself is the source of evil and that the act of reducing suffering leads to the greatest amount of good. This appears to more or less be utilitarianism meshed with anti-existence sentiment. Indeed, it is noted in the introduction thread by TR that one main goal of Athkneovism is human extinction, essentially adopting the antinatalist view that the only true and ethical way to end human suffering is to allow humanity to go extinct. It is also noted that Athkneovism differs from Efilism, the goal of which is to end all suffering by entirely eliminating the existence of sentient life. However, Athkneovism does not differ from Efilism in this manner due to any fundamental disagreement with the goals of Efilism, but because the ultimate goal of Efilism is seen by adherents of Athkneovism as impossible to achieve. It is a distinction made as a matter of practicality, not as a matter of theory.

Notably, Athkneovism does not outright reject alternatives to materialism as antinatalist and efilist thought generally does. This is a fairly unique quality when compared to similar philosophies, which typically reject dualism or other alternatives to materialism as a matter of course. It should be noted that this a point which is difficult to expand upon as the debate between materialism and alternative theories is not usually central to antinatalism, efilism, or other such philosophies as it is largely a moot point given these philosophies takes on the value of existence, or at least on material life. That said, there is not much material regarding this subject within the respective communities to analyze. It should also be noted that Athkneovism appears to reject organized religion such as Christianity while allowing for various forms of as of yet undefined spirituality.

As for my personal opinion on the philosophy, I’ve identified several areas that need fleshing out. First, the claim that “nature is the origin of all evil” needs to be expounded. From my analysis this is just a roundabout way to arrive at antinatalism, wherein any reasonable interpretation of “nature” leads to “life”, specifically human life – the extinction of which both Athkneovism and Antinatalism advocate for. Additionally, moral nihilists and moral anti-realists are likely to take issue with use of the term “evil”, which does not appear to have been concretely defined within Athkneovism as of yet. And, since the term evil is used and therefore must be defined, so too must “good” be concretely defined within the context of this school of thought.

Looping back to the apparent lack of distinction between Athkneovism and Antinatalism, I find myself questioning the necessity of this philosophy. While it is somewhat unique in combining antinatalist thought with a non-materialist conceptualization of our existence I don’t see what else sets it apart from Antinatalism, which is a much older and better established philosophy. Both philosophies maintain human extinction as their ultimate goal, though antinatalist thought generally views this simply as the logical conclusion of the philosophy while Athkneovism actively advocates for it as a point of particularity. This may ultimately be a distinction without a difference, however. With that said I do not currently see what this philosophy provides that Antinatalism does not. It may be that Athkneovism turns out to be less nihilistic in its approach to existence and that the intentional incorporation of non-materialism will be attractive to Antinatalists who also hold non-organized religious or spiritual beliefs, but whether or not this is a philosophical niche that needed serving remains to be seen.

Athkneovism is rather young, with the only accessible online presence of it at the time of this writing being the subreddit r/Athkneovism, excluding this article of course. The sub was formed only a few months ago in January, and has only recently seen a notable amount of traffic. With the sub sitting at 444 members at the time I wrote this, Athkneovism appears to be a truly esoteric and niche philosophy. In comparison, the r/Antinatalism subreddit was created in 2010 and has over 112,000 members, and of course Antinatalism itself has a notable presence outside of Reddit. With that in mind Athkneovism may yet develop into its own distinct flavor of Antinatalism, or it may even evolve so much that it truly distinguishes itself from its main intellectual progenitor. What this path to being a distinct and separate sect of philosophy looks like I do not know, but it is clear that the main proponents of Athkneovism have their work cut out for them if they wish to forge it into a substantive and distinct school of thought.

That’s it for this article, but if you’re interested in further exploration of niche philosophies please consider subscribing to the site's email list or following on Twitter @SocialActuality. Thanks for reading.

- Vex