I was reading Antinatalism on Wikiquote and saw Antinatalism - Wikiquote

Above all, we must make the reproductive question ethically relevant. A coin is turned around before it is handed to the beggar, yet a child is unflinchingly tossed into cosmic bruteness.

I don't speak Norwegian and don't know if this was translated well. Don't people just toss coins to beggars? I never seen someone in New York turning around a coin. Am I missing figuration?

2 Answers 2


The original text is:

Fremfor alt må vi gjøre forplantningsspørsmålet etisk relevant. Man endevender en mynt under valgets kvide, før man gir den til tiggeren. Men et barn slænger man ut i den kosmiske råskap uten å blunke.

  • P W Zapffe, Essays og epistler, page 161, last paragraph

A literal translation would be something like:

They turn the coin in the anguish of indecision, before giving it to the beggar. But a child they throw into the cosmic brutality without blinking.

A better translation of the bold text is:

A coin is examined, and only after careful deliberation, given to a beggar, whereas a child is flung out into the cosmic brutality without hesitation.


Several languages have a similar expression involving "turning over" coins. For example, the German expression "jedes Geldstück zweimal umdrehen" (or jeden Pfennig zweimal umdrehen) literally means "turning over each piece of money twice" and the Dutch expression "ieder dubbeltje drie keer omdraaien" literally means "turning over each coin three times". (In the Netherlands, a dubbeltje was a coin with a low value.) These expressions mean thinking (at least) twice before spending any money.

Peter Wessel Zapffe is saying that people (in the 1960s) worried more about spending even small amounts of money than about than about bringing children into the world.

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