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For as long as humans have lived on the earth, they have looked for a purpose, for meaning to what we do. In the essay I read it talks about just that. The essay I read was The Myth Of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. In this work he explains how individuals use ignorance as protection from the idea that our life needs to have purpose. Only when we stop thinking about our own mortality and purpose, can we really start to enjoy the present.
Camus is correct in his assumption that the world is absurd, subsequently, people should live their lives without concern for a higher meaning, which is proven through Nagel’s argument of the absurd and Nietzsche’s argument posed about absurdity. For Camus, the absurd is the realisation that the world isn’t rational, he describes it as a man who is face to face with the irrational; he wants to be happy and have a reason to live. “I’m filled with a desire for clarity and meaning within a world that offers neither”. Camus says the absurd is born from the human need and the silence or mysteries of the world that will never be solved. Nagel disagrees with part of Camus’ explanation about the absurd, he argues that even if nothing we do matters in the distant future, nothing in the distant future matters now. Nagel explains that if we cannot predict whether or not what we do will matter in the future, how can we be sure that what we do matters now. He also argues a similar point to Camus, which is that everything ends in death anyway, so really there is no final purpose for our actions. Nagel’s main point on absurdity is on the lack of similarity between the importance we place on our lives from a subjective point of view, compared to how unjustified they appear objectively. What this means is that in our subjective lives, we stress over our appearance, our relationships, etc. But, objectively, we think about whether life is worth it. Usually, after a period of reflection, we just stop thinking about it and proceed with our lives. To avoid the absurdity in our lives we place meaning on our lives through a role, something “larger than ourselves” such as being in the service of society or joining the military to protect your country. In the end you could still question how this higher purpose will bring you meaning or when your quest for justification will end, so realistically, the quest is futile.
In Nagel’s last main argument on absurdism he says that reflecting on our lives doesn’t mean that they are insignificant compared to what’s important, but that they are only significant when compared to themselves. So when we step back and reflect on our lives, we compare the claim that we have about the meaning of actions with the larger perspective in which no standards of meaning can be discovered. This showing that no matter what, comparing your own accomplishments with that of “the purpose of living” will lead you to believe that your actions will never truly live up to that standard. Nietzsche was known for his existentialism. He argued that there was no meaning to life and that the only reason for us to imagine a higher purpose is because we were taught to do so by different religions. He believed religion and faith were a lie and believing in them would only hinder your experience in life as a person. He also believed in making meaning for yourself just as Camus did and that even if others find meaning in different things, it does not mean that your view is invalid. There is no ultimate meaning, therefore making your own is the best and only way. To satisfy your own meaning in life, one must line up their aspirations and have reason behind their goal. Nietzsche found the notion that the human being is all and only what that being does. He believed we could grow past the lies and deceptions to dive into a more profound humanity.
My life consists of me bringing myself into being, I am the makeup of my past actions. Although what I do is free, I am not free, not to act; therefore my existence is a requirement. Living in a worlds where people rely on their own courage and reasoning in order to figure out their own path rather than hoping a higher purpose will guide you is how the world ought to be. It would make people control their own path instead of following a made up one. Everything may be meaningless but to a person it can mean everything, so if life has no higher meaning, try to give it your own.
In conclusion Camus is correct in his assumption that the world is absurd because people should live their lives without concern for a higher meaning. The world is not rational and there is no higher purpose only what is created by ourselves. Nagel’s argument explains that if we cannot predict whether or not what we do will matter in the future, how can we be sure that what we do matters now. He also argues a similar point to Camus, which is that everything ends in death anyway, so really there is no final purpose for our actions. He argued that there was no meaning to life and that the only reason for us to imagine a higher purpose is because we were taught to do so by different religions. He believed religion and faith were a lie and believing in them would only hinder your experience in life as a person. Overall what is important in life is not to live for a higher meaning but learn to live for the things that give meaning to you, to make sure you live the life you want.
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