Is life absurd

Discuss morality and ethics in this message board.
Featured Article: Philosophical Analysis of Abortion, The Right to Life, and Murder
Post Reply
User avatar
Big Boss
New Trial Member
Posts: 15
Joined: November 13th, 2016, 2:48 am

Re: Is life absurd

Post by Big Boss » March 4th, 2018, 3:39 pm

3uGH7D4MLj wrote:
March 3rd, 2018, 3:31 pm
Greta wrote:
March 1st, 2018, 11:32 pm

It's true that everything simply happens. The easiest analogy is to consider the universe's development from speck to what it is today, and ditto the Sun, the solar system, Earth, and each of us. One doesn't really strive to grow, certainly not at first. It all just happens, being a matter of reflexes, which is a matter of chemical reactions, and so forth. That the "reflexes" of the universe et al lead it from there to here is remarkable.

If I was to plump for any kind of purpose, it would be to reduce suffering and maximise happiness, with the former being ubiquitous in nature for any being capable of feeling, while the latter tends to be much more rare, like oases in a desert. Humans have tried to turn this around, although at the expense of other life's welfare. I am not sure if that results in an overall improvement in the biosphere's suffering/happiness equation, or if it's a zero sum game where there must be winners and losers, or if humanity can find a way of transcending that.
There is intrinsic meaning, purpose, teleology -- Meaning that life comes with, out of the box. Big meanings like: The earth is the center of the universe, God is in his heaven, humankind is participating in a divine clockwork system with conveyor belts toward different afterlife destinations. Everyone is clear on his/her position and function in life, and the future.

In the 1950s, these absolutes were just going away. Life without them was seen by Camus and others, as absurd. And I think it's true. On that basis, life is absurd. God is dead, no heaven or hell, why go on?

We're also talking about another kind of meaning, meanings that we can make. When intrinsic meaning goes away, it's unsettling, Camus said that suicide was the biggest philosophical problem. But if you get rid of the big meanings, the metanarratives, you're free to dream up your own projects to give your life meaning. So not to worry, the kids will be ok. It's the metanarratives that are absurd. Life is full of possible meaning.

If that's all there is my friend, then let's keep dancing.
If I can share a bit of a personal story, when I was about 20 I went through a bit of a crisis. I was never brought up religious but it was kind of the stock position to believe in the Judeo-Christian god. I was always a questioning sceptic of religion even from a young age, like 5. I always had a sort of agnostic view of God but tended to believe on little to no evidence. I was one day hit by a realisation that, through all the build up over the years, I was really on the view that God more than likely doesn't exist. I ended up in a bit of a depression and that was due to the whole nihilistic view of life that just comes naturally when you suddenly don't believe in God. I was so horrified by the idea of this purposeless existence. Like a trooper, I soldiered on and eventually realised that meaning can be something that is created internally. You don't need a god or a eternal existence to have meaning as meaning can be whatever you make it. It wasn't until a couple of years later when I took philosophy as subject that I began to be able to really reinforce this idea through actual reason.

I think I will always be indebted to Nietzsche and his view of meaning as something that can reinforce my own. I may not always agree with the guy, sometimes detesting his views, but I will always find him an intriguing thinker for how his view of nihilism and meaning helped me so much. After I could reinforce this idea of meaning I realised how free I really was and how awesome life is. Nihilism is weak as the way we are gives us the freedom to create whatever we like in our lives.

So, yes, life is absurd in the sense that there is no meaning given to you, but meaning, value, all these things come from your own mind. For your entire life what you valued, what meaning you gave to things, that was all you. Sure, someone might say "go to university to get a good job" or "a flash car is something to strive for" and you may agree and find meaning in a good job and value in a flash car, but that was all you. You were the person who found meaning and value in these things. You are powerful and provide things with meaning and value. Sure, life is 'absurd' in a sense but this just makes you free. You can have meaning and value in anything you decide.

User avatar
3uGH7D4MLj
Posts: 919
Joined: January 4th, 2013, 3:39 pm

Re: Is life absurd

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » March 4th, 2018, 10:45 pm

BB, this is very much like my own experience, except it was Bertrand Russell who wised me up. Thanks for your clear posts. And Greta, the things you come up with... genius. best to all.
fair to say

Post Reply