Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ tag
I thought the following cartoon went well with the Bertrand Russell quote in the banner of the website.
That’s about right.
There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn. — Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”
Thanks to ahimsamaven for the nod back to my site on her post, Dear Camus: Fuck You. Since you don’t find too many bloggers talking about Camus and French existentialism these days, I couldn’t resist adding a couple words in response. In the post, she explores absurdism and the meaning of life. She resisted the urge ascribe for herself utter meaningless with this memorable illustration:
I (and I think most of humanity) have this space inside that I call “the absurdist pit”. It is that space where certainty bleeds into pure WTF’ery and nonsense becomes that thing that life answers to despite ones best intentions. I honestly believe that partnering with another human being is steeped in absurdist philosophy; in fact I have the urge to say that ALL life is steeped in the absurd but to do so would indicate that I believe that there is no inherent value or meaning in life and I simply cannot do that. If I did I would start going all Toilets in Mumbai and end up with a gun and a bottle of whiskey playing roulette on a mountain top cursing Camus and Kierkegaard.
As I briefly said in a reply to her post, what keeps me, personally, from cursing the likes of Camus and Kierkegaard and putting an end to the futility is the fulfillment that I find in giving to charity and learning, in particular. People carve out meaning for themselves in other areas, of course, whether it be in love, the arts, teaching, etc. While Camus begins “The Myth of Sisyphus” with this:
There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.
he ends by leaving Sisyphus at the bottom of the mountain, ever relegated to pushing the rock up the hill, having it roll back down, pushing it back up and repeating the task for the rest of his life. Yet, even in that seeming torment, Camus imagines Sisyphus as happy because, as he surmises the situation, the satisfaction comes in the struggle itself:
I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart (italics mine). One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
So, even in moments of intense stress or burdens, one can carve out meaning in life on a personal level, even though there may be no ultimate meaning (no gods, no Big Brother, etc.). The point that I made in replying to ahimsamaven’s post was that even if life has no ultimate meaning, even if we must forever stare down into the abyss, so what? Just live. As Camus worded it in the above essay:
The preceding merely defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live.
Here are links for two strong columns about Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre and, to a lesser extent, Simone de Beauvoir, all three of whom are admired by many, including myself, as great existentialist thinkers, although Camus would have taken exception to the label. In any case, I thought these were important recent contributions to the conversation about existentialist, since the philosophy is still very much influential here in the 21st century:
Kudos to The Times for including The Stone as part of their website to explore philosophical questions.
He is insanely talented to be able to play piano at the level and keep up the “act.”
Follow-up question: with an omnipotent and omniscient god, how can anything “go wrong?”
I don’t think this is 100 percent airtight Kantian philosophy, but hey, it’s decent enough for three minutes.
As one YouTube commenter pointed out in the ax murderer example given here, presumably, given Kant’s moral imperative, the ax murderer would not choose for the victim to then go to his own house and slaughter his family as if that too was one of the “universal laws of nature” that everyone should follow.
Credit to CollegeBinary for the video.