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Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Myth of the Sisyphus...

Camus is asking the ultimate question of philosophy: should life have meaning in order to be lived? Can a life without meaning be lived successfully? The principle here is that of the absurd. Furthermore, can a person live after embracing the absurd? Some of the main ideas are quite dense, but for purposes of simplification Camus dictates the following premise: much of our life is built on the hope for tomorrow, yet tomorrow only brings us closer to death. Basically, if you try to explain the world you will ultimately embrace romantizations and metaphors. True knowledge is impossible, and science and reason cannot describe meaning to the world. As absurdity invades all we do, the world becomes a foreign and cruel place.

Here Camus embarks on an examination of Heidegger, Jaspers, Chestov, Kierkegaard, Husserl, among others. He shows how all of these philosophers examined the absurd but ultimately failed to recognize its truth and turned to abstractions and Platonic beatitudes. I particularly like Camus' treatment of Dostoyevsky's Kirilov from "The Possessed." Kirilov's idea that if "God does not exist, then I am God," is put through several examinations. Kirilov wants to kill himself simply because he can do it, exercising his own god-like power. Camus reverts to the fact that this is not the absurd as necessary. Suicide, he begins to conclude, (I haven't finished the book yet) is not necessary in a meaningless life.

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