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Saturday, 12 November 2005


About a year ago I was involved in a car accident that very easily could have cost me my life, but I received not even a scratch. Instead of coming to the seemingly popular realization that life has a renewed sense of value, I found myself wondering, "What if I had died? What if we all died, not eventually, but simultaneously? Would it be good, or bad, or would morality be a moot point following the cessation of all human life?"

I haven't decided, but it seems I'm taking the third way out. You play the game, have fun, take risks, embrace beauty, help others. I'm not sure how this integrates with my preexisting worldview...perhaps those who embrace futility should improve the world for those who don't. However, I don't like my thinking that futilism/absurdism would almost necessarily lead to a nihilistic view of morality.

The only work of Camus' I've read was The Stranger and that was a long time ago. What does he propose as an ethical foundation?

Continuing, it seems that whether you believe that nothing has meaning, or rather than abandoning meaning or purpose, you believe that "that which is meant to be" is congruent with "that which is," one would arrive at the same conclusions. Would life be just as futile if we can do nothing but that for which we are purposed?

To use your words, this has been on my personal zeitgeist for a while and I'm still trying to figure out why.

I don't think Camus was a nihilist, even though I think he was a fan of Nietzsche. One description of the absurd hero that I read is that "To rise each day to fight a battle you know you cannot win, and to do this with wit, grace, compassion for others, and even a sense of mission, is to face the Absurd in a spirit of true heroism." That's Sisyphus, basically.

So I don't think it's necessary to abandon passion, empathy, and striving for ideas simply because everything is futile. Everything can be justified by the same ideas as before, but they hang off of our personal desire to rebel against the absurdity rather than give up (like suicide, it would be cowardly in Camus's opinion).

Rebellion and revolt are a big part of the third way out, I think... the rebel is even one of the three absurd heros. So, I guess I disagree that abandoning meaning means that you accept things as they are. Since it's all futile, you can enjoy making things better... there's no duty or guilt involved, so the motivation has to come from somewhere else.

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