Philosophy Essay. Evaluate the view that life is absurd through reference to the views of Camus and Nagel.

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        Philosophy, Life and Existence        

Evaluate the view that life is absurd through reference to the views of Camus and Nagel.

Albert Camus and Thomas Nagel were two leading philosophers who each determined that there is no inherent meaning to life, whilst having deeply contrasting views.  The idea that life is absurd  is essentially explained by Albert Camus in his essay ‘ The Myth of Sisiphyus’ as an incompatibility in our existence, which is the product of our desire and quest for meaning, order and purpose. Camus also introduces the idea of ‘philosophical suicide’ and Thomas Nagel while complicity agreeing with Camus’s idea of absurdity, disagrees with his approach and reacts differently by suggesting that life without meaning doesn’t matter; whereas Camus feels that we can utilize the absurdity of life to fuel and motivate ourselves.

Albert Camus suggests that the first signs of absurdity can occur at any time, when small doubts and insecurities start to creep into our mindset, and eventually we start to find ourselves questioning our mechanical and structured life. He tells us that it ‘awakens our consciousness and provokes what follows’, also saying that there are two paths we can go down; ‘the gradual return to the chain or the definitive awakening’. This portrays that Camus is suggesting that we are forced to make a decision, to either accept our fate and ‘awaken’, or ignore all the questions and return to the mundanity of everyday life. The absurd life is described as being more about quantity then quality of living; to live as long as possible as life is transitory. Camus declares that ‘being aware of one’s life, one’s freedom, one’s revolt, and to the maximum, is living, and to the maximum’ (page 60), suggesting that he feels only through realizing the absurdity of life, can one be liberated and live a free life, without the worries of questioning our existence. Everyday life is described as a ‘sleep’ and that the first steps of an absurd  freedom is the ‘escape from everyday sleep’. This means that Camus feels that the only freedom you can have is freedom of though, and action, and this can only be ascertained through the freedom of living an absurd life, that is abandoning your former concepts and ideas and moving past the question of meaning,

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The ideas of both philosophical and physical suicide are raised by Camus to highlight the fact that he is concerned whether we can live with this feeling, not with how we overcome it. He suggests that while physical suicide destroys the man that confronts the world, philosophical suicide destroys the view that the world has meaning, in essence destroying the world around us. He proposes that ‘there can be no question of masking the evidence, of suppressing the absurd by denying one of the terms of its equation’ (page 48), which tells us that in essence, physical suicide is ...

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