Nagel and 'The Absurd'

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Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 04:40 am
I have just read an article by Thomas Nagel called 'The Absurd'. I am not sure whether I have fully understood it, so any comments would be really appreciated! This is my interpretation of the argument:

Nagel questions why we should care about our lives from a remote point of view such as an extreme position in space or time. Doing so gives us a sense that life is absurd or meaningless, arising from the perception of an inflated aspiration which is inseparable from the continuation of human life. The ability to have such thoughts is arguably one of the most human characteristics we have - it is a manifestation of the advanced ability to transcend ourselves in thought. In continuing to live our lives, we take them seriously, even if there is not a reason or justification in the transcendental sense. For this reason, it is useless to mutter 'life is meaningless' as an accompaniment to everything we do. Camus suggests that we should embrace the absurd, or defy it. This may sound like a heroic response, but according to Nagel it is a form of self-pity, and is not a necessary response to the absurdity of life. Absurdity does not warrant distress or defiance - it is only a matter for agony if we make it so. Adopting this approach is a failure to appreciate the unimportance of the situation, and we can instead approach our absurd lives with irony instead or heroism or despair.

Do you think this is an accurate interpretation of his argument?

If trying to find meaning in our lives in relation to the universe as a whole is absurd, can we find a personal meaning in our lives?
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 04:45 am
@Will phil,
The thing can be read here: The Absurd Thomas Nagel
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 08:19 am
@Will phil,
Will;164880 wrote:
I have just read an article by Thomas Nagel called 'The Absurd'. I am not sure whether I have fully understood it, so any comments would be really appreciated! This is my interpretation of the argument:



Should I feel inadequate because I think that this article (and issue) is much ado about nothing, and is, absurd? It is a kind of philosophical make-work.
 
prothero
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 08:26 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;164932 wrote:
Should I feel inadequate because I think that this article (and issue) is much ado about nothing, and is, absurd? It is a kind of philosophical make-work.
Well we do not have to find our meaning in our cosmic signficance, we can probably find meaning closer to home?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 08:33 am
@prothero,
prothero;164937 wrote:
Well we do not have to find our meaning in our cosmic signficance, we can probably find meaning closer to home?


Maybe something like that. Why people think that there must be some grand overall significance for some things we do to be significant, and others less so, or not at all, I simply do not understand. I suppose it is all a part of the belief that philosophy is all about le grande profondeur.
 
 

 
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