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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to present brilliant logic in the most abstruse way, 21 May 2011
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This review is from: The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) (Mass Market Paperback)
Firstly, I think the central reasoning behind Absurdism is absolutely fantastic. I used to think I was an existentialist, but always felt it a little too earnest, or humourless, and leant too near Nihilism. To say Camus dresses this work in a cloak of impregnability, though being a little harsh, is true enough. If you are not totally familiar with either the ideologies or the language of philosophy, then this will be a hard read. It`s not a weighty tome, it`s a small paperback, a collection of various essays and short stories, and this version is smaller than A5. It does become more easy to follow as it progresses, perhaps as the reader becomes used to the style. Anyway, I take this from it:

Camus is acknowledging that logically, in a universe that man can never know the point of, suicide is the sensible option. We will never know why we are here, or if there is reason, so should stop looking now, and end it all. But that rather cuts short the chance of future fun, doesn`t it? Even the bleakest of days can have something to recommend them. As Dawkins wryly notes in "The God Delusion", a friend of his was "rather looking forward to a good lunch", for example. Personally, I wouldn`t want to die without hearing the new Van Halen album, or wondering if England can become the No.1 ranked cricket team (doubtless some of you have an answer to that one already). It might be taken out of our hands at any time anyway, so why rush things along?

A leap of faith might be the answer. Hmmm...not for me I`m afraid. Whilst blindly believing something contrary to all logic appears to be of comfort to billions worldwide, this is, Camus observes rightly, philosophical suicide. Ignoring all logic and reasoning and evidence cannot be easy to do. If you can, and it harms no one, why not? (It does of course harm people everyday and has since time began, but that is a different subject).

The solution then? Well, like Sisyphus, just enjoy the boulder pushing. Sure - it will roll back, and you know it will - which I interpret as meaning you won`t be any nearer any particular purpose, whatever it is you are doing, because the true absurdity of life will undo your hard work sooner or later. Embrace the pointlessness, create a personal meaning, ideally within the confines of a modern, intelligent society where the emphasis is on personal responsibility, and try and have a little fun. Don`t try and look for anything else...that would just be absurd.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Jul 2011 07:16:14 BDT
DHansen says:
I wasn't going to bother with this but you've convinced me. On the wishlist.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jul 2011 14:29:49 BDT
John Fowles says:
Glad to have helped. It`s a fascinating and instructive read if you`re in the mood (almost a perplexing nightmare if you aren`t)!

Posted on 4 Aug 2012 01:07:57 BDT
Enjoyed reading your review. Lets suppose you accept life is absurd and then commit suicide - this means you have a belief that life is absurd. Your belief is so heartfelt and powerful that you commit suicide.

However chances are that when you were dying your belief would be revealed to be exactly what it is - a belief, a sham, a vain attempt by the mind to organize and process a universe to immense and complex to understand. Moreover since we don't know how the universe, time or space came into being our belief is flawed - it is built from an imperfect understanding of the universe - therefore the belief is bound to be incorrect.

In an absurd world how can we even trust our beliefs? Surely committing suicide in this philosophical context is itself an act of faith? Since we have an imperfect understanding of universe any faith or belief is doomed to be incorrect in the final reckoning. Committing suicide on the basis of a belief is surely an absurdity in itself? As you would be killing yourself for a belief which in all likelihood will be incorrect.

Just set me pondering.
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