Is There A Purpose For All This? The Absurdity Of This World And The Search For The Meaning Of Life
On Absurdity and the Need for Meaning
The Ancient Greeks used to tell the story of Sisyphus, a man who tried to cheat death and defy the Gods. For this he was punished to spend all eternity in Hell, constantly rolling a large stone up a hill. When this stone was about to reach the top, it would roll down again, forcing Sisyphus to turn back and repeat the task. Sisyphus was stuck in a never ending cycle, doing a hard and pointless task that he knew he was never going to be able to finish.
French philosopher Albert Camus took this story and used it as a metaphor for life. In one of his most famous essays “The Myth of Sisyphus”, Camus described his premise on the absurdity of this world. He noted how people search for meaning, while in reality there is none. Life is just absurd, a series of random events which have no meaning in themselves.
Taking this premise, a person has three ways of dealing with this reality.
2) Taking a leap of faith.
3) Accepting the absurd.
With the first choice you escape this life, but neither for Camus or any other philosopher was that the correct answer for dealing with the nature of life. Most people deal with this world by taking a leap of faith. They choose to believe in something beyond the apparent absurdity of this world, in some sort of purpose and meaning. Faced with the absurdity of life, they keep on hoping in something more.
Camus called this philosophical suicide, while the body and the mind keep on living, you suspend reason and instead believe without evidence. This type of action can take many forms, whether it be religion, or just the mere act of hoping and trying to find meaning for everyday occurrences and the future. This is a leap of faith, which is inherently irrational.
Instead, what Camus proposed as the right solution is to accept the absurd. You know that life is meaningless and absurd, you accept it, and despite this you continue on living anyways. For the Absurdists following Camus, this is the way to experience the greatest freedom. You live in the moment and for the moment.