Philosophy the Meaning of Life

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Is There a Meaning of Life?
There are many different views as to what makes life meaningful. Philosopher, Thomas Nagel, presents a good argument as to why a “Sisyphisian” existence is meaningless. This does not necessarily mean that all lives are meaningless, because Richard Taylor and Raymond Martin provide strong evidence that prove otherwise. According to Greek mythology, “The Myth of Sisyphus”, by Albert Camus, condemns Sisyphus to forever roll the same rock up a hill; only to see it roll back down once he reached the top. Sisyphus’ “scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life” was the reason for his punishment and endless turmoil in accomplishing nothing (Camus 775). In Nagel’s essay “The Absurd”, his views on the meaninglessness of life and the absurdity of it, provide evidence that Sisyphus leads a meaningless life and how all people are condemned to lead this life. He points out that the absurd comes about by “the collision between the seriousness with which we take our lives and the perpetual possibility of regarding everything about which we are serious as arbitrary, or open to doubt”(Nagel 769). In other words, the things people take seriously in their lives are always open to doubt. Nagel believes that human life becomes absurd when the realization of living an unreasonable life becomes known. “Once the fundamental doubt has begun, it cannot be laid to rest”(771). When people begin to doubt their existence, they search for answers that cannot be justified. Humans are capable of being self-conscious and self-inspiring which gives them the ability to step back and observe themselves from an outside point of view. This allows them to see the reality and pointlessness of their goals. Some people try to escape the absurd and try to add meaning to their lives by giving themselves a role in something bigger. When Nagel says, “a role in some larger enterprise cannot confer significance unless that enterprise is itself significant”, he means that the larger enterprise cannot have meaning, unless the enterprise as a whole has meaning (770). According to Nagel, for something to be meaningful it must be objectively meaningful. For example, Sisyphus leads an objectively meaningless life because he is condemned to roll the stone up the hill forever and achieving nothing. Nagel says that the life of a mouse is not absurd because the mouse is not aware that it is only a mouse; it does not have the ability to perceive its life like humans can. “Absurdity is one of the most human things about us: a manifestation of our most advanced and interesting characteristics”(774). The absurdity shows people that their lives are meaningless; and when this is recognized, the logical conclusion is suicide. This solution to absurdity is not accepted; instead it is suggested to keep on living in spite of the absurdity of life. “If we relied hard on reason our life would have collapsed” because relying only on reason would leave people with many philosophical questions, leaving them to dwell on the doubts of life (773). One way to achieve some concept of the meaning of life is to consider the meaninglessness of it as Richard Taylor has done. Like Nagel, Taylor views the endless cycle of Sisyphus pushing the stone up the hill over and over again as a perfect example of a meaningless existence. Taylor proves that a life is meaningless if it is spent in pointless and repetitive toil. Sisyphus’s repetitive act of rolling a stone up a hill never gets him anywhere nor does anything come from it, and therefore his life is meaningless. However, Taylor came up with concepts that could provide some meaning and hope to Sisyphus’s life. First, if Sisyphus were still condemned to endlessly rolling stones up a hill, but instead of the stones rolling back down, they would “become the foundation for a vast and beautiful indestructible temple…with this construction going on and on, endlessly, and the temple gradually becoming ever more...
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