Essay on Nihilism And Absurdity Of The Universe

1873 Words Dec 22nd, 2015 8 Pages
Nihilism is the idea that nothing really matters and that there is no meaning in the world. This is a worry for those who want there to be a meaning or purpose to life. The philosopher Albert Camus felt that this issue of “whether life is or is not worth living” was the most important problem of philosophy (Camus 3). This is understandable, as once one has established that life exists, the next step is to understand if that life has any meaning or value. Albert Camus, Thomas Nagel, and William James each argue how one should continue living one’s life after the existential crisis of nihilism and of realizing the absurdity of the meaning of life. Camus believes that one should react with scorn to the absurdity of the universe, Nagel said that one should react with irony, and James argued that one should take a leap of faith. Each sees the issue of nihilism and absurdity slightly differently, and as a result their idea of an authentic reaction is different. Each gives a response to overcoming nihilism and absurdity but I believe that Nagel gives the more rational and reasonable response to the threat of meaninglessness.
The threat of nihilism and of the problem of meaning is the result of absurdity, which is our human desire to find meaning contrasted with our apparent inability to find it. This absurdity has two traditional views: the view that a human is tiny relative to space and the view that a human is only a blink in time. Nagel says that traditionally “what we say to…

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