Existential Crisis Of Nihilism In Camus, Nagel, And William James

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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 …show more content…
When he thinks upon the meaning of his life and realizes there is none, that is when he is in crisis. Camus says that man must either recover or commit suicide (Camus 14). He says that suicide is an emotional response and one that is not authentic (Camus 9). The authentic recovery to this crisis, according to Camus, should be for man to revolt. Man can try to find meaning in the universe but when he does not find humanity in the foreignness he must reconcile to the absurd without human meaning. Because “the world is in itself not reasonable” man must be scornful towards it and its inability to be understood (Camus 21). This scorn implies “a total absence of hope...a continual rejection...and a conscious dissatisfaction” with the state of the conflict (Camus 31). While Camus describes this as scorn it is in this relationship with the absurd that man can be happy. It is “absurdity that determines [man’s] relationship with life” but Camus argues that “happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth” (Camus 21, 122). In the face of the meaningless of life, one must find scorn and happiness in the very absence of

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