Philosophy paper by a friend.........


Banned - What an Asshat!
This paper will not matter in a million years so why should I write it? My life is short and insignificant in the large spectrum of time and space, why am I going to spend a precious piece of it analyzing an essay instead of tearing off my clothing and running about the streets of Seattle? After all, what difference does it make what I do? If I do not write the paper my grade plummets, but why does that matter? I slave away with a pen and paper and yet I accuse what I am accomplishing as being arbitrary. This is Absurd, Thomas Nagel would agree.
Anyone, at one point in there life, takes a step backwards and asks themselves ‘what is the point of all this?’ Some even concluded during these meditations that there is no point. Nagel does not disagree with that notion, but disagrees with common justifications for it. I mentioned a couple examples of such justifications at the beginning of the paper. In regards to argument that nothing that matters now will matter a million years later, Nagel states that nothing that will matters a million years later matters now. Besides, even if we did something that mattered a million years later, would that mystically remove the absurdity from our lives. If our only purpose in life was to perform a task that would matter a million years later would that not also be outrageously absurd? And in regards to the brevity of our lives, would living longer or even forever suddenly add ultimate meaning and purpose to our existences? No, believes Nagel, it would not.
So what is driving the production of these justifications? Why have so many people come to this notion that their lives are Absurd? Nagel in his essay on the subject explores what I mentioned earlier, the backwards step, as the reason this notion can exist.
Humans have an ability to look at their lives from afar and examine themselves critically. This is, although it may be obvious and exclusively human attribute. Many people have taken such an immense step away from themselves that there is no meaning left in their lives from their new perspective. However, no matter how convinced they become they cannot stop tending their worldly needs and interests. We, as people, are ensnared in life, the absurdities of which we can recognize but not escape from. It can be assumed that there is no realistic escape short of suicide from an absurd existence (assuming it is indeed absurd) and it is unreasonable to through ones hands in the air and scream to the indifferent heavens ‘there is no point in living!’ Obligations in our lives will never lose their impotents to us, because if we were actually attempt to set aside all those obligations that our lives press upon us, we will quickly become unemployed, pass out due to lack of sleep, starve while our personal health declines and we will eventually die.
If the reader is feeling skeptical about the completeness of this argument up to this point, the reader has good reason to fell that way. They are probably asking themselves how Nagel can assume that when an individual examines their life from distance roost that the absurdity becomes apparent. And even more fundamentally, how can it even be claimed that from such a detached perspective any conclusion about our lives can be reached. If when taking the step back we put aside everything we feel does matter how can we from that perspective decide that things do not matter.
The second of the two objections, Nagel says, makes no since because it states that when we take the backwards step, we loose all perspective of our lives. This is, however, quite false because we never forget the worldly principals that matter in our worldly lives. In fact, we are actually observing them and it is in our observations from a distance we begin to remark to ourselves about how obsolete they are, but this line of reasoning is quickly approaching the rebuttal to the first objection. To follow up the analogy, we are, after all, taking a backwards step from out lives, not stepping backwards and then turning around.
So, how can we assume that the inevitable outcome of taking the fateful reverse stride is the conclusion that life is absurd? Nagel argues that when we view our puny lives from afar, everything (and he sincerely means everything) becomes subject to doubt. Not only can it be doubted that there is any point in the things we do in our daily lives, but we can also doubt that principles that govern them. For example, many strive to be excellent because they assume that it is a good goal. It is easy, however, do doubt there is a need to be excellent or even that it is good to be that way. Also, it is easy to doubt the meaning of excellence and it is even easy to doubt that there is a reason to step back and doubt the reason for being excellent. The problem, Nagel believes, is if one can raise irresolvable doubts about the elements in our lives that could give them decisive purpose, how can we ever be assured that there is a purpose? In that hawks eye view of our existences, everything we take for granted day by day is subject to one defiant question after the other that we conjure up but can not satiate. We can always ask and therefore we can make no convincing progress towards a defined purpose for anything.
The absurdity however is only partially derived from the fact that our lives are purposeless. I stated at the very beginning of this paper that I was taking very seriously its completion yet I could not justify my reasons for being so concerned with it. But I cannot bring myself to tear it to shreds and stomp it into the soggy turf outside. I know there is no reason why I should not tear off my clothing and dance about in the streets, but my ingrained worldly principals won’t let me do it. “And that is the main condition of absurdity - the dragooning of an unconvinced transcendent consciousness into the service of an immanent, limited enterprise like a human life.”(Nagel 22)
What can we do? We are in a constant suspension between two mind frames that both demand our constant attention and are incompatible with each other. Although one might begin to feel like our situation is hopeless, Nagel believes that absurdity is a condition of humanity that need not be an encumbering burden. We should not hate it because it is from the very condition of consciousness that absurdity arises. Nagel says to accept this gift with irony, and if “there is no reason to believe that anything matters, them that does not matter either”! (Nagel 25)



Banned - What an Asshat!
i like it. love nagel. CONCEIVING THE IMPOSSIBLE AND THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM is an awesome read. check it out.