Friday, August 29, 2014
America by Dinesh D'Souza
If there is no God, then what does it all mean? Why is there something and not nothing?
Chapter 1; pages 1 and 2:
Writing in the mid-twentieth century, the French existentialist writer Albert Camus posed for human beings a central question: to exist or not to exist. In Camus's words, "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide." In a sense, this was Hamlet's question: "To be or not to be." For Camus, human beings had lived for millenia in a meaningful universe, a universe created by God, and one that gave significance and purpose to human life. But now, Camus wrote, we have discovered through science and reason that the universe is pointless, merely a constellation of flashing and spinning orbs and objects. God is absent from the world, which is another way of saying he does not exist for us. Consequently humans have to find ultimate meaning elsewhere, and there is nowhere else to look. So life becomes, in Shakespeare's words, "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Drawing on ancient myth, Camus likened the human predicament to that of Sisyphus endlessly rolling the rock up the hill, only to see it roll back down.
For Camus, the problem wasn't merely that the universe lacks meaning; it was that man desires meaning and there is no meaning to be had. Consequently our situation is kind of absurd. "The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world." Most people, according to Camus, ignore this tragic reality. They deflect the meaninglessness of their lives by engaging in various trivial pursuits. But for morally serious people, Camus says, this deflection is not an option. He Proposes that humans must take the absurdity of their lives seriously, and in doing so, they must consider whether to live in tragic absurdity or voluntarily end their lives. Suicide, for Camus, was an ethical choice.