« Philosophize This!

Episode #087 ... Sartre and Camus pt. 2

2016-07-14 | 🔗

Today we talk about the philosopher Albert Camus.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hello, everyone, I'm Stephen West! This is philosophize this no sponsor this week. You can help keep the show going by subbing on patreon. If I go into the Amazon banner, if I both of those things on the front page of philosophize, this org Today's episode is on the great Albert Camus, who I hope, you'll have the show today. So you probably know by now philosophy or specifically, the more abstracts out their ideas and philosophy can be a pretty tough thing to just cannonball into and fully understand them right off. The bat I think most educators realise this and a useful tool that, having a lot of them, used to sort of set up us ten of an idea that they can flush out later with more the details, is they try to take big ideas or even Entire branches of philosophy, and still them down into a single sentence or a single question, for example epistemological notoriously or two is the branch of philosophy that asks. How do we know what we know now, that's great as a working the definition of a pistol Maldivian need some frame of reference as you're learning about it, but the more you do
learn about it. The more you realize it. That's really only a fraction what a pistol Maudie actually deals with another one metaphysics right notoriously referred to as the branch of philosophy. That ass. What is everything made out of and how did it get here again? Greatness, condition for educational purposes, but the more you look into what the more you realize, all the metaphysics that that definition is leaving out now the guy we're going to be talking about today, Albert Camo, he thought that he had found the most fundamental question and all of philosophy, a question that he thought. No matter what other philosophical question you could ever come. With. It was ultimately gotta, be a follow up question to this question, but the problem If you say the question, I found that a lot of people initially disagree with them and and poised waiting disagree with everything else, the guy saying so what
I want to do to give some context of this question just so. We can better understand where Camus coming from what he's asking it is. I want to tell you all a story. The story from greek mythology about a king named Sisyphus, Sisipu was the kind of king. It wasn't really feeling the whole pantheon of gods thing the whole. A rape, you and then blast your remains all over the cosmos and make you into the the big differ. Now, since if it was known all throughout his life or somebody that really in March, to the beat of the dream of the God, so it came as no surprise when one day when it was his two hundred die Haiti's Lord of the underworld, came to get Sisyphus rap him in chains and suck him down to the blackened recesses of his realm now system. Cunning as he was when death shows up to take on that day be starts talking to the Lord of the underworld. He somehow convinces
Of testing the chains that he brought out on himself before uses them on him, it works so when Dest all chained up and says these chains definitely seem to be in working order, sir, since if it's just if someone his closet and goes about its business. Now. You can imagine. There are some consequences when death doesn't show up to work. For one thing, people can't die all throughout the myth of Sisyphus. Examples out people would die on a battlefield and still show to dinner that night. You know people would get run over by a horse and stand up and dust themselves often be fine. Point is the gods soon realise what happened so, as you can also imagine for kidnapping, the Lord of the underworld and hiding when your closet for a couple days, yet that some serious consequences as well, so the gods sentences of his two one of the most horrible fates imaginable. It's a motif that we probably all seen at some point in our
Sisyphus. Is the guy condemned by the gods to a lifetime of rolling a bolder up, a hill back break. In gruelling labour only to reach the top of the hill. And have the boulder inevitably rollback down to the bottom from the start all over again them to a lifetime of pain and anguish and working hard. Only have his efforts be completely futile in the end that bolder, as always, gonna grow back down to the bottom of a hill, and I am repeating myself now. Camera would say: What a wonderful metaphor, what a wonderful metaphor for your life now explain his reason here, a second. But just imagine if this is true. Imagine if the life live right now is comparable to ruin the boulder up a hill only to have it inevitably fall back down again. If that is true, then, as our committee says, quote- There's only one really serious philosophical problem and that
the decision of whether or not to commit suicide, and quote this is his fundamental philosophical question that I was talking about. This is the question that underlies everything else to him. Should we commit suicide now hold on by Golly? At this point, many of you may be saying: alright come on, don't you think, that's just a little bit A dramatic camo, my life. Isn't that bad, I'm not condemned by the gods, I'm not rolling a boulder up a hill every day I don't even like boulders. Well, it's a metaphor: emo would say, look we're born we grow up. We get a job, and it's so easy in this modern life, for people to fall into this momentum of living the same exact day over and over again up work home tv bed up work home tv bed. This isn't how human beings were meant to live. It's it's. It's monotonous, its
tremendously unfulfilling, it's practically devoid of anything that even feels remotely rewarding status part about it to camo is most people just go along with it, never really question it, but not everybody ends up this way, and we would say that if you're, not one of these people that just sort of cheapen she goes along with it and ever questions it well. Well, then, one of the lucky few people they get to have your very own existential crisis. Congratulations because what happened- When you really take a look at that lifestyle that up work home tv bed, lifestyle, is you start to wonder If any of the stuff that you're doing everyday matters, you start to feel isolated. Social alienated
look at this death, that's looming on the horizon, for he waiting for you and you start to wonder at my wasting this gift. That's been given to me and my wasting my life and we have these feelings. You can't help. It also feel pretty uncomfortable. So in an attempt to alleviate this discomfort, you start to ask yourself some really tough questions, questions that are trying to get some clarity about the existence of Erin. What is the purpose of my life? What's the purpose of the universe for that matter, what is the meaning of all this? Is life really just me sitting in my front room watching Netflix Day after day waiting for my kids to one day pick me up and go casket shopping. Can we talk about how, when we find ourselves in this uncomfortable place, we seem to have this longing for happiness, this appetite for clarity or an appetite for being able to make sense of everything kind of on the purpose that we serve and an extremely common place that people start looking for that purpose. Just you know, given the last several thousand years of human thought, is they try to look for some sort of preordained cosmical,
proscribed, meaning to it all. They look at their place in the universe and they ask himself what planned this universe have for me. What function do I serve in the grand scheme of things? They asked these questions, hoping for an answer and what are they get silence? Nothing nothing answers you back as a human being when you ask them questions like this sum customer service Rep from the universe, call centre that picks up we'll come. It would say, given that fact. That leaves you with a very real problem on your hands, because, if nobody's picking, but the call centre for the universe we don't know What the purpose of the universe is. We don't know what our purpose is or if we even have one and what's worse, is that you're, just a human being The only tools you have to arrive at the mean King of the universe are your eyes ears, your
Sensory experience and your ability to reason. That's it the fact that you're met with silence when you ask these fundamental questions about your existence, probably means that the tools you have at your disposal aren't doing the job that well now from here. You can draw any number of conclusions, a common one that people draw is that just because nobody's answering doesn't mean that we don't have a purpose. Maybe we do in fact have a purpose, but to whatever prescribed that purpose to us. It's just not very important for us to know for certain what that purposes, or maybe, if we, do what our purpose was. It would sabotage our ability to fulfil that purpose, for example, Genesis one twenty eight God tells Adam to rule over all the fish and fowl and every living creature that moves on the ground right, which I just realize it doesn't really cover any underground. Animals point is, if you believe that the purpose of every animal in the world
for us to rule over them, part of that being that God allows us to eat these creatures. A cow doesn't know its purpose, and you can imagine how, if that cow knew its purpose. And the grand scheme of things laid out in Genesis. It might inhibit its ability to fulfill that purpose. You know it'd be trying to stay away from US lucky humans as much as possible, because we're trying to serve five, maybe it's the same way for human beings. Maybe if we were able to know, certain what our purpose was? It would sabotage our ability to accomplish it now another possibility and arrive at when you ask yourself these questions in your left with nothing, but the celestial dial tone is that maybe this universe has no meaning, maybe the universe has no meaning or even if it. I have a meaning- maybe just because of these crude tools, these. These eyes and ears and our ability to reason, maybe it's impossible for you to ever discovered
that meaning with certainty at all. You know what, when you're, asking these questions, who really wants to believe that I'm not going to let some existential crisis ruin my day, so let's hold out hope how about that. Maybe I do have a purpose. After all, sure, I'm just a human being but the flip side of that is I'm just a human being. Who am I to make some proclamation about there being no meaning to everything in the universe you arrive at this place, you're gonna reserve judgment, keep your eyes peel for that, meaning all around you you're going to go on with your life. Usually people do this with a set of idealistic expectations about how the universe is going to be treating them after all, it makes sense if you do play some sort of role in the grand scheme of things. Easy assumption to make from there is at the universe must have some sort of way to protect that investment see gone to write your life
armed with that set of expectations, keep your eyes open and then inevitably the universe smacks you in the face life happens: you're your sister gets hit by a car. You don't get the job that you wanted. The sort of things happen, all the time things that we see as horrible tragedies things were lives are often completely destroyed by them. You start to notice that humans offering in this universe, is visited on a scale, that's pretty difficult to comprehend at times, and when these things happen to us, one thing seems clear in that moment: whatever purpose the universe has for you, it doesn't seem to ensure that you're going to be financially stable or surrounded by a big family that loves you at Thanksgiving in these moments, the universe, seems pretty uninterested in whether you're gonna be happy or not. In this moment, the universe seems
the uninterested in you now community. We find ourselves in these moments a lot, especially when we're young, and because for so desperately trying to find this cosmic meaning to our life that we swear must be out there somewhere. We start to get confused and scared. We start to have this inner monologue. Why is this happening to me? All this tragedy just seem so to random. I'm not a bad person where all these terrible things happening to me and that that criminal over there he's never had anything bad happened, one, maybe maybe the way. I act doesn't have any bearing at all on whether the universe allow some tragic course of events to unfold in my life, maybe it all it's just random, but if that's true, I'm still left with my original question. What is the meaning of my life? Now? sending to that intermodal operate. There. There's a lot attention right tension between expectations. That person has about what should be happening to them and the reality of what actually did happen to them. Camera would say this tension tension. He thought we all
face at some point, I'm sure we will have a similar in her monologue to the one we just heard at some point in our lives. That tension is explained by the contrast between the fact that you're running around searching for some. Cosmical, determined meaning to your life in the universe, is gonna guarantee for you. When the reality is, the universe doesn't seem to have a meaning, released. If it does, we don't know what it is and it's impossible for us to know. For certain what it is at least right at the second. What this means of this is true is that all that desire to find some cosmic meaning all of the anxiety and regret the pain that you. Bill when you see your loved ones in pain or, however, the universe decides to smack you in the face at that moment, that is the pain of you, rolling the boulder up the hill, like Sisyphus, and watching the boulder tumble back down to the bottom. All of your efforts for nothing see ultimately to camo. It doesn't matter how hard you push the boulder it doesn't matter how much you agonize
we're trying to find that cosmic, meaning eventually you're gonna die. Everyone you've ever known is gonna die your name's gonna, be forgotten. Walmart going to take over the world the sun's going to inflate and explode and destroy any trace of you that could possibly be left. Ultimately, because you didn't choose to be born, you have been condemned to a lifetime of pushing a boulder up a hill only to find out at the top that it was all pointless Now, if this sounds pretty ridiculous, this is why camu describes this existence. Existence as absurd describes us as being in a state of the absurd. He says quote: man stands face to face with irrational irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this, confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world and quote
if your sand yourself right now. Well can we thank you. Thank you. Thank you for that wonderful speech. You made your mother cry. You you ruin Christmas again came of. Thank you call me crazy, but I don't want to feel like this. I want to feel, like Sisyphus, pushing a bolder up a hill over the rest of my life. For no reason, what am I supposed to do and he'd probably say, bacteria Yad no kidding nobody wants to that way you're living in a constant state of absurdity with the universe, but whether you want to acknowledge it right now or to shove your head back in the sand. The fact remains, you are like Sisyphus and that uncomfortable for that you want to avoid for the rest, your life? Everyone else wants to avoid it to, and can we would say that people have no shortage of creative ways. They come up with over the years, to escape this state of acknowledging the way that things actually are now one of the go to waste might come to mind when you're in this absurd state is to just you know, commit suicide. After all, if your condemned to a life, the painful and agonizing work of pushing a bolder up, a hill.
And you know that all that pain, effort and sacrifice, isn't really leading to anything. Why? Wouldn't you this cling onto the boulder Leah Koala Baby and look like gravity? Do the rest down the hill? Certainly to solve your problem right? Well, camera would say: no it it actually doesn't somebody the commit suicide is a response to the absurdity of the world there. Looking at the problem in a really misguided way, problem is not with the fact that you're alive, the true problem is with the disparity between your search for meaning and how the universe doesn't seem to have a meeting that you can arrive at. If this is truly the problem, any solution to that problem is going to have to do with repairing that disparity. All you really doing by committing suicide is running away from the actual problem. Is it's like fixing a leaky, faucet,
moving to a different house got news for you, nothing thing still in there driven. There must be a better way now. Let's remember Camus, fundamental philosophical question: should we commit suicide now, when we think of suicide, we typically think of it as like toaster in the at tub suicide, but camu says that's not the only way you can commit suicide in this existence. There's another type of suicide. The one we just talked about is what he called physical suicide. The other kind of suicide is what he calls philosophical suicide so at the risk of sounding redundant. I just want to reiterate something real quick, so you guys can see just how similar these two types of suicide, Arti Camo, here's our life, you find your in the state of the absurd, the reality Give this world we live in. Is it you want to be able to make sense of it and find meaning in it? But you don't know that meaning you dont know how to find that meaning and it may ultimately be either entirely meaningless or impossible for you to have
fine that meaning. So when you live in that world, one way to leave that world is to commit physical suicide, but, as we just talked about by doing that, Europe really solve in the press. The faucets still leaking inside of the house. You just live in a different house now now another way to leave this world it doesn't actually solve. The problem is to commit philosophical suicide or to focus your attention on some other way, That doesn't actually exist a world where this anxiety intention the comes along with the reality of this absurdity, no longer exists. This is like living in the house with a legal force it and it it's driving me crazy day and night. You can't stop thinking about. He can't sleep, but instead of fixing the faucet, you just put an ear plugs and pretend like faucets, don't actually exist now. The most obvious example of this from history would be religion, I mean comedy most denominations, at least in our modern world. They literally focus their attend.
On another world, one, that's devoid of anxiety, one that provides meaning to everything you do in your life, but make no mistake. Followers of religion are not even close to the only people guilty of philosophical suicide. Cabo, though I do think it's interesting to pause on them for a second to notice, something that's unique about camo's approach. He may throw around the word meaningless a lot, but, let's not misunderstand where he's coming from here. Kammu doesn't see himself as some sort of Anti Thomas Aquinas he's somebody that goes into great detail and writes entire books, presenting how he has a philosophical proof of how the universe has no meaning. Now he didn't do any of that he sort of comes at it. From the other side. He just tries to explain the reasons why there's such a huge incentive to create that cosmic meaning for ourselves and then confer that meaning onto the universe again. That state of the absurd is a pretty horrible place, came saying if somebody's willing to physically commit so
side to get away from it. They're definitely going to be willing to adopt some awesome sounding meaning to their lives where they get to live forever and then walk around with the confirmation bias now, as I said, followers of religion are not the only people out. There too can move that are looking to another world to alleviate this feeling of the absurd and what mean by another world, is simply some pre manufactured system of beliefs that dont really reflect this worlds reality. It's just an attempt to simplify the world down in terms that are easily understandable so that you don't have to contend with the true on Bridal ambiguity of it all and really that could be any number of things: nationalism, racism, sexism or political outlook. Even things like like watching tv or playing video games all day again, the goal of committing philosophical suicide is to sort of revel in a state of certainty that somebody else gave you a state, a certainty that doesn't
Actually exist so that you get rid of the uncomfortable feeling of answering those fundamental questions about your existence. Again, it's like putting earplugs in and pretending like facets, don't exist and That's a funny visual look around you right now, most people are doing it never can move Phyllis. Hospital suicide runs into the same problem as physical suicide. It doesn't actually solve the problem it just deludes believing that you already know everything about existence. Now, if you're honest people out there saying what's wrong with a little bit, a hope, camel he'd, probably say back hope, stop hoping stop. Looking at some other world that doesn't exist as inside of a tv screen or inside of a book or inside of your reductionist view of the way that things are stop looking at that other world and start looking at this one that hope that constant looking to some other world robs you have so much in this one hope may well be a calming influence when you're in that state of absurdity, but think of the cost.
The? U it robs you, what the here and now everything you could be experiencing now, but art seek a mood and think that any form of suicide was the right answer to this existential crisis: physical suicide. And a softer suicide or just two different ways of running from the problem, but can we thought about instead of running from the problem? You welcome the problem with open arms. You embrace the problem chain yourself to the problem: fine comfort in the uncomfortable to think who thought that people who commit philosophical it was I'd. Never understood. Is that not running from the absurd but facing your existence don and acknowledging it standing in its face. That makes you a pretty amazing person. That's a pretty awesome accomplishment how many other people you know that are brave enough to do something like that and bravery is how he thinks of it. I can move somebody that faces their existence and doesn't run and hide from. It is known as an absurd hero. That's what he calls me.
Ro do to be aware of the absurd and stand in its face and a strange way is to be superior to it. Take the absurd head on stop hoping and looking to another world that may not ever exist and spend your time in the wealth of here and now, which the camu seems to be sensory in nature. Camo talks about enjoying the little things in life, enjoying the company of family and friends and and good food, and just sort of appreciating the sensory experience that we were given, one that were certain of the picture that he's been painting starts to become very clear and very beautiful. You do the things that make. You feel good if you love spending time with your family, enjoy them and appreciate them, because you never know when this disinterested universes gonna take them away. Enjoy food, if you have it, you never know when this disinterested universes gonna, throw a worldwide dust will our way and you'll be fighting to the death for a bag of peanuts yeah. Maybe we are like Sisyphus.
Maybe nothing we do will ever live on eternally and maybe the anxiety in the regret and all the hard work we put into this lives can ultimately be meaningless, but the gods only candy. Sisyphus to push the boulder. They didn't condemn him to resent the process chemists as we should, Imagine sisyphus smiling while pushing the boulder understanding the ultimate futility of efforts but enjoying it anyway, as much as you can. This is a model of how we should live our lives. You dont need hate or away from the absurd you can embrace it and smile anyway, I mean imagine if you were thirteen years old again, your parents grounded. You were staying out there Later something, the only reason that punishment works is because you hate the idea of being grounded in my region Parents use it is precisely because you don't like it, I mean how much sense would it make for your parents to say you know: you're grounded now Disneyland it disneyland work. Imagine enjoying every second of being grounded. One have been that bad. To be honest, this is what we have to do with the absurd push are meaningless. Bolder
up the hill but smile and enjoy it as much as we possibly can while we're here now, the last two episodes have been on Sartre Camo two to people that part part of the for practically best friends in the other part of their life were worst enemies. The next episode is gonna, be on one of the most famous back and forth debates in the history of the world between Sartre and Chemical. Thank you for listening I'll talk to you next time.
Transcript generated on 2020-09-30.