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Should We Kill Ourselves?

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¨There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest…comes afterwards.¨ –Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays

In The Myth of Sisyphus, absurdist writer Albert Camus discusses the taboo topic of suicide, and whether or not it is warranted in a world that he believes to be meaningless. Camus is an absurdist which is to say he believes we live in a chaotic world with no meaning whatsoever. With that being said, the main question he poses is as follows.

¨If the world we live in is truly meaningless, what is the point of prolonging our inevitable death?¨

I won´t go into too much detail of the novel, because itś very convoluted and confusing. Camus states there are three main options one can choose to do once they´ve accepted or discovered the fact that the world is meaningless. The first option is transcendence. By this, he´s basically saying living under a false pretense, what he and other philosophers describe as ¨bad faith.¨ Existentialists like Camus believe that we are utterly and hopelessly free, which is to say we can do anything by which the the natural laws allow. By saying we live in “bad faith” is to say we negate the freedom which we have. I can best describe it in this example. A woman is married to a man she’s loved forever. However, she has a man on the side whom she sneaks off to cheat with. She thinks she loves both men, but doesn’t want to make the decision as to which man to be with. So, she sets up a confrontation between the two in hopes that they will fight and whichever man triumphs she will elope with. By putting the decision in somebody else’s hands, she puts the responsibility of decision making in somebody else’s hands, therefore, living in bad faith.

Another way to deal with absurd living is to kill yourself. This is a huge topic of Camus’ entire essay. By no means does he encourage suicide. In fact, he states that suicide is not the answer to living a meaningless life. Killing yourself definitely ends the problem, but it does not solve it. Therefore this option is not the one that should be considered when faced with the problem of having no purpose.

Thirdly, Camus offers the option of becoming an absurd hero. Just as he lives, he encourages the reader to accept the absurd and live life as it comes to you. Don’t get consumed by the vanity of the world, but rather acknowledge vanity and approach it with rational thought, being careful not to ignore the fact of the irrational.

After reading Camus’ book, there are certainly aspects of it that have their truths and should be considered. However, there are many that I disagree with, and would like to think that there is some meaning to life, as opposed to Camus’ philosophy. That’s the fascinating characteristic of philosophy: there are so many different truths that observers can derive for themselves, and in turn become the free-thinkers in which we study.

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Should We Kill Ourselves?