He received a BA in philosophy from Cornell University inwhere he was a member of the Telluride House and where he was introduced to the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Austinand H. He received his PhD in philosophy from Harvard University in
In my opinion Camus had an unparalleled grasp of the human condition. Few have been capable of matching his lucidity, quality of thought, and fidelity to reason — though his views have from time to time been challenged. Camus was himself very critical of postponing meaning to the future, which he saw as a divinization of history e.
Nagel of course points out that if we were to either live forever, or if we somehow made up a greater part of the universe, our lives would be no less absurd or meaningless. Nagel claims that this on its own is not enough to fortify the concept of the absurd, and to argue his point, offers examples of chains of justification that clearly do end within life e.
I was practicing methodical doubt. Nevertheless, what Nagel presents as a definition of the absurd, seems remarkably similar to that proposed by Camus. We cannot shed our ordinary responses, and if we could it would leave us with no means of conceiving a reality of any kind Nagel, ; p.
If we lose our grip on that, reason will not give it back to us Nagel, ; p.
But, Nagel continues, this cannot be the case: Consequently the absurdity of our situation derives not from a collision between our expectations and the world, but from a collision within ourselves Nagel, ; p.
But let us explore what Camus actually meant by this. For Camus, as for Nagel, the absurd arises when the self-aware and fully conscious human being tries to come to grips with their existential situation.
Life is not absurd for other animals, because other animals do not carry our burden of conscious reflection: If we accept that the fully conscious person is in part what gives rise to the absurd dilemma, we see that she also discovers the conscious self in confrontation with her very own body.
The body is something of the outside world, though apparently an object belonging to her. This is what Becker was getting at in discussing the problem of death: It is a terrifying dilemma to be in and have to live with Becker, ; p. In contrast, the self-conscious man awakens within his surroundings to find himself out-of-joint: Thus, like everything else, the absurd ends with death.
But there can be no absurd outside this world either. And it is by this elementary criterion that I judge the notion of the absurd as essential and consider that it can stand as the first of my truths Camus, MS; p. Why do I exist? What is this life for? How am I to live?
Why must I die? These incipient cerebral capacities increasingly expose, concomitantly and often unconsciously, a painful and nostalgic longing for meaning, coherence, and unity.
Unable to find answers within him, the fully conscious man projects often unconsciously his own needs, wishes, and desires onto the world. His search is nevertheless in vain, and he quickly realizes he is received by all that the world is capable of offering — a dreadful silence.
But what is absurd is the confrontation of the irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human-heart Camus, MS; p. But if we take this assertion seriously, it would suggest that a fully conscious man, existing without a world to juxtaposition his-self; without anything outside of his own awareness to serve as contrast; without any way of discovering that he has a relation to anything else — would somehow still find himself struggling with this absurd dilemma.
It is unclear to me how this could be possible, since the very consciousness we are discussing must presuppose innumerable confrontations with physical and symbolic objects external to ourselves i.
Camus suggests that it would be impossible for the absurd to exist in man and man alone: If such a thing were possible, it would be incomprehensible to the fully conscious human being. This is because man does not belong within the ontological monism that categorizes the rest of the world; his deictic coordinates are both materialistic and symbolic; his self is embodied — haunting the inner corridors of this heart pumping, breath-gasping, corporeal body.
Read carefully the following passage by Camus: I should be this world to which I am now opposed by my whole consciousness and my whole insistence upon familiarity.
This ridiculous reason is what sets me in opposition to all creation MS; p.Thomas Nagel (/ ˈ n eɪ ɡ əl /; born July 4, ) is an American philosopher and University Professor of Philosophy and Law Emeritus at New York University, where he taught from to His main areas of philosophical interest are philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics.
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In short, Camus’ absurd prompts us to care more, whereas Nagel’s absurd prompts us to care less.  Thomas Nagel, “The Absurd”. Originally published in the Journal of Philosophy 68/20 (): Summary of Thomas Nagel’s, “The Absurd” November 23, Meaning of Life - Classics John Messerly Thomas Nagel () is a prominent American philosopher, author of numerous articles and books, and currently University Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University where he has taught since In short, Camus’ absurd prompts us to care more, whereas Nagel’s absurd prompts us to care less.
 Thomas Nagel, “The Absurd”. Originally published in the Journal of Philosophy 68/20 (): a.
Because nothing that will be the case in a million years matters now. b. Because life on Earth won't exist for another million years. c. Because some things, like Shakespeare's plays, will matter in a .