Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Part I: The Meaning of Life

Here begins a new era of the weblog/e-journal/ramblings which I have to my shame disregarded for wont of living the life of a “busy” student. After much deliberation, I have decided to post some of my most intimate meditations and personal musings through the letterbox of this most modest of outlets. I shall seek to determine a number of solutions, both personal and general, to a range of philosophical and emotional quandaries that we all face at some point in life. Of course, your opinions on the matters in hand may differ from my own but all that I ask is that in constructing your (clearly) fallacious reply you do not insult and condescend by committing my most abhorred of all fallacies; the “ad hominem”. I find myself in an irate state of unhealthy mental instability as soon as some boetian simpleton claims that I’ll “understand when I’m older” or berates me for having formed my own opinions at the tender age of 19. Do not attack any aspect of my person - only my argument. Warnings out of the way, I hope that you all enjoy, respond to and gain something from this series of posts and that you don’t find my style too pretentious or sesquipedalian! 

          I wish to address first and foremost the problem, nay the irritation if it can be so called, which the human nature so kindly affords us when it comes to life and its “meaning”. This yearning for empirical evidence of our own significance can only take root from that which we all hold in common - monumental insecurity; that which Kierkegaard coined as the existential ‘angst’. Sometime after one has dismissed all delusions of a supernatural nature, (I include in that bracket all religious beliefs) one’s mind refuses to cease whirring when in the early hours all that is wished for are the arms of Morpheus to reconcile this distressing desideratum which threatens to upset the equilibrium of one’s consciousness. To pose the question in the first place it is assumed that the philomath has accepted that it is reasonable to agree that “meaning” is a plausible concept. From there they can choose to board one of two trains of thought (don’t go accusing me of false dichotomy - read on). They can decide whether or not the universe has intrinsic value; if they decide that perhaps it does then they must accept the “Absurd” - that is, the Sisyphean dilemma created by conflict between the human curiosity and the human inability to find that elusive meaning we are so smitten by. 
          If, like many, you feel there must be inherent meaning in the universe you can stop reading now - you’re an “Absurdist”. Feel labelled! (imperative) I have just personally put you in a box created by one Albert Camus - unless of course you believe in God in which case you still have the option of theistic existentialism or some such nonsense (N.B. if you reside in any of these considerably flimsy boxes, I feel I should forewarn that perusing anything as logical as this blog is probably a misapplication of your pitiful life and a tactical retreat is recommended before I lose all restraint and begin a carefully planned siege of your delusional beliefs... only kidding - got your attention though, didn’t I?)



If however, you doubt that our pathetic existence has a “meaning” then you have just opened a wye switch in the railway track of your consciousness for want of a better analogy. You can now chuff along to the conclusion that each individual creates his or her own meaning of life - a.k.a. Atheistic existentialism, the station I am inclined to disembark at when considering this particular problem. Of course, there are a plethora of onward journeys one might take on a more personal level - deciding whether the value in life is to leave something enduring for future generations, to live for hedonistic pleasure/love or Epicurean happiness etc. or simply to embrace our biological purpose - to reproduce routinely so as to grant our genes the greatest chance of survival - are just a few of the more unimaginative options. The exciting independence afforded us by this resolution is unfortunately just as displeasing as it is satisfying and once achieved, can leave us with an even more pressing worry if the meaning to our existence isn’t immediately clear to us - what if everybody has and knows the value of their lives but we cannot find our own? We may not be interested in raising children, we may not have love, fulfilment, work or pleasure to live for - everything seems lost and we are perpetually struggling through life trying to propel our boulder up the steepest allegorical incline. I hope that I am not alone when I admit to intermittently reaching this melancholic state; pitifully maudlin in the depths of the night. If I am amongst such a minority that as you have read this a bewildered or bemused expression has worked its way into your features upsetting your usually so carefully arranged countenance, then I hope that this post has enlightened or inspired you in some other manner; perhaps you’ve learnt a new word or have resolved to research the life of Albert Camus... If not then I implore you to stick around for the next chapter - the copious amounts of attention I am wont to want are an addiction so it won’t disappoint!

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