Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Random, Senseless Babble

Last night was an interesting philosophy-tinged day. In my morality class we discussed Albert Camus and his philosophy on life. I found much of what he said very, very interesting. In the most basic sense Camus can be thought of as a nihilist, but he says so much more than what most nihilists believe. First, Camus believes that the universe is indifferent and silent to our search for meaning. There is no God, there is no “higher meaning”, there is no abstract set of morals governing our existence—there is merely silence. Humans, on the other hand, form moral standards, moral codes, rules for existence, and other things like that to give their lives meaning. We do this, and live by what we create simply out of a sense of comfort, because that is what we get used to. Now, in every person’s life, they will come to a point where the two concepts will clash. Our morals will come into question and we will cry out and ask “Why?” and when that question is asked, the universe will reply with silence. This realization, this disparity between our two “worlds” is what Camus refers to as the absurd. This confrontation between both worlds is where we must live. We must strike an equilibrium between the moral code we are used to and the realization that there is no basis for it—it is merely a construct. I am definitely simplifying his argument here and I really don’t know enough about Camus so I shouldn’t be expounding on him, but this whole concept is so interesting that it is hard to ignore.

This concept came up later on in the day when I was watching Donnie Darko. If you haven’t seen this movie—do it! In it, a high school student who appears to be schizophrenic discusses with his therapist the meaning of life and God and how he can’t feel either and that looking for them may be absurd. It was such a connection to Camus that I couldn’t help but pause the movie, rewind a bit, and watch it over again. You may be thinking right now, “this kid is a real dork,” but I simply love the big concepts that define our existence—my fascination with philosophy, if you will.

From the movie, our readings for class, and our class discussion, I started to wonder myself upon the nature of the universe. I am also a computer science major so I’ve gotten plenty of experience of looking at the universe as a purely cold, unobtrusive machine. Now when I think about it, how can we be so sure there is some God out there and that what we are doing is really the right thing? The universe gives us no real answers except that of order. Everything in the universe follows some type of pattern, order, or rule. These are the rules of physics and science, not of morality. Morality is a human formed concept. With the universe and science, if you combine two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, you will get the compound of water. We can’t say the same thing for morality. If you have two houses burning down, one containing a billion dollars and the other a human child, you have no concrete rule that says we will pick one or the other—it all depends on one’s own moral values and everyone seems to possess different ones.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I thought I’d throw it out there just to put down some of my thoughts onto paper, or the computer screen in this case. I am quite interested to read more Camus to follow up on these interesting ideas. Who knew that it would be possible to enjoy class and homework? Man, I’m such a nerd.

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