Tuesday, July 1, 2008


"Seeking what is true is not necessarily seeking what is desirable." -- Camus

On this reading of The Myth of Sisyphus I'm thinking about the relative strengths and weaknesses of Camus' absurdist arguments against suicide. In addition to arguing that suicide is 'unethical' in an absurdist understanding of ethics because it 'settles' the problem of the absurd (a rather dogmatic argument that depends on Camus' assertion that living in the absurd is an unquestionable good), Camus argues that an appreciation of life's transience, meaningless and absurdity, far from making life valueless, makes it more worth living. Such a consciousness of absurdity infuses every moment of existence with the aura of ultimate transience: this kiss may be the last kiss, this rose the last rose, etc... It's a compelling argument, but I doubt if it would matter to someone suicidally depressed, someone who has already been living for some time in that curious state of hypersensitive lethargy that is the pre-suicidal consciousness.

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