Tag Archives: Camus

A Life as Metaphor Poll!

Really. This two days ago at Pollster.com: StrategyOne polled Americans (n=1,000 telephone survey) October 9-12, 2009 with the following question: “People often use metaphors to describe their life… Which ONE of the following do you think best descibes your life?” A Journey: … Continue reading

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Pretty Good Reasons to Believe in God Watch: Atheism’s Guilt Problem

What, you say? Atheists, of all people, surely don’t have a problem with guilt. They can cuss, smoke, and masturbate to their hearts’ content, not feeling morally supervised by disapproving and invisible eyes. They can read any book they want. … Continue reading

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Once You Leave the Realm of the Empirical, How Do You Discriminate Between Non-Empirical Languages?

I think this is a very tricky question. Once you leave the sciences and the languages of empiricism that scientists speak to one another in, or once you come up against questions that empiricism cannot directly address (such as should … Continue reading

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What I Believe About Religion

I don’t believe that any of the specific gods (Zeus, Allah, Yahweh, Vishnu etc.), in their contingent culture-based personalities, exist. But I do believe that the ontological mystery to which people direct their religious gestures (like prayer, candle-lighting etc.) speak … Continue reading

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Notes from Underground

Who will speak from the insistent vantage of the ontological mystery? Against the best efforts of our contemporary advocates of scientism, positivism, and reductionism, below is a succinct explanation for why religion, poetry, Dostoevsky’s “underground man,” and Camus’s “Sisyphian hero” cannot just cede the … Continue reading

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Sisyphus Pushing v. Buddha Sitting

Someone recently said to me that to conclude that the universe is without purpose needn’t lead to pessimism and Albert Camus-like rebellion (as I have been suggesting lately). Nihilism might just as well mean “the loss of misery and despair as well. … Continue reading

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Iran’s Protesters and Two of Albert Camus’s Protagonists: Meursault and Dr. Rieux

I see characteristics of the brave Iranian protesters in two characters in Albert Camus’s novels. Meursault (the protagonist of The Stranger ) and Dr. Rieux (the protagonist of The Plague ) are both possessed of admirable heroic qualities. Rieux is … Continue reading

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How Dangerous is This New Strain of Swine Flu? Researchers Should Have a Clearer Idea by May 10, 2009

Today is May 1, 2009, and here’s what the AP is saying about H1N1 (the new strain of swine flu): Researchers will get a better idea of how dangerous this virus is over the next week to 10 days, said … Continue reading

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Face Masks v. Frequent Hand Washing: Which Is More Effective in Reducing Swine Flu Transmission?

According to the Los Angeles Times today, both face masks and frequent hand washing provide equal levels of protection: [N]o single action . . . will provide complete protection in areas with confirmed swine flu cases, health officials said. It … Continue reading

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How to Protect Yourself, And Your Family, from Getting or Spreading Swine Flu: Dr. Joe Bresee of the CDC’s Influenza Division

Accurate health information on Swine Flu from Dr. Joe Bresee (of the CDC’s Influenza Division):

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Swine Flu and Albert Camus: What You Should Do to Protect Not Just Yourself, But Others

Obsidian Wings recently invited a guest blog post on swine flu, co-written by an immunologist and bioethicist. The advice that they offered on swine flu amounted to a list of Albert Camus-like existential responsibilities that we have to one another in … Continue reading

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“Let’s Go to Lunch?”: A YouTube Video by Santi Tafarella

Okay, I’m addicted to making YouTube videos now. Here’s my third attempt. A college student, on hearing a passing ambulence, expresses existential angst to another college student, who, in the midst of her angst, adds to it by inviting her … Continue reading

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What Sort of Agnostic Am I, Exactly?

If I were to locate myself within a “tradition” I would say that I fall within the pessimist tradition. I think that the generally pessimistic existentialists (as loosely grouped) see it right: Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Gabriel Marcel, Camus, Sartre. I … Continue reading

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“I call it, ‘The Torment of Existence Weighed Against the Horror of Nonbeing'”: A Calvin and Hobbes Cartoon to Cheer Up Gloomy Existentialists

There is a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that I especially like. Calvin has just made a decidedly non-traditional SNOWMAN that looks, with his gaping mouth and look of agony, akin to Edward Munch’s The Scream, and says to Hobbes: I call it, “The Torment … Continue reading

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Existential Absurdity in Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” (1897)

Is the universe a chaos or a cosmos? Today’s quote comes from Stephen Crane’s short story, “The Open Boat” (1897). Stranded in a small life boat and caught in huge ocean swells—yet tantalizingly close to shore—four men contemplate their absurd … Continue reading

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The Virtue of Doubt. An Agnostic’s Call For Intellectual Humility and Openness to the Ontological Mystery

Being an agnostic, I am very far from wishing to defend theism, but if I were to attempt to do so I think I would start with love. I know that sounds corn-ball, and like you, I can come up … Continue reading

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Let a Thousand Languages Bloom: Scientific Reductionism and Its Tension with Other Ways of Talking About the World

Although I am an agnostic, I think that scientific reductionism is frequently in danger of “giving away the moon” metaphorically. Wordsworth said, “We murder to dissect.” I’m okay with reductionism (who isn’t?) so long as it leaves plenty of other … Continue reading

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The Story of a Tree-Hugging Soldier Facing Camus’s First Question of Philosophy: Balzac’s “A Passion in the Desert” (1830)

In Honore de Balzac’s short story, “A Passion in the Desert” (1830), a French soldier finds himself, by a series of unfortunate circumstances, alone on a desert oasis in Egypt, and with little prospect of ever being discovered. Balzac sets the … Continue reading

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Are You a Passive Pessimist, ala Schopenhauer, or an Agressive Pessimist, ala Nietzsche?: A Review of Joshua Dienstag’s Book, “Pessimism”

Pessimism (Princeton 2006), by Joshua Foa Dienstag, is excellent on many levels, but its chief value is in the way it locates “pessimism” as an identifiable philosophical position. The author traces the pessimistic tradition through the Dionysian pre-Socratics, Rousseau, Schopenhauer, … Continue reading

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