Absurdism

I used to be quite taken by Albert Camus’ twist on existentialism, but that was a few years ago. Now I am disillusioned by it. Because it is a very miserable philosophy that pertains to the very insular epistemology of western materialism. I’ve said before that you must be a very twisted kind of person if you’re an atheist who believes in war. Fanaticism and metaphysics are understandable rationales for war, albeit misguided, but if you believe that life exist purely within material confines, then you must either be really stupid or really evil to believe in war.

And that’s the insular epistemology that I am talking about. This value-positive materialism. It’s rife with contradiction, and that is precisely why Albert Camus had to conclude that life is absurd. It wasn’t his epistemological thesis that was wrong — of course not — rather, it was the universe that was wrong.

It was stepping back and looking at this eye rolling hubris that made me reconsider absurdism. Moreover, the notion of rebelling against the absurd is literally unnatural. If the absurd represents the fundamental and core principle of a chaotic and unforgiving universe, and how rebelling against it is to find humanity and joy, then what does that say about the universe? Or humanity for that matter? Absurdism is a very maltheistic idea.

And on top of that it comes with a second layer of hubris, since these chosen rebels, these politically correct Nietzschean supermen, are what exactly? The smart people among the dumb? The good among the evil? The great among the small? Rebellion is about contrast after all, to rebel against nature is to proclaim oneself to somehow be higher or beyond nature. Not a very good look if you ask me.

Moreover, it’s kind of a paradox, because in order to rebel against the absurd, then you must recognise the absurd. So you are in effect setting up the very rules that you then make an effort to break. For a philosophy that supposedly attempts to look beyond metaphysics, it sure does a good job of inventing a set of unprovable principles in an effort to look past a set of unprovable principles.

Because life really isn’t all that absurd. In fact, it’s quite extraordinary. Even with materialism, even with materialism in its most insular form, life is still quite extraordinary, and makes considerably more sense than we give it credit for. The patterns of atomic, molecular, cellular and organic development, behaviour and habitation is a carefully woven one, with a very visible and real purpose. Namely, to live.

Life exists in an effort to live. It’s the least absurd of things. All life grows, and proliferates, and competes, and works together. All life attempts to perform every possible function to live. There is no great contradiction here.

In fact, life is so adamantly and fanatically devoted to living, that it is even willing to kill things in an effort to do it. Terrestrial life all follow this paradigm. From the smallest of parasite to the greatest of predator. Even the life that kills is only doing so in an effort to live. Especially humans.

It is true that human motives are more complex, and that, by extension, human error is more complex. But so what? When you combine that which is complex with that which is simple, then you do not get absurdity, you merely get intricacy. A BIOS, with its logic circuits and microtransistors is a very complex thing, and yet it is driven by the simplicity of binary data, namely 1 and 0.

But as you configure these 0s and 1s you can get if, and, equal, divide, multiply, greater, lesser and any number of logical conditions, and from this, you can turn 1 and 0 into endlessly complex calculations and formulae, but it doesn’t change the fact that the framework for such infinity can be summarised on a single sheet of A4 paper.

So when I see the absurdists looking upon the universe with wide and unblinking eyes, and then dismissing it all as absurd, then I am simply reminiscent of a housecat, staring upon a combustible engine block and dismissing it as a large and shiny looking stone.

I think all the insular materialism, in its categorical possession of nihilism, existentialism and absurdism is really just epistemological cowardice. It lacks the virtue of Socratic ignorance, which, in a sentiment of humility, proclaims that life is beyond anyone’s fundamental understanding in an objective sense. Instead these philosophies loftily proclaims that “If I can’t understand life, then there’s nothing to understand.”

But then the question is, why’s that? Why is it that insular materialism permits its adherents to dismiss religions as unfalsifiable hypotheses, and then use this premise to create their own unfalsifiable hypothesis, wherein the lack of evidence is the evidence?

Imagine how that would work in a court of law. When they lacked the evidence to convict Al Capone on murder charges following the Valentine's Day Massacre. Does that mean that there was no murderer? That the 7 people with dozens of gunshot wounds in their bodies just slipped and fell on a pile of speeding bullets? It’s ridiculous.

If you live in a world of things that may only be proven, then I’m sorry, but you are just as superstitious as any other religious fundamentalist, because all you’re doing is ascribing value to rituals. As though things will only appear in your universe if you first baptise them into existence with evidence, that’s not how life works, and it never will be.

The biggest cop out of insular materialism is that it is grounded in safe thinking. If you never believe in something, if all you do is make statements of immediate observation, then you’re never going to be wrong about anything.

And sure, that’s a nice enough way to seem smart, and maybe even feel a bit confident about yourself, but there’s a difference between being smart and feeling smart. And the smartest people in the world, from Nikola Tesla to Albert Einstein, are generally those who demonstrate that the world is considerably more impossible than we’d like to think it is.

Faith is one of the most powerful driving forces of human history. From invention, to civilisation, to rebellion against tyranny and the struggle for justice and rights. None of it could be done by those who rebel against the absurd. Rather, it is done by those who embrace the absurd. Who embody the great and impossible mystery of the cosmos.

Once upon a time, it was absurd to regard a slave and a master as equals. It was absurd to think of a woman as someone who could engineer, design, calculate and study. It was absurd to think that the vibrations in our atoms could one day light up the night sky. From the moldy sandwich that gave us penicillin, to the impossible journey of Yuri Gagarin, all great things began with people who embraced the absurd and found a home there.

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