Moving Beyond the Absurd

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Human life is meaningless, absurd; so said Albert Camus (1913-1960), the philosopher novelist who made the notion of the absurd the centrepiece of his philosophy. It’s hard to fault Camus for thinking this way considering the tumultuous times in which he lived, and yet, there is something about the absurd that resonates with people from all eras and all walks of life. When we stop to think about this life we are living (and particularly the death we will all ‘be dying’ at some point), it becomes clear that the absurd isn’t just referring to an unfortunate string of events that may or may not befall a particular individual; rather, it goes straight to the heart of human existence. It isn’t that this or that life or circumstance is absurd; it’s that life itself is absurd. In this article, we’ll investigate exactly what this means, and see if, or to what extent, it is possible to go beyond the absurd.

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Demystifying Heidegger’s Beyng

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German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) spent his entire philosophical career circling one idea: Beyng. (Since Heidegger used the word ‘being’ in a number of different contexts with different meanings, I have decided to follow him in using the archaic form of the word, which he temporarily adopted in the 30s, to clearly indicate the difference). Despite having written a daunting number of books and articles, and delivered countless speeches and lectures about beyng, exactly what he meant by the word is still shrouded in mystery, and often considered to be something absolutely mysterious. Rather than actually explaining beyng, although I will give a crude, partial outline of it, this article will argue that while beyng is mysterious in the sense that it cannot be articulated, summed up, or concluded like a theory or research project in any other discipline, it is not mysterious in any absolute sense, such that we can only vaguely gesture towards something that captured the reflection of beyng for just a moment.

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