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Why and how we are here is not the only question that human beings seek answers to as they also question the reason for being on earth. All these questions are in a bid to understand life. Both writers of literature and philosophers seek the meaning of life variously. It so seems that the meaning of life is such a complex subject that answers are sought in all possible fields.
Philosophy focuses on answering the questions that are beyond the human understanding. It is for this reason that philosophers come up with ideas that could try to answer these questions. They look for reality in everything and in this case in the meaning of life. All views are critically analyzed in order to come up with conclusive and substantive results. Albert Camus is no philosopher but he contributes in philosophy by expressing himself in writing an obvious way to relay his thoughts about life. This act of engaging in deep thoughts about life is philosophical no wonder James Taylor refers to Camus’ work The Myth of Sisyphus. The difference in the two intellectuals, Camus and Taylor, is the fields in which they exercise their thoughts. While Camus writes expressively and descriptively about life as literature demands, Taylor declares his claim in precise concepts that would only require critical thinking to decipher the meaning. The two however, agree on the core meaning of life.
Taylor on one hand agrees that our lives are a reflection of Sisyphus. We are subjected to useless and fruitless toil as seen in the way Sisyphus is “ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight” (Camus, 1955, p. 580). This according to Taylor is not only a worthless exercise but also unbiased, to think that life is meaningless. On the other hand, Taylor suggests that by being biased the meaning of life is contained in oneself. Hence, Taylor’s words that it is the responsibility that gives life meaning not the success. These words defy what most of us think about life that success determines happiness. Sisyphus is happy even though he gains no success in keeping the rock up the mountain. His happiness comes from the duty, which he gladly carries out even though when we look at it is a futile duty.
The Myth of Sisyphus is the description of Sisyphus who is living on his own inclination. He hates death and therefore puts it in chains. He also disrespects the gods because he does not heed to their words. In addition, he has an obsession for life such that he refuses to heed to calls by the gods to return to the underworld. All these aspects earns him a chastisement from the gods of pushing a large boulder up the mountain which rolls back and consequently he has to repeat this over and over again. Sisyphus does not give up but continues to bear this burden as a duty. To him the rock is all that matters hence Camus tells us “this universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile” (Camus, 1955, p.581). There is no difference with having God in one’s life. Camus uses this myth to depict that there is no God and that our impulses are what determine our destiny. His urge for us to “revolt,” to resist death at all costs and find meaning in life even in the absurdity of our activities because death is irrevocable (Camus, 33). This myth represents our lives today, which are marked with endless activities, which keep us busy day in and day out in the end they will all end as we will end up dying. When going about our businesses it sometimes occurs to us to question of the meaning of life in this disorderly world. The result is to seek meaning in everything around us including where we have based our faith.
According to Camus “Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them” (1955, p. 580). Taylor uses The Myth of Sisyphus to give us his thoughts on the meaning of life. While he agrees our lives are full of meaningless endeavors, he also adds that the meaning of life has a rationale, bearing and the consequence is permanent for a short time. However, permanency in our endeavors can have meaning if they are everlasting. Similarly, we struggle to live on our own hence we never come to the end of this struggles that to us gives us meaning to life. Unfortunately, according to Taylor we fail to recognize the supernatural power that is surpassing our abilities and our endeavors. The true meaning of life can be found inside us and it is in relation with what God thinks. God’s meaning of life is fruitless but our answers to the meaning of life have to come from the things we decide to do in life.
The two philosophical views on the meaning of life are true in the sense that life for sure has a lot of hopelessness. We toil day in and day out yet in the end we end up dying. We all have the habit of questioning the meaning of life when we lose a loved one who had achieved much in life. What we forget is that our life did not come to being through our own will. A supernatural willed for us to be living in the universe. We are often caught in our self-interests that we fail to recognize our creator and seek his purpose in our lives. Consequently, we are surrounded with discontent and suffering. The answers to the meaning of life can only be sought in the power that transcends our life. We do not have the answers even though we keep questioning and thinking that the answers are within us. Our choices in life determine whether we find the true meaning of life. For example, if we choose to seek God and his guidance we will always have contentment unlike if we choose to follow our own free will. Our free will leads to anguish, suffering and disorientation. Without God nothing is possible. It would even be wrong to state that Sisyphus was happy because all his life he never acknowledged God but sought for his own selfish gains. No wonder, he suffers the punishment for disobedience and not hearkening to the voice of the gods.
The belief in God is not final as there will be many problems along the way but God will surely see one through those problems. Otherwise would result to endless suffering as for Sisyphus, even though he is said to have been happy he still questioned the meaning of life. He seeks for answers in the proud self instead of recognizing that power that is beyond him. It is wrong to believe we can find answers about life in ourselves when we did not give ourselves that life. God gave it to us and therefore we must consult him in everything.
Philosophy recognizes the existence of a supernatural power hence Taylor’s view would fall in my ideal right meaning of life. Taylor tries to bring out the aspect of a supernatural that transcends life therefore no man can decipher its meaning without bearing in mind God’s views.
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