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Is Our Existence Absurd?


Do we have any reason to exist? If you ask me why I went to the university, I can answer the question with reason. But, if you ask me why I was born, I cannot answer. I was not born, selecting my favorite spatio-temporal point in the world of my own accord. The fact is that one day I found myself existing.

A collage of Albert Camus and the image by Arek Socha from Pixabay modified by me
Albert Camus is known as a “philosopher of the absurd".

1. Groundless does not result in absurdity

That’s why I cannot give any reason to my existence, though I can to my action. Our existence is groundless. Is it also absurd? That is to say, should we resent this groundlessness?

Generally speaking, X is absurd implies Non-X is desirable. For example, those who insist on the absurdity of racial discrimination must be satisfied with the abolishment of it.

Is the same paraphrase applicable to the absurdity of our existence? If my existence were absurd, I would have to be satisfied with my absence from the world. But if I had not been born, I could not be satisfied with it, because I did not exist. Therefore, my existence cannot be absurd.

2. Existence is neither absurd nor rational

The same kind of question asking which invalidates the question itself is Why are we rational? Rational beings are those who can ask reason. If we were not rational, we cannot put any kind of question, Why…?. As we are rational beings, Why do we exist? is equal to Why are we rational?.

Asking whether our existence is absurd or not is, like asking whether a number three is sweet or not, meaningless. Three apples can be sweet or sour, but the number three itself is neither sweet nor sour. Similarly, the recognition and treatment of our existence can be absurd or reasonable, but our existence itself is neither absurd nor reasonable.

3. What can be absurd?

It is not scientific for a scientist that advocated a certain natural law and later finds out counterevidence to resent the rebellious Nature. It is not Nature but the natural law that is absurd.

A person that has been physically handicapped since birth might say, Why must I suffer from such a handicap, though I did nothing wrong before birth? If I had known I would be born handicapped, I would not have chosen to be born. Existence is absurd. If the handicap was unavoidable, then what s/he should resent is not the handicap itself but the way of society that robs the handicapped persons of freedom.