On Camus and Sartre

The post,  How Camus and Sartre split up over the question of how to be free, got me wondering.

Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre had a falling out over the philosophical implications of Camus’ The Rebel, but the question I have is how can two Nihilists come to loggerheads when each understood the lack of inherent meaning and purpose in the universe. Camus felt one needed to embrace the Absurd, but not resort to violence except as a last resort, but Sartre felt Communism—even if formed through violent means—was the right way forward. On what objective moral basis could either of these positions be defended?

Oh, and here’s a vid…

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So What?

Morality is a human construct. More specifically, it is a normative construct of language. It is used as a tool to maintain power and promote normalcy, but so what?

People are indoctrinated with this normative perspective, but accept it as some self-evident truth. But there is no absolute truth. This, too, is a contextual function of language.

Since the dawn of civilisation—and perhaps longer—, humans have been constructing moral codes of behaviour. From attributing moral origins to supernatural gods, they’ve attempted to move to a secular humanist vantage, ascribing these powers attributed to nature, but this is little more than a metaphysical euphemism in order to appear to be more scientific as a result of Enlightenment.

Clinging to absolute morality is like clinging to religion and gods.

As Marx said, ‘religion is the opiate of the masses.’ Clinging to a sense of absolute morality is not much different to clinging onto religion and gods. There’s a sense of security. It’s comforting and weaved into the fabric of most societies.

Still, so what? As long as the masses prefer to believe that morals somehow exist in the wild, and people, being story-lovers, are exploited by persuasive storytellers, we are resigned to this situation.

Pressing Questions

Here is a list of questions I want to answer:

  1. Given that there is no inherent meaning to life, why are humans so driven to find it?
    • Evolutionary biology may offer some insights, but then the question turns to which is the cause and which the effect?
    • Is it merely a function of language and cognition?
  2. Other than circular logic arguments—namely, to posit ‘I prefer it that why’—, what is the logical justification for the exclusivity of property ownership if not the divine or nature vis-a-vis so-called workmanship ideal?
  3. Why do Libertarians frame the equality debate between opportunity and outcome and side-step equality of condition and ontological equality, the other sociological categories of equality, especially when the ‘all men are created equal‘ claim in ontological in the first place?
  4. What do do with the logical fallacy, Appeal to Tradition?
  5. How to get beyond Wittgenstein’s language problem? In my experience, most people accept and use language uncritically. Is everything just an arbitrary function of language? As language is an arbitrary construct, and meaning may change over time and dialect, how can we create a meaningful basis for argument?
    • For example, when we say we expect a ‘just’ society, justice means different things to different people. A typical use is to equate ‘just’ to ‘right’, but as there is no absolute right, there is no absolute just. Moreover, people tend to invoke just and justice, when they mean ‘my way’ and ‘vengeance’, and so the frame is relative to the framer.
  6. What is the way to get past injecting concepts such as value and income into premises and arguments?
  7. Accepting for the moment the concept of ‘state’, what is the optimal number of states, and why have more than one?