How do you keep on going when you know (or at least have a niggling suspicion) that none of it really matters? It's a question for people suffering from depression and for existentialist philosophers. The existentialists' answers may provide some satisfaction for both groups.
"Some people are apparently totally cool with living in an absurd world. Presumably, these folks don’t experience existence as futile or see enthusiasm as foolish. However, not all of us are so lucky or plucky, and so we’re left mustering up reasons to be and do even as we sense it’s all pointless. We can’t go on. We must go on. We’re already here. The reluctant have to make meaning up. We do things even when most of what humans do seems pretty pointless and stupid given how many of us there are, how briefly we live, and how hard it is to make a difference on this crowded planet. ... But don’t let your fundamental gloominess be a reason to do nothing. For the great victory of the reluctant is that we do despite knowing better—knowing our contributions will not change the course of humanity. That’s how Friedrich Nietzsche’s übermensch would approach the world: without the reliance on anyone else to confirm their existence. It turns meaninglessness into a sort of freedom that allows one to affirm life despite its absurdity.
"Think about it. Really, it’s no big deal to try to be a decent human who does no harm and maybe even helps, is generous of spirit and labors diligently, if you think there’s a god, country, or boss who will reward you now or in the afterlife. But if you manage to live life based on certain values because you’ve examined them and found them preferable under the circumstances to other less laudable or more destructive approaches, that’s no joke. Then you have forged meaning in the fires of futility and you have overcome, which is something. Or at least it’s more than nothing. ...
"In doing, there is liberation. During moments of focus on even very mundane endeavors, you are free and have purpose. This purpose may be small. But it’s also huge. You are a hero of the mundane, like Sisyphus, rolling a boulder up a hill every day over and over again. It’s boring, glorious, and rebellious. By endeavoring to keep on keeping on, you become a giant, a survivor. ... Continuing in the face of futility is a revolt, and that’s meaningful."
Blog sharing news about geography, philosophy, world affairs, and outside-the-box learning
This blog also appears on Facebook: