Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Camus and Einstein

In The Myth Of Sisyphus, Albert Camus says that suicide is the only really serious philosophical problem. True. But then it's based on the fact that the scope of Life -- as we know it -- is defined by Time. Would suicide still be the only philosophical problem if we had infinite time? I know all this sounds ridiculous and childish, this gibberish about infinite time, time itself having as much meaning as we give it. But it's a thought. And I guess Einstein might have had the same thought. To me, both -- Einstein and Camus -- were trying to answer the same question. In their own terms. One came up with Relativity. The other, Absurdity.

8 comments:

the_soliloquist said...

I went around almost one whole day without knowing the time . Cut off from all methods and machinery that tell the hour. Felt immortal.

Karthik said...

Camus presents Sisyphus's ceaseless and pointless toil as a metaphor for modern lives spent working at futile jobs in factories and offices. "The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious."

- How Apt -

musafir said...

the soliloquist

I read the poem :) ... not knowing the time is not the same as not feeling time?

karthik

Ah, Wikipedia is always a good introduction to any book :)

The Soliloquist said...

well... as long as i dont see the watch or look at the sky, i dont feel the time...but thats only as long as things happen the way i like them to be.

musafir said...

soliloquist

"but thats only as long as things happen the way i like them to be" -- couldn't have put it better myself.

Anonymous said...

Well well trying to link up Camus and Einstein???
Sacrielege!! that's why one should never entrust Philosophy to poets...I know I know you are going to argue that 'metaphysics' is indeed nothing but poetry masquerading as esoteric prose.
But still it is the principle of the thing.

Anyway maybe you have come across this...but a better comparison would be Sartre's play 'No Exit'.

Yes Hell indeed is other people...
But for the life of me I cannot see the conenciton between the 'relativity' and 'absurdity' here....
unless you mean they are relatively absurd..:P

musafir said...

the man who wasn't there

Hmm ... the connection goes like this.

To me Existentialism and Absurdity are viable philosophies simply because Life does not hold any meaning, or any purpose. This lack of meaning or purpose directly stems from the infiniteness of time and the fact that our own mortality does not permit us to leave a mark on the world. If it was possible to leave a mark, and if it was possible for that mark to be everlasting, then Life might have some meaning.

To me Camus's assertion about suicide is true simply becasue we die and we don't have all the time we want. But Einstein's theories on special and general relativity can be used to prove that time travel might be possible. And from time travel to leaving a mark and finding the purpose of Life is but a small intellectual leap away.

So you could say that Camus accepted the reality about time and arrived at the absurdity philosophy, whereas Einstein chose to relook at time and invented relativity.

Does that make sense?

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

@Musafir: Ha ha...that was quite an 'out of the box thinking' admittedly..and should admit I never thought of linking it that way...time travel as an excuse for purpose in life???

mmm...Why not actually!! Though ofcourse it is arguable whether both had 'similar' purposes in mind when coming up with 'relativity' and 'absurdity'. But I can pretty much see how *if* Time travel can be made effectual how it could combat the latter!!

But then really it is not much different from the reason why people believe in(or rather want to believe in ) 'after life' and 'karma'. :) But yes Time Travel can be a perfect answer for people afflicted with Nihilistic thoughts...self included...

mmmm...quite brilliant and innovative I should say! But once again the problem is it makes no difference to me if TIme Travel is not a reality right now....makes no difference to one's nihilistic thoughts...and in his own way quite justifiable too...

btw you should probbaly psot the explanation you had given here in the main post....