Thomas Nagel talks about the absurd as being a necessary side-effect of consciousness, and therefor perhaps something we don't actually want to get rid of. Having said that, I'm curious to what other philosophers have proposed (particularly in non-Western philosophy, since Nagel explicitly ignores that) as possible ways of dealing with the feeling of the absurd as it applies to life.

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    good abbreviation lol :) – user6917 Feb 16 '15 at 9:22
  • Good question! (BTW, "What're" is ungrammatical.) – user132181 Feb 16 '15 at 15:15
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    @user132181: actually, it ain't. 'Tis a perfectly good contraction for "what are", and is spoken that way routinely by 'least half a continent. – Niel de Beaudrap Feb 17 '15 at 22:22

Kierkegaard is perhaps the main philosopher of the West who argues for actually valuing and embracing the absurd. In Eastern philosophy, I would look at Zhuangzi and the Zen Buddhists.

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Those who believe in the Dao would argue that "the Dao is," and the idea of the Dao being absurd would not be a reasonable statement using Nagel's arguments (given that it could be described as everything and forever). Being part of the Dao is enough for them.

I've found an imprecision in his terminology that may qualify as a loophole, "it will not matter in a million years..." is not entirely proven. A more easy to argue line would be "how much your decisions matter approaches 0 as time approaches infinity," but little is said about how gets there.

There are also some curious systems which have a strange tendency to last longer than expected. Those would allow for long term impact, but would lead a person to believe their life is more absurd than it actually is.

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  • Also: is the magnitude of the impact of your actions an indication of non-absurdity? I think Monty Python is a counterexample in miniature. – Niel de Beaudrap Feb 17 '15 at 22:22

Future and meaning look pretty different in the context of reincarnation, which is part of many cultures - even parts of western groups. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation

In such a framework, the "absurd" could be treated as a simple lack of perspective. What if you tried to live your life in one day? Nothing would lead to a greater sense of depersonalization as that. Your life goals wouldn't come close to being met in a single day. What a cosmic joke that one-day life would be.

Dialing things to the other extreme, what if the events of a single lifetime generally led to accrual of experience and personal development, perhaps culminating after multiple lifetimes in a greater mode of existence.

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