Matters of Life and Death

Thomas Nagel, "The Absurd"

Here are some questions to help guide your reading of this essay.

  1. What sorts of things make people feel that their lives are (or may be) absurd?
  2. Why does Nagel think these things couldn't be what makes our lives absurd (if they really are absurd)?
  3. What sort of purpose do we seem to think our lives have?  (What gives our lives meaning?)
  4. What does Nagel mean by "absurd" anyway?
  5. How might we avoid having our lives become absurd?  (Would it be worth it to make the changes necessary to avoid the absurdity?)

Strategy for reading the essay:

Handouts page

course home course information beyond the course course blog instructor information student links events