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In "The Absurd"1 Nagel claims that self-conscious human beings are necessarily absurd, so that to escape absurdity while remaining human we would have to cease being self-conscious. fifteen years later, in The View From Nowhere,2 he defends the same thesis, supplementing some of his old arguments with a battery of new ones. I want to suggest that Nagel has misdiagnosed, and exaggerated the inescapability of, our absurdity. He does so partly because the grounds on which he bases his conclusion are spurious, and partly because he does not acknowledge the extent to which we can eliminate absurdity by suitably redesigning our plans and modes of justification. Nonetheless, I do not mean to imply that we can easily eliminate absurdity from our lives. Life is not necessarily absurd, but unfortunately, in a world like ours, there are limits to what we can and should do to reduce the absurd elements of our affairs.




International Phenomenological Society

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Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

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