Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

I didn't descend deeply into existentialist angst the way some philosophy students do, but I did experience its outer fringes in reading works like Albert Camus's The Plague (which I read around the same time as Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death. I'm a pretty serious person, but these books remind me of the limits of that. Josh Jones  writes, "The recognition of finitude, of failure, ignorance, and repetition—what philosopher Miguel de Unamuno called “the tragic sense of life”—can instead cure us of the behaviors Camus abhorred: a hardness of heart, an obsession with status, a refusal of joy and gratitude, a tendency to moralize and judge. Whatever else The Plague is about, Camus shows that in a struggle for survival, these attitudes can prove worse than useless and can be the first to go."

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Nov 25, 2020 5:50 p.m.