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All-Strong Podcast Notes #9: Discipline vs Motivation: How Do I Stay Consistent?

Listen here:

Today's episode is without a doubt the most valuable one so far. It sort of speaks for itself, so I've just added some supporting information and links to help you get around some of your own personal roadblocks.

First of all, here are some links to books and people you may find useful, and that are also mentioned in today's episode:

At one point, I mention the Myth of Sisyphus, which talks about a figure of Greek mythology condemned to forever roll a rock to the top of a mountain, only for it to roll back down each time he got close to the top.

In a philosophical take on Sisyphus' story, Albert Camus wrote that we all must imagine that Sisyphus is happy, because while his efforts seem to be in vain, they give him purpose and allow his life to have meaning (the story is paraphrased below with the absurdist reading).

We're all like Sisyphus; we're working hard to get through tasks which seem meaningless, but they'll be the tasks that will define us for aeons to come. Work hard enough for long enough and you'll be remembered forever! When things feel like they're too hard to confront, or your responsibilities don't feel realistic, go and face them anyway, and roll your rock up the hill. People will look to you as an inspiration.

The following is taken from Wikipedia

Chapter 1: An Absurd Reasoning

Camus undertakes the task of answering what he considers to be the only question of philosophy that matters: Does the realization of the meaninglessness and absurdity of life necessarily require suicide?

He begins by describing the following absurd condition: we build our life on the hope for tomorrow, yet tomorrow brings us closer to death and is the ultimate enemy; people live their lives as if they were not aware of the certainty of death. Once stripped of its common romanticism, the world is a foreign, strange and inhuman place; true knowledge is impossible and rationality and science cannot explain the world: their stories ultimately end in meaningless abstractions, in metaphors. This is the absurd condition and "from the moment absurdity is recognized, it becomes a passion, the most harrowing of all."

It is not the world that is absurd, nor human thought: the absurd arises when the human need to understand meets the unreasonableness of the world, when the "appetite for the absolute and for unity" meets "the impossibility of reducing this world to a rational and reasonable principle."

He then characterizes several philosophies that describe and attempt to deal with this feeling of the absurd, by Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Lev Shestov, Søren Kierkegaard, and Edmund Husserl. All of these, he claims, commit "philosophical suicide" by reaching conclusions that contradict the original absurd position, either by abandoning reason and turning to God, as in the case of Kierkegaard and Shestov, or by elevating reason and ultimately arriving at ubiquitous Platonic forms and an abstract god, as in the case of Husserl.

For Camus, who sets out to take the absurd seriously and follow it to its final conclusions, these "leaps" cannot convince. Taking the absurd seriously means acknowledging the contradiction between the desire of human reason and the unreasonable world. Suicide, then, also must be rejected: without man, the absurd cannot exist. The contradiction must be lived; reason and its limits must be acknowledged, without false hope. However, the absurd can never be permanently accepted: it requires constant confrontation, constant revolt.

While the question of human freedom in the metaphysical sense loses interest to the absurd man, he gains freedom in a very concrete sense: no longer bound by hope for a better future or eternity, without a need to pursue life's purpose or to create meaning, "he enjoys a freedom with regard to common rules".

To embrace the absurd implies embracing all that the unreasonable world has to offer. Without meaning in life, there is no scale of values. "What counts is not the best living but the most living."

Thus, Camus arrives at three consequences from fully acknowledging the absurd: revolt, freedom, and passion.

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