The virtue of absurdity

Credo quia absurdum est
3 min readJan 31, 2021
The Myth of Sisyphus

This first post is simply an icebreaker. To break my writer’s block and the inertia of starting a new project. But also to maintain my promise to Deus ex Vita and save my $10 penalty.

I’m not quite sure where I want to go with this blog, but I think it will revolve around the themes of absurdity, paradoxes, contradiction, and counterintuition. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to that in this world that is counterintuitive, confounding our natural heuristics and presenting apparent paradoxes. Slate Star Codex does a good job of this, and lots of my thoughts will be derived from his thinking. I doubt any of my thoughts will be wholly original, and hope to avoid that common conceit. There’s nothing new under the sun.

A current target of my thinking on absurdity has been religion, and more specifically Christianity. I’ll have to read more works of Christian existentialists to craft something coherent, but my intuition is that there is virtue in its apparent absurdity. This was amusingly apparent when Deus ex Vita and I start attending Mass at a local Catholic church a few weeks ago. The anachronistic costume, ritual, and ceremony immediatly offend the modern man, but also manifest obvious beauty. When juxtaposed against the average evangelical service held in a rented business park building and that more resembles a concert than worship, it seems like beauty/virtue may require some amount of absurdity. Perhaps there a reason why the pope wears a funny hat. Just an immature thought, and will have to let it marinate before I’m ready to elaborate. I want to comment on the aesthetic implications of absurdist philosophy, but am not sure how.

Here’s an interesting quote from a Zen Buddhist that captures my philosophical position at this time, and gives context to the name of this blog:

“A noted Christian Father of the early Middle Ages once exclaimed: “O poor Aristotle! Thou who has discovered for the heretics the art of dialectics, the art of building up and destroying, the art of discussing all things and accomplishing nothing!” So much ado about nothing, indeed! See how philosophers of all ages contradict one another after spending all their logical acumen and analytical ingenuity on the so-called problems of science and knowledge. No wonder the same old wise man, wanting to put a stop once for all to all such profitless discussions, has boldly thrown the following bomb right into the midst of those sand-builders: “Certum est quia impossible est”; or, more logically, Credo quia absurdum est. I believe because it is irrational; is this not an unqualified confirmation of Zen?”

There’s a very loose thread that ties together this brief collection of non-sequiturs, but I didn’t spend too much time making it more explicit. Will try to be more organized in the future.

That’s all for now. Go in peace.