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Taylor says “The point of living is simply to be living, in the manner that it is...

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dawhit | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted July 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM via web

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Taylor says “The point of living is simply to be living, in the manner that it is your nature to be living.” How does he relate this conclusion to the image of Sisyphus?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 13, 2013 at 6:14 AM (Answer #1)

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The conclusion to Taylor's piece connects to its opening.  In the opening, Taylor uses the Myth of Sisyphus as a paradigm to help encompass how one can define meaning in life.  Examining his conclusion can help to establish how the predicament of Sisyphus fits into this:

The point of living is simply to be living, in the manner that it is your nature to be living. You go through life building your castles, each of these beginning to fade into time as the next is begun; yet it would be no salvation to rest from all this. It would be a condemnation, and one that would in no way be redeemed were you able to gaze upon the things you have done, even if these were beautiful and absolutely permanent, as they never are. What counts is that you should be able to begin a new task, a new castle, a new bubble. It counts only because it is there to be done and you have the will to do it...The meaning of life is from within us, it is not bestowed from without, and it far exceeds in both its beauty and permanence any heaven of which men have ever dreamed or yearned for.

For Taylor, the purpose of being is reflective of the condition of Sisyphus.  We are condemned to roll boulders up a hill to no real avail.  There is no external validation to this, nothing "From without."  

"Even if these were beautiful and absolutely permanent, as they never are," the reality is that our being consists of endeavors that only have meaning if we are able to implant our actions with it. Taylor argues that even though Sisyphus might not have had any real meaning to his existence, he can gain this if he is able to see value to what he does:

Meaninglessness is essentially endless pointlessness, and meaningfulness is therefore the opposite. Activity, and even long, drawn out and repetitive activity, has a meaning if it has some significant culmination, some more or less lasting end that can be considered to have been the direction and purpose of the activity.

The outsider looks at Sisyphus' being and declares meaninglessness to it.  Yet, Taylor suggests that there can be meaning if Sisyphus is able to declare purpose to why he does what he does.  It is here in which the "point of living is simple to be living in the manner that it is in your nature to be living."  The individual determines what this nature is and from this, meaning is attached.  Taylor suggests that out of Sisyphus' perceived meaninglessness, meaning can be found.

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