In the following essay, Thomas Nagel points out several ways to answer the so-called “cosmic question” concerning the ultimate sense or nonsense of the universe. Up to our own day philosophical thinking has been divided into two parts: on the one hand the Platonic part inspired by an irreducible religious temperament and on the other hand the secular part, mostly following a naturalistic, nonreligious world view. Despite promising attempts, the existentialist humanism, the “affectless atheism” of scientific naturalism, and even religious Platonism fail to give an appropriate answer to the “cosmic question”. Therefore Nagel feels compelled to be content with a “sense of the absurd”.
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