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So here we are: Sartre, in his essay-review of The Stranger provides an additional gloss on the idea: It arises from the human demand for clarity and transcendence on the one hand and a cosmos that offers nothing of the kind on the other.

Such is our fate: Two of these he condemns as evasions, and the other he puts forward as a proper solution. The first choice is blunt and simple: If we decide that a life without some essential purpose or meaning is not worth living, we can simply choose to kill ourselves.

Camus rejects this choice as cowardly. In his terms it is a repudiation or renunciation of life, not a true revolt. The second choice is the religious solution of positing a transcendent world of solace and meaning beyond the Absurd.

In effect, instead of removing himself from the absurd confrontation of self and world like the physical suicide, the religious believer simply removes the offending world and replaces it, via a kind of metaphysical abracadabra, with a more agreeable alternative.

Since the Absurd in his view is an unavoidable, indeed defining, characteristic of the human condition, the only proper response to it is full, unflinching, courageous acceptance.

Doomed to eternal labor at his rock, fully conscious of the essential hopelessness of his plight, Sisyphus nevertheless pushes on.

In doing so he becomes for Camus a superb icon of the spirit of revolt and of the human condition. To rise each day to fight a battle you know you cannot win, and to do this with wit, grace, compassion for others, and even a sense of mission, is to face the Absurd in a spirit of true heroism.

Over the course of his career, Camus examines the Absurd from multiple perspectives and through the eyes of many different characters—from the mad Caligula, who is obsessed with the problem, to the strangely aloof and yet simultaneously self-absorbed Meursault, who seems indifferent to it even as he exemplifies and is finally victimized by it.

In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus traces it in specific characters of legend and literature Don Juan, Ivan Karamazov and also in certain character types the Actor, the Conqueror , all of who may be understood as in some way a version or manifestation of Sisyphus, the archetypal absurd hero.

A rather different, yet possibly related, notion of the Absurd is proposed and analyzed in the work of Kierkegaard, especially in Fear and Trembling and Repetition.

For Kierkegaard, however, the Absurd describes not an essential and universal human condition, but the special condition and nature of religious faith—a paradoxical state in which matters of will and perception that are objectively impossible can nevertheless be ultimately true.

Simply defined, it is the Sisyphean spirit of defiance in the face of the Absurd. More technically and less metaphorically, it is a spirit of opposition against any perceived unfairness, oppression, or indignity in the human condition.

In fact Camus argues at considerable length to show that an act of conscientious revolt is ultimately far more than just an individual gesture or an act of solitary protest.

Indeed for him it was more like a fundamental article of his humanist faith. In any case it represents one of the core principles of his ethics and is one of the tenets that sets his philosophy apart from existentialism.

True revolt, then, is performed not just for the self but also in solidarity with and out of compassion for others.

And for this reason, Camus is led to conclude that revolt too has its limits. If it begins with and necessarily involves a recognition of human community and a common human dignity, it cannot, without betraying its own true character, treat others as if they were lacking in that dignity or not a part of that community.

Meursault, the laconic narrator of The Stranger , is the most obvious example. He seems to observe everything, even his own behavior, from an outside perspective.

Like an anthropologist, he records his observations with clinical detachment at the same time that he is warily observed by the community around him.

Camus came by this perspective naturally. This outside view, the perspective of the exile, became his characteristic stance as a writer.

Throughout his writing career, Camus showed a deep interest in questions of guilt and innocence. Once again Meursault in The Stranger provides a striking example.

Is he legally innocent of the murder he is charged with? Or is he technically guilty? On the one hand, there seems to have been no conscious intention behind his action.

Indeed the killing takes place almost as if by accident, with Meursault in a kind of absent-minded daze, distracted by the sun. From this point of view, his crime seems surreal and his trial and subsequent conviction a travesty.

The significantly named Jean-Baptiste Clamence a voice in the wilderness calling for clemency and forgiveness is tortured by guilt in the wake of a seemingly casual incident.

While strolling home one drizzly November evening, he shows little concern and almost no emotional reaction at all to the suicidal plunge of a young woman into the Seine.

But afterwards the incident begins to gnaw at him, and eventually he comes to view his inaction as typical of a long pattern of personal vanity and as a colossal failure of human sympathy on his part.

Wracked by remorse and self-loathing, he gradually descends into a figurative hell. In the final sections of the novel, amid distinctly Christian imagery and symbolism, he declares his crucial insight that, despite our pretensions to righteousness, we are all guilty.

Hence no human being has the right to pass final moral judgment on another. In a final twist, Clamence asserts that his acid self-portrait is also a mirror for his contemporaries.

Hence his confession is also an accusation—not only of his nameless companion who serves as the mute auditor for his monologue but ultimately of the hypocrite lecteur as well.

At heart a nature-worshipper, and by instinct a skeptic and non-believer, Camus nevertheless retained a lifelong interest and respect for Christian philosophy and literature.

In particular, he seems to have recognized St. Augustine and Kierkegaard as intellectual kinsmen and writers with whom he shared a common passion for controversy, literary flourish, self-scrutiny, and self-dramatization.

Christian images, symbols, and allusions abound in all his work probably more so than in the writing of any other avowed atheist in modern literature , and Christian themes—judgment, forgiveness, despair, sacrifice, passion, and so forth—permeate the novels.

Meursault and Clamence, it is worth noting, are presented not just as sinners, devils, and outcasts, but in several instances explicitly, and not entirely ironically, as Christ figures.

Meanwhile alongside and against this leitmotif of Christian images and themes, Camus sets the main components of his essentially pagan worldview.

Like Nietzsche, he maintains a special admiration for Greek heroic values and pessimism and for classical virtues like courage and honor. What might be termed Romantic values also merit particular esteem within his philosophy: Can an absurd world have intrinsic value?

Is authentic pessimism compatible with the view that there is an essential dignity to human life? They are almost a hallmark of his philosophical style.

Oracular and high-flown, they clearly have more rhetorical force than logical potency. Surprisingly, the sentiment here, a commonplace of the Enlightenment and of traditional liberalism, is much closer in spirit to the exuberant secular humanism of the Italian Renaissance than to the agnostic skepticism of contemporary post-modernism.

A primary theme of early twentieth-century European literature and critical thought is the rise of modern mass civilization and its suffocating effects of alienation and dehumanization.

This became a pervasive theme by the time Camus was establishing his literary reputation. Anxiety over the fate of Western culture, already intense, escalated to apocalyptic levels with the sudden emergence of fascism, totalitarianism, and new technologies of coercion and death.

He responded to the occasion with typical force and eloquence. Even his concept of the Absurd becomes multiplied by a social and economic world in which meaningless routines and mind-numbing repetitions predominate.

The drudgery of Sisyphus is mirrored and amplified in the assembly line, the business office, the government bureau, and especially in the penal colony and concentration camp.

In line with this theme, the ever-ambiguous Meursault in The Stranger can be understood as both a depressing manifestation of the newly emerging mass personality that is, as a figure devoid of basic human feelings and passions and, conversely, as a lone hold-out, a last remaining specimen of the old Romanticism—and hence a figure who is viewed as both dangerous and alien by the robotic majority.

Similarly, The Plague can be interpreted, on at least one level, as an allegory in which humanity must be preserved from the fatal pestilence of mass culture, which converts formerly free, autonomous, independent-minded human beings into a soulless new species.

It was, above all, a shrewd, unflagging adversary; a skilled organizer, doing his work thoroughly and well. Clad in a gaudy military uniform bedecked with ribbons and decorations, the character Plague a satirical portrait of Generalissimo Francisco Franco—or El Caudillo as he liked to style himself is closely attended by his personal Secretary and loyal assistant Death, depicted as a prim, officious female bureaucrat who also favors military garb and who carries an ever-present clipboard and notebook.

So Plague is a fascist dictator, and Death a solicitous commissar. Together these figures represent a system of pervasive control and micro-management that threatens the future of mass society.

In his reflections on this theme of post-industrial dehumanization, Camus differs from most other European writers and especially from those on the Left in viewing mass reform and revolutionary movements, including Marxism, as representing at least as great a threat to individual freedom as late-stage capitalism.

Throughout his career he continued to cherish and defend old-fashioned virtues like personal courage and honor that other Left-wing intellectuals tended to view as reactionary or bourgeois.

In Caligula the mad title character, in a fit of horror and revulsion at the meaninglessness of life, would rather die—and bring the world down with him—than accept a cosmos that is indifferent to human fate or that will not submit to his individual will.

Like Wittgenstein who had a family history of suicide and suffered from bouts of depression , Camus considered suicide the fundamental issue for moral philosophy.

However, unlike other philosophers who have written on the subject from Cicero and Seneca to Montaigne and Schopenhauer , Camus seems uninterested in assessing the traditional motives and justifications for suicide for instance, to avoid a long, painful, and debilitating illness or as a response to personal tragedy or scandal.

Indeed, he seems interested in the problem only to the extent that it represents one possible response to the Absurd.

His verdict on the matter is unqualified and clear: Executions by guillotine were a common public spectacle in Algeria during his lifetime, but he refused to attend them and recoiled bitterly at their very mention.

Condemnation of capital punishment is both explicit and implicit in his writings. The grim rationality of this process of legalized murder contrasts markedly with the sudden, irrational, almost accidental nature of his actual crime.

Similarly, in The Myth of Sisyphus , the would-be suicide is contrasted with his fatal opposite, the man condemned to death, and we are continually reminded that a sentence of death is our common fate in an absurd universe.

Like Victor Hugo, his great predecessor on this issue, he views the death penalty as an egregious barbarism—an act of blood riot and vengeance covered over with a thin veneer of law and civility to make it acceptable to modern sensibilities.

That it is also an act of vengeance aimed primarily at the poor and oppressed, and that it is given religious sanction, makes it even more hideous and indefensible in his view.

To all who argue that murder must be punished in kind, Camus replies:. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date on which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months.

Such a monster is not to be encountered in private life. Camus concludes his essay by arguing that, at the very least, France should abolish the savage spectacle of the guillotine and replace it with a more humane procedure such as lethal injection.

But he still retains a scant hope that capital punishment will be completely abolished at some point in the time to come: Camus is often classified as an existentialist writer, and it is easy to see why.

Affinities with Kierkegaard and Sartre are patent. He shares with these philosophers and with the other major writers in the existentialist tradition, from Augustine and Pascal to Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche an habitual and intense interest in the active human psyche, in the life of conscience or spirit as it is actually experienced and lived.

Like these writers, he aims at nothing less than a thorough, candid exegesis of the human condition, and like them he exhibits not just a philosophical attraction but also a personal commitment to such values as individualism, free choice, inner strength, authenticity, personal responsibility, and self-determination.

However, one troublesome fact remains: Was this an accurate and honest self-assessment? In their view, Camus qualifies as, at minimum, a closet existentialist, and in certain respects e.

On the other hand, besides his personal rejection of the label, there appear to be solid reasons for challenging the claim that Camus is an existentialist.

Of course there is no rule that says an existentialist must be a metaphysician. Another point of divergence is that Camus seems to have regarded existentialism as a complete and systematic world-view, that is, a fully articulated doctrine.

In his view, to be a true existentialist one had to commit to the entire doctrine and not merely to bits and pieces of it , and this was apparently something he was unwilling to do.

A further point of separation, and possibly a decisive one, is that Camus actively challenged and set himself apart from the existentialist motto that being precedes essence.

Ultimately, against Sartre in particular and existentialists in general, he clings to his instinctive belief in a common human nature.

In his view human existence necessarily includes an essential core element of dignity and value, and in this respect he seems surprisingly closer to the humanist tradition from Aristotle to Kant than to the modern tradition of skepticism and relativism from Nietzsche to Derrida the latter his fellow-countryman and, at least in his commitment to human rights and opposition to the death penalty, his spiritual successor and descendant.

He truly lived his philosophy; thus it is in his personal political stands and public statements as well as in his books that his views are clearly articulated.

In short, he bequeathed not just his words but also his actions. The result is something like a cross between Hemingway a Camus favorite and Melville another favorite or between Diderot and Hugo.

For the most part when we read Camus we encounter the plain syntax, simple vocabulary, and biting aphorism typical of modern theatre or noir detective fiction.

However, this base style frequently becomes a counterpoint or springboard for extended musings and lavish descriptions almost in the manner of Proust.

It is also a moral and political statement. It says, in effect, that the life of reason and the life of feeling need not be opposed; that intellect and passion can, and should, operate together.

Perhaps the greatest inspiration and example that Camus provides for contemporary readers is the lesson that it is still possible for a serious thinker to face the modern world with a full understanding of its contradictions, injustices, brutal flaws, and absurdities with hardly a grain of hope, yet utterly without cynicism.

To read Camus is to find words like justice, freedom, humanity, and dignity used plainly and openly, without apology or embarrassment, and without the pained or derisive facial expressions or invisible quotation marks that almost automatically accompany those terms in public discourse today.

At Stockholm Camus concluded his Nobel acceptance speech with a stirring reminder and challenge to modern writers: Albert Camus — Albert Camus was a French-Algerian journalist, playwright, novelist, philosophical essayist, and Nobel laureate.

Yet, as he indicated in his acceptance speech at Stockholm, he considered his own career as still in mid-flight, with much yet to accomplish and even greater writing challenges ahead: Camus, Philosophical Literature, and the Novel of Ideas To pin down exactly why and in what distinctive sense Camus may be termed a philosophical writer, we can begin by comparing him with other authors who have merited the designation.

Drama Camus began his literary career as a playwright and theatre director and was planning new dramatic works for film, stage, and television at the time of his death.

Philosophy To re-emphasize a point made earlier, Camus considered himself first and foremost a writer un ecrivain. Background and Influences Though he was baptized, raised, and educated as a Catholic and invariably respectful towards the Church, Camus seems to have been a natural-born pagan who showed almost no instinct whatsoever for belief in the supernatural.

Themes and Ideas Regardless of whether he is producing drama, fiction, or non-fiction, Camus in his mature writings nearly always takes up and re-explores the same basic philosophical issues.

Guilt and Innocence Throughout his writing career, Camus showed a deep interest in questions of guilt and innocence.

History and Mass Culture A primary theme of early twentieth-century European literature and critical thought is the rise of modern mass civilization and its suffocating effects of alienation and dehumanization.

To all who argue that murder must be punished in kind, Camus replies: Existentialism Camus is often classified as an existentialist writer, and it is easy to see why.

References and Further Reading a. Works by Albert Camus The Stranger. The Myth of Sisyphus and other Essays. A philosophical meditation on suicide originally published as Le Mythe de Sisyphe by Librairie Gallimard in Exile and the Kingdom.

Lyrical and Critical Essays. A selection of critical writings, including essays on Melville, Faulkner, and Sartre, plus all the early essays from Betwixt and Between and Nuptials.

Resistance, Rebellion, and Death. A collection of essays on a wide variety of political topics ranging from the death penalty to the Cold War.

Caligula and Three Other Plays. A posthumous novel, partly autobiographical. Princeton University Press, Critical and Biographical Studies Barthes, Roland.

Hill and Wang, Rutgers University Press, A Collection of Critical Essays. Albert Camus and the Literature of Revolt.

Oxford University Press, The Novelist as Philosopher. From the Absurd to Revolt. Camus once confided that the troubles in Algeria "affected him as others feel pain in their lungs.

In the s, Camus was affiliated with Left-wing groups like the Maison de Culture in Algiers which were highly critical of the French colonial regime's treatment of Algeria's Arab and indigenous inhabitants, supporting the Blum-Viollette proposal to grant Algerians full French citizenship.

His address on "The New Mediterranean Culture" represents Camus' most systematic statement on his views at this time. In , Camus wrote a stinging series of articles for Alger Republicain on the atrocious living conditions of the inhabitants of the Kabylie highlands, advocating for economic, educational and political reforms as a matter of emergency.

When the Algerian War began in , Camus was confronted with a moral dilemma. He identified with the Pieds-Noirs such as his own parents and defended the French government's actions against the revolt.

He argued that the Algerian uprising was an integral part of the 'new Arab imperialism ' led by Egypt and an 'anti-Western' offensive orchestrated by Russia to 'encircle Europe' and 'isolate the United States'.

During the war he advocated a civil truce that would spare the civilians, which was rejected by both sides, who regarded it as foolish.

Behind the scenes, he began to work for imprisoned Algerians who faced the death penalty. When he spoke to students at the University of Stockholm , he defended his apparent inactivity in the Algerian question; he stated that he was worried about what might happen to his mother, who still lived in Algeria.

This led to further ostracism by French left-wing intellectuals. At the time of his death, Camus was working on an incomplete novel with a strong biographical component titled The First Man.

The publication of this book in has sparked a widespread reconsideration of Camus' allegedly unrepentant colonialism in the work of figures such as David Carroll in the English-speaking world.

As one of the forefathers of existentialism, Camus focused most of his philosophy around existential questions.

The absurdity of life and its inevitable ending death is highlighted in the very famous opening of the novel The Stranger Or maybe yesterday; I can't be sure.

He believed that the absurd — life being void of meaning, or man's inability to know that meaning if it were to exist — was something that man should embrace.

He argued that this crisis of self could cause a man to commit "philosophical suicide"; choosing to believe in external sources that give life false meaning.

He argued that religion was the main culprit. If a man chose to believe in religion — that the meaning of life was to ascend to heaven, or some similar afterlife, that he committed philosophical suicide by trying to escape the absurd.

Many writers have addressed the Absurd, each with his or her own interpretation of what the Absurd is and what comprises its importance.

For example, Sartre recognizes the absurdity of individual experience, while Kierkegaard explains that the absurdity of certain religious truths prevents us from reaching God rationally.

Camus regretted the continued reference to himself as a "philosopher of the absurd". To distinguish his ideas, scholars sometimes refer to the Paradox of the Absurd, when referring to "Camus' Absurd".

His early thoughts appeared in his first collection of essays, L'Envers et l'endroit Betwixt and Between in Absurd themes were expressed with more sophistication in his second collection of essays, Noces Nuptials , in In these essays Camus reflects on the experience of the Absurd.

He also wrote a play about Caligula , a Roman Emperor, pursuing an absurd logic. The play was not performed until The turning point in Camus's attitude to the Absurd occurs in a collection of four letters to an anonymous German friend, written between July and July Camus presents the reader with dualisms such as happiness and sadness, dark and light, life and death, etc.

He emphasizes the fact that happiness is fleeting and that the human condition is one of mortality; for Camus, this is cause for a greater appreciation for life and happiness.

In Le Mythe , dualism becomes a paradox: While we can live with a dualism I can accept periods of unhappiness, because I know I will also experience happiness to come , we cannot live with the paradox I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless.

In Le Mythe , Camus investigates our experience of the Absurd and asks how we live with it. Our life must have meaning for us to value it. If we accept that life has no meaning and therefore no value, should we kill ourselves?

In Le Mythe , Camus suggests that 'creation of meaning' would entail a logical leap or a kind of philosophical suicide in order to find psychological comfort.

Creation of meaning is not a viable alternative but a logical leap and an evasion of the problem. He gives examples of how others would seem to make this kind of leap.

The alternative option, namely suicide, would entail another kind of leap, where one attempts to kill absurdity by destroying one of its terms the human being.

Camus points out, however, that there is no more meaning in death than there is in life, and that it simply evades the problem yet again.

Camus concludes that we must instead "entertain" both death and the absurd, while never agreeing to their terms.

Caligula ends up admitting his absurd logic was wrong and is killed by an assassination he has deliberately brought about. However, while Camus possibly suggests that Caligula's absurd reasoning is wrong, the play's anti-hero does get the last word, as the author similarly exalts Meursault's final moments.

Camus made a significant contribution to a viewpoint of the Absurd, and always rejected nihilism as a valid response.

If nothing had any meaning, you would be right. But there is something that still has a meaning. Camus's understanding of the Absurd promotes public debate; his various offerings entice us to think about the Absurd and offer our own contribution.

Concepts such as cooperation, joint effort and solidarity are of key importance to Camus, though they are most likely sources of "relative" versus "absolute" meaning.

In The Rebel , Camus identifies rebellion or rather, the values indicated by rebellion as a basis for human solidarity.

When he rebels, a man identifies himself with other men and so surpasses himself, and from this point of view human solidarity is metaphysical.

But for the moment we are only talking of the kind of solidarity that is born in chains. Despite his opposition to the label, Camus addressed one of the fundamental questions of existentialism: Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy.

All other questions follow from that. Throughout his life, Camus spoke out against and actively opposed totalitarianism in its many forms.

On the French collaboration with Nazi occupiers he wrote: Camus publicly reversed himself and became a lifelong opponent of capital punishment.

Camus's well-known falling out with Sartre is linked to his opposition to authoritarian communism. Camus detected a reflexive totalitarianism in the mass politics espoused by Sartre in the name of Marxism.

Camus continued to speak out against the atrocities of the Soviet Union , a sentiment captured in his speech The Blood of the Hungarians , commemorating the anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution , an uprising crushed in a bloody assault by the Red Army.

One further important, often neglected component of Camus' philosophical and literary persona was his love of classical Greek thought and literature, or philhellenism.

This love looks back to his youthful encounters with Friedrich Nietzsche , his teacher Jean Grenier , and his own sense of a "Mediterranean" identity, based in a common experience of sunshine, beaches, and living in proximity to the near-Eastern world.

The culmination of the latter work defends a "midday thought" based in classical moderation or mesure , in opposition to the tendency of modern political ideologies to exclusively valorise race or class, and to dream of a total redemptive revolution.

Camus' conception of classical moderation also has deep roots in his lifelong love of Greek tragic theatre, about which he gave an intriguing address in Athens in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. Archived from the original on 8 October Retrieved 7 October From Rationalism to Existentialism: Archived from the original on 5 October Retrieved 17 October Schrift , Twentieth-Century French Philosophy: Retrieved 14 June Famous People with the Courage to Doubt.

Retrieved January 17, Biography, Books and Facts". Retrieved 23 February Retrieved 20 November Albert Camus and Maria Casares". Retrieved 13 April Los Angeles Review of Books.

From the Absurd to Revolt. Tarrou's account of the death penalty in TP. Archived from the original on 8 July Retrieved 15 November Archived from the original on 13 May Archived from the original on 2 December Retrieved 5 October This one's had a good start born in the middle of a move.

Retrieved 21 December Camus and His Women. Archived from the original on 7 December Retrieved 1 December The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 3 August Retrieved 21 August Albert Camus the Algerian:

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Bob Noble and Blue Voodoo - The Other Side During this period he was Albert Camuso | All the action from the casino floor: news afflicted by tuberculosis and was perhaps even more sorely beset by the deteriorating political situation in his native Algeria—which had by now escalated from demonstrations and occasional terrorist and guerilla attacks into open violence and insurrection. He wrote an essay against capital punishment in collaboration with Arthur Koestlerthe writer, intellectual and founder of the League Against Capital Punishment. We might think that facing our total annihilation Thrills Casino | Play Crowning Glory | Get Free Spins be Beste Spielothek in Becklem finden, but Beste Spielothek in Rodberg finden Camus this leads us in a positive direction: For the most part when we read Camus we encounter the plain syntax, simple vocabulary, and biting aphorism typical of modern theatre or noir detective fiction. One of the prominent concerns of the play is the Orwellian theme of the degradation of language via totalitarian politics and bureaucracy symbolized onstage by calls for silence, scenes in pantomime, and a gagged chorus. He saw it as the result of our desire for clarity and meaning within a world and condition that offers neither, which he expressed in The Myth of Sisyphus and incorporated into many of his other works, such as The Stranger and The Plague. During the war he advocated a civil truce that would spare the civilians, which was rejected by both sides, who regarded it as foolish. Camus made a significant contribution to rotkäppchen im angebot viewpoint of the Absurd, and Beste Spielothek in Freundschaft finden rejected nihilism as a valid response. La vie philosophique de Albert Camus. A bad homburg casino lounge footballer appears as a character in The Plague and football is discussed in the dialogue.

After arguing that an authentic life inevitably involves some form of conscientious moral revolt, Camus winds up concluding that only in rare and very narrowly defined instances is political violence justified.

To re-emphasize a point made earlier, Camus considered himself first and foremost a writer un ecrivain. However, he apparently never felt comfortable identifying himself as a philosopher—a term he seems to have associated with rigorous academic training, systematic thinking, logical consistency, and a coherent, carefully defined doctrine or body of ideas.

This is not to suggest that Camus lacked ideas or to say that his thought cannot be considered a personal philosophy. It is simply to point out that he was not a systematic, or even a notably disciplined thinker and that, unlike Heidegger and Sartre , for example, he showed very little interest in metaphysics and ontology, which seems to be one of the reasons he consistently denied that he was an existentialist.

In short, he was not much given to speculative philosophy or any kind of abstract theorizing. His thought is instead nearly always related to current events e.

Though he was baptized, raised, and educated as a Catholic and invariably respectful towards the Church, Camus seems to have been a natural-born pagan who showed almost no instinct whatsoever for belief in the supernatural.

Even as a youth, he was more of a sun-worshipper and nature lover than a boy notable for his piety or religious faith. On the other hand, there is no denying that Christian literature and philosophy served as an important influence on his early thought and intellectual development.

As a young high school student, Camus studied the Bible, read and savored the Spanish mystics St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and was introduced to the thought of St.

Augustine would later serve as the subject of his baccalaureate dissertation and become—as a fellow North African writer, quasi-existentialist, and conscientious observer-critic of his own life—an important lifelong influence.

In college Camus absorbed Kierkegaard, who, after Augustine, was probably the single greatest Christian influence on his thought.

He also studied Schopenhauer and Nietzsche—undoubtedly the two writers who did the most to set him on his own path of defiant pessimism and atheism.

Other notable influences include not only the major modern philosophers from the academic curriculum—from Descartes and Spinoza to Bergson—but also, and just as importantly, philosophical writers like Stendhal, Melville, Dostoyevsky, and Kafka.

Here he unfolds what is essentially a hedonistic, indeed almost primitivistic, celebration of nature and the life of the senses.

In the Romantic poetic tradition of writers like Rilke and Wallace Stevens, he offers a forceful rejection of all hereafters and an emphatic embrace of the here and now.

There is no salvation, he argues, no transcendence; there is only the enjoyment of consciousness and natural being. One life, this life, is enough.

Sky and sea, mountain and desert, have their own beauty and magnificence and constitute a sufficient heaven. In the first place, the Camus of Nuptials is still a young man of twenty-five, aflame with youthful joie de vivre.

He favors a life of impulse and daring as it was honored and practiced in both Romantic literature and in the streets of Belcourt. Recently married and divorced, raised in poverty and in close quarters, beset with health problems, this young man develops an understandable passion for clear air, open space, colorful dreams, panoramic vistas, and the breath-taking prospects and challenges of the larger world.

Consequently, the Camus of the period is a decidedly different writer from the Camus who will ascend the dais at Stockholm nearly twenty years later.

The young Camus is more of a sensualist and pleasure-seeker, more of a dandy and aesthete, than the more hardened and austere figure who will endure the Occupation while serving in the French underground.

He is a writer passionate in his conviction that life ought to be lived vividly and intensely—indeed rebelliously to use the term that will take on increasing importance in his thought.

He is also a writer attracted to causes, though he is not yet the author who will become world-famous for his moral seriousness and passionate commitment to justice and freedom.

All of which is understandable. After all, the Camus of the middle s had not yet witnessed and absorbed the shattering spectacle and disillusioning effects of the Spanish Civil War, the rise of Fascism, Hitlerism, and Stalinism, the coming into being of total war and weapons of mass destruction, and the terrible reign of genocide and terror that would characterize the period It is proudly and inconsolably pessimistic, but not in a polemical or overbearing way.

It is unbending, hardheaded, determinedly skeptical. It is tolerant and respectful of world religious creeds, but at the same time wholly unsympathetic to them.

In the end it is an affirmative philosophy that accepts and approves, and in its own way blesses, our dreadful mortality and our fundamental isolation in the world.

Regardless of whether he is producing drama, fiction, or non-fiction, Camus in his mature writings nearly always takes up and re-explores the same basic philosophical issues.

These recurrent topoi constitute the key components of his thought. They include themes like the Absurd, alienation, suicide, and rebellion that almost automatically come to mind whenever his name is mentioned.

Hence any summary of his place in modern philosophy would be incomplete without at least a brief discussion of these ideas and how they fit together to form a distinctive and original world-view.

Indeed, as even sitcom writers and stand-up comics apparently understand odd fact: What then is meant by the notion of the Absurd? Although that perception is certainly consistent with his formula.

Instead, as he emphasizes and tries to make clear, the Absurd expresses a fundamental disharmony, a tragic incompatibility, in our existence.

So here we are: Sartre, in his essay-review of The Stranger provides an additional gloss on the idea: It arises from the human demand for clarity and transcendence on the one hand and a cosmos that offers nothing of the kind on the other.

Such is our fate: Two of these he condemns as evasions, and the other he puts forward as a proper solution. The first choice is blunt and simple: If we decide that a life without some essential purpose or meaning is not worth living, we can simply choose to kill ourselves.

Camus rejects this choice as cowardly. In his terms it is a repudiation or renunciation of life, not a true revolt. The second choice is the religious solution of positing a transcendent world of solace and meaning beyond the Absurd.

In effect, instead of removing himself from the absurd confrontation of self and world like the physical suicide, the religious believer simply removes the offending world and replaces it, via a kind of metaphysical abracadabra, with a more agreeable alternative.

Since the Absurd in his view is an unavoidable, indeed defining, characteristic of the human condition, the only proper response to it is full, unflinching, courageous acceptance.

Doomed to eternal labor at his rock, fully conscious of the essential hopelessness of his plight, Sisyphus nevertheless pushes on.

In doing so he becomes for Camus a superb icon of the spirit of revolt and of the human condition. To rise each day to fight a battle you know you cannot win, and to do this with wit, grace, compassion for others, and even a sense of mission, is to face the Absurd in a spirit of true heroism.

Over the course of his career, Camus examines the Absurd from multiple perspectives and through the eyes of many different characters—from the mad Caligula, who is obsessed with the problem, to the strangely aloof and yet simultaneously self-absorbed Meursault, who seems indifferent to it even as he exemplifies and is finally victimized by it.

In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus traces it in specific characters of legend and literature Don Juan, Ivan Karamazov and also in certain character types the Actor, the Conqueror , all of who may be understood as in some way a version or manifestation of Sisyphus, the archetypal absurd hero.

A rather different, yet possibly related, notion of the Absurd is proposed and analyzed in the work of Kierkegaard, especially in Fear and Trembling and Repetition.

For Kierkegaard, however, the Absurd describes not an essential and universal human condition, but the special condition and nature of religious faith—a paradoxical state in which matters of will and perception that are objectively impossible can nevertheless be ultimately true.

Simply defined, it is the Sisyphean spirit of defiance in the face of the Absurd. More technically and less metaphorically, it is a spirit of opposition against any perceived unfairness, oppression, or indignity in the human condition.

In fact Camus argues at considerable length to show that an act of conscientious revolt is ultimately far more than just an individual gesture or an act of solitary protest.

Indeed for him it was more like a fundamental article of his humanist faith. In any case it represents one of the core principles of his ethics and is one of the tenets that sets his philosophy apart from existentialism.

True revolt, then, is performed not just for the self but also in solidarity with and out of compassion for others. And for this reason, Camus is led to conclude that revolt too has its limits.

If it begins with and necessarily involves a recognition of human community and a common human dignity, it cannot, without betraying its own true character, treat others as if they were lacking in that dignity or not a part of that community.

Meursault, the laconic narrator of The Stranger , is the most obvious example. He seems to observe everything, even his own behavior, from an outside perspective.

Like an anthropologist, he records his observations with clinical detachment at the same time that he is warily observed by the community around him.

Camus came by this perspective naturally. This outside view, the perspective of the exile, became his characteristic stance as a writer.

Throughout his writing career, Camus showed a deep interest in questions of guilt and innocence. Once again Meursault in The Stranger provides a striking example.

Is he legally innocent of the murder he is charged with? Or is he technically guilty? On the one hand, there seems to have been no conscious intention behind his action.

Indeed the killing takes place almost as if by accident, with Meursault in a kind of absent-minded daze, distracted by the sun.

From this point of view, his crime seems surreal and his trial and subsequent conviction a travesty. The significantly named Jean-Baptiste Clamence a voice in the wilderness calling for clemency and forgiveness is tortured by guilt in the wake of a seemingly casual incident.

While strolling home one drizzly November evening, he shows little concern and almost no emotional reaction at all to the suicidal plunge of a young woman into the Seine.

But afterwards the incident begins to gnaw at him, and eventually he comes to view his inaction as typical of a long pattern of personal vanity and as a colossal failure of human sympathy on his part.

Wracked by remorse and self-loathing, he gradually descends into a figurative hell. In the final sections of the novel, amid distinctly Christian imagery and symbolism, he declares his crucial insight that, despite our pretensions to righteousness, we are all guilty.

Hence no human being has the right to pass final moral judgment on another. In a final twist, Clamence asserts that his acid self-portrait is also a mirror for his contemporaries.

Hence his confession is also an accusation—not only of his nameless companion who serves as the mute auditor for his monologue but ultimately of the hypocrite lecteur as well.

At heart a nature-worshipper, and by instinct a skeptic and non-believer, Camus nevertheless retained a lifelong interest and respect for Christian philosophy and literature.

In particular, he seems to have recognized St. Augustine and Kierkegaard as intellectual kinsmen and writers with whom he shared a common passion for controversy, literary flourish, self-scrutiny, and self-dramatization.

Christian images, symbols, and allusions abound in all his work probably more so than in the writing of any other avowed atheist in modern literature , and Christian themes—judgment, forgiveness, despair, sacrifice, passion, and so forth—permeate the novels.

Meursault and Clamence, it is worth noting, are presented not just as sinners, devils, and outcasts, but in several instances explicitly, and not entirely ironically, as Christ figures.

Meanwhile alongside and against this leitmotif of Christian images and themes, Camus sets the main components of his essentially pagan worldview.

Like Nietzsche, he maintains a special admiration for Greek heroic values and pessimism and for classical virtues like courage and honor.

What might be termed Romantic values also merit particular esteem within his philosophy: Can an absurd world have intrinsic value?

Is authentic pessimism compatible with the view that there is an essential dignity to human life? They are almost a hallmark of his philosophical style.

Oracular and high-flown, they clearly have more rhetorical force than logical potency. Surprisingly, the sentiment here, a commonplace of the Enlightenment and of traditional liberalism, is much closer in spirit to the exuberant secular humanism of the Italian Renaissance than to the agnostic skepticism of contemporary post-modernism.

A primary theme of early twentieth-century European literature and critical thought is the rise of modern mass civilization and its suffocating effects of alienation and dehumanization.

This became a pervasive theme by the time Camus was establishing his literary reputation. Anxiety over the fate of Western culture, already intense, escalated to apocalyptic levels with the sudden emergence of fascism, totalitarianism, and new technologies of coercion and death.

He responded to the occasion with typical force and eloquence. Even his concept of the Absurd becomes multiplied by a social and economic world in which meaningless routines and mind-numbing repetitions predominate.

The drudgery of Sisyphus is mirrored and amplified in the assembly line, the business office, the government bureau, and especially in the penal colony and concentration camp.

In line with this theme, the ever-ambiguous Meursault in The Stranger can be understood as both a depressing manifestation of the newly emerging mass personality that is, as a figure devoid of basic human feelings and passions and, conversely, as a lone hold-out, a last remaining specimen of the old Romanticism—and hence a figure who is viewed as both dangerous and alien by the robotic majority.

Similarly, The Plague can be interpreted, on at least one level, as an allegory in which humanity must be preserved from the fatal pestilence of mass culture, which converts formerly free, autonomous, independent-minded human beings into a soulless new species.

It was, above all, a shrewd, unflagging adversary; a skilled organizer, doing his work thoroughly and well. Clad in a gaudy military uniform bedecked with ribbons and decorations, the character Plague a satirical portrait of Generalissimo Francisco Franco—or El Caudillo as he liked to style himself is closely attended by his personal Secretary and loyal assistant Death, depicted as a prim, officious female bureaucrat who also favors military garb and who carries an ever-present clipboard and notebook.

So Plague is a fascist dictator, and Death a solicitous commissar. Together these figures represent a system of pervasive control and micro-management that threatens the future of mass society.

In his reflections on this theme of post-industrial dehumanization, Camus differs from most other European writers and especially from those on the Left in viewing mass reform and revolutionary movements, including Marxism, as representing at least as great a threat to individual freedom as late-stage capitalism.

Throughout his career he continued to cherish and defend old-fashioned virtues like personal courage and honor that other Left-wing intellectuals tended to view as reactionary or bourgeois.

In Caligula the mad title character, in a fit of horror and revulsion at the meaninglessness of life, would rather die—and bring the world down with him—than accept a cosmos that is indifferent to human fate or that will not submit to his individual will.

Like Wittgenstein who had a family history of suicide and suffered from bouts of depression , Camus considered suicide the fundamental issue for moral philosophy.

However, unlike other philosophers who have written on the subject from Cicero and Seneca to Montaigne and Schopenhauer , Camus seems uninterested in assessing the traditional motives and justifications for suicide for instance, to avoid a long, painful, and debilitating illness or as a response to personal tragedy or scandal.

Indeed, he seems interested in the problem only to the extent that it represents one possible response to the Absurd. His verdict on the matter is unqualified and clear: Executions by guillotine were a common public spectacle in Algeria during his lifetime, but he refused to attend them and recoiled bitterly at their very mention.

Condemnation of capital punishment is both explicit and implicit in his writings. The grim rationality of this process of legalized murder contrasts markedly with the sudden, irrational, almost accidental nature of his actual crime.

Similarly, in The Myth of Sisyphus , the would-be suicide is contrasted with his fatal opposite, the man condemned to death, and we are continually reminded that a sentence of death is our common fate in an absurd universe.

Like Victor Hugo, his great predecessor on this issue, he views the death penalty as an egregious barbarism—an act of blood riot and vengeance covered over with a thin veneer of law and civility to make it acceptable to modern sensibilities.

That it is also an act of vengeance aimed primarily at the poor and oppressed, and that it is given religious sanction, makes it even more hideous and indefensible in his view.

To all who argue that murder must be punished in kind, Camus replies:. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date on which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months.

Such a monster is not to be encountered in private life. Camus concludes his essay by arguing that, at the very least, France should abolish the savage spectacle of the guillotine and replace it with a more humane procedure such as lethal injection.

But he still retains a scant hope that capital punishment will be completely abolished at some point in the time to come: Camus is often classified as an existentialist writer, and it is easy to see why.

Affinities with Kierkegaard and Sartre are patent. He shares with these philosophers and with the other major writers in the existentialist tradition, from Augustine and Pascal to Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche an habitual and intense interest in the active human psyche, in the life of conscience or spirit as it is actually experienced and lived.

Like these writers, he aims at nothing less than a thorough, candid exegesis of the human condition, and like them he exhibits not just a philosophical attraction but also a personal commitment to such values as individualism, free choice, inner strength, authenticity, personal responsibility, and self-determination.

However, one troublesome fact remains: Was this an accurate and honest self-assessment? In their view, Camus qualifies as, at minimum, a closet existentialist, and in certain respects e.

On the other hand, besides his personal rejection of the label, there appear to be solid reasons for challenging the claim that Camus is an existentialist.

Of course there is no rule that says an existentialist must be a metaphysician. Another point of divergence is that Camus seems to have regarded existentialism as a complete and systematic world-view, that is, a fully articulated doctrine.

In his view, to be a true existentialist one had to commit to the entire doctrine and not merely to bits and pieces of it , and this was apparently something he was unwilling to do.

A further point of separation, and possibly a decisive one, is that Camus actively challenged and set himself apart from the existentialist motto that being precedes essence.

Series by Albert Camus. Notebooks 3 books by Albert Camus ,. Ryan Bloom Goodreads Author Translator. Quotes by Albert Camus.

You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. Sometimes the first line of a book just grabs you by the nostrils and drags your fool head into its pages, preventing escape in any way, shape or form.

Which of these opening lines has its phalanges most firmly planted in your nasal cavities? Or There and Back Again by J. The nostril seizing power of these paltry lines is minimal, at best!

Look to the comments section where I shall carefully type out my choice, which you have so imprudently omitted!

I am a spiteful man. Reanimator and Other Stories by H. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.

Topics Mentioning This Author. Laura's Books 27 Aug 15,