Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus and Rick and Morty
Presumably, since the beginning of time, we, as human beings, have tirelessly sought out answers toward a greater, predetermined and/or significant purpose in our lives. The question is still unanswered, but the desire remains — what is the point? The contradiction between searching for order, reason or existential purpose and the inability to find any type of purpose in an essentially meaningless and indifferent universe is what French philosopher, Albert Camus, considered “Absurd.” Any hopeful searching for concrete meanings is met with the discouraging and disheartening realization that there are no true meanings. For many of us, the idea of the world being made with no fated purpose or that any individual effort made toward changing the world will be met by a forgetful and meaningless universe that will continue to be indifferent toward our existence is a despairing notion.
Camus believed The Myth of Sisyphus to be the embodiment of the Absurdist struggle as, according to Greek Mythology, Sisyphus was a king who deceived the Gods and was sentenced to an eternity of rolling a boulder up a mountain by hand. The twist that punishment is that the boulder will only roll back down upon reaching the mountain’s summit. This left Sisyphus repeating his pointless task endlessly, eventually coming to an understanding of the emptiness of his condemned doing.
Camus believed Sisyphus was representative of humanity that is bound to an existence of meaninglessness and senselessness, and sentenced to never-ending labor with no real reward; and that is the core of the late-night satirical episodic created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s, Rick and Morty (2013) that airs on Cartoon Network-owned Adult Swim. The show is laced with many Absurdist undertones and that is represented throughout all three seasons, but in the absurdist universe depicted in Rick and Morty, the episodic model used for the show stands as an embodiment for the absurd existence mirrored in the world that we inhabit. Loosely based on characters from Back to the Future (1985), the show takes place in a universe where there are infinite realities and worlds and dimensions with extraterrestrial species and spacefaring adventures. In the show, both title characters, Rick and Morty, inhabit expendable worlds that are easily replaceable with the push of Rick’s self-created portal gun. Any species’ perception of self-importance or distinction is completely rejected by the rest of the universe’s indifference toward their existence.
For example, in the eyes of citizens of Earth — whichever Earth Rick and Morty may be on — the idea of destroying a planet and its inhabitants by the Cromulons, a species of enormous floating heads introduced in the episode, “Get Schwifty,” appears as an act of wickedness and cruelty. For the Cromulons, destroying planets and its inhabitants is a form of entertainment as they are hosts of an intergalactic game show where planets are picked and its inhabitants must create and sing a song in order to make it to the next round or be faced with watching their worlds end. Think of this episode as an episode of NBC’s America’s Got Talent, but with giant floating boulder-textured heads, with egos that are bigger than the combination Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell and whoever the other interchangeable host is.
This is also an episode where the citizens of Earth questioned their religious beliefs, eventually tying a thief, a gothic woman, and a “movie talker” to a bouquet of balloons, in hopes that they will float toward their newfound “gods,” the Cromulons, for judgement and punishment.
Absurd deaths are laced throughout the series, and while death is an impactful to some of the show’s characters and storytelling, death is almost used as a punchline as the laughter comes from a character within the show or from the viewers themselves. In the episode “Anatomy Park,” a character named Alexander meets his demise as a result of a cough/sneeze from a homeless, drunk Santa Claus whose organs and body have been turned into a theme park thanks to Rick’s imagination and genius technological and scientific advancements. The episodic-essence of Rick and Morty sees its protagonists in a prolonged series of pointless and loosely connected misadventures and events, where no relationship exists between one instance and the next.
The absurdity is primarily based on the idea that despite their extraordinary interdimensional adventures — and their best attempts to make a difference in the universe — their lives are caught in a continuous cycle of random, illogical events that never fundamentally get better or changes the universe in any way. And while in actuality, many of life’s problems are not and cannot be justified within the 30-minute span of a late-night television show, Rick and Morty breaks down our individual tendency to exacerbate trivial fears and uncertainties and daily problems that will unsurprisingly be insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
In the episode “Meeseeks and Destroy,” the Meeseeks Box was created by Rick to fulfill needs that he either does not want to fulfill or is “too busy” for, and eventually the needs of his family, in a timely fashion… each one of them greeting the family and the audience, with “I’m Mr. Meeseeks!”
Rick and Morty, themselves, are the opposite of the Meeseeks character, a happy blue mythical texture-less being that is summoned from a box to complete mundane tasks that the Smith Family cannot complete on their own. Upon completion of their objective by the person who summoned it, the Meeseeks would poof into thin air, disappearing — or dying — until another one is summoned to complete new task.
Rick, Morty, and the characters in the show’s expansive universe, are not there to serve a singular purpose. They are simply brought into the world and are now fumbling around for meaning. Like Sisyphus, Rick and Morty’s lives are characterized by unproductive and stagnancy repetition, with many attempts to forge some kind of meaning for their circumstances being confronted, reminding them, and us, that it is senseless to search for meaning.
According to Camus, Sisyphus, and by the extension, mankind not entirely hopeless as Camus believed that the consciousness to “constitute [Sisyphus’] torture” acts as an instrument of victory.
“…It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end…” Camus continued, “At each of those moments when [Sisyphus] leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. [Sisyphus] is stronger than his rock…”
Sisyphus may not have been able to change the doomed situation that he was in, but he chose to accept it; and this is the same consciousness in the mind of an individual where they can claim their fate — a personal and self-motivated rebellion against the mechanical meaninglessness of the universe — and can continue to exist in the universe despite its utter pointlessness. Camus believed Sisyphus found his respite in his pointlessness task by accepting it.
This made Camus reject the idea of suicide or spirituality as he believed that only facing the Absurdity of the universe and adopting it would make someone achieve human freedom to its fullest extent. Camus endorsed that our lives will be forgotten and our existences would have been meaningless along with our accomplishments. And as opposed to melancholy, understanding those realizations can be an inspiration and comforting.
In Rick and Morty, there is a special moment that captures Camus’ understanding. In a scene from “Rixty Minutes,” Morty confronts his sister, Summer, shortly after she recently discovered that she was an unwanted pregnancy and the possible cause to her parents’, Beth and Jerry’s, disgruntled marriage. Summer begins to question whether her life has purpose, until Morty, upon hearing her distress and watching her pack her bags to run away, says “Don’t run. Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s going to die. Come watch TV?’ While the understanding that no one exists for a specific purpose or reason is an unnerving notion to some, there is an alleviating idea that in the absence of all-encompassing direction and fade, significance and meaning can manifest themselves in the smallest of pleasures of life, whether they are in the form of friends, family, the environment that we put ourselves in, or simply watching a late-night television show. Camus’ philosophy is not a source of helplessness, but more of a ‘lucid invitation to live and to create in the very midst of the desert.”
Camus believed that there is no reason to be serious about finding a meaning or be discouraged about discovering that there is a lack of meaning in the world and in the universe because it contains a variety of comforts and enjoyments, no matter how small they are. To simply put, and as Rick would say, “Don’t think about it.”
Rick and Morty are conscious of their meaninglessness, but they continue to carry their experiences with them, never allowing sorrow to overwhelm their lives. And by episodically emphasizing life’s fleeting nature through a series of quickly resolved, forgettable and unimportant events, Rick and Morty is a show where the attention is on the smaller, personal stories and struggles of an abnormal American family and their day-to-day lives, and the human emotions that accompany the chaotic nature of the disgruntled family. In the absurd universe, mankind is caught in between acceptance of the meaninglessness of the universe and the ability and wanting to laugh at it. Rick and Morty, despite the show’s often bitter truths and jagged realities, is primarily a comedy for true Absurdist.
In an absurd universe that is void of order, logic and meaning, we, its inhabitants, have a lot that we can laugh about because, in the end, it does not matter if the boulder rolls back down the mountain as Camus believed mankind will always find their burdens.
Camus’ Concept of the Absurd in Myth of Sisyphus
Albert Camus (1913–1960) was a French-Algerian philosopher, journalist and novelist. Perhaps not as much of a philosopher (as he denied himself to be) as a novelist with a strong philosophical bent, he is most famous for his work on the Myth of Sisyphus and his novels of ideas, such as The Stranger and The Plague. Camus used both his fictional novels alongside with the Myth of Sisyphus in contest with philosophy itself to present his central concern of what Camus calls the feeling of the Absurd. He claims that the Absurd is the fundamental conflict between humans’ eternal search for what we ask/want from the universe (meaning, order, or reasons) and what in turn we find in it: shapeless silent chaos. Camus states that we will never in fact find any sort of meaning that we want from life itself. People will either reach the conclusion that one may hide behind a meaning given through a transcendence by faith (leap of faith), placing hope in a God or the irrational beyond this world (which in turn would ultimately lead to philosophical suicide), or people will embrace that life is inherently meaningless.
I find that some of his explanation of the method for modern man to effectively deal with the Absurd world to be realistic, as we may never find any sort of absolute meaning. However, I discord in relation to his assumptions of meaning being in essence universal, static, “unobtainable”, and eternally searched for; which in turn leads me to think of his approach of the Absurd Man on responding to Absurdism as contradicting. Camus’ conclusion and idea of the Absurd only works successfully on the true assumption of two premises: that our being is bound in nature to the search of meaning, and that the ultimate meaning does not exist. Even if these premises are to be considered true, although there is no proof, I believe that it does not entail that we are not capable of giving a subjective meaning to our lives ourselves instead of revolting against not receiving an answer from the irrational. Apart from the fact that living to revolt against the absurd is just as similar as providing oneself meaning to escape the reality of life’s lack of one. Therefore, in order to further elaborate on my thesis, I believe that it is foremost important to provide context and understanding about Camus’ interpretation of the feeling of the Absurd and the assumptions he proclaims in reference to the Myth of Sisyphus.
Albert Camus graduated specializing in philosophy, while also obtaining certificates in sociology and psychology at the University of Algiers. There he was brought to contact with two of the major branches of twentieth century philosophy: existentialism and phenomenology. Although he self-proclaimed not to be a philosopher or an existentialist at the very least, he opposed systematic philosophies and rationalism. Nevertheless, his line of thought explicitly rejects religion as one of its foundations, centering his work on choosing to live without God. The latter is clearly evident in the manner that Camus comments on religious existentialists, such as Kierkegaard (although it is not necessarily fair and correct to label him as such), and his critic of other existentialists approach to the discovery of the absurd.
Camus wrote both his first novel, The Stranger, and his first philosophical essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, around the same time at the beginning of World War II. when he was working for the French Resistance. Even though it isn’t fair to reduce an author’s idea to their autobiographical background, the special circumstance in which both papers were written can help express the tone of their content. Perhaps Camus’ metaphor of individualistic exile that he uses to describe part of humans’ predicament of meaningless and futile struggle had a personal influence. From his own experience as a man alone and far away from his home eternally struggling against this seemingly relentless unconquerable power (ie. Germany, and other countries). Furthermore, Camus idea of acceptance of his fate could be influenced by the cruel reality that one soldier probably must have to accept the fate that independent of their efforts and struggles, their influence toward either fate of defeat or victory in the war could prove meaningless on the grand scheme of things. Therefore, in the place of this eternal of this contradiction, would anything but suicide prove to be the only escape from this conflict?
Camus opens the essay on The Myth of Sisyphus exactly by asking the same question. “There is only one really serious philosophical problem,” Camus says, “and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that” (MS, 3). Perhaps a proper manner to display this question would be of under what circumstances is suicide justified? Does this latter conclusion that life is meaningless and that is pointless to struggle for an answer necessarily lead one to commit suicide? If life has no meaning, does this imply it is therefore not worth living? Given the content of The Myth of Sisyphus, however, it seems that essential philosophical question assimilates more to simply whether or not one should kill themselves. For him, it seems clear that his concern about such is less theoretical than actually practical over this life-and-death issue of whether and how to live and not the justification of death.
I believe that it is of importance that Camus’s argument for suicide is explained as a logical contradiction. He expresses that by suicide, one only amounts to confessing that life is not worth the trouble. As seen in Camus’s political continuation of Absurdism,“The Rebel”, he states:
‘Every solitary suicide, when it is not an act of resentment is, in some way, either generous or contemptuous. But one feels contemptuous in the name of something. If the world is a matter of indifference to the man who commits suicide, it is because he has an idea of something that is not or could not be indifferent to him. He believes that he is destroying everything or taking everything with him; but from this act of self-destruction itself a value arises which, perhaps, might have made it worth while to live. Absolute negation is therefore not consummated by suicide.’ – The Rebel, 7.
Someone who commits suicide recognizes ‘the absence of any profound reason for living, the insane character of that daily agitation, and the uselessness of suffering’ (MS, 6). Suicide, is acceptance taken to the extreme, instead of a denial of the Absurd. One accepts their fate and leaps toward it, in which “Suicide settles the absurd” (BW, 480). In other words, to stay alive means refusing to resign oneself to the absurd, to be aware of the inevitability of death and also to reject it. Suicide does not follow revolt, one must die unreconciled and not of one’s own free will (BW, 480).in order to achieve the logical result of revolt
It seems that Camus perceives the question of suicide as a natural response of people’s encounter and discovery of feeling of the Absurd. One perhaps might say it is absurd to continually keep attempting to reach an understanding of meaning in life when there is none, and that it is also absurd to hope for some form of answer to existence, or a continuation of such existence, after death given that such results in the extinction of our being. However, Camus also thinks it absurd to try to know, understand, or explain the world; any attempt to rationalize or gain rational knowledge of life is seen as useless. Therefore putting himself against science and philosophy, he dismisses any form of claims from rational analysis: “That universal reason, practical or ethical, that determinism, those categories that explain everything are enough to make a decent man laugh” (MS, 21).
If we are to consider all previous premises to be true, wouldn’t our other main options is but to take a leap of faith in order to escape? However, Camus describes the Absurd to be seen as the ultimate contradiction that cannot be reconciled, hence any attempt to reconcile it is simply an attempt to escape from it. Therefore he clearly depicts that any choice of those two options is inherently futile and that leap of faith, just as suicide, is a form of acceptance of the Absurd. In his eyes, existentialist philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Chestov, and Jaspers, and phenomenologists such as Husserl, are all able to understand the contradiction of the absurd but then try to escape from it; they find no meaning or order in existence and then attempt to find transcendence or meaning in this very meaninglessness. “They deify what crushed them and find reason to hope in what impoverishes them. That forced hope is religious in all of them” (BW, 463). Camus believes that these existentialist philosophers are incoherent between their initial premise and conclusions: “starting from a philosophy of the world’s lack of meaning, it ends up by finding a meaning and depth in it” (MS, 42). However, Camus evidently agrees that although we may attempt to avoid such escapist efforts and irrational appeals through one’s life, he’s conscious of the human desire of submitting to such. He would say that we are unable to free ourselves from “this desire for unity, this longing to solve, this need for clarity and cohesion” (MS, 51). Nevertheless, when he states “The absurd is lucid reason noting its limits” (MS, 49), he emphasizes that it is urgent for one to recognize and not succumb to the temptation to leave rational thought in order to attempt on reconciling the irrational with logic. Therefore Camus is only interested in pursuing a last possibility; instead of attempting to flee from the conflict, we can revolt against it and live in a world empty of meaning. However, what exactly are we ought to revolt against exactly?
Camus introduces his concept of the Absurd within the following: “In a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting,is properly the feeling of absurdity (MS 6)”. Camus believes that the recognition of the Absurd happens when we become aware of our meaningless existence in the world and of the overall unimportance of our daily actions. It is interesting to think that by his definition, Absurdity comes to us in our ordinary life as a feeling before an idea. Consider that most if not everything in our lives is mechanical and methodical. People just go through work, transports, eating, meeting friends without questioning the world around us until the very day one looks back to themselves and asks “why?”. This “flash of reality” comes randomly from some kind of weariness at times when one has become tired of the mental and physical routines. At this point, one no longer recognizes the beauty in nature, but only its incoherency.
When we are faced with the Absurd, we begin to re-evaluate all that is known to be true: beliefs, morals, and perhaps even our own existence. However, the consequence as one once has come to terms with this truth is that it becomes part of one’s self. This means that once one has become aware of the absurd, they are tied to its reality. Although consequential, Camus depicts this moment as not so bad in his way of thinking, because this moment of weariness is when conscience is clarified and invites one to reinhabit oneself and review the previously given truths of the world; distinguishing between what is true and false in the world. In result, Camus asserts that all one will find is an immensity of contradictions, but this remounts to no reason on stopping of one’s search.
Camus often also refers the feeling of absurdity with the feeling of exile. As rational beings, we instinctively associate life with meaning or purpose. Hence when we act under this assumption, we feel at ease and familiar. However, as said before, once we have acknowledged the validity of the perspective of a world without values or meaning, there is no turning back. As a result, those who have acknowledged the Absurd may feel like strangers in a world lacking of reason. Even if we choose to live as if life has a meaning, escaping through a leap of faith, the absurd will linger. The feeling of absurdity exiles us from the familiar comforts of a meaningful existence.
Although one may think the opposite, Camus did not intend to apply a negative connotation to the Absurd. He simply observed and interpreted an absence of a universal meaning. By dismissing the idea of an universal absolute purpose, he turned to creating one’s own definition of the world. He believes that as one accepts to living with the Absurd, it is only a matter of facing this fundamental contradiction and maintaining awareness of it. Facing the absurd does not lead to suicide, but allows one to feel free from the existential conflict of searching for meaning and to live life to its fullest. This result is in fact displayed through Sisyphus depiction as Camus’ Absurd Man by the conclusion of the essay, where Sisyphus is seen as ‘stronger than his rock’ after he has accepted his fate and the futility of attempting to obtain a different one.
Camus elaborates on the three consequences that result from one living in acceptance and against the Absurd and characterize the Absurd Man: ‘my revolt, my freedom, and my passion.’ The first (revolt) refers to one not ceasing in both search for reason and of being aware that such is only futile; one eternally revolts hopeless of an answer. The concept of “freedom” refers to one’s act of concentrating not on one’s liberty from the irrational (such as God or physical laws), but rather on freedom on an individual level. Meaning that one isn’t committed on living to a particular goal, but for every new moment. Although Camus is not worried by the restraints done by the irrational anymore, he still acknowledges the problem of freedom of an individual in relation to the state, as well as that of the prisoner to social norms. Lastly, Camus refers to ‘passion’ as the final consequence of living the absurd, in which one lives beyond the concern of future and of the past and enjoys the present moment to its fullest.
In accordance to the consequences of living as an Absurd Man, Camus provides four different fictional characterizations of what an Absurd Man ought to be. First he depicts the seducer, Don Juan. He who moves from woman to woman, seducing each one in turn with the same tactics previously used. Although counter intuitive, Camus dismisses the accusation that Don Juan hopes to achieve any transcendence beyond his daily journeys; he pursues the passions of the moment. Second is the Absurd Man as the actor, who is not content on simply observing life and therefore imagines living many different from his own; The actor gathers and accumulates the diverse intensity many lives into the span of his only one career. Third is the Absurd man depicted as the conqueror, or rebel, who is drawn to rebellion and conquest in order to overcome their individual’s full potential. One may may induce Camus own personal view as the conqueror as he partook on the Second World War. Fourth is the Absurd Man depicted as the artist, who doesn’t attempt to reason, explain, and picture the world as it would be universally, but creates entire particular worlds.
In conclusion, after providing understanding of the origin of the feeling of the Absurd and of solution as the Absurd Man and his different examples, I believe it is clear to see some of the contradictions of his point of view. I believe that when Camus advocates on embracing the absurd he is not necessarily asking for one to find their our own meaning independently of social conditions but that he ultimately promotes that one makes their struggle against the Absurd their meaning. Although it doesn’t constitute to finding their own meaning, as in Nietzsche’s Egotism, but another form of philosophical suicide. Similar to that of the other existentialists, Camus seems to embrace this answer, which in turn would actually be the lack of one, given from the irrational and formulating a way of life based on it. He attempts to prescribe a way of living, which is a denial of the absurd premise of his own argument, rendering his solution incoherent. However, I believe that it is not the same leap of faith at the very least, though perhaps Camus might seem to rely on a faith of a negative kind, in the opposite direction to what Kierkegaard adopts.
Even though Camus uses the premise that there’s is no answer to any of the irrational, he seems to be more clearly determined throughout the essay to display his belief that there is no God and that life is meaningless more than he is determined to argue for that meaninglessness. It’s true that it’s not his goal, as he states, to present a philosophical system, but to display a personal diagnosis and opinion of a certain way of looking at the world, yet he still attempts in providing a formula of how to approach meaninglessness just like the other philosophers he criticized. I believe that, not only inherently contradicting, Camus’ solution is also impossible. Following Camus’ arguments, I imagine that he might concede life can be experienced in meaningful ways, such as the seducer’s passion (love) or the conqueror’s revolt (pain). Both of these examples might involuntary entail responses such as hope and despair (respectively given the character), which even on a non-universal level are clear to exist beyond the experiential qualities but are bound by the experiences themselves. Therefore creating the conflict between an individual’s moments of meaning through one’s experience and the premise that life is inherently meaningless.
My Reflections Over The Stranger by Albert Camus
The Stranger opens up the death of Monsieur Meursault’s Maman. He attends her funeral showing no emotion or affection and the next day hooks up with his old coworker Marie. One day his neighbor Raymond asks him to write a letter to his mistress in his place so she will come back to him. When she does return, Raymond abuses her for cheating on him. His mistresses’ brother, an Arab is irate and soon Raymond feels threatened by him. One day Meursault, Marie, and Raymond go to Meursault’s wealthy friend Masson’s beach house for the weekend. The Arab’s followed them there and Meursault kills an Arab for no apparent reason. Part two starts the trial of Monsieur Meursault. After many days, he is proven guilty and sentenced with the death penalty. Later a chaplain stops by before his execution to help him repent and be saved. Meursault has no emotion and says he doesn’t care about heaven but rather making the most of right now.
What insight into society or human nature (the human condition) does this work offer?The stranger offers insight into society by showing how twisted human nature is. Monsieur Meursault was a heartless and ruthless man. He displayed no emotion what so ever and this is evident when he smokes at his mother’s vigil, something so absurd to society. Another proof of his lack of emotion was when he said he would marry Marie when he truly didn’t love her or when he killed an Arab for no apparent reason. These all point back to the fact that we live in a twisted world. People try to make excuses for their faults just like Meursault did after he killed an Arab. People need to start taking ownership for their actions and stop blaming the world for what they do.
The Theme Development
The theme is developed throughout the stranger in the events that take place leading up to Monsieur Meursault’s trial and then develop even more so when his trial occurs. His absurd actions begin on the first page of the book when he seems unaffected by his mother’s death and only grow in absurdity towards the end of the first part. During the second part of the book, Monsieur Meursault starts making excuses for his actions and blaming other things for his actions rather than just taking responsibility and repenting. Author’s style including diction (words) syntax (sentence structure), figurative language, ironic devices.
Camus uses great diction throughout The Stranger and never wastes his thoughts with lighthearted phrases and words. He is very straightforward with his diction and uses imagery to explain facts from the roundness of Marie’s breast to the way the night sky looks. Camus uses imagery to reveal Monsieur Meursault’s character. He is so visual yet lacks emotional feelings.
Four Memorable Quotations
‘It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed” (Camus, 17). Meursault thinks this when he comes home from his mother’s funeral. This is a perfect depiction of the way that our society lives. His mother had just died and he goes on to say that “really, nothing had changed” (Camus, 17). How sad that the woman who had raised him was now gone and he didn’t care.
‘I would rather not have upset him, but I couldn’t see any reason to change my life. Looking back on it, I wasn’t unhappy. When I was a student, I had lots of ambitions like that. But when I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered’ (Camus, 41). Monsieur Meursault is saying that he doesn’t know why he would want to live his life any different because he’s happy and to him that’s all that matters. There’s nothing bigger in life to him.
‘They had before them the basest of crimes, a crime made worse than sordid by the fact that they were dealing with a monster, a man without morals’ (Camus, 95). The narrator says this during Monsieur Meursault’s trial because he was being ridiculous and basically saying that he didn’t care that he killed someone. He was ruthless and didn’t care about anyone but himself. He didn’t think how his trial would affect Marie or any of his friends, he only cared about himself and proving a point.
‘He wanted to talk to me about God again, but I went up to him and made one last attempt to explain to him that I only had a little time left and I didn’t want to waste it on God” (Camus, 74 ) Meursault was given a chance to save his soul before he died and yet he was so ignorant and self-centered that he thought he could only save himself. He didn’t want to even think about religion, because he was focused on living in the present and not worrying about what tomorrow would hold.
I enjoyed this literary work. It was short but still conveyed a strong message. The author was smart with depicting our society because I think Monsieur cared for nobody but himself and that is a perfect example of our world. People live for themselves. They put their needs in front of others and then when things go wrong, they blame other people. Less and less people are taking ownerships of their wrongs nowadays and it’s becoming a normal.
Moral Issues in The Stranger by Albert Camus
Morality is an essential aspect of life among individuals in the world, but the scenario is different for Albert Camus, as evident in the novel The Stranger. He approaches the issue of morality within his novel through various themes that suggest his stance on the subject. His approach is ensuring that people should understand the role of theories such as absurdism and nihilism. It should be approached with caution as morality is relevant in the life of every human being. Morality defines and gives meaning to life as opposed to nihilism that identifies it meaningless. Life’s purpose should possess a positive final value (Metz). It is within his novel that Camus interconnects nihilism and absurdism that affects one’s morality. In the novel, The Stranger, by Albert Camus, moral issues of universal irrationality, human life meaninglessness, and obsession with the physical world are addressed to reflect on the stand of nihilism and absurdism.
Universal or rationality is based on the human’s futile attempt to obtain original order when actually none exists. The moral issues of universal rationality are seen in the lack of orderliness in both the internal and external world where Mersault lives. Such incidents could be seen in his attempt to avoid the question of marrying Marie and ‘he’d turn it with a laugh. It was a standing joke’ (Camus 11). However, he would eventually marry her without putting through into it. It is withing an evening when Marie came home and asked if Meursault would marry her and he said he did not mind. His response for agreeing to mary Marie appears out of nowhere as he stated that ‘it had no importance, but it would give her pleasure’ (Camus 29) then he would do it. It is a moral issue given that Mersault would fail to give careful thought to a problem that deemed of high meaning in society. It was absurd to joke on marriage that carries social significance. Universal irrationality is also evident in Mersault’s decision to kill the Arab. It is immoral to engage in murder, however, he identifies in the court that it was a pure chance that he had gone with a revolver to the exact spot where they had met. Camus is evident in his novel of the loss of meaning in life through his character Mersault. Trial sequences reveal the need for a sensible explanation for his crime through the use of reason, logic and the notion of cause and effect. All these attempts are directed towards neutralizing the horrific concept that the universe is irrational.
The meaninglessness of human life is described in the novel by Camus through the absurdist philosophy. In the book, it is clear that Camus believes in death as the only inevitable part of life. He identifies that the eventual destiny with death deems all lives meaningless. In the novel, Camus uses the character Mersault to such realization. Mersault undergoes changes that make him realize that he is unresponsive and that makes the universe unsympathetic to him in return. Camus makes us believe that just like the way Mersault was born, he will die and lack relevance thereafter. However, such realization makes Mersault attain happiness. Mersault ‘realized people would soon forget [him] once [he] was dead’ (Camus 72), and it was hard for him to accept this reality. It entails a paradox that after all the search for meaning in life, the end provides happiness to human beings. It is Camus’s sustained effort in communicating the absurdity of human existence (Aronson). At this point in life, Camus uses Mersault to gain more profound aspects of life and understand that it did not matter whether he was executed or died naturally through old age. He felt relieved of the burdens of life and ‘felt ready to start life all over again’ (Camus 76). All the hopes of illusion Mersault had or getting a successful legal appeal to escape execution were kept aside. he believed that it was just a burden on him to hope for a sustainable life. However, Camus helps in shaping the position of Mersault through attributing his defeat towards the meaninglessness of life.
The moral issue on the obsession with the physical world is based on the focus of Mersault on physical aspects around him as opposed to emotional and social aspects. He is portrayed as materialistic and limited towards the sensate world. The Stance taken on the novel is limiting to morality that defines focus on spiritual, emotional, and social aspects besides the physical. The attention of Mersault in the story is based on his body, the physical relationship he has with Marie. Besides, it also entails his surroundings and the weather, among others. Mersault talks of his being ‘under the weather and… having kept the blind down’ (Camus 32). It reflects on his obsession with the physical aspects of life. It is also discussed in the novel that we identify Mersault’s lack of emotional connection when he is concerned more with the heat at funeral procession opposed to the pain of losing and burying his mother. Morality within him seems to lack, given the traits he exhibits following the death of his mother. He had no remorse in his mind and went ahead in proceeding to see anything that crossed his mind. It is also during the trial that his physical obsession emerges. He claims that the suffering he went through under the sun led him killing the Arab. Mersault states that he ‘tried to explain that it was because of the sun’ (Camus 75), that he committed the crime. He is deemed to have no connections with the emotional and social world despite being in such situations.
In conclusion, moral issues such as an obsession with the physical world, meaninglessness of life and universal irrationality within the novel are discussed. It provides a clear stance of Camus on absurdism and nihilism within the book. Mersault experiences with relationships and eventually jail term in the search for meaning in life. It is when he realizes the inevitability of death, he gets happiness.
The Role of Albert Camus in the Philosophy of Education
Many scholars have studied Albert Camus’ works to analyze his philosophy of the absurd; however, no other scholars have critiqued and examined Camus’ works like George Heffernan has. Instead of just analyzing the philosophy of absurdity that Camus is famous for, He looks into what affects his philosophy has on his characters and his thoughts. In the first essay Heffernan speculates about whether or not Camus was sexist, racist, and colonialist. In his second essay, he shows the reader why Meursault is a good way of showing people that Atheism does not imply nihilism. In the final essay, Heffernan analyzes the critique that Camus did on Husserl’s philosophy called phenomenology. Heffernan delves into each of these topics in a fashion that makes them very believable to the reader.
In his first essay A Hermeneutical Approach to Sexism, Racism, and Colonialism in Albert Camus’ L’Étranger/The Stranger Heffernan provides from The Stranger to support his thought that Camus may have been racist, sexist, and colionalist. The first part of the essay delves into viewing Meursault’s actions and thoughts without a colonial view and purely as they are In the second part of the essay he then analyzes Meursault in today’s post-colonial point of view. Now that we have seen the effects of colonialism firsthand. Then in his conclusion he explores the parallels in ideas and thoughts between Camus and Meursault. His first part of the essay delves into the understanding and misunderstanding of Meursault.
Throughout the novel The Stranger Meursault personifies exactly what the title of the book is. That is a stranger. Whether that be a stranger to society or a stranger to his town. One aspect of this is his understanding of people and their actions. Heffernan goes through the entire book and lays out every moment where Meursault does understand people and also every moment where he misunderstands people. As stated by Heffernan, “When the prosecutor accuses him of burying his mother with a criminal heart, Meursault then finally understands the mortal danger in which he finds himself” (Heffernan 69). In this moment Meursault finally understands that he is truly in danger of receiving a serious sentence. Before he never really thought too much about the trial and never considered that he is in trouble since the evidence is stacked against him. This pattern of not understanding people ultimately led to him being the stranger. Heffernan states it best, “For, if he had spent more time trying to understand others and less crying about not being understood by them, not to mention he’s not trying to understand himself, then he would not have fallen into the fateful failure of communication and the vicious pattern of subalternation that are depicted by the novel” (Heffernan 64) That vicious cycle ultimately led to his death since the prosecutor was able to use the combination of his response at his mother’s funeral and the murder itself to build a solid case against him. The second part of the essay delves into examining both parts of the novel independently and comparing them.
During the first half of the novel we are introduced to Meursault’s life as a frenchmen living in Arab Algeria. Heffernan explains that he is the stranger in his community since it is comprised mostly of Arabs. This is because Algeria is mostly comprised Arabs; however, France colonized Algeria and know more French people are settling in algeria for various reasons In the second half Meursault experiences being a stranger to his own race, the French. During his trial the French prosecutor, jury, and judge are seeking to punish him for his crimes. Meursault is truly a stranger to humanity in this regard. He belongs to no certain group since he can not understand nor get along with the either the Arabs or the French people. Meursault does not think in the same way that the French do and he holds prejudices against the Arabs. Heffernan states, “In this regard, it is worth noting the evident fact that Camus cleanly divides the novel into two parts, and that each one neatly determines the otherness of“the stranger’ Meursault in a substantially different way” (Heffernan 72). Meursault is a french colonialist living in french controlled Algeria. Meursault does not want to live with the french considering his refusal of the job offer in Paris. So he decides to live in a dominantly Arab Algeria. This topic leads into Heffernan’s last point on the connection between Meursault and Camus.
Camus grew up in Algeria and experience the same environment that is described in The Stranger. Heffernan brings up the point of discrimination that Arabs face in Camus works. He states, “Why do Arab Algerians fail to emerge fully as individual characters with names, lives, and identities in his literary work?” (Heffernan 82). This is a good point. Every character that is not Arab is given a name and identity. Throughout Camus works he never gives the Arab character a name. Camus while not being consciously racist, may have been subconsciously racist or colonialist against Arabs. Not giving his Arab characters names speaks volumes on his opinion of them. He may have seen the mas less than human and not worthy of an identity. Camus may have thought of the Arabs as less than human or of a lesser intelligence. Camus may have stereotyped Arabs by not giving them names. It is also worth pointing that in the The Fall and The Stranger the Arab characters are either a criminal or someone with malicious intent. Camus may have the stereotype of Arabs being criminals and that is represented in his works. Just as Meursault may have been a representation of Camus’ thoughts, they both share interesting religious views.
In his second essay, The World According to Meursault—or A Critical Attempt to Understand the Absurdist Philosophy of the Protagonist of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, Heffernan discusses his view that Meursault is a person that shows that atheism does not imply nihilism. In other words just because Meursault does not believe in a god, that does not imply that he believes life is meaningless. On the contrary after rejecting religion he undergoes a realization regarding the meaning of life. First, Heffernan provides evidence during Meursault’s trial to further his point about Meursault’s philosophy and thought process. Then, he examines how Meursault reflects on his actions and their impact in more depth as the novel goes on. Finally, he discusses Camus’ supposed philosophy and how it relates to Meursault. Throughout the essay Heffernan explores Meursault’s philosophy and how it affects his actions.
During Meursault’s trial he starts to become more understanding of others opinions and understands that his moral compass is not valid. Heffernan says this in reference to the prosecutors claims, “he is right in describing his crime as a reflective act, arguably even a premeditated act. After all, Meursault is reflective enough to know the difference between right and wrong, but not resolute enough to conform his actions to right, and so he does wrong” (Heffernan 111) This statement explains why the prosecutor did not have a hard time pinning Meursault as “an inhuman monster” (Camus 60). Meursault knew that it was not right to kill the Arab in cold blood as he did; however, he did not care enough to not go through with the murder. A jury would see this a clear sign of evil and would perceive Meursault to not only be evil ,but also as irrational in thought. Heffernan explains that as Meursault spends more time imprisoned he starts to come to the realization that his knowing about what is right and wrong is what hurt the most in the trial, not the murder itself. This is why the prosecutor hounds Meursault about his reaction during his mother’s funeral. With this evidence the prosecutor could prove that Meursault was indeed evil and did not act under external forces. As stated by the prosecutor, ‘I accuse the prisoner of behaving at his mother’s funeral in a way that showed he was already a criminal at heart’ (Camus 60)
Heffernan gives examples of Meursault reflecting on his life and his motives as the novel goes. One of the causes of this increase in reflection is because Meursault is imprisoned and does not have much else to do. Nevertheless, during the beginning of the novel Meursault puts little to no thought into the actions of himself and others; however during his incarceration Meursault, faced with his death, is forced to reflect on his trial. Heffernan then states, “Meursault testifies that he killed the Arab ‘because of the sun’, leaving the explanans as much in need of an explanation as the explanandum. Yet this ‘explanation’ is not totally absurd but partially rational, at least in the world according to Meursault” (Heffernan 113). Meursault realizes that his rationalization of the sun beating down on him is not sufficient to justify his action. Before it was rational to him; however, once he finally sat down and put thought into it he comes to the conclusion that while he thinks it is fine, the jury and judge will not. Heffernan also mentions that during Meursault’s reflection in prison, he reflects on his past for once. Dilek Başkaya states Meursault’s mindset best, “Another peculiarity of Meursault that makes him absurd is that he perceives and lives in only the present time whereas in a society people are expected to have the concept of all three phases of time “(Başkaya 11). For the first time Meursault starts to reflect on his past such as his time with Marie and Raymond. During his time in prison Meursault faces the same situation that Camus proposes in The Myth of Sisyphus. This being whether to search for the meaning of life or to give up and concede to death.
Heffernan ends the essay with his conclusion regarding how Meursault compares Camus. Heffernan states, “In general, it is clear that, because Camus argues from the absurd, whereas Meursault argues to the absurd, the author does not use the character as a spokesman for his own philosophy” (Heffernan 116). Heffernan is saying that Camus tries his best to differentiate Meursault from himself to not force his philosophy of the absurd down the reader’s throat. Instead Camus intends Meursault to be an example of an absurd man. This serves as a way to more gently show the reader the absurd that Camus is trying to display for the reader. Another example of an absurd man that compares to Camus would be Jean-Baptiste Clamence. The narrator and main character of The Fall is a more realistic absurd man compared to Meursault. During a monologue by Clamence, estates, “that cry which had sounded over the Seine behind me years before had never cease” (Camus 334). This statement provides context for how absurdly the suicide of the woman at the bridge affected Clamence. Clamence is what a real life absurd man would be like. Meursault being an absurd man serves to show what an absolutely absurd man would look like in real life. They both share some similarities; however, it is false to assume that Meursault is a carbon copy of Camus.
Heffernan in his third essay, Absurdity, Creativity and Constitution: Critical Observations on Camus’s Critique of Husserl’s Phenomenology in The Myth of Sisyphus. Examines Camus’ critique of another philosopher instead of viewing Meursault. Heffernan critiques Camus’ critique on Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines phenomenology as, “Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view” (Smith). Heffernan discusses the critique in four parts. The first being the section of Camus critique regarding essences. The second part is Heffernan laying out the basic points of Camus’ critique. In the third part the methodological limits of Camus argument are exhibited. Finally, in the last part Heffernan assesses the philosophical value of the critique. Overall the critique is fairly aggressive calling out Camus with evidence from The Myth of Sisyphus.
During the first part of this essay Heffernan focuses on the essence side of his critique since the critique mentions essences frequently. Heffernan puts it like this, “it is clear that Camus’ critique of Husserl’s phenomenology involves a thematic, indeed, systematic, analysis of an essential element of that philosophy, namely, its resolute commitment to determinate essences” (Heffernan 75). Heffernan is correct in stating that philosophy aims to explain essences since religion is a major part of philosophy. Hefferan later in his essay summarizes one of Camus’ argument against Husserl regarding essences, “In other words, if the world does not make sense, then consciousness makes sense of it by bestowing meaning on it. But this approach only yields ‘comprehension’ at the cost of consolation” (Heffernan 77). Heffernan is saying that Camus believes that the consolation of the idea is not worth the understanding of it. Also the reason the world makes sense contradicts his philosophy of the absurd. Heffernan is pointing out an contradiction in Camus’ statement. Where there is no meaning to life and life is essentially a journey to find said meaning. Heffernan then goes on to lay out every point of Camus’ argument.
The first point is the intentionality of the argument. In this section Heffernan states, “If the theme of the intentional claims to illustrate merely a psychological attitude, by which reality is drained instead of being explained, nothing in fact separates it from the absurd spirit” (Heffernan 80). Here Heffernan critiques Camus’ claim of intentionality by pointing out that if what Camus is saying is true then his absurd spirit is no different from Husserl’s phenomenology. This observation is true since the absurd spirit is one where the person has to constantly create their meaning of life to continue on. The next point that Heffernan describes tis the essentialism that is present. Camus is known for avidly avoiding essentialis if at all possible since he does not believe in it at all. The third point that Heffernan lays out is the logicism of Camus’ critique. Heffernan estates, “In any case, the dispute between the claims of absurdity and the claims of rationality cannot be adjudicated by a dogmatic proclamation from either the one side or the other” (Heffernan 84). Heffernan is trying to say that no matter what side is right, Husserl nor Camus can believe that their thinking absolutely right regarding absurdity and rationality. There must be some leeway or middle ground to reach that will prove to be the best answer. Heffernan believes that neither of the philosophers are entirely correct. The next point of the essay is in regard to intellectualism. In here Heffernan points out intellectual flaws in Camus’ argument such as considering the abstract concrete. The fifth point that Heffernan lays out is the rationalism of the argument. Heffernan points out in this section that although Camus rationalizes most of his own points, there are mistakes and inconsistencies present in some of them. Finally, the last point that Heffernan explores is the evidence of the argument that Camus uses against Husserl’s phenomenology. In this section Heffernan does an excellent job of analyzing the value of the evidence and giving his own opinion on whether or not it is relevant or useful. In the third part of the critique Heffernan examines the methodological limits of the argument.
During this section Heffernan states, “ it is also possible and necessary to judge Camus’ critique of Husserl’s Phenomenology based solely on the evidence that he presents in The Myth of Sisyphus” (Heffernan 95). This is true since the Myth of Sisyphus is the most concrete and fleshed out work on Camus’ philosophy of the absurd. Camus may provide new points and reasoning for his thinking; however, the Myth of Sisyphus is the base of all his philosophical thought on the absurd. For example, Camus states, “He belongs to time, and by the horror that seizes him, he recognizes his worst enemy. Tomorrow, he was longing for tomorrow, whereas everything in him ought to reject it” (Camus 503). This statement regarding man’s relation to time is powerful and Camus can not just switch between stances since The Myth of Sisyphus is his most influential work. Heffernan also is true in saying we must look at The Myth of Sisyphus since Camus is not alive and able to respond to criticism at the time that Heffernan wrote his essay. Also during this section Heffernan mentions that Camus does not consider himself a philosopher, but rather as an artist. This may be due to Camus’ odd way of defining certain ideas and thoughts. As well as examining the methodological limit of Camus’ argument, Heffernan also discusses the philosophical value that is present in the article.
Overall Heffernan believes there is not much philosophical value in the argument and he explains why. Heffernan starts with, “First and foremost, for example, Camus fails to do justice to Husserl’s essential, indispensable concept of constitution” (Heffernan 98). Heffernan starts the section with a well deserved critique of Camus’ argument. Camus did not take into account Husserl’s concept of constitution when he was arguing against phenomenology. This concept of constitution is essential to understand and take into account to truly understand phenomenology. However, Heffernan does give credit to Camus with his statement regarding the fault that phenomenology contains. This being that phenomenology is easily perceived as an ideology that fails to look at concrete facts and focuses too much on spirits or essences. The study of more concrete and empirical subjects is important in any philosophical ideas. That is because we live in an empirical world. Heffernan provides a breath of fresh air with essentially ripping apart Camus’ critique, pointing out errors he has made, and giving insightful thought as a sort of mediator.
George Heffernan has done an amazing job with all three of these essays. In the first essay Heffernan explores the topics of racism, sexism, and colonialism in Albert Camus’ The Stranger and in Camus himself. In Heffernan’s second essay explored the world through Meursault’s’ mind and how he rationalizes his actions and learns from them later in the novel. Finally, in the third essay of George Heffernan he discusses and critiques Camus’ critique of Edmund husserl’s phenomenology. George Heffernan is an outstanding scholar who has definitely lifted the standard for being a scholar of Albert Camus.
Jean Paul Sartre Vs Albert Camus
The two most influential philosophers and gleaming icons of post-world war 2 era were Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. They both worked on an intellectual level to fight for injustice, to raise the conditions of proletariat and for that they knew a new political system had to be constructed. Camus believed that freedom must have limits, that justice and freedom required constant rebalancing and political moderation. Whereas Sartre believed that justice and freedom could be achieved under communism. They had different approaches towards existentialism, which is a philosophy of the individual and its struggle through life – a focus on the subjective life that we all live, rather than a search for objective truths external to us.
After the world war II, existentialism was not only a philosophy but a lifestyle. Jean Paul Sartre was a leading existentialist in France, he advocated radical freedom and personal responsibility of the individual. He preached about authenticity, nothingness, bad faith (self-deception), moral choice and that existence precedes essence, meaning “Man Makes Himself” Jean-Paul Sartre.
Albert Camus however, rejects the theory of existentialism leading to an open debate with Sartre. Albert considered himself as an Absurdist, the absurd is born out of this struggle between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world. Albert’s theories on absurd became widely appreciated and famous with time. “To decide whether life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question of philosophy,” Albert Camus
PHILOSOPHY OF SARTRE AND CAMUS
After the Second world war during the time when Paris was being rebuilt, the French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus were close friends. They both had good intentions to guide this new France towards a more equitable future. They become recognized personalities, their every movement got reported in the newspapers. Although in 1952 they split and broke their friendship. The disagreement between Camus and Sartre became the philosophical feud of the century.
Sartre and Camus had different approaches on existentialism. Sartre was a Marxist, who cared about the radical freedom of men. He did not think much of human nature, but Camus had closer outlook to humanism. Camus called his philosophy as Absurdism, it tries to embrace our nature as meaning-makers, even knowing that the world is intrinsically meaningless. It basically leaves the choice up to humans to make sense and meaning out of life. Camus illustrated the problem of absurdity through the story of Sysiphus, a tale he adapted for a book-length essay The Myth of Sysiphus.
Similarities between Sartre and Camus
Sartre and Camus might be known for being an odd pair but they had a few similar school of thought. Sartre, Camus and their intellectual companions rejected religion, staged new and unnerving plays, challenged readers to live authentically, and wrote about the absurdity of the world – a world without purpose and without value. Philosophically, the idea of freedom bounded Camus and Sartre and politically, the fight for justice united them. They were intrigued to bring justice to the working class who were treated unfairly. Camus and Sartre thought of them as shackled to their labour and shorn of their humanity. They worried about how to make meaning in an essentially absurd godless world, they both claimed that it must be created from within because we are all condemned to be free.
They both were observed embracing existentialism. It was apparent that their philosophical appearance reflected their living conditions and background. As existentialists they both equally voiced for freedom. Camus and Sartre shared a common ground on the belief that life is full of choices, every individual had to choose for himself, “Even avoiding choosing is a choice in itself (Sartre, 1993)”. A person is bound to make choices in his course of life, A person must make choices in a bid to deal with the absurdity which characterizes the world. They also believed in freedom to choose, Sartre’s philosophy was mostly about freedom of choice, he thought that for an individual the right of freedom to choose was caused by what he wants once he bears the consequences in his mind. Camus felt that man possess freedom to create the purpose for his life and that could happen once he embraced absurdity.
Sartre VS Camus
Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus officially broke ties with each other during the increasing tensions of cold war, Sartre took side of Soviet Union, while Camus said he was on the side of humanism (saving lives). The main issue that split them was the news about the Soviet camps (concentration camps), Sartre didn’t deny that they existed, but he stated that do not despair the proletariats by telling them that the Soviet had labour camps, but Camus said that since we denounced German camps, we must denounce Soviet camps also.
Philosophical approach of Sartre
Jean Paul Sartre said that human beings live in anguish not because we are trapped in this world but because we are condemned to be free. He says that there is no certain way that we must live or be, no God who designs the purpose for us and no human nature who fixes how we should live. He states that existentialism is humanism. For him existence precedes essence, a human creates his own life by making choices, even the decision to not to choose is a choice itself.
“In fashioning myself, I fashion humanity” – Sartre. He believed that he is what he does, he makes choices without any fixed values. In his philosophy he talks about the unlimited freedom, in order to fully recognise our freedom, we will come across the term “angoisse” or anguish of existence, everything is terrifyingly possible because absolutely nothing has any God given purpose. He also mentions bad faith, we are in bad faith when we set certain rules or require things to be in a certain way and not search for other options. The most famous example of bad faith is stated in the book, “Being and Nothingness” where he notices a waiter who seems to look convinced with his job as if he has accepted himself as he is rather than a free human being.
As being a Marxist, he sincerely despised capitalists and its governing system. He believed that we are free to dismantle capitalism, people feel captive because they don’t have enough money. This issue enraged Sartre on a political level. The theory that he supported, Marxism, allowed people to enjoy and explore their freedom by reducing their role played in their lives by material things. However, the FBI got suspicious by Sartre’s philosophy and tried to find out what he meant. He simply encouraged people to find full potential in themselves, he urges us to find the fluidity of existence, to find the urge to build new institutions, habits, outlooks and ideas. In conclusion, not to step back for the sake of traditions, customs and status quo.
Philosophical approach of Camus
Camus was not from a bourgeois background like Sartre, he became famous from publishing his books such as The stranger, The fall and The plague. Although much of his philosophy is mentioned in his book length essay, “The myth of Sisyphus”.The myth of Sisyphus starts with, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy”, this is however a more literal meaning of suicide. Albert Camus puts forward a term called ‘philosophical suicide’ which means “killing off our inquiring minds, by accepting easy stock answers to life’s fundamental questions.” Theses questions might be; where are we going? Is there an ultimate justice?
For Camus the easiest way of committing philosophical suicide is by admitting or following the ready-made belief system, such as those provided by world’s religions. Camus believes that the main reason we believe in God is because it relieves us from the anxiety we hold about our future. He says, We believe in God to alleviate our insecurities about the injustice that takes place in the world, we hope that there is a higher power, an ultimate authority which will finally provide justice. He believes that religion is only one form of philosophical suicide, there are other forms like culture and media. An alternative to philosophical suicide is to confront the fundamentals of nature which he calls absurd.
An absurd man is someone who lives without appeal, someone who confrontationally realizes how absurd life really is. Also, for Camus, recognising absurdity means to remain non-accepting of it. Camus finds that the pointless and repetitive nature of our existence, our criticism of the existence of the world is a lot like the mythological character Sisyphus, who is condemned by the Gods in a repetitive cycle of labour in the form of rolling a huge boulder up the hill only to see it roll back down again. Camus illustrates Sisyphus as the proletariat of Gods, absurdity in present in animal’s existence too but they don’t experience it. However, humans experience absurdity due to our consciousness. Camus claims that in the final analysis, one must imagine Sisyphus as a happy person, but Sisyphus’s happiness like the happiness of the absurd man is quite similar but different to what happiness is portrayed as.