Main Philosophical Themes Brought Up In Albert Camus’ The Myth Of Sisyphus
Philosophical views have become widely recognized as a handbook for mankind. Though some philosophical views may sound surreal and out of the world, most of them can be directly applied to life as well as the various happenings in life. The earliest known philosophers include Thales of Miletus who is often hailed as the father of ancient Greek philosophy, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and many others. They based their works on themes such as love, existence, logic and others.
Various philosophical works have been out doored, embraced and criticized such as Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Plato’s Apology of Socrates, candide by Volta and a whole other. All these philosophical works have a major aim which is discerning the truth. Scott (1995) exposes Plato as the first philosopher to answer the question about if the mind brings innate resources of its own to the process of learning or if it relies wholly upon experience. This essay would introduce one famous philosopher, Albert Camus, and his work titled, The Myth of Sisyphus which talks on the theme of absurdity and human resilience.
Cruickshank (2019) introduces us to the life of Albert Camus, who was born on November 7, 1913 in Algeria and passed on the 4th of January, 1960 in France. He was a well-known novelist, essayist and playwright famous for his works such as La Peste, La Chute, The Rebel and The Myth of Sisyphus. Most of his works focused on nihilism and absurdity. In 1995, Albert Camus published The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. Camus (1995) explains that his book attempts to resolve the problem of suicide. He further states his view on the legitimacy and necessity of one to question the meaning of life. He further gives an answer by saying that despite one’s belief in God or not, suicide is illegitimate.
The Myth of Sisyphus ushers us into the life of Sisyphus, the main character of Alberts book. Sisyphus was described by some as the most prudent mortal. However, he was punished by the gods to repeat the meaningless job or rolling a rock to the top of the mountain which results in the rock rolling back down. The cause of Sisyphus’s eternal punishment was due to the fact that he chained death with the hope that human beings would not have to die anymore which infuriated the gods. Camus describes Sisyphus as the absurd hero who lived his life with meaning, despised the concept of death and yet had to be condemned to engage in a very meaningless task (Camus, 2005).
The main theme of The Myth of Sisyphus is absurdity. Ansel Pereira (2019) describes absurdum as a philosophical theme associated with humans attempting to acquire or find meaning and purpose in life through search which may end up in two main conclusions. She further states these conclusions, the first being a belief system associated with an abstract concept or religion and the second being that life is meaningless and purposeless in an irrational universe.
Plato also uses absurdity to describe very poor reasoning, or the conclusion from adopting a position that is false and reasoning to a false conclusion. According to Camus (1995), absurdity mostly goes with suicide. A lot of times, people end up questioning the worth and value of life which might lead them to make decisions of taking their own life, whether they believe in a religion since there are recorded cases of ministers of the gospel who took their own lives. Contrary, those who find the meaning of life may end up dying according to the theory that reasons to live give reasons to die. Suicide might be perceived as the solution to absurdity. Absurdum sets in when man loses connection with his real self (Carroll,2007).
Suicide, described as voluntary dying, implies that one has seen that dying does not have any kind of significance. Suicide is also an act prepared for and occurs when one begins to undermine oneself and whereas beginning to think is beginning to be undermined. In The Myth of Sisyphus, the weariness of Sisyphus in carrying out the same meaningless task, pushes him to acknowledge the worthlessness of life which introduces the theme of absurdity by Camus. The theory of absurdist may be related to existentialism whereby an individual is free to choose his own meaning to life as per Frankfurt(1928a). Camus perceived life as meaningless and viewed it absurd for one to try finding the meaning of life and discusses weariness, anxiety, strangeness and horror as forms in which absurdity shows (Bowker, 2014).
Moving further from absurdity to another theme of Albert Camus, human resilience. Resilience can be defined as the unutterable quality that enables an individual to overcome things like trauma, emotional issues, injury and others. Kaplan, Turner, Norman and Stillson (1996) describe resilience as the capacity to maintain competent functioning in the face of major life stressors. Resilience is seen to be promoted based on the meanings one reads into their various life experiences. Though in the Myth of Sisyphus, much information on human resilience is not seen, we can still notice the resilience of Sisyphus in trying to find meaning to life and his quest to totally eliminate death.
Yet, this just leads to his meaningless punishment which later has his surrendering to the theory of absurdity since he could find no meaning to his life at that moment. However, Albert Camus, The Plague, focuses more on the theme of human resilience. This novel talks about a deadly plague that hits the people of North Algeria. The people eventually had to be quarantined to prevent the spread of the disease. Though initially, they complained and wailed, they eventually saw the good and benefits of their suffering such as protecting their loved ones who had not gotten it (Sexton, 2019). This shows resilience where the people found meaning to their suffering.
Albert Camus through his works and even juts the book, The Myth of Sisyphus demonstrated slight veering away from his theories. Firstly, he introduces us to absurdity where he tries to explain that life actually has no meaning and this leads to the all for suicide. Yet he also talks on how suicide is actually illegitimate yet does not suggest any solutions to the theory of absurdum.
Later, he talks about human resilience which can be seen in the life of Sisyphus who was determined to make meaning out of his life and who tried to get rid of death all to no vail but to win him a punishment that makes him believe in absurdum. Perhaps, in the long run, living becomes absurd, especially after living for very long years. In his book, The Plague, he also expresses resilience on how the people eventually saw the benefit from being quarantined and expressed that life should be that way. Ultimately, Alberts view on human resilience is much more preferred to absurdity which has suicide as its solution.
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