The myth of sisyphus and other essays

Jump to navigation Jump to search For mythology regarding the Greek character Sisyphus, see Sisyphus. The myth of sisyphus and other essays help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. This article relies too much on references to primary sources. This article relies largely or entirely on a single source.

Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. 1942 philosophical essay by Albert Camus. The English translation by Justin O’Brien was first published in 1955.

In the essay Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd, man’s futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The essay is dedicated to Pascal Pia and is organized in four chapters and one appendix. Camus undertakes the task of answering what he considers to be the only question of philosophy that matters: Does the realization of the meaninglessness and absurdity of life necessarily require suicide? It is not the world that is absurd, nor human thought: the absurd arises when the human need to understand meets the unreasonableness of the world, when the “appetite for the absolute and for unity” meets “the impossibility of reducing this world to a rational and reasonable principle.

He then characterizes a number of philosophies that describe and attempt to deal with this feeling of the absurd, by Heidegger, Jaspers, Shestov, Kierkegaard, and Husserl. For Camus, who set out to take the absurd seriously and follow it to its final conclusions, these “leaps” cannot convince. Taking the absurd seriously means acknowledging the contradiction between the desire of human reason and the unreasonable world. Suicide, then, also must be rejected: without man, the absurd cannot exist. While the question of human freedom in the metaphysical sense loses interest to the absurd man, he gains freedom in a very concrete sense: no longer bound by hope for a better future or eternity, without a need to pursue life’s purpose or to create meaning, “he enjoys a freedom with regard to common rules”. To embrace the absurd implies embracing all that the unreasonable world has to offer.