Albert Camus Talks About Existentialism and the Absurd

In examining the works of authors, we are able to see a wide variety of key factors that play an important role in their lives. These authors include different elements in their novels and stories to present a deeper meaning within their work. In his various books, short stories, and plays, the French novelist and writer Albert Camus relate to his philosophical beliefs: particularly existentialism and the absurdity, as well as his pairing idea of rebellion. Camus’ most notable works – such as the novels The Plague, The Stranger, The Rebel, and others – reflect these beliefs and ideas he was acquainted with.

Camus states, “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” In this quote Though he was known as and stays to be recognized as one, Camus made it known that he didn’t want to be labeled as an existentialist. Existentialism is primarily based on the concept that philosophy starts with the acceptance of being an actual living human individual or the “realization of existence.

The term existence before essence basically means that the after this recognition of existence, the essence, or qualities and defining characteristics, will arise. In existentialism, a fundamental belief is that each and every individual has the responsibility of applying their own meaning to life and genuinely living life through this specific purpose or essence. In these regards, many of Camus’ writings can consequently be seen as exhibiting existentialism. In a popular Greek myth, a character by the name of Sisyphus is sent to Tartarus for tricking the gods and stealing their secrets.

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There, he is forced to repeat a task that is absurd for the remainder of his life. His responsibility is to roll a boulder up to the top of a mountain only for it to fall back down. Camus states, “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.

One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” In this quote, Camus claims that Sisyphus was happy with doing this one pointless task for the rest of his life, but because he had to struggle to get to the top, that was what made him happy. Camus was trying to explain that our lives ultimately have no meaning unless we find meaning within. When you have a goal, for example buying a home, you struggle every day at work to save for a down payment on your new home and to pay your mortgage monthly just so you can call this home your own. After 30 years of paying it off, you have finally achieved your goal of owning your very own house, but now you have nothing to live for because that was what you were living for your entire life. You would probably want to set another goal, such as buying a new car or having children and raising them until they were 18.

Once these goals are accomplished, there really isn’t much more to live for. Camus was using Sisyphus as an example of our everyday struggles of moving this boulder up a hill and struggling every single second just so you can see it reach the top, but once it’s at the top, that’s it. He mentions that instead of feeling an overwhelming sensation of hopelessness, Sisyphus finds meaning in that task, accepts his fate, and bravely pushing this boulder until he can’t do it anymore. Camus explains how humans are the same way in regards to how we live our lives. We fight our whole lives to reach our goals, but soon life will come to an end. In another quote, Camus explains, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” Camus saw two very important types of rebellion which were a historical and a metaphysical one. He talked more about the historical aciton during the French revolution and said that what is at the foundation of the heart of these rebellions is the belief that somewhere down the line, someone always knows what is right and what is wrong.

He said, “In every act of rebellion, the rebel simultaneously experiences a feeling of revulsion at the infringement of his rights and complete and spontaneous loyalty to certain aspects of himself.” So when someone finally comes to realize that he found all the answers and created a solution to all of these problems by approaching in a Hegelian manner, through the method of judgment, our world is in danger. Consequently, something that can never be achieved is being created and the outcomes are absolutely harmful to the humankind. According to Camus, a real rebellions goal is to transform the individual and his self-centered goals. Camus’ rebel does not believe in definite truths since, ultimately, they are forced to become a goal—the main tool for accomplishing which is destruction. Since the end-game is the exact reason of rebellion, murder would never be justified. When a rebel slave rises up against his master because he was treated badly or unjustly, a metaphysical rebel says his “no” to the circumstances in which he finds himself—to the universe, otherwise to the absurdity of life.

Since all men are united in it, “when he rebels, a man identifies himself with other men and so surpasses himself, and from this point of view human solidarity is metaphysical”. Consequently, Camus’ rebel is not closed up in his selfish characteristics.Camus supports his claims by appealing to the brave actions of Simone Weil, a French philosopher, who got sick from tuberculosis. She rejected to eat more food than victims of the Nazi establishment. She wanted to show her mutual support with the conditions in which who is someone in the same position as a human being, living and struggling in the same absurd world of violence and bloodshed as she did, found themselves. As Camus would have said, “She rebelled, therefore we existed.” Albert Camus to this day is considered one of the greatest existentialist writers of all time. However, although he was considered an existentialist writer, Camus never deemed himself to be an existentialist.

Camus rejected this in an interview, however in wide variety of his literary achievements, some actually find that his writings are one of a true existentialistic thinker. Although many contradict these thoughts and believe that Camus was anything but a thinker of this type of philosophy, Camus is one of the main authors that people turn to research and read to understand the thinking of existentialism. Existentialism was the idea that we understand that we are human beings and the fact that we are existing and alive. In his writings he also exhibited the idea of absurdity that we are all living on this planet as individuals to find some kind of purpose and then die. He explained that in greater detail using the Greek myth of Sisyphus and how was was condemned to doing one task for the remainder of his life which as to move a boulder from the bottom of a mountain to the top, let it fall back to the bottom and then push it back up again. This idea of absurdism that is found in the writings of existentialists is so crutial to understanding his thought processes and how he dealt with this issue.

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Albert Camus Talks About Existentialism and the Absurd. (2022, Apr 28). Retrieved from

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