It requires revolt. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man's life with the situation of Sisyphus , a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again.
The essay concludes, "The struggle itself One must imagine Sisyphus happy". The work can be seen in relation to other absurdist works by Camus: the novel The Stranger , the plays The Misunderstanding and Caligula , and especially the essay The Rebel 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?
He begins by describing the absurd condition: we build our life on the hope for tomorrow, yet tomorrow brings us closer to death and is the ultimate enemy; people live their lives as if they were not aware of the certainty of death. Once stripped of its common romanticism, the world is a foreign, strange and inhuman place; true knowledge is impossible and rationality and science cannot explain the world: their stories ultimately end in meaningless abstractions, in metaphors. This is the absurd condition and "from the moment absurdity is recognized, it becomes a passion, the most harrowing of all.
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.
All of these, he claims, commit "philosophical suicide" by reaching conclusions that contradict the original absurd position, either by abandoning reason and turning to God, as in the case of Kierkegaard and Shestov, or by elevating reason and ultimately arriving at ubiquitous Platonic forms and an abstract god, as in the case of 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. The contradiction must be lived; reason and its limits must be acknowledged, without false hope. However, the absurd can never be permanently accepted: it requires constant confrontation, constant revolt. 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".
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To embrace the absurd implies embracing all that the unreasonable world has to offer. Without a meaning in life, there is no scale of values. Thus, Camus arrives at three consequences from fully acknowledging the absurd: revolt, freedom, and passion. How should the absurd man live? Clearly, no ethical rules apply, as they are all based on higher powers or on justification.
Camus then goes on to present examples of the absurd life.
He begins with Don Juan , the serial seducer who lives the passionate life to the fullest. The next example is the actor , who depicts ephemeral lives for ephemeral fame. In those three hours he travels the whole course of the dead-end path that the man in the audience takes a lifetime to cover. Camus's third example of the absurd man is the conqueror, the warrior who forgoes all promises of eternity to affect and engage fully in human history.
He chooses action over contemplation, aware of the fact that nothing can last and no victory is final. Here Camus explores the absurd creator or artist.
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Since explanation is impossible, absurd art is restricted to a description of the myriad experiences in the world. All these works start from the absurd position, and the first two explore the theme of philosophical suicide. However, both The Diary and his last novel, The Brothers Karamazov , ultimately find a path to hope and faith and thus fail as truly absurd creations. In the last chapter, Camus outlines the legend of Sisyphus who defied the gods and put Death in chains so that no human needed to die.
ISBN 13: 9782070360024
When Death was eventually liberated and it came time for Sisyphus himself to die, he concocted a deceit which let him escape from the underworld. After finally capturing Sisyphus, the gods decided that his punishment would last for all eternity. This item is out of stock. People who viewed this item also viewed. Picture Information.
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