Albert Camus

Man Is The Only Creature Who Refuses To Be What He Is

Always go too far, because that’s where you’ll find the truth



Albert Camus - An Overview

Albert Camus (1913–1960) was a French-Algerian born writer, political essayist and activist and, despite his protestations, a philosopher. He died in a car accident in January, 1960, at the age of 46.

His works include “The Stranger”, “The Plague”, “The Myth of Sisyphus”, “The Fall”, and “The Rebel”. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in1957, at aged 44, making him the second-youngest recipient in history.

“He ignored or opposed systematic philosophy, had little faith in rationalism, asserted rather than argued many of his main ideas, presented others in metaphors, was preoccupied with immediate and personal experience, and brooded over such questions as the meaning of life in the face of death.”  [Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy]

Philosophically, Camus's views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism, a movement which grew in response to the rise of nihilism. He is also considered to be an existentialist, even though he firmly rejected the term throughout his lifetime.




His philosophy of the absurd has left us with a striking image of the human fate: Sisyphus endlessly pushing his rock up the mountain only to see it roll back down each time he gains the top.  

“The Myth of Sisyphus” was written specifically against existentialists who all assent to the absurdity of the human condition as one of their fundamental core beliefs.






Albert Camus - Sartre and Existentialism

In an interview in Les Nouvelles Littéraires, 15 November, 1945, Camus said point-blank: “I am not an existentialist.” He went on to say:

“Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked. We have even thought of publishing a short statement in which the undersigned declare that they have nothing in common with each other and refuse to be held responsible for the debts they might respectively incur. It’s a joke actually. Sartre and I published our books without exception before we had ever met. When we did get to know each other, it was to realize how much we differed. Sartre is an existentialist, and the only book of ideas that I have published, The Myth of Sisyphus, was directed against the so-called existentialist philosophers.”

It might be argued that Sartre and Camus are really quite similar, and that the core futility of Sartre’s philosophy parallels the despair Camus describes.

For Sartre, absurdity is obviously a fundamental condition of existence itself, frustrating us but not restricting our understanding.

For Camus, on the other hand, absurdity is not a property of existence as such, but is an essential feature of our relationship with the world.

However, Camus views the world as irrational, which means that it is not understandable through reason.




Existentialism as “philosophical suicide

He compared existentialism to “philosophical suicide,” causing followers to make a quasi religion out of the despair and angst that crushes them.

According to Albert Camus, each existentialist writer betrayed his initial insight by seeking to appeal to something beyond the limits of the human condition, by turning to the transcendent.

And yet even if we avoid what Camus describes as such escapist efforts and continue to live without irrational appeals, the desire to do so is built into our consciousness and thus our humanity.

Put bluntly we are hardwired for transcendence.




"The Absurd is lucid reason noting its limits"

We are unable to free ourselves from what Albert Camus refers as “this desire for unity, this longing to solve, this need for clarity and cohesion” .

The power of acceptance

He counsels us not to give in to these impulses about rather to accept absurdity.

Camus clearly believes that the existentialist philosophers are mistaken but does not argue against them, because he believes that “there is no Truth but merely truths” or to paraphrase; it is wise to be wary of any belief system claiming a monopoly on total truth but foolish to ignore the insights and partial truths within that system.

Camus wryly notes that each thinker’s existentialist philosophy ends up being inconsistent with its own starting point: “starting from a philosophy of the world’s lack of meaning, it ends up by finding a meaning and depth in it”.

These philosophers, he insists, refuse to accept the conclusions that follow from their own premises.

Or as noted with Sartre, it is interesting to observe that in his last days Sartre could not live with the consequences of his own atheist existential beliefs and he became a Christian believer and called for a priest...


Footnote:




    "Camus was a poet who wished he could be an influential thinker; Sartre a deep thinker who wished he could attain the eloquence of a poet."

    Greg Stone: Why Camus Was Not An Existentialist







"Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken."


"To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others."

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." 

[Albert Camus]






Return to: Existentialism








Chinese (Traditional)EnglishFrenchGermanItalianRussianSpanishVietnamese


Custom Site Search


The Balanced Toolkit



The Balanced Life



3 Keys Solutions


Get new posts by email:

LATEST ARTICLES

  1. How To Stay Connected To Your True Source Of Power

    "Your ego's desire to be in control, your ego usurping the role of your higher self, disconnects you from your true source of power." A stone of help is a constant reminder to stay connected to your…

    Read More

  2. Dying To Self - To Gain All Give All

    "If You Want To Be Given Everything - Give Everything Up". “Tao Te Ching” Your ego is essential and does a wonderful job of running things for you and marshalling your mental and emotional resources t…

    Read More

  3. My Experience Of Mindfulness In Situations Of Imposed Change

    I found that the biggest key to all this is to behave and respond in ways that may seem completely alien to you by cultivating a very deep acceptance of what is. Many years ago my fortunes had change…

    Read More

  4. The Balanced Life

    The Key To Keeping Your Balance Is Knowing When You Lost It. The balanced life is one where you recognise the full spectrum of possible responses and have develop sufficient experience, insight and se…

    Read More

  5. Self Motivation - How To Motivate Yourself In Tough Times

    Our focus here is going to be on the heavy duty / big picture level motivation that you need to get you through tough times often involving imposed change that have large and perhaps dramatic impacts…

    Read More

  6. Your Higher Self - Your Hardwired Portal To The Universe

    Think of your conscious mind as a ship floating on the ocean of your subconscious mind, and above is the sky of your higher consciousness. When things are tough and you are starting to think that no…

    Read More

  7. How Can I Change My Mind?

    Whilst it is true that we can be taught, generally we won't change. Your mind is either working for you or, more typically, working against you. There is a part of your mind that is very happy with h…

    Read More

  8. Managing Personal Change Is Hard - Here's How You CAN Make It Work

    Whilst it is true that we can be taught, generally we won't change. You can waste years of your life (as I have done) and spend a fortune in various forms of introspection, analysis and therapy diggi…

    Read More

  9. Change Comes From Within

    "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." For much of my life I didn't understand that change comes from within, I used to believe that change wa…

    Read More

  10. How Things Are - The Inbuilt Design Flaw

    This is the nature of things. This is how things are. Nobody has the perfect life. We all struggle and strive to attain health, wealth and personal happiness. Yet these three big areas: our health, o…

    Read More




Support This Site