http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/life-meaning/. Let us first consider the feeling of the absurd in its narrow sense. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi. London: Oxford University Press. Sartre, J.-P. (2000), Nausea. ( Click here to read Ron Aronson arguing that Sartre and Camus' positions have been united in the recent protest movement.) Schlette. We must acknowledge the absurd as a fact, but at the same time regard it as a scandal or injustice that must be defied (e.g., 2005: 29–30, 55, 119). From a feeling of the absurdum Camus seems to have moved on to the concept of mental and moral rebellion. I have no staff, no interns, not even an assistant — a thoroughly one-woman labor of love that is also my life and my livelihood. A particularly promising conception of nihilism’s affective dimension, and one that is particularly compatible with analytic approaches, has been provided by the French existentialist philosopher Albert Camus.Footnote 1. Some scholars have recently suggested that the feeling of the absurd lays the foundation for and precedes the absurd in the sense that this feeling constitutes the absurd. When he was on his way to keep the appointment he came on a peasant whose cart was stuck in the mud. The Myth of Sisyphus. This non-intentionality of moods is also reflected in English language. Albert Camus Biography Character List … Camus’, in H.R. Moreover, Camus’ claim that the feeling of the absurd cannot be characterized must be qualified as well. (2003), Moral Realism and Infinite Spacetime Imply Moral Nihilism. Wege der Deutschen Camus-Rezeption. 3 below). For Camus the fact that we cannot achieve meaning is part of what constitutes the so called absurd. In what follows (given this paper’s conservative approach) I will hence assume that the absurd is partly internal and partly external to human consciousness. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft. It is rather a conjunction of a mood and of emotions that this mood tends to give rise to. This is only exemplified as he answers the same way when she queries him on his love for her. I have always wanted to write novels in which my heroes would say: “What would I do without the office?” or again: “My wife has died, but fortunately I have all these orders to fill for tomorrow.” Travel robs us of such refuge. What I wish for now is no longer happiness but simply awareness. Lange, C.G. Some commentators have argued that his early and late philosophy form a “unity” (Schlette 1975: 181), or that they are at least linked by an “intellectual continuum” (Foley 2008: 4; see also Hochberg 1965: 96; Pieper 1984: 9). Hengelbrock, J. Purpose theory is “the view that one’s life is meaningful just insofar as one fulfills a purpose that God has assigned to one” (Metz, 2013a, p. 80). First, I will examine what Camus meant by the term “feeling” (Sec. One can no longer cheat — hide behind the hours spent at the office or at the plant (those hours we protest so loudly, which protect us so well from the pain of being alone). In Thinking About Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers on Emotions, ed. 1. Avi Sagi, for example, argues that the absurd consists in humans experiencing themselves as searching for meaning and experiencing the world as not providing meaning (2002: 47). Following these events they come to relate very differently to the absurd. Solomon. Metz, T. (2013), ‘The Meaning of Life’, in E.N. ... Heidegger (1927), Camus (1942), Sartre (1946), and Russell (1903, 1957) and the rejection of the existence of a supernatural or divine creator, the question of life’s meaning was either avoided or considered to have no positive ... the universe. Camus and The Plague - Articles from The School of Life, formally The Book of Life, a gathering of the best ideas around wisdom and emotional intelligence. If this labor has enlarged and enriched your own life this year, please consider aiding its sustenance with a one-time or loyal donation. 18 fconstructive … His conception is also particularly compatible with analytic approaches. Like? In The Myth of Sisyphus the absurd is characterized in a variety of different ways, some of which are confusing and incoherent (e.g., 2005: 4, 12, 13, 26, 48). They long for becoming one with the world that surrounds them (unity), for understanding (intellectual clarity), and for performing actions that are valuable in and on themselves (intrinsic value). But also, soul-sick, we restore to every being and every object its miraculous value. Simpson, David (2005), ‘Albert Camus (1913—1960)’, in J. Fieser and B. Dowden (eds.) These feelings finally lead Meursault to see the absurd. It breaks down a kind of inner structure we have. They do show, however, that the metaphysical interpretation does more justice to what Camus most likely intended to express. Whether in terms of his socio-economic policies, his political critique of the U.S.A. and the former U.S.S.R, and finally his Algerian politics, Camus’s theory of love explains both the basic motivations for and the precise targets of his interventions. What does Camus mean when he speaks of the feeling of the absurd? (1982), Evolution, Morality, and the Meaning of Life. Only when he accidentally kills a person and the prison chaplain forcefully challenges him to think about life after death, feelings of horror (and also anger) emerge. Camus only said so little about this feeling because in his view it had already been helpfully examined by other philosophers and is well-known to ordinary people (2005: 14). Cruickshank, J. Mairhofer, E. (1989), Hang und Verhängnis. Belmont: Wadsworth. There he states that he is going to be concerned with an “absurd sensitivity” rather than an “absurd philosophy”; that he attempts to describe an “intellectual malady”; and that “[n]o metaphysic, no belief” is involved in his project (2005: 1). Rather, Sisyphus was put in a world where his task cannot be fulfilled as a matter of objective fact. Far from our own people, our own language, stripped of all our props, deprived of our masks (one doesn’t know the fare on the streetcars, or anything else), we are completely on the surface of ourselves. Camus believes this to be important as there is a question more pertinent and urgent than any of philosophy’s considerations—that is, whether the absurdity of life necessitates the act of suicide. Camus portrays this theory in The Stranger through a fictional narrative surrounding a young man’s life and murder trial. “Men are dying and they are not happy,” (2008: 60), he declares, and “nothing lasts” (2008: 133).Footnote 7 What explains this difference in Meursault’s and Caligula’s awareness of the absurd? For example, he refuses to look at his mother’s corpse (1946: 6), and distracts himself with a relationship with his former coworker Marie (1946: 14–15). H.R. (1885), On Emotions: A Psycho-Physiological Study. of love Camus minted on to his politics in the Cold War era and the Franco-Algerian war. In Wege der deutschen Camus-Rezeption, ed. Echoing Kierkegaard’s unforgettable admonition — “Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy,” the Danish philosopher wrote in contemplating our greatest source of unhappiness — Camus considers how the trance of productivity robs us of the very presence necessary for happiness: Life is short, and it is sinful to waste one’s time. In the Myth of Sisyphus Camus used the term “feeling” in a sense that appears to be ambiguous with regard to this differentiation (as a result of his general lack of conceptual rigor, and maybe also as a result of the fact that the differentiation does not straightforwardly translate into French terms; see 1942). Haviland-Jones and L. Feldman Barrett (eds.) (2003), On the Meaning of Life. Aronson, R. (2011), ‘Albert Camus’, in E.N. Sagi, A. This entails that there is a specific universe and climate (a specific mood) that typically accompanies these emotions. The more one loves, the stronger the absurd grows. For example, a person’s fear of a big dog barking at her is most likely a response to stimuli involving the dog (such as the person’s perception or memory of it), and the fear is also about the dog. The concept of the book perfectly sums up his theory of the absurd as well as his ultimate philosophical standpoint; it says something about the text that by the end of it you find yourself nodding in agreement at such a neat analogy to our own struggle for meaning. Contemporary emotion researchers mostly reject this view. Scholars in the psychoanalytic tradition, for example, deny that emotions are intentional. Kafka, however, uses a different form of existentialism than Camus: “Kafka arouses pity and affection on the part of his readers…but no modern writer that I can think of, except Camus, has aroused love” (Royal).Post-Camus writers still value the notion of existentialism, though a different concept is used because of the horrific experiences that our world went through in the late 20th Century. Albert Camus was a French-Algerian journalist and novelist whose literary work is regarded as a primary source of modern existentialist thought. Albert Camus on Happiness and Love, Illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton The Holstee Manifesto The Silent Music of the Mind: Remembering Oliver Sacks. The Journal of Value Inquiry This list showcases some of his best works to date. I can say and in a moment I shall say that what counts is to be human and simple. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft: Darmstadt. Foley, J. On this epistemological interpretation, Camus ascribes less theoretical significance to the feeling of the absurd than on some alternative interpretations (in particular, interpretations according to which this feeling constitutes the absurd). It lies in neither of the elements compared; it is born of their confrontation. 2. On the one hand we have a person's aspirations. However, there is at least agreement about some of emotions’ and moods’ most basic conceptual features (see, e.g., de Sousa 2013; Johnson 2009; Solomon 2008: 10–14). Your support makes all the difference. Harry Frankfurt, for example, has argued that our lives are meaningful to the extent to which we care for or love things (1982a, b, 2004). Handbook of Emotions. Consider, for instance, his examples of weariness and horror in the face of one’s own mortality. Camus believed nihilistic rebellions to be constant temptations, appealing to the universal “yearning for unity” common to all. 12 Cf, David F. Norton, The Cambridge Companion to Hume (Edinburgh: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 148. Finally, in discussing the feeling of the absurd in its narrow sense Camus repeatedly draws on the metaphor of an “absurd climate” (2005: 9, 10, 27). Here I will take a rather conservative approach. A diverse Europe. A principal theme in Camus' novels is the idea that human life is, objectively speaking, meaningless. The end is the absurd universe and that attitude of mind which lights the world with its true colours to bring out the privileged and implacable visage which that attitude has discerned in it. Condemned to an everlasting zero of eternity, Camus' characters often suffer their author's own involvement and anguish; and, for his readers, the recognition of the fact of their own deaths is the starting point for their confronting and experiencing Camus' concept of the Absurd. (1993), The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life. “Men are dying” and “nothing lasts” — it is his horror of death that enables Caligula to unmask his desire for meaning as a desire for the impossible, and to recognize the absurd. Frankfurt, H. (1982b), The Reasons of Love. At one time or another all normal people have wished their loved ones were dead. But how could they also make it the case that the non-conscious world does not answer this search (i.e., that the world is such that humans cannot achieve unity, intellectual clarity, and intrinsic value)? Recently, some commentators have suggested replacing the metaphysical interpretation with a phenomenological or psychological one. The precise nature of these states is highly contested. By pointing our attention to this fact weariness promotes our becoming aware of the absurd, and may lead us to eventually develop an attitude of revolt towards it. Only where taking these statements at face value would introduce severe implausibility or incoherence will I resort more strongly to what he should have (rather than to what he actually) said. Camus and other conspiracy theorists attribute this process to intentional policies advanced by global and liberal elites (i.e., the "replacists") from within the Government of France, the European Union, or the United Nations, and describe it as a "genocide by substitution". In contrast to such non-nihilistic approaches, a number of contemporary analytic philosophers have also denied that meaning can be or at least actually is ever achieved at all (e.g., Martin 1993; Murphy 1982; Nagel 1986; Smith 2003). ... vague and kind of assumes you know a lot of the works of … Marriage is considered by society to be an important event in life yet Meursault wanders from the beaten path, in an example of the theory of existence preceding essence or that one is in control of their own destiny. 2 to 4).And third, I will consider the plausibility of this theory (Sec. London: Penguin. Privacy policy. But this is most likely wrong (see, e.g., Mairhofer 1989: 89–98, 1999: 7; Pölzler 2014: 99; Sagi 2002: 46, 113; van der Poel 2007: 19). Let us begin by asking what Camus meant when he talked about the feeling of the absurd as a particular kind of feeling. Lanham: Lexington. Just like Sisyphus futilely aims at fixating his rock on the top of the mountain, humans futilely strive for meaning. Camus-scholars have so far paid little attention to his thoughts about the feeling of the absurd (for notable exceptions see Bowker 2013; Carroll 2007; Reiff 1999). Camus, A. Camus describes this feeling as “indeterminate”, “vague” and “elusive”. H.R. The above problems suggest that, given the conservative approach assumed in this paper, the relation between the feeling of the absurd and the absurd is best understood in a non-constitutional way. 1939: 74, 85; 1946: 120–122; see also Paepke 1958: 49) this search for meaning is only met with indifference (2005: 26) or even “hostility” (2005: 13):Footnote 5, At this point of his effort man stands face to face with the irrational. Paris: Gallimard. The absurd mood causally promotes the emergence of absurd emotions; it constitutes the soil, so to speak, on which absurd emotions (such as weariness, nausea or horror) tend to grow. To begin with, moods are rather general and somewhat indeterminate. During this short time, emotions fill up our conscious awareness to a significant extent. He himself did not explain how this mood and these emotions relate to each other. For one thing he only intended this claim to apply to the feeling of the absurd in the narrow sense, and not to the appearances of this feeling (which, as mentioned above, he actually characterized himself). […] Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness. A useful starting point for examining Camus’ conception is his engagement with cases that people ordinarily classify as absurd: a case in which an innocent person is accused of a horrible crime, a case in which a virtuous man is accused of desiring his own sister, and a case in which a man attacks a group of heavily armed fighters with a bare sword (2005: 28). Princeton: Princeton University Press. For what gives value to travel is fear. Third Edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press. In the trance of routine and principled productivity, we end up showing up for our daily lives while being absent from them. In Time and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection, ed. Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day.” – Albert Camus. In thinking about these questions humans may come to realize that there is actually no satisfactory ultimate answer. Albert Camus (1913–1960) was a French-Algerian philosopher, author, journalist, playwright, and activist. Albert Camus Character Analysis in The Myth of Sisyphus | LitCharts. One reason why Camus mainly addressed the feeling of the absurd in his early work is that this work focuses more on the individual rather than on society. It has remained free and ad-free and alive thanks to patronage from readers. Metz, T. (2014), Meaning in Life. The duration of emotions tends to be rather short, typically in the range of some minutes or even only seconds. On closer consideration, however, the above facts do not warrant the feeling of the absurd’s non-consideration. The great courage is still to gaze as squarely at the light as at death. O… (2008), Albert Camus. Thomas Pölzler. Rising, tram, four hours in the office or factory, meal, tram, four hours of work, meal, sleep and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, according to the same rhythm – this path is easily followed most of the time. Camus characterizes philosophy as fundamentally reliant on self-constructed systems that implicitly claim to explain the world; Camus strives to be anti-systematic and keep the world unexplained. When we are aware of every gift, the contradictory intoxications we can enjoy (including that of lucidity) are indescribable. He lived the life of a creative genius. I therefore believe that contemporary nihilists could significantly benefit from considering and elaborating on Camus’ insights about the feeling of the absurd. Albert Camus (19131960) was a journalist, editor and editorialist, playwright and director, novelist and author of short stories, political essayist and activistand, although he more than once denied it, a philosopher. Although perhaps not a philosopher in the … My dear, In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love. Reiff, A.-K. (1999), ‘Die Welt bietet nicht Wahrheiten sondern Liebesmöglichkeiten.’ Zur Bedeutung der Liebe im Werk von Albert Camus. It is not through lack of love that Don Juan goes from woman to woman. Camus, A. (Camus 2005: 28–29), ‘It’s absurd’ means ‘It’s impossible’ but also: ‘It’s contradictory.’ (Camus 2005: 28), Camus believes that the term “absurd” does not only apply to specific situations within humans’ lives (such as the cases mentioned above), but also to their existences as a whole. But being active is still wasting one’s time, if in doing one loses oneself. Camus himself explicitly denied that he was a philosopher, and an existentialist in particular; see 1965: 1427, 1995: 113, 2005: 30. Take, first, the feeling of the absurd in the narrow sense. In particular in his earliest works he concedes that unity and intellectual clarity may be achieved imperfectly and temporarily, for example, by “becoming one” with nature or a loved person (see, e.g., 1939, 1958, 2005: 34). “Charm is a way of getting the answer ‘yes’ without asking a clear question.” – Albert Camus. For another thing, Camus also granted that even the feeling of the absurd in its narrow sense can at least be defined in terms of its function (as will be shown in this paper). Moods do not only influence people’s behavior and cognitions, but also other affective mental states, including our emotions. Both of these mental states are relatively specific and determinate. One among many conditions that have been claimed to be necessary and sometimes even sufficient for achieving meaning are certain affective mental states, such as emotions or feelings. The absurd, according to these definitions, “is not in man (if such a metaphor could have meaning) nor in the world, but in their presence together” (2005: 29), and it is constituted by a “break between the world and my mind” (2005: 50). If I listen to the voice of irony, crouching underneath things, slowly it reveals itself. (1942), Le Mythe de Sisyphe. Camus, A. The French-Algerian author and philosopher Albert Camus is unarguably one of the most read and thought-provoking intellectuals of the 20th century. As mentioned above, philosophers and psychologists typically distinguish at least two further relevant kinds: emotions and moods. Indianapolis: Hackett. Note that the sense in which Camus considers unity and intellectual clarity to be unachievable is a perfect and continuous sense. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. “Those who prefer their principles over their happiness,” Albert Camus (November 7, 1913–January 4, 1960) wrote in his notebook toward the end of his life, “they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness.” Hughes. The majority of these philosophers have assumed that some lives are in fact meaningful. Nussbaum, M.C. Literary Productivity, Visualized, 7 Life-Learnings from 7 Years of Brain Pickings, Illustrated, Anaïs Nin on Love, Hand-Lettered by Debbie Millman, Anaïs Nin on Real Love, Illustrated by Debbie Millman, Susan Sontag on Love: Illustrated Diary Excerpts, Susan Sontag on Art: Illustrated Diary Excerpts, Albert Camus on Happiness and Love, Illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton, The Silent Music of the Mind: Remembering Oliver Sacks, contemplating our greatest source of unhappiness, happiness, unhappiness, and our self-imposed prisons. This constitutional interpretation clearly contradicts Camus’ above statement that the feeling of the absurd is distinct from the concept of the absurd. Department of Philosophy, University of Graz, Attemsgasse 25/II, 8010, Graz, Austria, You can also search for this author in Bowker, M.H. His works include The Stranger, The Plague, The Myth of Sisyphus, The Fall, and The Rebel.. Camus was born in Algeria (a … Frankfurt, H. (1982a), The Importance of What We Care About. The book sets out his theory of the Absurd, which he also explores in his novels. Pölzler, T. (2014), Absurdism as Self-Help: Resolving an Essential Inconsistency in Camus’ Early Philosophy. This sun and these shadows, this warmth and this cold rising from the depths of the air: why wonder if something is dying or if men suffer, since everything is written on this window where the sun sheds its plenty as a greeting to my pity? (2015), Emotions: Philosophical Issues About. Camus argues that the only way to lead our meaningless lives with dignity and possibly even happiness is to adopt and maintain an attitude of revolt. ... Camus begins to ridicule the legal system as his characters trial continues, making … Each day I would leave this cloister like a man lifted from himself, inscribed for a brief moment in the continuance of the world… There is no love of life without despair of life. Correspondence to (Camus 2005: 26), […] the absurd […] is that divorce between the mind that desires and the world that disappoints, my nostalgia for unity, this fragmented universe and the contradiction that binds them together. To repeat, Camus characterizes this feeling as “indeterminate”, “vague” and “elusive”. The following table summarizes the above-mentioned widely accepted features of moods and emotions (see Table 1).Footnote 4. Most importantly, he explains that (1) the feeling of the absurd is distinct from the absurd, (2) this feeling “lays the foundation” for the absurd, and (3) the feeling of the absurd precedes the absurd (as well as the attitude of revolt): The feeling of the absurd is not, for all that, the notion of the absurd. Here the lawyer interrupted me, and he seemed very upset. Studien zu Albert Camus. London: Penguin. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. (2013), Albert Camus and The Political Philosophy of the Absurd. What follows is the gradual return into the chain or it is the definitive awakening. Camus, A. Consider, for example, his discussion of the emotion of weariness. H. Dyke. No fewer than three recent mass shooters have said they found inspiration in the French intellectual Renaud Camus’ theory of “the Great Replacement,” a xenophobic and racist claim that “European” or “white” culture is being “replaced” through immigration. This view is seen through his "Myth of Sisyphus" when he describes Sisyphus as "stronger than his rock" once he has accepted his fate and stops longing for another one. To reemphasize, these considerations are not meant to dismiss any of the insights provided by phenomenological and psychological interpretations of the absurd. van der Poel, I. This paper aims at providing such an analysis. Article  Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Of lucidity ) are indescribable you agree to the living substance of happiness more powerfully than.! 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