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Albert Camus and the problem of absurdity

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Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a French philosopher and novelist whose works examine the alienation inherent in modern life and who is best known for his philosophical concept of the absurd. He explored these ideas in his famous novels, The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947), and The Fall (1956), as well as his philosophical essays, The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) and The Rebel (1951). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957.Camus was born to a poor family in war torn French Algeria. His father, a farmer, was killed in the First World War, leaving his deaf and illiterate wife to raise Camus and his elder brother. Despite the deprivation of his childhood, he won a scholarship to a prestigious lycée in Algiers and went on to study philosophy at the University of Algiers. He began his writing career as a journalist for Alger Républicain newspaper. After moving to Paris, he became involved in the Resistance movement, editing its clandestine paper, Combat, and was sought by the Gestapo. His memories of wars and experiences under the Nazi occupation permeated his philosophy and novels. His debut novel, The Outsider, and the essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, catapulted him to fame and brought him to the attention of Jean-Paul Sartre. After the liberation of France, he was a major figure in post-war French intellectual life.His philosophy of absurdism can be exemplified in his essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus: 1942). Camus defined the absurd as the futility of a search for meaning in an incomprehensible universe, devoid of God, or meaning. Absurdism arises out of the tension between our desire for order, meaning and happiness and, on the other hand, the indifferent natural universe’s refusal to provide that. In the essay, Camus posed the fundamental philosophical question: is life worth living? Is suicide a legitimate response if life has no meaning? He compared humankind’s longing for order and meaning to the Greek mythological hero Sisyphus, who was. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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