Who is Albert Camus?December 13, 2020
Albert Camus (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) is a French writer and philosopher.
He was interested in existentialism and is known as one of the pioneers of the absurdist movement; But Camus does not define himself as an “existentialist” or an “absurdist” since he does not see himself as the philosopher of any particular movement. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, becoming the youngest author to win this award after Rudyard Kipling. He died in a traffic accident 3 years after receiving the award.
Camus, whose intellectual development was divided into two separate periods, in the first period, on the absurdity of the world and the meaninglessness of life, and therefore on the concept of absurdity, in the second period, on the other hand, the subject of rebellion and, accordingly, revolt against the meaninglessness of the world, change the society, remove the evil and establish a better order. It focused on themes of taking action in order. For him, opposing the absurdity of the world, even the inevitable defeat, against evil is nothing more than adding meaning to life.
Camus, whose philosophy was entirely developed in a moral line, said that neither of the speculative systems in the history of philosophy could play a role as a guide for human life, nor could it provide a guarantee for the validity of human values. Stating that man always wanted the world to provide a basis for his judgments about human values, personal ideals, and right and wrong, the philosopher considered the indifference of the world towards man as meaningless or absurd.
According to him, the moral attitudes adopted in the past were dependent on the belief that there was a certain conformity or harmony between human values and the nature of reality. Accordingly, external support that validates moral distinctions was provided by religion in the past. In the modern period, secular religions have filled the vacuum that emerged after the collapse of religious belief. Indeed, Camus argues that the historicism of Hegel and Marx is nothing more than an attempt to link human values to reality with some form of historical development doctrine. It is within this framework that, in his Le Mythe de Syspe (The Legend of Sisyphos), he interrogates the role of human beings in their purposeful attitudes to be valued, while on the other hand, Hegel and Marx’s interpretations of truth that support value, such as the teachings of history, have failed. According to this,Camus defines man’s existence as a valuing and purposeful being in a world that does not support his attitude as the absurdity of the human condition.
It is this nonsense doctrine that sets him apart from Sartre in existential philosophy. For Sartre, absurdity is something that is inherent in the world, the unconscious being, and appears before the conceptualizations or negating activity of consciousness. However, according to Camus, nonsense or nonsense is a direct result of God’s absence. Without religion, the conflict and disharmony between man’s will, desire, and ideals and the world reach the highest level. For him, the human condition is determined by pain and the certainty of death.
The universal mind of Enlightenment has nothing to say, according to Camus, in the face of this destiny and absurdity that human existence cannot regard as a reasonable or understandable thing. For, man comes face to face with the irrational in almost every stage of his efforts. He always pursues happiness, while feeling the desire for happiness in the deepest part of his heart, inevitably comes face to face with nonsense. Nonsense, accordingly, arises as a result of human wants and needs striking the irrational silence of the world.
Camus’ reaction to this situation expresses that recognizing and giving sincerity to the absurdity of existence gives us the opportunity to live the present moment, to feel the beauty and to feel the pleasure by freeing us from the belief of another life and the afterlife. In other words, according to Camus, suicide cannot be the appropriate response to this absurd experience. Suicide, which seeks to deal with absurdity by destroying one of the two poles of tension, does not fit human dignity. So the only thing to do is to see and embrace the nonsense and try to live in spite of it. Accordingly, Camus said that recognizing and embracing that human purpose and action are metaphysically arbitrary and unfounded will turn nullism out of passive despair and turn it into a revolt against the world’s indifference towards man. But he doesn’t stay here eitherIt has struggled to draw a political lesson from the absurdity of existence. In other words, Camus, who fiercely opposed communism as well as fascism, sought to derive a collective consciousness of solidarity from individual rebellion aimed at absurdity of existence.
Accordingly, Camus sees as his main enemies, apart from an uncompromising sincerity and honesty in the face of the absurd, the morality determined by the revolt, the conventional bourgeois ethics and the totalitarianism displayed in the fascist and communist concentration camps. Camus therefore strongly opposed the notion that ends justify means, as well as philosophies of history that saw the end of history.
– Life is inherently meaningless
– Albert Camus and the concept of absurdity
– Albert Camus’ childhood and youth – Albert Camus’ literary career – Albert Camus’ understanding of philosophy – Albert Camus and football
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology First Class “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2., 3., 4. Class “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook