|Reading for Philosophical Inquiry: A Brief Introduction to Philosophical Thinking ver. 0.21; An Open Source Reader|
Albert Camus, Library of Congress
About the author…
In 1957 the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Albert Camus whose "clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience…" Camus's background as an Algerian journalist, as an essayist and playwright, as well as his role in the French resistance during World War II, form the well-spring of his belief in the possibility of the moral life and the consequent triumph of human value in response to the experience of "the absurd." Camus' work exemplifies our capacity to impose meaning vis-á-vis the desolation of human existence. Although he is thought of as an existentialist, Camus rejected that label because of his devotion to personal moral value. For Camus, morality is not a matter of expediency.
About the work…
Camus in Le Mythe de Sisyphe affirms that only by facing the absurd can I act authentically; otherwise, I adopt a convenient attitude of wishful thinking. Although I cannot count on the consequences of my actions, my life's meaning comes from seizing awareness of what I do. I must act in the face of meaningless—I must revolt against the absurd—if I am not to despair from the ultimate hopelessness and limitations of my life.
Explain in what way Camus believes that Sisyphus is representative of our own lives.
What does Camus mean by the observation that "Sisyphus is the absurd hero"?
Explain how "A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself."
Explain what Camus means when he writes, "There is no destiny that cannot be surmounted by scorn." In what way does scorn make Sisyphus superior to his fate?
Explain how (and why) "when the call of happiness becomes too oppressive," the rock becomes victorious. What does this insight mean for everyday life?
What is the relation between happiness and the absurd? What does Camus mean by absurdity?
The Cascades, Constantine, Algeria, Library of Congress
Albert Camus. Le Mythe de Sisyphe in Essais. Paris: Gallimard et Calmann-Lévy., 1965. Part IV.