The Myth of Sisyphus Albert Camus essay
The main feature of this book is that “the absurdity, which until now was mistaken for a conclusion, is taken here as a starting point.” By this, the author immediately emphasizes the uniqueness of this reasoning.
Absurdity and suicide.
Camus considers the main and fundamental problem of philosophy “is life worth or not worth living it.” Nevertheless, he considers the remaining questions of philosophy to be secondary.
Thus, answering it, philosophy will solve the question of the meaning of life. “I also know those who, oddly enough, are ready to commit suicide for the sake of ideas or illusions that serve as the basis of their life (what is called the cause of life is also an excellent cause of death).”
Camus sees suicide not as a social act, but as an individual act: “suicide is prepared in the silence of the heart.” And only the last straw in this decision can be something external, a reason for suicide, since “a little could be enough for the bitterness and boredom that had accumulated in the heart of the suicide to break out.” When deciding on the cause, “it is necessary to understand the deadly game that leads from clarity in relation to one’s own existence to escape from this world.”
In many ways, life is a habit, and voluntary death is “recognition of the insignificance of this habit.” What a strange feeling leads a person’s mind to such conclusions, destroying his illusions about the world, and without these illusions the man’s connection with the universe collapses, he becomes an outsider here: “a sense of absurdity is this discord between a person and his life.” Thus, Camus slowly moves on to the main theme of his work – the topic of absurdity in life: “the subject of my essay is precisely this connection between absurdity and suicide.”
But the realization of absurdity does not lead to a solution to the problem. Indeed, if it is an honor that in philosophy there can be only two answers “yes” or “no”, then this does not lead to an unambiguous answer, since “many who answer“ no ”act as if they said“ yes ”.” Therefore, the idea that people leave life on their own pitchfork, realizing that life has lost its meaning, does not give results.
The main topic the author takes the question “Does absurdity lead to death?”
All feelings are universes, which is also true for individual emotions. Emotions give us an experience of the beautiful or awaken a sense of absurdity, which in turn “awaits us at every corner.” This feeling is elusive and deserves special attention. “Irrational feelings inaccessible to analysis can be practically determined, practically evaluated, combined according to their consequences in the order of comprehension.” Feelings that cannot be fully realized are revealed to us through human behavior. But this is not a method of cognition, it is an analysis, since cognition “presupposes a metaphysical doctrine.”
“We start with an atmosphere of absurdity. The ultimate goal is to comprehend the universe of the absurd and that mindset that highlights this inexorable face in the world. ”
The beginning of the absurd, like all thoughts, is insignificant. “When emptiness becomes eloquent, … the first sign of absurdity appears.”
“Boredom is the result of a machine life, but it sets the mind in motion.” This awakening leads to two outcomes: a return back to the ordinary, or a final awakening, which may end in suicide or “restoration of the course of life.” Thus, boredom brings awakening consciousness and the emergence of absurdity.
A person is constantly eager for the future, and when he reaches the desired point in time, he understands his dependence on him and wants to renounce it. “This rebellion of the flesh is absurd.”
“The foundation of any beauty is something inhuman.” Understanding this, a person realizes his detachment from the universe. She moves away from us, becomes hostile; illusory scenery collapse. This foreignness of the world to which we belong is absurd.
Further, the author gives several more manifestations of absurdity, saying in the same way that he is interested not so much in the manifestation of this feeling as in its consequences. Camus cites Aristotle’s proof of reason entangled in himself during the proof – the first vicious circle. “In order to understand the world, a person must reduce it to the human, put his own stamp on it”, only in this case can we know the world around us. Reason constantly strives for the One, and, overcoming this contradiction, it “proves the existence of differences and diversity, which he tried to overcome” – the second vicious circle. Thus, our desires always come up against an “insurmountable wall”. The author is true that true knowledge is impossible. We can say that we know something only if we feel, we feel, and the subsequent only “mental constructions”. “The choice is between a description that is reliable, but does not teach anything, and a hypothesis that claims to be omniscience, but is unreliable.” It turns out that the state of peace can only be achieved by “abandoning knowledge and life”. Despite this, a person always strives for a clear world, realizing “that all evidence is false.”
The world is unreasonable, and the clash in it of “irrationality and a frenzied desire for clarity” is absurd. This is the only connection between man and the world. And when it is realized, it becomes a “painful passion.” “Why does not the heart burn out at the moment of the appearance of a sense of absurdity?”
“Stop in the desert.”
Here Camus considers “the themes of irrational and religious thought” in the works of thinkers of different eras, “only those positions on which they completely agree with each other.”
Heidegger: the only reality is “care,” its manifestations are boredom and horror.
Jaspers: considers knowledge impossible, “busy searching for the thread of Ariadne leading to divine secrets.”
Shestov: “the most closed system, the most universal rationalism always stumbles on the irrationality of human thinking.”
Kierkegaard: “not only searched for the absurd, but lived by him”, nor any truth is imperfect and therefore cannot give comfort to the mind.
Husserl: denies the method of rationalism, “To think is to learn to see again, to become attentive.”
All of them agree that the possibilities of human knowledge are limited by “walls.” What we cannot understand is irrational for us. The absurdity is born at the moment of the collision “by the calling of man and the unreasonable silence of the world.” Here, a person’s vocation is the desire to calm, happiness, and pacification.
“The sense of absurdity is not equivalent to the concept of absurdity.” The author believes that the conclusions made by the above authors are similar, they are existential. Against this background, the problem of suicide will be examined, “how they leave and why they remain.”
Pausing his argument, Camus decides to examine in detail the concept of absurdity. It is not a state of an object, but is born only when two compared elements collide: “actions with the world lying beyond the limits of this action”. “The bigger it is, the stronger the gap between the terms of comparison.” Thus, the absurd does not exist separately in the world or in man, but is a connection between them. Now it is necessary to deduce the consequences of this fact.
A person knows that he wants what the world offers him and that he is united with the world. And it is impossible to throw out any element from this triad chain, because it will destroy everything. The first principle of the Camus method: “If I intend to solve some problem, then my solution should not destroy one of its sides.” “The condition of my research is the preservation of what destroys me,” that is, it is impossible to remove the absurdity – this will disrupt the course of the whole argument. In this logic, one cannot accept consent, because “the absurdity makes sense when they disagree with him.” Once a person has accepted something for the truth, he will no longer be able to get rid of it.
Existentialists take for granted what destroys them – “forced hope.”
Jaspers says that everything has an explanation in being, in the “incomprehensible unity of the private and the general”, finds in this a means for the revival of the fullness of being – extreme self-destruction, hence concluding that the greatness of God is in its inconsistency.
Shestov believes that the only way to resolve the absurd, to get rid of irrationality, is to turn to God, even if he is “evil and hated, incomprehensible and contradictory.” “The greatness of God is in its inconsistency. His inhumanity proves his existence. ”
For Kierkegaard, Christianity was despair, and after becoming a salvation destroying the absurd, “absurdity is a sin without God.”
Camus calls the existential approach – philosophical suicide, the God of existentialists – Denial (denial of the human mind).
“Absurdity is a clear mind, aware of its limits.” The reasoning undertaken by the author remains faithful to the absurd, i.e. the split between reason and the world is a unifying contradiction. But it also requires balance, it is impossible to put emphasis on any of the components.
Man always strives for clarity and coherence of what is happening and truths. But the highest meaning of the world cannot be comprehended by man, therefore there are only two certainties “- my desire for absolute and unity, on the one hand, and the irreducibility of this world to a rational and rational principle, on the other.” We can understand anything only in human terms, thereby separating ourselves from the world and losing meaning. And our desire to overcome the walls that our mind cannot overcome, creates new ones in its path.
Camus then talks about the existential leap that a person needs to make in order to make sense. Similar tricks can be seen in the works of Kierkegaard, Shestov, Husserl, mentioned earlier. An absurd person, not understanding such a requirement for himself, will consider it unobvious and will only want to make it clear to his mind. He wants to “live solely on what he knows, to do what is, and not to allow anything untrue.”
Here the author again returns to the problem of suicide. “It seems that the less meaning there is in life, the more reason to live it.” The absurd is alive when people pay attention to it all the time, which means living. The opinion that absurdity leads to suicide is fundamentally wrong. He is born out of contradiction, disagreement, and suicide is on the contrary reconciliation and consent with his failure, “with his own limits.” For an absurd person, suicide is a mistake, because it is a renunciation.
The riot of the absurd gives life meaning and value. “There is no spectacle more beautiful than the struggle of the intellect with its superior reality.”
The problem of freedom cannot be considered without the problem of God. But in the presence of his freedom is not possible or another option – a person is completely free. “The only freedom available to my knowledge is the freedom of mind and action.” Other concepts of it are impossible for the mind. A person who does not know the absurdity lives with a simple everyday concept of freedom, “even if you often hear assurances that you don’t feel it”, but he does not have “higher freedom”. However, for an absurd person “there is no tomorrow”, this becomes the basis of freedom.
“The universe of the absurd man is the universe of ice and flame.” From the determination to live here, a person draws strength from existence.
For the absurd, the amount of experience or life is more important, not their quality. “Such a life is considered incompatible with the rules of honor, but genuine honesty requires dishonor from me.” This leads to a lack of a hierarchy of experience and a “scale of values”. To understand the experience of a lived life, you must fully survive your rebellion.
Camus writes: “I will deduce from the absurdity the three consequences, which are my rebellion, my freedom and my passion.”
An absurd man.
For an absurd man, there is no eternity. He takes the time that “he is given life.” Morality is perceived only by one: given by God, he lives without this god. All life is riddled with rebellion. Man is initially innocent, but permissiveness does not mean complete impunity. “Absurdity shows only the equivalence of the consequences of all actions.” An absurd person accepts responsibility for his actions, and not blame for them. This experience of duty will serve the future. “The result of the search for an absurd mind is not the rules of ethics, but living examples that bring us the breath of human lives.” The very nature of experience is indifferent to such a mind, since the former only benefits when realized.
Camus then considers several examples of absurd people. They are only illustrations and examples, and not a sample or model. These heroes strive to fully exhaust life.
Don Juan loves all women equally passionately and does not seek to find exalted feelings. He accepts one of the principles of absurd knowledge: he gives preference not to qualitative, but to quantitative characteristics of experience. “He does not leave a woman because he no longer wants her. But he wants another, and that’s not the same. ” He cannot be called unhappy, because “there are two sad reasons: either because of ignorance, or because of the unrealizability of hopes.” And in him there is no hope, and he knows the limits of his mind, in them he is genius. Don Juan, being a vulgar symbol of the seducer, realizes this, and therefore is absurd. In this endless stream of love, he does not lose himself, does not dissolve in another person, leaving his soul forces to revolt with the world. According to the author, the hero is ready to pay for his life, ready to suffer ridicule and punishment.
Camus gives two options for the death of Don Giovanni: death at the hands of a detractor who wants to punish a libertine and voluntary imprisonment in a monastery. The latter can hardly be considered remorse; he “worships and serves God as he previously served life.”
For a modern person, theater is a place where you can gain experience that applies to your life, without the expense of a large amount of energy. This is a hope for something better for oneself, but for an absurd person there is no hope. He “appears when hopes are over, when the mind no longer admires the game, but enters into it.” The fate of the actor is absurd: he lives his roles, and they live in him. It is absurdly a contradiction in the unity of many souls in one body. These roles live in different eras, and the actor, playing them, travels in time. But in spite of everything, the main punishment of life will overtake him precisely in his time – death. “As for an absurd person, premature death is irreparable for an actor. You can’t compensate for those faces and centuries that he didn’t have time to realize on stage. ”
Camus compares the actors with the traveler: their path is time, and the goal is souls.
The church does not accept this behavior of actors, considering it heretical.
Throughout life, a person seeks evidence of only one truth. “If it is obvious, one is enough for life.” Time comes and the individual must make a choice: contemplation or action. This is what will mean that he became a man. Camus chooses an action for himself, because he does not suffer compromises. This means taking the side of the absurd, the struggle. Greatness for a conqueror does not mean victory, because a man cannot achieve the highest victory over the world.
“Man is a goal in himself. And he is his only goal. ” The purpose of this knowledge of truth. Realizing his greatness of his mind, at least for a while, a man exalts himself, considering him “God-given.” The conqueror is a person living such moments of greatness. The only luxury for him is “human relations”.
There is no eternity for reason; it is not comprehensible. And so the main punishment is death, which all ends. The conqueror tries to conquer her too, calling ahead of time.
Those people who argue with action choose contemplation, the eternity of the world. They worship death by accepting it. They are the opposite of the conqueror. Experiencing the trials of his fate, a person can sympathize with himself. But only the strong in spirit are capable of this.
The myth of Sisyphus.
“The gods sentenced Sisyphus to raise a huge stone to the top of the mountain, from where this block invariably rolled down. They had reason to believe that there is no worse punishment than useless and hopeless work. ”
Camus considers the hero of this myth an absurd person. “He is like this in his passions and sufferings.” Sisyphus is punished for his earthly passions, disobedience to the gods and sincere love for the world.
The state of the hero is interesting at the moment of a short stop – a pause between endless suffering. It is at this moment that consciousness returns to it. The tragedy of the myth is based on the conscious behavior of Sisyphus.
Camus compares the life of a modern person with this myth, considering it as tragic and in many ways absurd. The actions of people are routine, monotonous and do not bring any benefit.
The clarity of the hero’s consciousness conquers fate and turns suffering into joy. This happiness is also in the memory of the world and life, so beloved by Sisyphus and in the fact that his heart is filled with a “struggle for the summit.”
“Sisyphus should be imagined happy.”
My attitude to the issues raised in this work.
I share the opinion of Camus that suicide is a departure from problems, an awareness of one’s helplessness and weakness. But at the same time it is a bold step.
The life of each of us is absurd to some extent. Everyone struggles with the obstacles of fate, wanting to subjugate it to themselves. The presence of “walls” for the human mind is also clear. The world cannot allow a person to become equal with him, to know the Truth of being. We are not omnipotent, we are shown this every time, as soon as someone seeks to overcome the walls. New ones immediately appear on his way. Only those who do not yet see their walls, the limit of the possibilities of the mind, consider themselves smart.
An interesting fact is that the absurdity exists only in the struggle, disagreement. After all, even a momentary reconciliation destroys it, there is no more ground for the existence of the absurd.
The myth of Sisyphus is a famous legend from ancient Greek mythology. Camus gives her a new life. The idea of the similarity of the work of Sisyphus with the work of modern people is undeniable. After all, there is little use in bureaucracy, statistics, and similar activities. They do not create new things, they only repeat routine actions. Sisyphus’s happiness is in his work and that he sees the point in this.