The Myth of Sisyphus, and Other Essays

The Myth of Sisyphus, and Other Essays

Book - 1955
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Publisher: New York, Knopf, 1955
Edition: 1st American ed
Branch Call Number: 843.912 CAM
Characteristics: 212 p. 22 cm

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RogerDeBlanck Jun 30, 2018

In one of his most resonating works, Camus presents his humanistic philosophy of the absurd. He shows how life can gain great benefits from accepting the premise that the world is without ultimate meaning and that nothing is beyond this world. Acknowledgment of these ideas allows for life to be lived to its fullest. With this said, Camus argues that suicide is the only real problem. As an absurd act, suicide does not confront life. Rather, it surrenders to life by foolishly and carelessly abolishing one's self.

Overcoming absurdity requires that each of us accept how the absurd works and then go about celebrating life. The absurd essentially becomes the starting point for a perception of the meaning of our existence. Coming to terms with the absurdity of life will prevent its influence from destroying us. This means that understanding death as the end of our consciousness should provide all the evidence in the world for us to give ourselves fully to this life. Camus believes that humans seek to understand and unify. If they can do so, they become satisfied. But the struggle to harmonize the world can feel desperate, which makes life seem meaningless or absurd. This meaninglessness must be confronted through preservation of the self.

The mythical figure of Sisyphus hopes to succeed with every labored step up the precipice. Struggle fulfills his heart’s greatest hope to escape his dilemma of the absurd through continuing to push the rock up the mountain with his faith that one day it will stay put. Sisyphus gains meaning in his struggle. Moreover, he has discovered great hope in what might be. The Myth of Sisyphus challenges our perceptions of self and of life, and it offers the idea that hope can be found where there appears to be none.

There are some insightful ideas about what constitutes a real life, one where living to your fullest even though you know there is no "meaning of life" is the answer. To face the absurd and thrive in the face of it is the ultimate life well-lived. He almost loses his point by writing as if his audience is a group of Philosophy doctorates, so I would not recommend this to someone unless they have a working knowledge of that subject.

1
1aa
Sep 07, 2016

The essays at the end are touching even if a bit waffling; the title essay is a literary essay on a philosophical topic, and its so poorly structured that its hard to follow the argument, although it does have many interesting sentences in it. There is virtually no editing at all: who is Chestov? what are the works being referred to? or even the events being referred to? I should think that after sixty years they could have tracked them down (seventy four years, if you count from the French edition).

w
wynship
Apr 05, 2015

A lovely discussion by a north-African about the distinction between hope and lucidity. The author equivocates, because hope is overrated (at least in European societies), but ultimately advocates a balance between them.

i
isaacasimov
Nov 12, 2012

I originally just wanted to move a few large stones around my yard but ended up on a enlightening journey through the valley of existentialism that border the high cliffs where philosophical suicide reside beside the open sky's of facticity purgatory. Next time maybe I will mow the lawn or just read Walt Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass'.

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