On Albert Camus

Although 20th century French philosopher Albert Camus is most known for his fictional novels, he did flesh out his own philosophy in his works The Myth of Sisyphus and The Rebel.  Because of his time and the roots of his ideas, he has often been considered an existentialist philosopher; however, he rejected the label himself, even claiming that he did not know why most people associated him with Jean-Paul Sartre.  Another label that has been associated with Camus is “absurdism,” namely because he primarily focused his works on the absurd nature of the relationship between the rational man and the irrational world.

There are a number of different concepts that can be taken out of Camus’ work, and there would be no way for me to list them all here.  The most basic concept is the idea that the rational individual self is in a constant struggle with the irrational world.  This struggle, or conflict, is what is referred to as “the absurd.”  Camus was incredibly concerned with the action of suicide, and so his philosophy began with an analysis of why people commit suicide and ended with ways that he believed an individual might be able to escape the absurd trap that leads one into committing suicide.

Although many people have found his philosophy to be depressing because it expresses an ultimate meaninglessness in life, the fact of the matter is that he was an eternal optimist.  His main points were to understand this meaninglessness and to find ways of rebelling against it in order to lead a healthy life that did not leave one in a state of hopeless depression.  Ultimately, his philosophy is incredibly useful to those who have felt alone in the world, as strangers, and are looking for a way to adapt.