Who Was Albert Camus?

Man stands face to face with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.

- Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

Podcast of the Day

2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the French-Algerian novelist Albert Camus, who died in a car crash at the age of just 46.

Author of The Outsider, The myth of Sisyphus, and The Plague, Camus explored human attempts to find meaning in what for him was a meaningless universe. A person's freedom rests upon a recognition of this ultimately 'Absurd' situation.

Listen to The Philosopher's Zone episode: Albert Camus and the Absurd

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

When Johnny Depp raises a wry eyebrow on screen, it’s an ‘existential performance’. When Donald Rumsfeld says there are ‘unknown unknowns’, they call it ‘existential poetry’. Though many politicians and entertainers welcome the label, Albert Camus certainly did not. Even so, many people, even in academic publications, have inaccurately identified him as an existentialist. What in the name of Nietszche is going on?
In an interview in Les Nouvelles Littéraires, 15 November, 1945, Camus said point-blank: “I am not an existentialist.” He went on to say, “Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked. We have even thought of publishing a short statement in which the undersigned declare that they have nothing in common with each other and refuse to be held responsible for the debts they might respectively incur. It’s a joke actually. Sartre and I published our books without exception before we had ever met. When we did get to know each other, it was to realize how much we differed. Sartre is an existentialist, and the only book of ideas that I have published, The Myth of Sisyphus, was directed against the so-called existentialist philosophers.”...

Continue reading Greg Stone's article: Why Camus Was Not An Existentialist

Further Reading

Albert Camus (1913–1960) was a journalist, editor and editorialist, playwright and director, novelist and author of short stories, political essayist and activist—and, although he more than once denied it, a philosopher. He ignored or opposed systematic philosophy, had little faith in rationalism, asserted rather than argued many of his main ideas, presented others in metaphors, was preoccupied with immediate and personal experience, and brooded over such questions as the meaning of life in the face of death. Although he forcefully separated himself from existentialism, Camus posed one of the twentieth century’s best-known existentialist questions, which launches The Myth of Sisyphus: “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide” (MS, 3). And his philosophy of the absurd has left us with a striking image of the human fate: Sisyphus endlessly pushing his rock up the mountain only to see it roll back down each time he gains the top. Camus’s philosophy found political expression in The Rebel, which along with his newspaper editorials, political essays, plays, and fiction earned him a reputation as a great moralist. It also embroiled him in conflict with his friend, Jean-Paul Sartre, provoking the major political-intellectual divide of the Cold-War era as Camus and Sartre became, respectively, the leading intellectual voices of the anti-Communist and pro-Communist left. Furthermore, in posing and answering urgent philosophical questions of the day, Camus articulated a critique of religion and of the Enlightenment and all its projects, including Marxism. In 1957 he won the Nobel Prize for literature. He died in a car accident in January, 1960, at the age of 46...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Albert Camus by Ronald Aronson

Bonus Webcomic

Albert Camus, Existential Agent - Existential Comics

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