Albert Camus & The Meaning of Life

Albert Camus

These days I started reading through Plato’s monumental work “Republic”. However, the philosophical quest of  this blog begins with Albert Camus. He was born in Algeria in 1913. His lost his father at the age of 1 and his mother raised him in poverty. Albert Camus became a distinguished novelist, journalist and philosopher. He was awarded the Novel Prize for literature in 1957. His philosophy around the meaning of life was heavily influenced by an ancient Greek myth: the myth of Sisyphus. I have to say that for some reason it was one of the myths that I learnt as a child and I have never forgotten since then since it is really cruel: Sisiphus was a Greek king who was condemned to push a rock up a hill in the eternity. As soon as he would reach the top, the rock would fall down and Sisiphus would have to repeat the procedure. How cruel? I feel even pity for the mice that run on a wheel. Imagine how pity I feel for Sisiphus. However, to tell the whole truth, Sisiphus was not the best person in the world. He was really corrupted. He participated in killings, he disobeyed holy rules and in general thought he could deceive even the powerful gods of Olympus. His story is really worth reading, if you do not know it in detail. There exist several versions. As always a good place to begin is Wikipedia. Sisiphus is depicted in he painting that you see in the picture below which was created by Titian, a great Italian painter. More or less, Albert Camus says that we are all Sisiphus. He believes that our lives are a contradiction, that universe … just exists for no particular reason, and that we should embrace the meaningless of existence. HOWEVER! Don’t get disappointed! There is some meaning: embrace the meaningless of life. But then how can it be meaningless? Camus’ theory in my perspective leads to undecidability and I prefer the theories that lead to intractability, e.g., how to eliminate evil as much as possible from the world.  Camus believes that if human awareness did not exist, the absurd would also not exist. This idea was taken further by the modern philosopher Thomas Nagel. Read more about Thomas Nagel theory. In my opinion, there exists something interesting in this idea. Any person that has something that he or she takes serious in his/her life can be questioned from some weird perspective. This absurdity according to Thomas Nagel lies in the nature of consciousness.

Sisiphus by Titian

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