The Myth Of Sisyphus - ALBERT CAMUS -|- Educational Philosophy Theory

The Myth Of Sisyphus - ALBERT CAMUS

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The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays
The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay by Albert Camus. It comprises about 120 pages and was published originally in 1942 in French as Le Mythe de Sisyphe; the English translation by Justin O'Brien followed in 1955. In the essay, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man's futile search for meaning, unity and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternity. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers no: it requires revolt. He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man's life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to forever repeat the same meaningless task of pushing a rock up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes "The struggle itself is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

FOR ME "The Myth of Sisyphus" marks the beginning of an idea which I was to pursue in The Rebel. It attempts to resolve the problem of suicide, as The Rebel attempts to resolve that of murder, in both cases without the aid of eternal values which, temporarily perhaps, are absent or distorted in contemporary Europe. The fundamental subject of "The Myth of Sisyphus" is this: it is legitimate and necessary to wonder whether life has a meaning; therefore it is legitimate to meet the problem of suicide face to face. The answer, underlying and appearing through the paradoxes which cover it, is this: even if one does not believe in God, suicide is not legitimate. Written fifteen years ago, in 1940, amid the French and European disaster, this book declares that even within the limits of nihilism it is possible to find the means to proceed beyond nihilism. In all the books I have written since, I have attempted to pursue this direction. Although "The Myth of Sisyphus" poses mortal problems, it sums itself up for me as a lucid invitation to live and to create, in the very midst of the desert.

It has hence been thought possible to append to this philosophical argument a series of essays, of a kind I have never ceased writing, which are somewhat marginal to my other books. In a more lyrical form, they all illustrate that essential fluctuation from assent to refusal which, in my view, defines the artist and his difficult calling. The unity of this hook, that I should like to he apparent to American readers as it is to me, resides in the reflection, alternately cold and impassioned, in which an artist may indulge as to his reasons for living and for creating. After fifteen years I have progressed beyond several of the positions which are set down here; hut I have remained faithful, it seems to me, to the exigency which prompted them. That is why this hook is in a certain sense the most personal of those I have published in America. More than the others, therefore, it has need of the indulgence and understanding of its readers.


[Opening Page]

O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, lout exhaust the limits of the possible.
-Pindar, Pythian iii

THE PAGES that follow deal with an absurd sensitivity that can be found widespread in the age?and not with an absurd philosophy which our time, properly speaking, has not known. It is therefore simply fair to point out, at the outset, what these pages owe to certain contemporary thinkers. It is so far from my intention to hide this that they Will be found cited and commented upon throughout this work.

But it is useful to note at the same time that the absurd, hitherto taken as a conclusion, is considered in this essay as a starting-point. In this sense it may be said that there is something provisional in my commentary: one cannot prejudge the position it entails. There will be found here merely the description, in the pure state, of an intellectual malady. No metaphysic, no belief is involved in it for the moment. These are the limits and the only bias of this book. Certain personal experiences urge me to make this clear.

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