From Camus’ Myth of Sissyphus; Philosophical Suicide. Here’s the paragraph [format edited]:

Now, if it is admitted that the absurd is the contrary of hope, it is seen that existential thought for Chestov presupposes the absurd but proves it only to dispel it.

Such subtlety of thought is a conjuror’s emotional trick. When Chestov elsewhere sets his absurd in opposition to current morality and reason, he calls it truth and redemption. Hence, there is basically in that definition of the absurd an approbation that Chestov grants it.

If it is admitted that all the power of that notion lies in the way it runs counter to our elementary hopes, if it is felt that to remain, the absurd requires not to be consented to, then it can be clearly seen that it has lost its true aspect, its human and relative character in order to enter an eternity that is both incomprehensible and satisfying.

If there is an absurd, it is in man's universe. The moment the notion transforms itself into eternity's springboard, it ceases to be linked to human lucidity.

The absurd is no longer that evidence that man ascertains without consenting to it. The struggle is eluded. Man integrates the absurd and in that communion causes to disappear its essential character, which is opposition, laceration, and divorce. This leap is an escape.

Chestov, who is so fond of quoting Hamlet's remark: "The time is out of joint," writes it down with a sort of savage hope that seems to belong to him in particular. For it is not in this sense that Hamlet says it or Shakespeare writes it. The intoxication of the irrational and the vocation of rapture turn a lucid mind awav from the absurd.

To Chestov reason is useless but there is something beyond reason. To an absurd mind reason is useless and there is nothing beyond reason.

  • 1
    Maybe some more context would help... see Lev Shestov: "Shestov's point of departure is not a theory, or an idea, but an experience, the experience of despair, which Shestov describes as the loss of certainties, the loss of freedom, the loss of the meaning of life. " "He did however influence writers such as Albert Camus (who wrote about him in Le Mythe de Sisyphe), ...and notably Emil Cioran, 1/2 Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 7:57
  • 1
    who writes about Shestov: "He was the philosopher of my generation, which didn't succeed in realizing itself spiritually, but remained nostalgic about such a realization. Shestov [...] has played an important role in my life. [...] He thought rightly that the true problems escape the philosophers. What else do they do but obscuring the real torments of life?" (Emil Cioran: Oeuvres, Gallimard, Paris 1995)." 2/2 Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 8:00
  • 1
    It seems that, according to Camus's reading of Shestov, absurd must not "drives" us outside of life towards transcendence (the "eternity") but it is part of human's life and experience ("it is in man's universe"). Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 8:02

1 Answer 1


Suppose the absurd idea is like śūnyatā: self-emptying, letting go. An idea "in opposition to current morality and reason". Because this idea has no idea of its own it "requires not to be consented to". It does not need to be held as a view by a human; it is out there as "eternity's springboard", a jump-starter idea.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .