Camus' idea to keep the absurd alive by accepting our innate desire for meaning and even pursuing and yet not giving into hope of ever reaching a meaning to life, what he calls the revolt against the absurd, seems impractical to me. He speaks of contemplating and being aware or lucid of the absurd to keep it alive but would such a revolt be sustainable over a lifetime? I know he mentions very elegantly his method(s) of keeping the absurd alive through what he calls the absurd logic, through persistence, avoiding hope and unity(i.e. need to make sense out things),awareness or lucidity of the absurd, etc.

Are there criticism of the Myth of Sisyphus, you guys are aware of, besides the fact that his definition of the absurd is based on circular reasoning?

I am trying to write paper for class in which I want to show that the absurd and/or the revolt against it cannot be so easily "kept alive" because it would seem against that we gravitate towards hope naturally in our day to day experience of life; that hope is too persuasive psychologically to us to be succesfully revolted.

I am already aware of Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the Absurd by Sagi as a resource on google books. Is there any other? Thanks in advance.


1 Answer 1


Camus does not, I would argue, create a circular definition of the absurd. What he outlines as The Absurd is not something we seek to maintain in the religious sense (God exists because it says in The Bible that God exists, etc etc), but in the practical sense.

To Camus, it is not that we should force the absurd to exist; merely that, in contemplation, one becomes aware of a paradox that resembles what he calls the absurd. That paradox is: the dissonance between man's want for meaning (in the higher sense), and the seeming silence of the universe.

Camus argues for a sort of base existence whereby one recognises the limits to their rationality, but still uses what capacity they have to engage with life as best as is humanly possible. When he speaks of maintaining the absurd it is not to deify it, but to avoid denying its existence through leaps of faith and denial of reason currently held. He argues that doing so is, in a manner of speaking, inferior to acknowledging the absurd while enjoying one's existence.

Nagel offers an interesting critique of absurdist philosophy qua Camus, and offers a theoretical alternative (as opposed to the heavily praxis-based Camus).

The basic critiques of Camus are that he presupposes a search for meaning as either wildly generalized, or innate. He doesn't readily function on being or other philosophical aspects, and instead runs straight for what the absurd does, and how we face it. His writing is vague and he frequently makes unsupported base claims on which he builds his arguments. Rather than giving theoretical arguments, he illustrates using myths and paintings. IN this he lacks rigor. He offers no system to his work and to the point is decidedly skeptical up until he finds a reason to stop being so.

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