What does Albert Camus mean when one commits philosophical suicide? I was learning about him and the speaker spoke about this, however they didn't give a clear enough example of this.

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    sparknotes.com/philosophy/sisyphus/section3.rhtml "Existential philosophers try to find some sort of transcendence in the absurd itself. Camus insists that the logic of the absurd demands that there be no reconciliation or transcendence. These philosophers try to wriggle away from the logic posed to them by the absurd, and, as such, they commit 'philosophical suicide.'"
    – Not_Here
    Mar 21, 2017 at 1:39
  • Compare it to the phrases "career suicide" and "political suicide".
    – Not_Here
    Mar 21, 2017 at 13:18
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    It is Camus' label for the Kierkegaard style existentialism:"Camus states that because the leap of faith escapes rationality and defers to abstraction over personal experience, the leap of faith is not absurd. Camus considers the leap of faith as "philosophical suicide," rejecting both this and physical suicide".
    – Conifold
    Mar 21, 2017 at 20:40

1 Answer 1


For existential philosophy, failing to grapple with the paradoxes of death (in that it explicitly limits our ability to perceive the world in its totality) and the Real (that, because our perception is limited, we are unable to find universal knowledge about the world) constitutes a harm to our ability to live to our fullest (in that we live thinking that our lives are universal, when they can never truly be). It's somewhat paradoxical, that being unwilling to grapple with the problem of death constitutes suicide, but for Camus, philosophical suicide is the unwillingness to grapple with the very nature of life, and by this, never "truly live." Philosophical suicide in existential philosophy broadly is the Kierkegaardian leap of faith, Descartes' trust in God, and the analytic philosophers' assumption of universality.

  • You are likely correct in his meaning, but Camus' use of 'unwillingness' is interesting to me. I would be more likely to describe this phenomenon as 'epistemologically unable' than 'unwilling'. One cannot pursue what one does not know to pursue.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Jul 13, 2017 at 21:17
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    @mcraen Yeah... personally I think that's him being a bit of an ass - his novels were often critiques of "the masses," which honestly leads to a lot of bad philosophy. It took until Foucault to characterize the nature and source of this "epistemological inability"/"unwillingness" - namely, in his critique of the rational subject. Jul 14, 2017 at 2:06

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