I find it difficult to comprehend the philosophy of absurdism. Albert Camus defined it as "futility of a search for meaning in an incomprehensible universe, devoid of God, or meaning". What lies between the contrasting spheres of a desperate search for meaning and the cold silence of meaninglessness seems to be nothing more than a hedonistic life sucked out of all divine purpose. To what degree then does this so-called "life" seem right o you?

  • "To what degree then does this so-called "life" seem right o you?" What matters? That is Camus' approach to life. Nov 12, 2021 at 9:22
  • 3
    Having said that, Camus' world is clearly devoid of God, transcendence etc. Is it Hedonism: "Ethical or evaluative hedonism claims that only pleasure has worth or value and only pain or displeasure has disvalue or the opposite of worth"? I do not think so. Nov 12, 2021 at 9:24
  • 3
    The positive message of absurdism is not in the sorry leftover that lies between the desperate search and its relinquished end. If the meaning is craved but not forthcoming then it is not to be searched for, the ends from elsewhere and the searching are the problem, it is to be made. And it is made by its very making:"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." However one must imagine this "happiness", it is not the happiness or pleasure of hedonism by any stretch. And it is not an end either, only a side effect.
    – Conifold
    Nov 12, 2021 at 9:48
  • 1
    Absurdism might be seen as a emotive philosophy that says that in the face of choosing not to kill yourself because of the inherent meaningless that athiesm brings, you must passionately and unflinchingly develop your meaning. Hedonism in both its sophisticated forms and carictures says that there IS a meaning life, and that is a life of pleasures, simple and altruistic, or otherwise.
    – J D
    Nov 12, 2021 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


Absurdism is a philosophy where life has no meaning, and the greatest example of it is Camus' novel "The Stranger". It's important to note that this isn't nihilistic or pessimistic. In fact, absurdists have been known to be some of the most energetic philosophers ever.

Let's start with what hedonism is. Hedonism is the belief that pleasure is the most important goal in life. And, like all major philosophies (think of arguments like empiricism vs rationalism), there are two major schools of thought - ethical hedonism and psychological hedonism.

Ethical hedonism is the idea that pleasure should be done for its own sake. In other words, it should be done not because the result is worth your effort but simply for being able to live life in a way that brings pleasure. Psychological hedonism is the belief that one's mental state dictates what is pleasurable, and therefore one must take actions which will bring about positive feelings.

We can see from this that absurdism is almost certainly not a form of hedonism. Absurdists live lives ruled by despair, and view the search for meaning as an exercise in futility. The two cannot be reconciled - how can one derive pleasure from life when they're in constant angst about their inability to find meaning?

Absurdism is also not nihilist, since it is both self-aware and positive - if anything, absurdists will be happy because their lives are defined by the freedom to find meaning. Absurdism is also generally non-life-negating - instead of hoping for nonexistence or hoping for existence, it simply states that there's no meaning in life.

To summarize, absurdism is not hedonistic nor nihilist. It may actually be the opposite of both, allowing people to live with freedom regardless of whether or not they are free from negative emotions.

Hedonism, on the other hand, is an attempt to derive pleasure regardless of context. And that is why it's not possible for absurdism to be a form of hedonism.

  • 3
    Good answer, but I disagree with the idea that absurdism leads to constant angst about the lack of meaning in life and the inability to derive pleasure. It's quite the opposite: once one has made peace with the idea that life is absurd and that in 100000 years planet earth will likely still be there but the traces of humanity along with all the deeds of humans will probably have vanished for ever, all angst is gone and one can enjoy the pleasures of life without worrying about leaving something to posterity.
    – armand
    Nov 13, 2021 at 5:58
  • 1
    And does this imply that absurdism can be called a form of atheism? (since it so blatantly rejects the possibility of a god or meaning?) Nov 13, 2021 at 13:37

You must log in to answer this question.

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