I know the question isn't worded well. I'm a little new to this.

I've recently taken a look at Absurdist philosophy, primarily by reading works by Camus, and I feel that it is the most accurate philosophy I've come across. However, I have an issue with how Absurdism deals with morality.

As I understand it, Absurdism is inherently amoral, in that there is no moral or immoral. There is not guilt, only responsibility. Mersault is responsible for killing the anonymous Arab, but is not guilty. It is not a matter of an outside arbiter judging what you do; the only judge is consequences.

Absurdism then appears to be a philosophy that justifies any action, whether you kill a man or save one, it makes no difference.

Yet, Camus was something of a moralist. He believed morality should guide politics, which seems completely at odds with his philosophy. Camus was a primarily a libertarian socialist (perhaps anarcho-socialist), and that political leaning is also at odds with Absurdism. With no guilt, why care for anyone but yourself? Why bother with a system that aims to help everyone? How could he take any moral stance at all?

It may be that I simply haven't read enough of Camus' works to fully understand him. I agree with much of his political leanings, and also his philosophy, but I cannot help but think they are incompatible.

So then, how can an Absurdist be moral?

  • 2
    You asked, "Why care for anyone but yourself?" I ask, "Why care for yourself in the first place?" It's a fact of our natures that we do care about certain people, including ourselves and including some others. To be moral is simply to express one's nature.
    – causative
    Jul 25, 2022 at 22:46
  • You're on a big rock floating in space with billions of others. If people don't help each other, then the prognosis is poor. But when people work together well, it's actually enjoyable and fulfilling. So, the choice is pretty simple.
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 26, 2022 at 0:49
  • 1
    There could be no inconsistency here. Per absurdism most non-absurdists have immense emotional attachment to their unexamined meaning of life by outside influence (The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world - C. In Myth of Sisyphus) since they firmly believe they found it, which is absurd. After realizing all of these, meaning-making is self-created and pursued without any attachment but a special kind of purified confidence at this final stage of absurdism. In this sense, it's very similar to Buddhism's Anattā doctrine... Jul 26, 2022 at 2:33
  • @causative that we care of ourselves is a matter of individual survival instinct, caring for others is a matter of survival for a group or species - these are not the same thing, as the interests of the group may be different from those of an individual.
    – Roger V.
    Jul 26, 2022 at 7:07
  • 1

1 Answer 1


Are you sure Camus thinks guilt is unnecessary?

Isn't Camus talking about how to be happy despite the failure of every sort of belief that could make us happy, that life is absurd because nothing can make us happy except illusions? Does that mean anything goes? That would be a little quick, and I don't think that's what absurdism and its rebellion means.

You could look into 'truth' in Camus.

Camus answers the questions posed by The Myth of Sisyphus, “Why should I not kill myself?”, and by The Rebel, “Why should I not kill others?”

Apparently, because of "solidarity".

  • I imagine Camus thought he was advocating more than just "be happy", and I very much dislike the idea that a sane person could replace 'ethics' with 'self interest'. YMMV, but my life is not beautiful without other people and their happiness.
    – user61846
    Jul 26, 2022 at 11:04
  • I guess so. I picked up a copy of The Rebel a while ago, and I guess I've got to give it a thorough read now.
    – quixotic
    Jul 26, 2022 at 14:10

You must log in to answer this question.

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