31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let the hell of the present be your kingdom
Albert Camus, who will not call himself a philosopher, who will not "sit on a judge's bench" here, in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus, describes an "absurd sensitivity" he feels prevalent in this age. He is concerned with the principle that "for a man who does not cheat, what he believes to be true must determine his action." Consequently, how should someone, in finding...
Published on 26 April 2007 by Flat_Frog
3.0 out of 5 stars its alright...
To be honest I did not really grasp what Camus was trying to convey, some of it went over my head
Published 26 days ago by jay
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let the hell of the present be your kingdom,
He clubs philosophers, scientists and religious acolytes together for their leap into construction and the world of their belief; "the leap does not represent an extreme danger, as Kierkegaard would have it. The danger, on the contrary, lies in the subtle instant that precedes the leap. Being able to remain in that dizzying crest - that is integrity and the rest is subterfuge."
Aware of the dangers of ignorance and enthusiasm, Camus propounds a life of self-exhaustion and permanent revolution, concerned not only with the quality of life, but with its quantity; "a man's rule of conduct and his scale of values have no meaning except through the quantity and variety of experiences he has been able to accumulate." But this is not a blank cheque for violence, "one must not be a dupe", it is the means for art to realise its ultimate importance; "the great work of art has less significance in itself than the ordeal that it demands of the man and the opportunity which it provides him of overcoming his phantoms and approaching a little closer to his naked reality." Absurdity provides us with a justification for authentic creative effort.
Technically, Camus does not impress, as Sartre's or Heidegger's analyses do. But we have to appreciate him on his own terms, he even asks for our "indulgence" in his preface. He is not concerned with drawing up irreproachable ontological walls, building closed systems or universes, but with providing some light by which to see how everything we do is already contained within walls which we only have to create within to be free. Less impressive than his fiction, yes, but still immensely influential.
The five other essays in this collection, especially Summer in Algiers and The Minotaur, both lyrical eulogies to the cities and the country in Africa, provide counterweight to the main essay; uneasy as a philosopher, here Camus shows his true colours, simply those of a great writer.
40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Camus' philosphy,
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to present brilliant logic in the most abstruse way,
This review is from: The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) (Paperback)Firstly, I think the central reasoning behind Absurdism is absolutely fantastic. I used to think I was an existentialist, but always felt it a little too earnest, or humourless, and leant too near Nihilism. To say Camus dresses this work in a cloak of impregnability, though being a little harsh, is true enough. If you are not totally familiar with either the ideologies or the language of philosophy, then this will be a hard read. It`s not a weighty tome, it`s a small paperback, a collection of various essays and short stories, and this version is smaller than A5. It does become more easy to follow as it progresses, perhaps as the reader becomes used to the style. Anyway, I take this from it:
Camus is acknowledging that logically, in a universe that man can never know the point of, suicide is the sensible option. We will never know why we are here, or if there is reason, so should stop looking now, and end it all. But that rather cuts short the chance of future fun, doesn`t it? Even the bleakest of days can have something to recommend them. As Dawkins wryly notes in "The God Delusion", a friend of his was "rather looking forward to a good lunch", for example. Personally, I wouldn`t want to die without hearing the new Van Halen album, or wondering if England can become the No.1 ranked cricket team (doubtless some of you have an answer to that one already). It might be taken out of our hands at any time anyway, so why rush things along?
A leap of faith might be the answer. Hmmm...not for me I`m afraid. Whilst blindly believing something contrary to all logic appears to be of comfort to billions worldwide, this is, Camus observes rightly, philosophical suicide. Ignoring all logic and reasoning and evidence cannot be easy to do. If you can, and it harms no one, why not? (It does of course harm people everyday and has since time began, but that is a different subject).
The solution then? Well, like Sisyphus, just enjoy the boulder pushing. Sure - it will roll back, and you know it will - which I interpret as meaning you won`t be any nearer any particular purpose, whatever it is you are doing, because the true absurdity of life will undo your hard work sooner or later. Embrace the pointlessness, create a personal meaning, ideally within the confines of a modern, intelligent society where the emphasis is on personal responsibility, and try and have a little fun. Don`t try and look for anything else...that would just be absurd.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We have art in order not to die of the truth"(Neitzsche),
Camus's aim is not to overcome a sense of alienation or separateness from the world. In The Outsider Meursault takes a defiant pleasure in this condition. Sisyphus, the `absurd hero', feels a `silent joy' in living in a world where `man feels an alien, a stranger...his exile...without remedy.' Camus was by his own admission not interested in weighty philosophical topics of a systematic kind like existentialism,being neither a philosopher norsystematic. According to Camus,man has a fundamental `longing for reason',especially for a world as a unitary whole within which everything has its demonstrable station and value.Unfortunately people have recognized the `irrationality ` of reality and hence `despair of true knowledge'.Yet a `nostalgia' for reason remains,and it is the confrontation between this and reality,rather than the latter's irrationality alone,which constitutes absurdity.From the `encounters' between a `human need and the unreasonable silence of the world',the absurd is `born'.Reality is irrational because it is `chaotic',and shot through with paradoxes.Existentialism starts with an attempt to `overcome' people's sense of alienation from the world.But it is precisely this `divorce' between ourselves and the world that Camus revels in,why he is not an existentialist,closer to Neitschze's nihilism,the self-overcomer. But he wants to live with absurdity not overcome it.
The route Camus takes here is committed to shunning philosophy. He purports to be interested only in whether a certain proposition is livable, not whether it is true. If he were to try to assert his own metaphysical position, if he were to try to claim that such-and-such is the case, he would then be burdened with the responsibility of proving the superiority of his metaphysical position over those of other philosophers. All this is relevant because Camus comes dangerously close to metaphysics when he asserts that the absurd is our fundamental relationship with the world and that our need for reasons and the silence of the universe are the two basic facts of human existence. Camus's essay rests on faith, though faith of a negative kind. Camus is determined to believe that there is no God and that life is meaningless more than he is determined to argue for that meaninglessness. He is not presenting a philosophical system so much as he is diagnosing a certain way of looking at the world.To Camus enduring theworld's absurdity is a metaphysical honour.He posits a metaphysics of non-belief:"Even men without a gospel have their Mount of Olives".
Camus identified with the idea that a personal experience could become a reference point for his philosophical and literary writings. Although he considered himself an atheist, Camus came to the idea that the absence of religious belief can simultaneously be accompanied by a longing for "salvation and meaning".His thesis on neo-platonism at university: for Plotinus, philosophy was not only a matter of abstract speculation but also a way of life and a religion. The devotional nature of Plotinus' s philosophy may be further illustrated by his concept of attaining ecstatic union with the One:he turned reason away from contradiction into the magic of participation. Camus describes the absurd man as `innocent',free of `guilt' and `sin',free according to impulse and desire but not respecting human rationality,living in the present.In The Outsider we get the acte gratuite,in the murder of the Arab. Meursault the model existentialist hero,free from morality. In the absence of a moral code, there is nothing to stop people from behaving in a criminal or harmful manner, but Camus does not take this to be much of a problem, even though perhaps he should .He describes what living with absurdity entails.
The Myth of Sisyphus is beautifully written,metaphor takes the place of syllogism,the aesthetic comes before the ethical.Rather than choose suicide or belief in God,man chooses to live life to the fullest.The only sin against life(not despair of life but hoping for another)is eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.Camus uses reason rather than intellectual argument,can he live simply with just what he knows? Suicide, like hope, is just another way out of this conflict. Living the absurd is more akin to the predicament faced by the man condemned to death yet who, with every breath, revolts against the notion that he must die.The absurd man is determined to reject everything we cannot know with certainty,free from metaphysics,meaning,prejudices and preconceptions,free to think and act as he chooses,taking each moment of life as it strikes him.He wants to live with the certainty he has just now and nothing more.The consequences of living with the certainty that there is no certainty are "revolt,freedom and passion".The revolt without hope is the myth of Sisyphus;free from theconstraints of normal society,living in the present moment(passion).His interest is the art of living,a way of life.The question is does Camus go beyond a use of metaphor,describe a way of life that goes beyond the figurative,are we truly living or just playing a role? The great work has a limpid classical style,a homage showing man's thought is his nostalgia
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding,
This review is from: The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) (Paperback)Parts of this book are revalatory. The account of someone "awakening to absurdity" - the sense of meaninglessness which render everyday gestures and actions seem unreal, staged - is masterly. But it is how he expands upon this that makes this book consructive - can 'man' find away out of this malaise towards new connection's or is suicide the only free act left to him? Camus' says that concomitant to the feeling of absurdity is a loss of hope - instead of projections into the future, all that man can possibly do is effect a revolt in the present against "his obscurity". It is the possibility of establishing a "new way of seeing" through which (ermm...) redemption could come.
3.0 out of 5 stars its alright...,
This review is from: The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) (Paperback)To be honest I did not really grasp what Camus was trying to convey, some of it went over my head
5.0 out of 5 stars Return to Tipasa: love is not justice, but justice is not enough,
This review is from: The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) (Paperback)I loved this book, the Plague too. Found Camus 'honest'. I believed him. Return to Tipasa is one of my favourite pieces of writing (ever). it represents the direction 'west' for me somehow. Happiness. In some copies there is the question and answer session from when Camus won the Nobel prize and that I liked very much too. He talks about how being an artist is a visceral intolerance for things, he talks about taking the bitterness without becoming bitter and returning to life having won that light. In my early 20's he was the 'best' I had found.
Important to separate the man from what he writes perhaps (tho here he really says he would have liked to have been someone of stature). But still!
When they published The First Man in the 90's I asked my french teacher is it any good is it any good?! And she laughed and showed me a sunday times article where people came up to the reviewer reading it in Charles de Galles airport and asked him - 'is it any good is it any good?'
These days Ursula le Guin's writings 'hit the spot' for me - lucid simple too and (perhaps) even more humanly profound. Voices. The Other wind. Completely impressed!
5.0 out of 5 stars read,
This review is from: The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) (Paperback)it was a good read it was very informative to me ,it was a great help to me on my coarse
5.0 out of 5 stars A happy Sisyphus may not be an oxymoron...,
This review is from: The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) (Paperback)I read this long essay on my daily commute and the commuter life is a Sisyphean task and I must say this book allowed me to view life differently. His views about Kafka and Dostoevsky are a special treat to read. Like all works of philosophy, it can be hard going but the rewards are always immense. One of those books to read again because there is always more to it than one thinks.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good boo, good quality,
This review is from: The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) (Paperback)I liked to book and the quality of the book. Recommend it to everyone! Purchase. Albert Camus is a genius.
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The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin Great Ideas) by Albert Camus (Paperback - 25 Aug 2005)