Sunday, May 10, 2009

74 Albert Camus

Although Camus's name is often associated with existentialism, there is no evidence that he was ever deeply influenced by , or very interested in the doctrines of Husserl or Heidegger or even Sartre.

He had a degree in philosophy and his philosophical thought was formed on much more traditional models. His deepest interest was in those great figures in Western philosophical tradition. Among them Socrates, Pascal, Spinoza and Nietzsche, whose lives and personalities were all reflected in their philosophizing.

Camus never presented himself as a philosopher. He prefered to be seen as a writer, but a writer with strongly marked opinions. He rejected the exaggerated claims that philosophers have made for human reason.

The striving of the great thinkers of the past to achieve a total conception of reality and of man's relation to the world as reflecting one of the deepest human aspirations, had shown nothing but failures, according to Camus.

The question he asks is whether it makes any sense to go on living once the meaningless of human life is fully understood and assimilated.Camus gives a number of different formulations of what this meaninglessness or "absurdity" comprises.

At bottom, it is the failure of the the world to satisfy the human demand that it provide a basis for human values, for our personal ideals and for our judgement of right and wrong.

The external supports on which the validity of moral distinctions rested in the past were mainly religious in character. Later Marxist historicism would be the secular theory to externally validate human values.

But in "The Myth of Sisyphus" Camus claims that that non of these interpretations of reality as value-supporting can survive critical scrutiny. It is the isolation of man as an evaluative and purposive being in a world that affords no support of such attitudes that Camus calls the absurdity of the human condition.

The fate of Sisyphus illustrates for Camus the futility and hopelessness of the efforts. Just like Sisyphus we live a life without achieving anything.

Sisyphus was condemned by the gods and his punishment was, that he had to roll a heavy stone to the top of a hill and when he almost had reached the top the stone would slipp from his hands and roll down again. And Sisyphus had to start all over again.

What options are open to us? We could create an artificial meaning of life, like we do with a religion or a political ideology, according to Camus. Or we could accept the insight in the utter meaninglessness of life, the absurdity, and choose for suicide.

But for Camus there is a third option: in the face of this absolute absurdity the right thing to do for man is to revolt, revolt against the human condition.

We should not sit down in resignation of the endless and fruitless repetition of our efforts. The insight in this absurdity is at the same time our victory on it.

We cant solve the problem of the absurdity by denying its existence. It is a necessary condition for the confrontation between man and the world. Suicide as a solution for the absurde, would be a defeat, a denying of the condition of our existence.

Although I never read Camus when I was 18 he makes me think of my essay, which I wrote as a school assignment. My conclusion was, and I think I then already was strongly influenced by Sartre, that considering the fact that life has no meaning or sense, there also was no reason to exist.

So not Being made more sense then Being. I still remeber that I was "impressed" by my daring conclusion about the human condition and its consequences. And I also remember my disappointment because of the pretty indifferent reaction of my teacher and the low grade.

That is, I guess why I am still a life. It was then that my revolt against the human condition started, which made me in terms of Camus an 'absurd hero" .

Still working on it........(^_^)

The Discussion

[13:22] Herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:22] Herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...
[13:22] Laila Schuman: do you think there is any link between the idea of good/bad... and the idea of meaning
[13:22] hope63 Shepherd: just change the name and you have made a very good lecture on kafka,herman..
[13:23] Herman Bergson: a link between meaning and good/bad?
[13:23] AristotleVon Doobie: what a ludicrous pity party Mr Camus was having
[13:23] Laila Schuman: to me..good/bad is tied up with survival
[13:23] Herman Bergson: could you elaborate a little on your question Laila?
[13:23] Laila Schuman: what helps us to survive... is good... what threatens survival is bad........
[13:23] Vladimir Apparatchik: agree Ari
[13:24] Laila Schuman: so could meaning come out of our need for survival
[13:24] Zen Arado: why did he think the world has to make sense?
[13:24] Laila Schuman: like protecting the young
[13:24] Herman Bergson: That is what Camus relied on too...the instinct against a violent death
[13:24] Samuel Okelly: in pursuing an understanding of the absurd doesnt Camus contradict himself?
[13:25] Herman Bergson: I dont think it is a rational understanding Samuel
[13:25] Gudrun Odriscoll: food is good because we won't starve, a lion is bad bcause he will eat us? is this the essence of life, good and bad, this is a utilitarian approach isn't it, laila
[13:25] Mickorod Renard: He revolted but in a social conscience way
[13:26] Herman Bergson: Camus felt strongly of human fraternity as a basic element of life
[13:26] Gudrun Odriscoll: wasn't camus a Communist, at least a Socialist?
[13:26] Gudrun Odriscoll: This for the practical revolt
[13:26] hope63 Shepherd: he understood that man when he realized he was an individual also realized he was embeded in society..
[13:26] Zen Arado: what kind of revolt was he planning?
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: I wonder if Mr Camus ever had any fun
[13:27] Vladimir Apparatchik: He wasn't a communist - he opposed Sarte on this
[13:27] Laila Schuman: society... banding together... survival...
[13:27] Herman Bergson: He was it in his own way, Gudrun....but much more from a fraternity point of view....he strongly disagreed with the totalitarian communist parties
[13:27] Herman Bergson: Yes Vlad..because Sartre supported the totalitarian communist parties
[13:27] Gudrun Odriscoll: I thought Communist in a social sense, not the doctrine
[13:27] Vladimir Apparatchik: The character in The Outsider is a miserable bugger (as we say in UK)
[13:28] Zen Arado: it wasn't a Marxist type of revolt then?
[13:28] Herman Bergson: You mean the revolt against the human condition, Zen?
[13:29] Zen Arado: just wonder what kind of revolt he wanted
[13:29] Osrum Sands: Would appear that he suffered some form of organic depression - looking at him from a psychological perspective
[13:29] Herman Bergson: I think it not meant in a political way but much more in the spirit of Nietzsche's übermensch
[13:29] Laila Schuman: makes me think of the line...o do not go gentle into that dark night.....
[13:29] Laila Schuman: that is like a revolt
[13:29] Mickorod Renard: he was even in the french resistance
[13:30] Mickorod Renard: he was against persecution
[13:30] Vladimir Apparatchik: he was quite a good goalkeeper too
[13:30] Gudrun Odriscoll: you know that psychologists and psychiatrists think that everybody is somehow ill, a somebody who wants to revolt, you be seen as somebody who has not grown up. But I doubt this.
[13:30] Laila Schuman: rage rage against the closing of the day
[13:30] Herman Bergson: He was against injustice and human cruelty....against the deah penalty
[13:31] Zen Arado: do you agree with him that life is absurd?
[13:31] Herman Bergson: You ask me. Zen?
[13:31] Zen Arado: anyone
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: absolutely not absurd
[13:31] Herman Bergson: I can answer the question...I do agree with Camus indeed
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: life is for living
[13:32] Gudrun Odriscoll: it is absurd, because if you (rightly) are against injustice and cruelty you are against what the human animal is too, they are cruel and unfair but also kind and fair.
[13:32] Vladimir Apparatchik: I somehow think we've moved beyong the feeling that our moral sense clashed with an indifferent universe
[13:32] Zen Arado: i think we try to put a logical meaning to it that isnt there
[13:32] arabella Ella: hi sorry i am late!
[13:32] Vladimir Apparatchik: we've got used to the idea
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Zen
[13:32] Samuel Okelly: i read that "absurd" in this sense does not mean logicaly impossible but rather humanly impossible..., did he differentiate between an implied theistic view of predetermined purpose and one of random occurrence?
[13:33] Gudrun Odriscoll: hi arabella
[13:33] Vladimir Apparatchik: we make our own morality but morailty is based on our evolution - but the universe itself treats us with pitiless indifference
[13:33] Zen Arado: yes what does he mean by absurd
[13:33] Zen Arado: the indifference of the universe?
[13:33] Herman Bergson: For Camus there wasnt a predetermined purpose..
[13:34] Laila Schuman: for sartre either
[13:34] Zen Arado: its purposelessness then?
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: a revolt would indicate that you could effect a change in time and nature
[13:34] Alarice Beaumont: well.. the purpose is life itself
[13:34] Zen Arado: and meaninglessness
[13:34] Vladimir Apparatchik: indeed Alarice
[13:34] Gudrun Odriscoll: a revolt against the absurdity of life is absurd itself
[13:34] Herman Bergson: Yes Alarice...
[13:35] Samuel Okelly: did he concede the possibility of "being" as a purpose in itself?
[13:35] Zen Arado: you have to accept it :)
[13:35] Herman Bergson: What is wrong with meaninglessness..
[13:35] Zen Arado: but thats a zen view
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: the purpose and meaningof life is to maximize the pleasure over pain ratio
[13:35] Herman Bergson: some meanings are even harder to accept
[13:35] Osrum Sands: surly by saying it is meaningless you give it a meaning ???
[13:35] Alarice Beaumont: i think a person can not go just with "meaninglsess".. not on all aspects.
[13:35] Zen Arado: utilitarianism?
[13:35] Alarice Beaumont: one needs a reason
[13:35] Herman Bergson: Benthem, Aristotle..:-)
[13:36] Alarice Beaumont: lol right Os
[13:36] Gudrun Odriscoll: a good question, we create meaning, but at the end there might be meaningless, this does not mean that we do not live, it might mean that we create some hyperrealities to escape this meaningless. at the end this universe will collapse.
[13:36] Zen Arado: why not 'go with the flow' ?
[13:36] Gudrun Odriscoll: menainglessness
[13:36] Herman Bergson: No can have meaning withing given contexts
[13:36] Alarice Beaumont: mhhh.. can you explain that?
[13:37] Zen Arado: we try to impose meanings that don't stand up and then suffer IMO
[13:37] Samuel Okelly: i think the problem with meaningless is that it is contradictory to what we observe as we can see order and purpose all around us
[13:37] Herman Bergson: have a theory ..the theory as such has no meaning but withing the context of the theory statements have a meaning
[13:38] arabella Ella: Gudrun I agree with you ... life as such can be seen as meaningless but we continuously try to impose meaning on to the meaninglessness like Sisiphus
[13:38] Alarice Beaumont: oh yes. right ..thx Herman
[13:38] Gudrun Odriscoll: we suffer and we create new meanings, we suffer less, we create new meanings, we incorporate suffering into religious doctrines and idelogies, we channel suffering into something "for the greater good", blabal, sorry I am blablaing
[13:38] Laila Schuman: order and purpose... meaning... keep the kids alive so there are grandkids... etc... just keep them alive
[13:38] Laila Schuman: it all gets back to that in the end
[13:39] Gudrun Odriscoll: this is reproduction, evolution, what do we do if we do not reproduce, do we have less meaninglessness or meaning
[13:39] Herman Bergson: It is like a family indeed....
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: I agree with that Laila
[13:39] arabella Ella: Gudrun ... you are not blabbing ... i agree with you 100 percent
[13:39] Zen Arado: its when we try to apply our theories to life and find they don't fit that gives us problems
[13:39] Herman Bergson: the existence of the family has no meaning or purpose, but within the family the word brother and sister have a meaning
[13:39] Gudrun Odriscoll: thanks ara
[13:40] Vladimir Apparatchik: "Meaning" is such a tricky word - for some things are meaningless if there is no "Meaning" with a capital M - some transendental reality - God or Absolute Morality etc
[13:40] arabella Ella: we are as humans always imposing rationality on what can be perceived as futile and meaningless
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: and isnt is a pleasure to have grandchildren?
[13:40] Zen Arado: agree Arabella
[13:40] Lyla Barbosa is Offline
[13:40] Vladimir Apparatchik: but meaning doesn't need a capital M
[13:41] Gudrun Odriscoll: rationality can keep us 'sane' sometimes
[13:41] arabella Ella: ty Zen
[13:41] Herman Bergson: meaning means that you can give a rational explanation of a state of affairs or a situation
[13:41] Gudrun Odriscoll: ari have you got grandchildren?
[13:41] Zen Arado: or sane :)
[13:41] Vladimir Apparatchik: we have meanings - a multiplicity, and we make our own
[13:41] Vladimir Apparatchik: it doesn't make them any less important
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: :) Gudrun
[13:41] Zen Arado: but they are only mental constructions?
[13:42] arabella Ella: yes we make meaning, we rationalise, otherwise we would all become cuckoo ... insane
[13:42] Laila Schuman: family is the first step toward community which leads to society
[13:42] Laila Schuman: banding together to survive
[13:42] Gudrun Odriscoll: we are tied into a whole network of meanings, yes and as you say we create some. It is storytelling, it is hyperfiction,
[13:42] Vladimir Apparatchik: yes Zen - but does that make then less important?
[13:42] Alarice Beaumont: creating rules
[13:42] Zen Arado: maybe thinking too much drives us insane
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: my pioint is that all these things that give us pleasure are the meaning of life
[13:42] Vladimir Apparatchik: I feel fine thank you Zen
[13:43] Zen Arado: and we attach too much importance to our constructions
[13:43] Herman Bergson: yes Gudrun, but meaninful within the context of the stories
[13:43] Gudrun Odriscoll: zen, I agree partly, but not thinking makes the world insane
[13:43] arabella Ella: thinking too much is another issue Zen
[13:43] Alarice Beaumont: like everything.. you got to find the balance!
[13:43] Herman Bergson: we only have our constructions,Zen
[13:43] Mickorod Renard: what distinguishes us is thought,the cerebal cortex is liberation
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: no matter the means you use ari?
[13:44] Vladimir Apparatchik: yes Mick - excellent
[13:44] Gudrun Odriscoll: yes herman, a bit of cluster-meaning
[13:44] Zen Arado: yes but maybe we have to see that they are only theories
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: hey that is a cool statement Mick
[13:44] Laila Schuman: when one reflects on war or death from disease... you can get meaning... and it is not necessarily pleasurable
[13:44] Mickorod Renard: carl sagan actually
[13:44] Herman Bergson: They are theories...but then what Zen?
[13:44] Vladimir Apparatchik: a good man to quote Mick
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: I find no meaning in war whatsoever
[13:45] Gudrun Odriscoll: zen what is wrong with theories, what is the alternative
[13:45] Zen Arado: they are useful but we shouldnt cling to them
[13:45] Laila Schuman: but it causes you to think and find meaning
[13:45] Herman Bergson: My question Gudrun..:-)
[13:45] Zen Arado: try to see reality the way it is
[13:45] Laila Schuman: something worth commiting yourself to
[13:45] Vladimir Apparatchik: Zen is falling into the trap that if there is n meaning with a capital M then "just go with the flow"
[13:45] Alarice Beaumont: what about experience?
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: I think war is on the pain side of the equation
[13:45] Osrum Sands: Meaning and theory should lead us to reality .... what ever that is
[13:45] Gudrun Odriscoll: sorry herman, I must be in parrot state
[13:46] Herman Bergson: That is just a theory Zen...reality as it is
[13:46] Mickorod Renard: maybe someone is harvesting our thoughts,,that would be reason
[13:46] Zen Arado: but you still change what needs to be changed
[13:46] Laila Schuman: reality would lead us to meaning... and laws and... theory etc
[13:46] Herman Bergson: No..I only agreed with your question Gudrun
[13:46] Gudrun Odriscoll: I think war is on the exterminaton side of meaning
[13:46] Vladimir Apparatchik: Yes Zen - we have to be active in the world
[13:46] Gudrun Odriscoll: thanks herman, *
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: war certainly eliminates meaning
[13:47] Zen Arado: i agree
[13:47] Laila Schuman: war can cause you to commit yourself to ways to find peace... (survival again)
[13:47] arabella Ella: Zen ... dont we also make up our own individual mini-theories when we impose meaning or when we rationalise?
[13:47] Vladimir Apparatchik: War sometimes has meaning - I still think it was right to fight the Nazis - that resitance had meaning
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: I agree Laila
[13:47] Zen Arado: but I'm not as confident about thinking
[13:47] Zen Arado: like Camus
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: a move back to the pleasure side
[13:47] Alarice Beaumont: +
[13:48] Gudrun Odriscoll: laila, after destruction, war, people rebuild their lives, their countries, there is work to do some form of togetherness, - that does not justify wars of course
[13:48] Mickorod Renard: Camus was a cheat and adulterer
[13:48] Zen Arado: a lot of what we think is conditioned culturally I think :)
[13:48] Herman Bergson: I think we have to bring some order here...
[13:48] Laila Schuman: no... you are correct about that
[13:48] Mickorod Renard: I hope i havnt libelled myself grin
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: Mick, that is kind of personal and not philiosopical
[13:48] arabella Ella: yes cultural conditioning or influence is certainly part of what gives meaning to our 'futile' lives
[13:48] Laila Schuman: i worked closely with blind people... they caused me to look at my son and feel gratitude that he can see....
[13:48] Gudrun Odriscoll: mick, this is exciting, but as a 'clown' he has to be an adulterer, there is not meaning, there is not love (that might be a form of meaning)
[13:49] Laila Schuman: war can make you value peace
[13:49] Mickorod Renard: maybe ,,but it does question his ethics
[13:49] Gudrun Odriscoll: I hope one can value peace without having to expereince war
[13:49] Herman Bergson: can you motivate your accusation Mickorod?
[13:49] Mickorod Renard: was he just a selfish romantic
[13:50] Osrum Sands: Is life about finding a meaning or experiencing a reality ??
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: History should be enough to remind us, Gudrun
[13:50] Gudrun Odriscoll: I agree, ari
[13:50] Laila Schuman: experiencing reality can create meaning
[13:50] Herman Bergson: But again here we have to discriminate bewtween the person and his ideas..
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: just have some fun
[13:50] Zen Arado: grand ideologies have caused a lot of suffering and thats abstract thinking?
[13:51] Osrum Sands: Grand Ideologies have also caused a lot of good
[13:51] Zen Arado: oh which?
[13:51] Vladimir Apparatchik: Like Liberty, Equality, Democracy
[13:51] arabella Ella: and personal ideologies have also caused a lot of suffering and others a lot of good ... so?
[13:52] Herman Bergson: Not the ideology, but the fight for power with the ideology as justification created a lot of suffering
[13:52] Zen Arado: I'm thinking of Berlin's essay
[13:52] Laila Schuman: there are more basic meanings
[13:52] Gudrun Odriscoll: it is not the ideas that cause suffering, often it is the people, their selfishness and their cruelty, some of these people create deadly ideologies (hitler), but some of the ideas are great, though the people are not that wonderful. One can be a harsh personality and still do something really interesting, good,
[13:52] Osrum Sands: spot on Herman
[13:52] Zen Arado: two concepts of freedom?
[13:52] Laila Schuman: ask a farmer... who has experienced soil in all kinds of weather and conditions...
[13:52] Vladimir Apparatchik: Positive and Negative Freedom
[13:52] Laila Schuman: the earth becomes a kind of meaning... soil
[13:52] Vladimir Apparatchik: Berlin was only in favour of Negative
[13:53] Laila Schuman: and the relationship of the animals and plants...become a meaning
[13:53] Gudrun Odriscoll: Laila, here it becomes interesting, mother earth, both used by Hitler and Stalin
[13:53] Osrum Sands: Freedom 'to' or freedom 'from'
[13:53] Laila Schuman: but also by how many fertility cults....
[13:53] Zen Arado: don't you think most ideologies are flawed herman?
[13:54] Herman Bergson: I think our discussion has drifted too far away from the issue at stake here...the thoughts of Camus
[13:54] Alarice Beaumont: the absurdity of live ,-)
[13:54] Alarice Beaumont: what would he have thought about sl?
[13:54] Herman Bergson: So I thank you for this good discussion, you may go on, but class as such is dismissed..:-)

Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-06-06 05:52:17

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