This is a summary/commentary on Camus's Myth of Sisyphus [I only bother with the sections "An Absurd Reasoning", which is substantial, and "The Myth of Sisyphus" which is very short]:



What is the philosophical problem of suicide? [Camus’s starting point]
not really, should we kill ourselves? not really about suicide(!)
rather, whether life is worth living or not worth living, whether life has a point, purpose, value – an ethical question (for Camus, the fundamental ethical question)

Camus: other philosophical problems are nothing like as important

abandonment; alienation; absurdity Þ no point?


What is the “feeling of absurdity”?
a feeling of existential anxiety, stress, panic, terror when realise and feel the absurd
feeling that tasks/life are futile, pointless – depression, panic?

many people occasionally feel this, but then ignore/suppress it e.g. by getting drunk or finding distraction or going back to work


What is “Absurdity”/ “The Absurd”? – examples + definition
monotony, mechanical, tedium of working life
ageing, deteriorating, realising there are things you can’t do (any more), impotence, regret
insignificance in the face of the universe; separation; alienation
alienation from other people, “the Other”
suffering
death; awareness of mortality; pointlessness of acquiring knowledge, wealth, completing projects given that we will die

the absurd = the dissonance between the way I want the world to be and the way the world really is
a confrontation, a divorce – between my desire and the world, between a man and his life, the actor and his setting
as such, needs both man/ a conscious self and the world – the absurd only arises from the comparison/ confrontation/ clash

absurdity is key/definitive to the human condition


What solution does Camus offer to the absurd?
Camus rejects “solutions” that would evade conscious awareness of the absurd and conscious revolt as being in denial (e.g. killing yourself; suppressing the feeling; Christian solution; Buddhist solution)

[Christian solution = eludes the absurd by giving a happy ending, making God and eternal life and ‘cosmic justice’ and Christian hope the answer – it negates one of the terms of opposition (our expectation vs. the world) – escaping/avoiding the problem
a “panic response” to the absurd Þ belief in transcendent God – an ‘impossible’ solution, given that we have exhausted all possible solutions
Buddhist solution = dissonance solved by amending the “expectation” side – Camus also rejects this (as being in denial about your true situation and not revolting against the absurd). it seems like a viable solution though and does seem to fit Sisyphus analogy neatly]

solution = revolt, freedom, passion
passionate (free) conscious revolt, keeping awareness of the absurd at the forefront of our minds, your fighting back gives life its value, accepts but not resigning to unyielding evidence of a life without consolation, perpetual opposition – accepting fully that there is no meaning, living without appeal Þ better life (!)

we might feel that the absurd and the fact we die diminishes our freedom because it’s all ultimately for nothing; however becoming aware of death and the absurd should actually make us more free because we realise there is nothing constraining us, we don’t have to pretend there is a point to our job, society’s values etc. – you can do what you like! truly free

the revolt give life value. “To a man devoid of blinkers, there is no finer sight than that of the intelligence at grips with a reality that transcends it.”
although life’s struggle has no ultimate purpose and we all die, a person can still create a sense of purpose through the struggle itself and how he plays life’s game [is this enough?]
contrary of renunciation – not best living, more living – greater variety of experiences – become conscious of your experiences


How does the Sisyphus example work?
conscious revolt
more freedom? (doesn’t have death, nor option to ‘opt out’ – but maybe…)
c.f. Buddhist solution, rejected by Camus
[c.f. Christian solution, Sartre’s solution?]

Do we agree with Camus? Is Camus right?
right diagnosis; failed prescription ?

how does this passionate revolt help? how is keeping it in the forefront of your mind helping you to overcome it? this “raging against the dying of the light” solution seems pretty futile

taking pleasure or solace from little tasks – how is this ultimately meaningful? or even an achievement? verging on denial

Plus, criticism similar to Sartre – if I am distraught by the lack of an objective absolute foundation for my ethics (i.e. God) – Death of God or abandonment – I may not find a purported solution which involves my creating my own “make-it-up-yourself” subjective ethic desperately satisfactory – I was upset by the lack of objective justification and I still don’t have one!


Is Camus’s text real/proper philosophy?
No
Yes
woolly? rambling? a bit imprecise [why doesn’t he reduce to premises-conclusion? – perhaps got rationale for not doing so]
Camus proposes an ethical thesis (in broad sense of how we should live)
rubbish ethical thesis?
trading rather too much on our emotional engagement rather than on reasoned argument
still, Camus outlines v.clearly the starting point – a question, a problem. situation to which we need to respond in order to act ethically; an account of the human condition