PHILOSOPHY – Albert Camus

Albert Camus was an extremely handsome, mid 20th century French Algerian philosopher and writer whose claim to our attention is
based on three novels: The Outsider, The Plage, The Fall and
two philosophical essays: The Myth of Sisyphus and The Rebel. Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957 and died at the age of 46, inadvertently
killed by his publisher Michelle Gallimard when his Facel Vega sports car they
were in crashed into a tree. In his pocket was a train ticket he had
decided not to use last-minute. Camus’ fame began with and
still largely rests upon his novel of 1942: The Outsider.
Set in Camus’ native Algiers, it follows the story of a laconic
detached ironic hero called Meursault. A man who can’t see the point of love or work or friendship, and who one day, somewhat by mistake,
shoots dead an Arab man without knowing his own motivations and
ends up being put to death partly because he doesn’t show any
remorse but not really caring for his fate one way or the other. The novel captures the state of mind,
defined by the sociologist Emile Durkheim, as “Anomie,” a listless, affectless, alienated condition where one feels entirely cut off from others and can’t find a way to share their
sympathies or values. Reading The Outsider has long been a well-known adolescent rite of passage among french
and many other teenagers, which isn’t a way of doing it down for a
lot of the greatest themes are first tackled at 17 or so. the hero of The Outsider, Meursault, cannot accept any of the standard answers
for why things are the way they are. He sees hypocrisy and sentimentality
everywhere and can’t overlook it. He’s a man who can’t accept the normal
explanations given to explain things like the
education system, the workplace, relationships or the mechanism of government He stands
outside normal bourgeois life highly critical of its pinched morality
and narrow concerns for money and family. As Camus put it in an afterword he
wrote for the American edition of the book: “Meursault doesn’t play the game. He refuses to lie…” “…he says what he is, he refuses to hide
his feelings…” “…and so society immediately feels
threatened.” Much of the unusual mesmerizing quality
of the book comes from the coolly distant voice in which Meursault speaks to us, his readers. The opening is one of the most legendary in
twentieth-century literature, and sets the tone. “Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.” The ending
is a stark and is defiant. Meursault condemned to death for a murder
committed almost off hand, because it could be interesting to know
what it’s like to press the trigger, rejects all consolations and heroically
accepts the universe’s total indifference to human kind. “My last wish was that there should be a
crowd of spectators at my execution…” “…and that they should greet me with
cries of hatred.” Even if we’re not killers, and we’ll ourselves
be really quite sad when our mother dies, the mood of The Outsider is one we’re
all liable to have some experience of. When we have enough freedom to realize
we are in a cage but not quite enough freedom to escape it.
When no one seems to understand and everything appears a little hopeless,
perhaps in the summer before we go to college. Aside from The Outsider, Camus’ fame
rests on an essay published the same year as the novel called The Myth of Sisyphus.
This book, too, has a bold beginning: “There is but one truly serious
philosophical problem…” “…and that is suicide.” “Judging whether life is or is not worth living,” “…that is the fundamental
question of philosophy.” The reason for this stark choice is
in Camus’ eyes because as soon as we start to think
seriously, as philosophers do, we will see that life has no meaning and
therefore we will be compelled to wonder whether or not we should just be done
with it all. To make sense of this rather
extreme claim and thesis, we have to situate Camus in the
history of thought, his dramatic announcement that we have to consider
killing ourselves because life might be meaningless, is premised on
a previous notion that life could actually be rich in
god-given meaning. The concept which will sound remote to
many of us today and yet we have to bear in mind that for
the last two thousand years in the West a sense that life was meaningful
was a given, accorded by one institution above any other –
The Christian Church. Camus stands in a long line of
thinkers, from Kierkegaard to Nietzsche, to Heidegger and Sartre who wrestle with a chilling realization
that there is in fact no preordained meaning in life. We’re just biological matter spinning
senselessly on a tiny rock, in a corner of an indifferent universe.
We were not put here by a benevolent deity and asked to work toward salvation in the
shape of the Ten Commandments, there’s no roadmap and no bigger point and,
it’s this realization that lies at the heart of so many of the crises reported by
the thinkers we now know as the existentialists. A child of despairing modernity, Albert Camus accepts that all our
lives are absurd in the grander scheme but, unlike some philosophers, he ends up
resisting utter hopelessness or Nihilism. He argues that we have to live with the
knowledge that our efforts will be largely futile, our lives soon forgotten, and our species
irredeemably corrupt and violent and yet we should endure nevertheless. We are like Sisyphus, the Greek figure ordained by the Gods
to roll a boulder up a mountain, and to watch it fall back down again in
perpetuity. But ultimatelly, Camus suggests we
should cope as well as we can at whatever we have to do, we have to acknowledge
the absurd background to existence, and then triumph of the constant
possibility of hopelessness. In his famous formulation
“One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” This brings us to the most charming
and seductive side of Camus, the Camus wants to remind himself
and us of the reasons why life can be worth enduring, and who in the process writes with
exceptional intensity and wisdom about relationships, nature, the summer,
food, and friendship. As a guide to the reasons to live,
Camus is delightful. Many philosophers have been ugly and cut
off from their bodies, think of sickly Pascal, crippled Leopardi, sexually unsuccessful Schopenhauer or poor peculiar Nietzsche. Camus was by contrast very
good-looking, extremely successful with women for the last ten years of his life, he never had fewer than three
girlfriends on the go, and wives as well and had a great dress sense, influenced
by James Deen and Humphrey Bogart It isn’t surprising that he was asked to
pose by American Vogue. These weren’t all just sylistic quirks, once
you properly realize that life is absurd you’re on the verge of despair perhaps,
but also compelled to live life more intensely. Accordingly Came grew committed to
and deeply serious about the pleasures of ordinary life. He said he saw his philosophy as “A lucid invitation to live and to create
in the very midst of the desert.” He was a great champion of the ordinary which generally has a hard time finding
champions in philosophy and after pages and pages of his dense
philosophy, one turns with relief to moments when Camus writes with
simplicity in praise of sunshine, kissing or dancing. He was an outstanding athlete as a young
man, once asked by his friend Charles Poncet which he preferred, football or the
theater. Camus is set to have replied:
“Football, without hesitation.” Camus played as goalkeeper for the
junior local Algiers team Racing Universitaire de Algier, which won
both the North African Champions Cup and the North African Cup in the
1930’s. The sense of teamspirit fraternity and common purpose, appeal to Camus enormously. When he was asked in the 1950s
by a sportsmagazine for a few words regarding his time with
football, he said: “After many years during which I saw many things…” “what I know most surely about morality
and the duty of man…” “I owe to sport.” Camus was also great advocate of the Sun,
his beautiful essay Summer in Algiers celebrates the warmth of the water and the
brown bodies of women. He writes “For the first time in two
thousand years the body has appeared naked on beaches, for twenty centuries men have striven to
give decency to Greek insolence a naiveity to diminish the
flesh and complicate dress but today young men running on
Mediterranean beaches repeat the gestures of the athletes
of Delos.” He spoke up for a new paganism, based on the immediate
pleasures of the body. This extract from Summer in Algiers: “I recall a magnificent, tall girl who
danced all afternoon. She was wearing a jasmine garland on her tight blue dress wet with perspiration from the small of
her back to her legs she was laughing as she danced and
throwing back her head as she passed the tables she left behind
her a mingle scent of flowers and flesh.” Camus railed against those who would
dismiss such things as trivial and longed for something higher, better, purer. “If there is a sin against this life…”
he wrote, “it consists perhaps not so much into sparing of life,” “as in hoping for another life and eluding
the quiet grandeur of this one.” In a letter he remarked: “People attract me insofar as they are impassioned
about life and avid for happiness…” “There are
causes worth dying for, but none worth killing for.” Camus achieved huge acclaim in his
lifetime, but the Parisian intellectual community was deeply suspicious of him. He never was a Parisian sophisticate,
he was a working-class Pied-Noir, that is someone born in Algeria but of
European origin, whose father had died of war-wounds when he was
an infant, and whose mother was a cleaning lady. It isn’t a coincidence that Camus’
favorite philosopher was Montaigne, another very down to earth frenchmen, and someone one can love as much for
what he wrote, as for what he was like. Someone one would have wanted as a
wise and a life-enhancing friend. This, too, is what philosophy is about.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. I think I may be entirely too simplistic to understand Existentialism, I've never really been in despair about my existence. I've had some terrible things happen for sure, but those terrible things become resolved. Or I will make sure they are. Whether this life has meaning is entirely up to me, but even if it didn't, displeasure is typically better. Even if God isn't real, I still think it matters. Maybe its because I am a human that I like humans to live. I don't think we need some extreme reason or large narrative, we live. It seems overtly pretencious or ostentatious to be constantly thinking about our lives – if you have enough time to ponder your whole life all the time maybe you should actually do something about it.

  2. He doesn't strike me as particularly good looking, but maybe that's photographers faults. However, he was brilliant and a great creative writer. That can be enough to get anyone through Life 😛

  3. Camus also had a close relationship and great sympathy towards french and spanish anarchist (libertarian socialist) movements.

  4. 3:06 that "to have enough freedom to realize you're in a cage but not enough freedom to escape it" is exactly the mood that Doki Doki Literature Club gave me. In that case it's not even mainly the player himself who's in the cage but rather a character called Monika that eventually reveals that she knows she's in a game and she also knows that she knows nothing but she still can't help but play on according to what she's programmed to. Another aspect is that even though she can mess with everyone else's codes she can't change her own one. This reflects the psyche of a psychopath much more than anything else in there, I think – someone who can manipulate others and knows he's got them under control but he still can't even understand and control his own emotions entirely (after all she makes clear that it's their emotions and attitudes that she's been messing with and she mentions in particular how uncomfortable it feels that her code is the only one she can't see in and change .. although she can delete it, which she also says feels weird)

  5. Excellent. Never so I got closer to the answer, but I can rejoice in the quiet exuberance of this telling.

  6. Accept the absolute madness of life and push forward. Life has gotten easier for me since taking Camus' philosophy on board.

  7. Holy fuck….I've been thinking about the meaning of life for the past few weeks and everytime the answer was nothing. And now this video….eehh wut

  8. Personally speaking, I think commiting suicide is a slap in the face of the Almighty. In certain Eastern spiritual paths comitting suicide means you dont respect the generous gift of life as a human being. Life is to be lived as you have many choices. When you commit suicide you basically are saying I've lost hope and have no faith in the Creator who will always take steps towards you to help you if you just take one step towards him. Human life is precious just as all life is including animals and fauna, all have souls which animate the material body. I can empathise with those who go all the way and suicide themselves but the thought of family, friends and loved ones experiencing the loss of a loved one due to taking one's life is the bitterest pill to swallow. I would not like to be put in that situation of ultimate despair not one bit!!!!

  9. Absurdism is my passion!

  10. I love his quote about sport. Sure so much of it is meaningless and it's all "just a game" but why it's so important is what it teaches you about life and the bonds you create with other people.

  11. As a child, I didn't have any book, but one that my aunt gave me when I was about the age of 5. 'Rain, Rain, Go Away'. I come from a single parent household and my mother didn't read to me to the best of my memory. However, there was a time when my mom became a ferocious reader and joined in with my aunt. Yes, the one that gave me that first book. Well, there was a box of books in the hallway just outside my door. I looked through the books and found this one with an interesting cover. And I will read the first sentence 'MOTHER died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.' That book is The Stranger.' I was 12 and that book totally altered my perspective on life. Today and from many decades find it hard to ask teenagers or even adults if they have read the book. More than likely and most likely they haven't.

  12. After watching these adorably intelligent videos about people you might have thought you knew or, worse, were prevented from even hearing their names in school, can we finally conclude that we’re in the goddamned matrix already?

  13. If life is meaningless, death is also meaningless then why choose one over the other. Does he find living painful?

  14. To whoever doesn’t have anyone to talk to about Philosophy, here’s a YouTube Group Chat to talk all things Philosophy:

  15. Great summary, but it's a true shame not to even mention The First Man, his unfinished novel. Even in its incomplete state, it's the most beautiful work by Camus.

  16. The Rock of Gibraltar,, Old philosophical ideas never die,, they merely mediate away.
    Oblivious to their fate.

  17. "should we take up the wager of the absurd? Escape by the leap or TAKE UP THE WAGER OF THE ABSURD and in doing so regain all human nobility." <3 <3 <3 <3 u mr camus

  18. Albert Camus has the most rational philosophy. Life is absurd, we all gonna die ーsure. Suck every moment out of it as hard as it does of you.

  19. So ultimately his reason for not committing suicide was because he enjoyed being a hedonist too much and a hypocrite

  20. Because of my love of philosophy I have become more wise than my own parents and because of my wisdom it has made me "bitter". My father says I am a bitter old man with the world. Before I started to think critically and realize that life is meaningless, I was an angry and spiteful young adult. Now I am 20 with my own business who can see beyond the limitations of my emotions, dreams, and aspirations. Vs my parents are stuck in the old Christian trap.

  21. The problem is that most people are relatively illiterate when it comes to philosophy and literature. I have a degree in English and I am very curious and believe that ideas and a search for truth is what it's all about. I've found out that more people than I thought are not really like me. In fact, just trying to get some friends to read a substantive book so we could discuss it can be impossible. For thirty-five years I had a residential window cleaning business, and out of the hundreds of homes I went into over those years I was surprised to see how few of my customers had any real literature on their bookshelves. Actually, I also wonder about a country where 45% of the population don't know that the Earth is not 6,000 years old. I asked a 57 year old guy(a friend, and high school graduate) how old the universe is, and he told me 2 million years, with an attitude like who cares(He Voted for Trump and doesn't think that global warming is a problem). I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said that without an educated electorate you don't have a Democracy. After the 2016 election I had the cold shower of remembering Jefferson's words as I have begun to doubt the collective competence of the American people. That is very disturbing since the person in the Oval office is a morally bankrupt sciopath who wants to be a dictator. The good news is that he is 73 and running out of gas, but just imagine if he was forty five. Scary!

  22. This 1% rich douche could convince you of anything with that soft spoken empty-your-pockets-because-I-sound-smart-voice. Fuck off, baldy. You're a hack just like all other humans.

  23. Those losers who desire to commit suicide, should be allowed to do so. Then maybe the rest of us will find new meaning, and value, in life.

  24. This is the reason why I love YT. All the information, which by the way, is very nicely condensed and yet still interesting, is at one’s fingertips. Thank you.

  25. A philosopher on the cover of American Vogue…
    Raise your hand if THAT'S the kind of celebrity you want to see!

  26. He was not born in Algiers though. He was born in Drean, a small village in Northeast Algeria (14km away from where I live lol) ❤

  27. et voila , j écoute une video en engliche , alors que je ne comprend rien a cette langue ou presque , mais voila , c est Camus

  28. Life is the Meaning. And kerkergard was not that negative he founded meaning in faith, in ethics and in simple life. And a relief in laughter of our tragic existence. So I will add after such, that he would have been Mexican than Danish 😂

  29. Hello my name is Pieter Zandvliet a Dutch Artist, in my webshop I made drawings of philosophers, poets and writers, have fun watching! @t

  30. My favourite aspect of Camus is that he was never a know-it-all. He never assumes he is correct and doesn’t even claim to have any more knowledge than anyone else. He was rarely ever cynical about the world around him and he greeted the absurdity of life not with frustration but with acceptance. He knew he was no more enlightended than anyone else and advocated philosophy for what it should be – not a study towards finding the answers in life but rather a study towards dealing with the unavoidable reality that no such answers exist. He makes what is usually the most dampening and mind-shattering realisation the most liberating and satisfying realisation.

  31. 3:10
    This stopped me in my tracks. I’m watching this video, right now, during the summer before I start college. To make matters worse, my family MOVED to a new state right at the start of summer, so I have no friends where I am now.

    I’ve staved off the feeling of pointlessness in my life, funnily enough, through education. I’ve been reading books such as Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus.

    Which is, subsequently, why I’m here.

  32. I despise camus, as almost all french teenagers i was made to read camus and other existentialists during this trouled phase. In fact i read all the bookes mentioned, and at the time liked and comletly absorbes the existentialist philosophy. Which ultimatly lead to a 5 year long depression. Today i think existentialist philosophy is not suited for the troubles teen years and there fore should not be part of comulsatmory school lecture.

  33. human philosophu is usually an opinion on life from someone who hasn’t lived it yet ie to young or to inexperienced when they get something right its not an original thought it is in a word foolishness

  34. I love the thought that we should appreciate our lives now and not concentrate on our supposed lives in the hereafter. I struggle with breaking boundaries. Change often renders me immobile. His pholosophies make me dream bigger.

  35. I find the prissy, affected tonality of this narrator truly nauseating. Dreadful quality of conformity – smarmy and sanctimonious Unwatchable film because of this damned voice.

  36. Unfortunately I read l'etranger too young as a summer reading, I didn't understand the message partly because I myself was an outsider and rather depressed and too young to analyze the text so I completely missed his point. For example when he said the famous line about his mother's death I just thought he was in shock, not that he didn't care. Anyway my teacher absolutely destroyed my book report and confidence. Never read a book in French (my mother tongue) ever again. It was a childish thing to do, but I was a child.

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