Theory & Philosphy Reading Group V: Albert Camus

49d2c806-4583-49f5-9978-f71959400a66October 16th, 2014 7pm-8m: Join with radicals, thinkers, activists, poets, and intellectuals on the Monterey Peninsula to read and discuss some of the greatest philosophers of our time.

For our fifth reading group, we’ll be reading The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus.


About The Myth of Sisyphus:

The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay by Albert Camus. It comprises about 119 pages and was published originally in 1942 in French as Le Mythe de Sisyphe; the English translation by Justin O’Brien followed in 1955.

In the essay, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man’s futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers: “No. It requires revolt.” He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man’s life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes, “The struggle itself […] is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

The work can be seen in relation to other absurdist works by Camus: the novel The Stranger (1942), the plays The Misunderstanding (1942) and Caligula (1944), and especially the essay The Rebel (1951).

About Albert Camus:

Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus
Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus

Albert Camus (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French-Algerian Nobel Prize winning author, journalist, and philosopher. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. He wrote in his essay “The Rebel” that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual and sexual freedom.

Camus did not consider himself to be an existentialist despite usually being classified as one (even during his own lifetime).[1] In an interview in 1945, Camus rejected any ideological associations: “No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked…”.

Camus was born in French Algeria to a Pied-Noir family, and studied at the University of Algiers. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement after his split with Garry Davis’s Citizens of the World movement.[3] The formation of this group, according to Camus, was intended to “denounce two ideologies found in both the USSR and the USA” regarding their idolatry of technology.

Camus was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature “for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times”.[1]