Absurdism: Estrangement, God, and Death

Ilyass Chetouani

2023 / 11 / 5

Nobel-prize winning philosopher and novelist Albert Camus (1913-1960), draws on an entirely different perspective of philosophy and existentialist theorization from that of Sartre. The most salient aspect would be his concept of the absurd. Camus’ idea of the absurd is a rational outcome of the absence of God. Without God, the disequilibrium between human existence and the world is grave. Humans are destined to suffering and the certitude of death—a condition in which human reason is unable to accept as reasonable´-or-final.

An Absurd Reasoning

Camus writes in The Myth of Sisyphus that “there is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” Absurdism, for Camus, is about the act of eluding. Hope, the ultimate evasion, constitutes the life that humans must aspire for and deserve or, concurrently, a trickery that humans use to give life a transcendent basis. Either way, humans refine, whittle away, and give life an arbitrary meaning, a contemporary resort, and then betray it.

We go on living in the same rhythm. We eat, drink, coitize, work, ---sleep---, and we ultimately perish. This pathway is followed most of the time. One day the “why’’ surfaces and everything commences to fall apart. Weariness takes place. Weariness begins at the end of mechanical life, but instantaneously triggers the urge of consciousness. This definitive awakening, as Camus calls it, leads to either: suicide´-or-recovery.

Time carries us, but there comes a time when we feel obliged to carry it. As we pant for tomorrow, time turns out to be a gridlock, a worst enemy. “That revolt of the flesh is the enemy.’’ That greatness and strangeness of the world is the absurd. When thought discovers itself, it will primarily discover a contradiction. That contradiction is the absurd.

There is a pause between what we think we know and what we really know. We live according to ideas, if we truly put them under scrutiny, will crack our whole life. At our first attempt to understand the world, we grasp its endless fragments and contradictions. “We must despair of ever reconstructing the familiar, calm surface which would give us peace of heart.” Nothing can assure us the continuity and firmness of the world. “There are truths but no truth.’’

A Stranger to Myself and to the World

Science, for Camus, is unreliable. Theories keep changing, and science always starts and ends in hypotheses. It is reduced to de-script-ive imagery and poetry. We can and shall never know. Humans are impeded with constant walls. These walls defy every attempt for knowledge. To know is to shake up contradictions. The existence is designed to quell human thoughtlessness and affirm fatal repudiation. “Hence the intelligence, too, tells me in its way that this world is absurd.”
The absurd rejects consolation, ethical theories, and embedded principles. The human brain is always stimulated by the urge to know, yet finds nothing but antinomies and nonsense. The world is a purely irrational place. What we can understand is merely the vastness and echoes of the walls surrounding us. “The mind, when it reaches its-limit-s, must make a judgment and choose its conclusions. This is where suicide and reply stand.’’ The absurd is a rational result of this confrontation-;- the human need for knowledge and the silence of the world. The absurd, to its crux, ends with death.

The Absurd is Sin without God

In the state of absurdity, a thought would negate itself and aims to transcend itself in its contradictory state of being. The absurd starts over the ruins of reason. Escape, a way so attached to religion, represents an impoverished, precipitous, and forced mode of hope. Camus was against religion because this latter was in itself a condemnation of death. Religion is bereft of defiance. It is also bereft of minimal freedom. God offers freedom, yet at the same time takes away its whole meaning. God offers mercy and eternal rest, yet evil reigns in His mundane kingdom. “Either we are not free and God the all-powerful is responsible for evil.´-or-we are free and responsible but God is not all-powerful.’’ God, in its intrinsic openness, is filled with contradiction.

Death as the only Reality

Camus affirms human revolt as the only way to escape the absurd. He patently rejects suicide and clings to living. His idea is to embrace reality, death, and the absurd. “[Man’s] scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing.’’ It is that moment of sheer and pure reflection that soothes the absurd. That phase hiatus and return completes the manifestation of consciousness. It is our suffering and undecidedness in the world that render humans rebellious. Our torture congratulates our victory. The moment we know, our tragedy starts, yet, we triumph, absurdly though, over our own fear and incomprehension. “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.’’

Modern Discussion