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Albert Camus

Birthdate: 7. November 1913
Date of death: 4. January 1960

Albert Camus was a French philosopher, author, and journalist. 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 freedom. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44 in 1957, the second youngest recipient in history.Camus did not consider himself to be an existentialist despite usually being classified as a follower of it, even in his lifetime. In a 1945 interview, 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, from which he graduated in 1936. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons to "denounce two ideologies found in both the USSR and the USA".

Works

The Rebel
Albert Camus
A Happy Death
A Happy Death
Albert Camus
The Plague
The Plague
Albert Camus
The Stranger
Albert Camus
The Fall
The Fall
Albert Camus
The First Man
The First Man
Albert Camus
Summer
Albert Camus

Quotes Albert Camus

„You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Myth of Sisyphus

The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), The Myth of Sisyphus
Context: You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His 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. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth. Nothing is told us about Sisyphus in the underworld. Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them.

„Hungary conquered and in chains has done more for freedom and justice than any people for twenty years.“

—  Albert Camus

The Blood of the Hungarians (1957)
Context: Hungary conquered and in chains has done more for freedom and justice than any people for twenty years. But for this lesson to get through and convince those in the West who shut their eyes and ears, it was necessary, and it can be no comfort to us, for the people of Hungary to shed so much blood which is already drying in our memories. In Europe's isolation today, we have only one way of being true to Hungary, and that is never to betray, among ourselves and everywhere, what the Hungarian heroes died for, never to condone, among ourselves and everywhere, even indirectly, those who killed them. It would indeed be difficult for us to be worthy of such sacrifices.

„Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Myth of Sisyphus

The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), The Myth of Sisyphus
Context: One does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of happiness. "What! — by such narrow ways —?" There is but one world, however. Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. It would be a mistake to say that happiness necessarily springs from the absurd discovery. It happens as well that the feeling of the absurd springs from happiness.

„But aspects cannot be added up.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Myth of Sisyphus

The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), An Absurd Reasoning
Context: If I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if I try to define and to summarize it, it is nothing but water slipping through my fingers. I can sketch one by one all the aspects it is able to assume, all those likewise that have been attributed to it, this upbringing, this origin, this ardor or these silences, this nobility or this vileness. But aspects cannot be added up. <!-- 159

„There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Myth of Sisyphus

The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays by Albert Camus, An Absurd Reasoning : Absurdity and Suicide p. 3 (1942, 1955)
Absurdity and Suicide
The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), An Absurd Reasoning
Context: There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer. And if it is true, as Nietzsche claims, that a philosopher, to deserve our respect, must preach by example, you can appreciate the importance of that reply, for it will precede the definitive act. These are facts the heart can feel; yet they call for careful study before they become clear to the intellect. If I ask myself how to judge that this question is more urgent than that, I reply that one judges by the actions it entails. I have never seen anyone die for the ontological argument.

„If Nietzsche and Hegel serve as alibis to the masters of Dachau and Karaganda, that does not condemn their entire philosophy.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Rebel

The Rebel (1951)
Context: If Nietzsche and Hegel serve as alibis to the masters of Dachau and Karaganda, that does not condemn their entire philosophy. But it does lead to the suspicion that one aspect of their thought, or of their logic, can lead to these appalling conclusions.

„Simone Weil, I maintain this now, is the only great spirit of our times and I hope that those who realize this have enough modesty to not try to appropriate her overwhelming witnessing.“

—  Albert Camus

A letter to Weil's mother in 1951 http://simoneweil.net/lesautres.htm
Variant translation: The only great spirit of our time.
As quoted in Between the Human and the Divine : The Political Thought of Simone Weil (1988) by Mary G. Dietz, Introduction, p. xiv
Context: Simone Weil, I maintain this now, is the only great spirit of our times and I hope that those who realize this have enough modesty to not try to appropriate her overwhelming witnessing.
For my part, I would be satisfied if one could say that in my place, with the humble means at my disposal, I served to make known and disseminate her work whose full impact we have yet to measure.

„I served to make known and disseminate her work whose full impact we have yet to measure.“

—  Albert Camus

A letter to Weil's mother in 1951 http://simoneweil.net/lesautres.htm
Variant translation: The only great spirit of our time.
As quoted in Between the Human and the Divine : The Political Thought of Simone Weil (1988) by Mary G. Dietz, Introduction, p. xiv
Context: Simone Weil, I maintain this now, is the only great spirit of our times and I hope that those who realize this have enough modesty to not try to appropriate her overwhelming witnessing.
For my part, I would be satisfied if one could say that in my place, with the humble means at my disposal, I served to make known and disseminate her work whose full impact we have yet to measure.

„It happens as well that the feeling of the absurd springs from happiness.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Myth of Sisyphus

The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), The Myth of Sisyphus
Context: One does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of happiness. "What! — by such narrow ways —?" There is but one world, however. Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. It would be a mistake to say that happiness necessarily springs from the absurd discovery. It happens as well that the feeling of the absurd springs from happiness.

„The ancients, even though they believed in destiny, believed primarily in nature, in which they participated wholeheartedly. To rebel against nature amounted to rebelling against oneself.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Rebel

Part 2: Metaphysical Rebellion
The Rebel (1951)
Context: The ancients, even though they believed in destiny, believed primarily in nature, in which they participated wholeheartedly. To rebel against nature amounted to rebelling against oneself. It was butting one's head against a wall.

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„The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Myth of Sisyphus

Original French: La lutte elle-même vers les sommets suffit à remplir un cœur d'homme; il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.
Variant translation: The fight itself towards the summits suffices to fill a heart of man; it is necessary to imagine Sisyphus happy.
The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), The Myth of Sisyphus
Context: I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

„It was as if I had waited all this time for this moment and for the first light of this dawn to be vindicated.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Stranger

The Stranger (1942)
Context: I don't know why, but something inside me snapped. I started yelling at the top of my lungs, and I insulted him and told him not to waste his prayers on me. I grabbed him by the collar of his cassock. I was pouring out on him everything that was in my heart, cries of anger and cries of joy.
He seemed so certain about everything, didn't he? And yet none of his certainties was worth one hair of a woman's head. He wasn't even sure he was alive, because he was living like a dead man. Whereas it looked as if I was the one who'd come up emptyhanded. But I was sure about me, about everything, surer than he could ever be, sure of my life and sure of the death I had waiting for me. Yes, that was all I had. But at least I had as much of a hold on it as it had on me. I had been right, I was still right, I was always right. I had lived my life one way and I could just as well have lived it another. I had done this and I hadn't done that. I hadn't done this thing but I had done another. And so? It was as if I had waited all this time for this moment and for the first light of this dawn to be vindicated. Nothing, nothing mattered, and I knew why. So did he. Throughout the whole absurd life I'd lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living. What did other people's deaths or a mother's love matter to me; what did his God or the lives people choose or the fate they think they elect matter to me when we're all elected by the same fate, me and billions of privileged people like him who also called themselves my brothers? Couldn't he see, couldn't he see that? Everybody was privileged. There were only privileged people. The others would all be condemned one day. And he would be condemned, too. <!-- translated by Matthew Ward

„Our technical civilization has just reached its greatest level of savagery. We will have to choose, in the more or less near future, between collective suicide and the intelligent use of our scientific conquests.“

—  Albert Camus

Between Hell and Reason (1945)
Context: The world is what it is, which is to say, nothing much. This is what everyone learned yesterday, thanks to the formidable concert of opinion coming from radios, newspapers, and information agencies. Indeed we are told, in the midst of hundreds of enthusiastic commentaries, that any average city can be wiped out by a bomb the size of a football. American, English, and French newspapers are filled with eloquent essays on the future, the past, the inventors, the cost, the peaceful incentives, the military advantages, and even the life-of-its-own character of the atom bomb.
We can sum it up in one sentence: Our technical civilization has just reached its greatest level of savagery. We will have to choose, in the more or less near future, between collective suicide and the intelligent use of our scientific conquests.
Meanwhile we think there is something indecent in celebrating a discovery whose use has caused the most formidable rage of destruction ever known to man. What will it bring to a world already given over to all the convulsions of violence, incapable of any control, indifferent to justice and the simple happiness of men — a world where science devotes itself to organized murder? No one but the most unrelenting idealists would dare to wonder.

„Ironic philosophies produce passionate works.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Myth of Sisyphus

The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), Absurd Creation
Context: Ironic philosophies produce passionate works.
Any thought that abandons unity glorifies diversity! And diversity is the home of art. The only thought to liberate the mind is that which leaves it alone, certain of its limits and of its impending end. No doctrine tempts it. It awaits the ripening of the work and of life. <!-- 116

„Without beauty, love, or danger it would be almost easy to live.“

—  Albert Camus

Review of Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, published in the newspaper Alger Républicain (20 October 1938), p. 5; also quoted in Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the Absurd (2002) by Avi Sagi, p. 43
Context: It is the failing of a certain literature to believe that life is tragic because it is wretched.
Life can be magnificent and overwhelming — that is its whole tragedy. Without beauty, love, or danger it would be almost easy to live. And M. Sartre's hero does not perhaps give us the real meaning of his anguish when he insists on those aspects of man he finds repugnant, instead of basing his reasons for despair on certain of man's signs of greatness.
The realization that life is absurd cannot be an end, but only a beginning. This is a truth nearly all great minds have taken as their starting point. It is not this discovery that is interesting, but the consequences and rules of action drawn from it.

„The realization that life is absurd cannot be an end, but only a beginning.“

—  Albert Camus

Review of Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, published in the newspaper Alger Républicain (20 October 1938), p. 5; also quoted in Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the Absurd (2002) by Avi Sagi, p. 43
Context: It is the failing of a certain literature to believe that life is tragic because it is wretched.
Life can be magnificent and overwhelming — that is its whole tragedy. Without beauty, love, or danger it would be almost easy to live. And M. Sartre's hero does not perhaps give us the real meaning of his anguish when he insists on those aspects of man he finds repugnant, instead of basing his reasons for despair on certain of man's signs of greatness.
The realization that life is absurd cannot be an end, but only a beginning. This is a truth nearly all great minds have taken as their starting point. It is not this discovery that is interesting, but the consequences and rules of action drawn from it.

„There always comes a time in history when the person who dares to say that 2+2=4 is punished by death.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Plague

The Plague (1947)
Context: There always comes a time in history when the person who dares to say that 2+2=4 is punished by death. And the issue is not what reward or what punishment will be the outcome of that reasoning. The issue is simply whether or not 2+2=4.

„There can be no question of holding forth on ethics. I have seen people behave badly with great morality and I note every day that integrity has no need of rules.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Myth of Sisyphus

The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), The Absurd Man
Context: There can be no question of holding forth on ethics. I have seen people behave badly with great morality and I note every day that integrity has no need of rules. There is but one moral code that the absurd man can accept, the one that is not separated from God: the one that is dictated. But it so happens that he lives outside that God. As for the others (I mean also immoralism), the absurd man sees nothing in them but justifications and he has nothing to justify. I start out here from the principle of his innocence.
That innocence is to be feared. "Everything is permitted," exclaims Ivan Karamazov. That, too, smacks of the absurd. But on condition that it not be taken in a vulgar sense. I don't know whether or not it has been sufficiently pointed out that it is not an outburst of relief or of joy, but rather a bitter acknowledgment of a fact.

„Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders“

—  Albert Camus, book Reflections on the Guillotine

Reflections on the Guillotine (1957)
Context: Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s deed, however calculated, can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date on which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not to be encountered in private life.

„These are the Grand Inquisitors who imprison Christ and come to tell Him that His method is not correct, that universal happiness cannot be achieved by the immediate freedom of choosing between good and evil, but by the domination and unification of the world.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Rebel

Part 2: Metaphysical Rebellion
The Rebel (1951)
Context: Alyosha can, in fact, treat Ivan with compassion as a "real simpleton." The latter only made aa attempt at self-control and failed. Others will appear, with more serious intentions, who, on the basis of the same despairing nihilism, will insist on ruling the world. These are the Grand Inquisitors who imprison Christ and come to tell Him that His method is not correct, that universal happiness cannot be achieved by the immediate freedom of choosing between good and evil, but by the domination and unification of the world. The first step is to conquer and rule. The kingdom of heaven will, in fact, appear on earth, but it will be ruled over by men — a mere handful to begin with, who will be the Cassars, because they were the first to understand — and later, with time, by all men. The unity of all creation will be achieved by every possible means, since everything is permitted. The Grand Inquisitor is old and tired, for the knowledge he possesses is bitter. He knows that men are lazy rather than cowardly and that they prefer peace and death to the liberty of discerning between good and evil. He has pity, a cold pity, for the silent prisoner whom history endlessly deceives. He urges him to speak, to recognize his misdeeds, and, in one sense, to approve the actions of the Inquisitors and of the Caesars. But the prisoner does not speak.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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