Albert Camus

Introduction to Camus: The Absurd, Revolt, and Rebellion


Most people follow the routine of the 9-5 job - but sometimes, you can get shaken out of it by...

  • Isolation from other people
  • Passing of time
  • Realization of your own mortality

This causes anxiety, alienation or dissatisfaction with life. This can create a search for meaning.

Yearning for Unity

  • Desire to understand the nature of the universe
  • An urge to unite with life.

Earlier this was satisfied by stories of the divine and meaning from those sources.

Importance of Reason

We'll never be able to figure out the meaning in life using reason.


Man's need for meaning in a meaningless world.

Man has two options...

Physical Suicide

Philosophical Suicide

Escape from reality by clinging to faith or hope without evidence.

The Absurd Hero: Someone who can accept the absurdity of the universe - someone who knows about the absurdity - but without suicide.


Outrage or protest against the absurd. "Revolt" is saving no to our absurd existence - and saying yes to another more desirable existence.


The attempt to refashion our existence through our own effort.

Nihilistic Rebellion

This can be destructive as well - or "Nihilistic" forms of rebellion.

"If we believe in nothing, if nothing has any meaning and if we can affirm no values whatsoever, then everything is possible and nothing has an importance."

These Nihilistic forms have a 'Demand for totality'. An attempt to implement an utopia by eradicating the absurd(often by destructive means). Eg. Socialism, Fascism, etc.

Genuine Rebellion

Have common values between all. Eg. we are all children of the absurd. This gives as a "solidarity of chains."

This will recognize the rights and dignity of others.

"No doubt the rebel demands a certain freedom for himself; but in no circumstances does he demand, if he is consistent, the right to destroy the person and freedom of someone else. He degrades no one. The freedom which he demands he claims for everybody; that which he rejects he forbids all others to exercise. He is not simply a slave opposing his master but a man opposing the world of master and slave" (The Rebel)

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."