That way of not taking the tragic seriously is not so grievous, but it helps to judge a man. In the face of such contradictions and obscurities must we conclude that there is no relationship between the opinion one has about life and the act one commits to leave it? Let us not exaggerate in this direction. In a man's attachment to life there is something stronger than all the ills in the world. The body's judgment is as good as the mind's, and the body shrinks from annihilation. We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us toward death, the body maintains its irreparable lead.
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This would be too easy. But allowance must be made for those who, without concluding, continue questioning. Here i am only slightly indulging in essay irony: this is the majority. I notice also that those who answer "no" act as if they thought "yes." As a matter of fact, if i accept the nietzschean criterion, they think "yes" in one way or another. On the other hand, it often happens that those who commit suicide were assured of the meaning of life. These contradictions are constant. It may even be said that they have never been so keen as on this point where, on the contrary, logic seems so desirable. It is a commonplace to compare philosophical theories and the behavior of those who profess them. But it must be said that of the thinkers who refused a meaning to life none except Kirilov who belongs to literature, peregrinos who is torn of legend, 3 and Jules Lequier who belongs to hypothesis, admitted his logic to the point of refusing that. Schopenhauer is often cited, as a fit subject for laughter, because he praised suicide while seated at a well-set table. This is no subject for joking.
The principle can be established that for a man who does not cheat, what he believes to be true must determine his action. Belief in the daddy absurdity of existence must then dictate his conduct. It is legitimate to wonder, clearly and without false pathos, whether a conclusion of this importance requires forsaking as rapidly as possible an incomprehensible condition. I am speaking, of course, of men inclined to be in harmony with themselves. Stated clearly, this problem may seem both simple and insoluble. But it is wrongly assumed that simple questions involve answers that are no less simple and that evidence implies evidence. A priori and reversing the terms of the problem, just as one does or does not kill oneself, it seems that there are but two philosophical solutions, either yes.
What, then, is that incalculable feeling that deprives the mind of assignment the sleep necessary to life? A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions mini and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity. All healthy men having thought of their own suicide, it can be seen, without further explanation, that there is a direct connection between this feeling and the longing for death. The subject of this essay is precisely this relationship between the absurd and suicide, the exact degree to which suicide is a solution to the absurd.
For that is enough to precipitate all the rancors and all the boredom still in suspension. 2 But if it is hard to fix the precise instant, the subtle step when the mind opted for death, it is easier to deduce from the act itself the consequences it implies. In a sense, and as in melodrama, killing yourself amounts to confessing. It is confessing that life is too much for you or that you do not understand. Let's not go too far in such analogies, however, but rather return to everyday words. It is merely confessing that that "is not worth the trouble." living, naturally, is never easy. You continue making the gestures commanded by existence, for many reasons, the first of which is habit. Dying voluntarily implies that you have recognized, even instinctively, the ridiculous character of that habit, the absence of any profound reason for living, the insane character of that daily agitation, and the uselessness of suffering.
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Beginning to persuasive think is beginning to be undermined. Society has but little connection with such beginnings. The essay worm is in man's heart. That is where it must be sought. One must follow and understand this fatal game that leads from lucidity in the face of existence to flight from light.
There are many causes for a suicide, and generally the most obvious ones were not the most powerful. Rarely is suicide committed (yet the hypothesis is not excluded) through reflection. What sets off the crisis is almost always unverifiable. Newspapers often speak of "personal sorrows" or of "incurable illness." These explanations are plausible. But one would have to know whether a friend of the desperate man had not that very day addressed him indifferently. He is the guilty one.
On the other hand, i see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living. I see others paradoxically getting killed for the ideas or illusions that give them a reason for living (what is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying). I therefore conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions. How to answer it? On all essential problems (I mean thereby those that run the risk of leading to death or those that intensify the passion of living) there are probably but two methods of thought: the method of la palisse and the method of Don quixote. Solely the balance between evidence and lyricism can allow us to achieve simultaneously emotion and lucidity.
In a subject at once so humble and so heavy with emotion, the learned and classical dialectic must yield, one can see, to a more modest attitude of mind deriving at one and the same time from common sense and understanding. Suicide has never been dealt with except as a social phenomenon. On the contrary, we are concerned here, at the outset, with the relationship between individual thought and suicide. An act like this is prepared within the silence of the heart, as is a great work of art. The man himself is ignorant. One evening he pulls the trigger or jumps. Of an apartment-building manager who had killed himself I was told that he had lost his daughter five years before, that he had changed greatly since, and that that experience had "undermined" him. A more exact word cannot be imagined.
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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 yardage urgent than that, i reply that one judges by the actions it entails. I have never seen anyone die for the ontological argument. Galileo, who held a scientific truth of great importance, abjured it with the greatest ease as soon as it endangered his life. In a certain sense, he did right. 1 That truth was not worth the stake. Whether the earth or the sun revolves around the other is a matter ofprofound indifference. To tell the truth, it is a futile question.
There will be found here merely the description, in the pure state, of an intellectual malady. No metaphysic, no belief is involved in it for the moment. These are the limits and writing the only bias of this book. Certain personal experiences urge me to make this clear. An absurd reasoning absurdity and suicide 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.
and for creating. After fifteen years I have progressed beyond several of the positions which are set down here; hut I have remained faithful, it seems to me, to the exigency which prompted them. That is why this hook is in a certain sense the most personal of those i have published in America. More than the others, therefore, it has need of the indulgence and understanding of its readers. Albert camus paris march 1955 O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, lout exhaust the limits of the possible. —pindar, pythian iii the pages that follow deal with an absurd sensitivity that can be found widespread in the age—and not with an absurd philosophy which our time, properly speaking, has not known. It is therefore simply fair to point out, at the outset, what these pages owe to certain contemporary thinkers. It is so far from my intention to hide this that they will be found cited and commented upon throughout this work. But it is useful to note at the same time that the absurd, hitherto taken as a conclusion, is considered in this essay as a starting-point. In this sense it may be said that there is something provisional in my commentary: one cannot prejudge the position it entails.
The answer, underlying and appearing through the paradoxes which cover it, is this: even if one does not believe in God, suicide is not legitimate. Written fifteen years ago, in 1940, amid the French and. European disaster, this book declares that even within the limits of nihilism it is possible to find the means to proceed beyond nihilism. In all the books I have written since, i have attempted to pursue this direction. Although "The myth of Sisyphus" poses mortal problems, it sums itself up for me as a lucid invitation to live and to create, in the very midst of the desert. It has hence been thought possible to append to this philosophical entry argument a series of essays, of a kind 1 have never ceased writing, which are somewhat marginal to my other books. In a more lyrical form, they all illustrate that essential fluctuation from assent to refusal which, in my view, defines the artist and his difficult calling.
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An, absurd reasoning by, albert, camus from, the myth of Sisyphus, and other essays ; translated by justin o'brien contents. Preface to 1955 American Edition, epigram and Introduction, absurdity and suicide. Absurd Walls 2nd Section 3rd Section 4th Section, philosophical suicide 2nd Section 3rd Section 4th Section, absurd Freedom 2nd Section 3rd Section 4th Section 5th Section, notes. Preface for me "The, myth of Sisyphus" marks the beginning of an idea which I was to pursue. It at tempts to resolve the problem of suicide, as, the rebel attempts to resolve that of murder, in both cases without the aid of eternal values which, temporarily perhaps, are absent or distorted in contemporary europe. The fundamental subject of "The myth. Sisyphus" is type this: it is legitimate and necessary to wonder whether life has a meaning; therefore it is legitimate to meet the problem of suicide face to face.