Doctrine of the Absurd (Absurdism) & Nihilism Anam Saeed Kelsey Lipman Ash Nair Casey Filler Wiyun Shepperson Albert Camus Although many label him as an existentialist- he saw a potentially fatal flaw in existentialism Camus dug deeper into the problems of our freedom and how our freedom would ultimately affect our ethics. Camus search for ethics starts with three basic statements of the human situation These statements formed Camuss 3 basic principles: - God is dead - Life is Absurd
- Life is meaningless d r u s b A e h t f Doctrine o Camus sees absurdity in a bilateral relationship between the human being and the world he lives in. Absurdity does not reside in the world itself, or in a human being, but in a tension which is produced by their mutual indifference. Human existence is in its essence completely different from the existence of things outside the human subject. This world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call
echoes in the human heart. The absurd depends as much on man as on the world. For the moment it is all that links them together. It binds them one to the other as only hatred can weld two creatures together d e u n i t n o C Absurd If I were a tree among trees, a cat among animals, this life would have a meaning, or rather this problem would not arise, for I should belong to this world. I should be this world to which I am now opposed by my whole consciousness and my whole insistence upon familiarity. This ridiculous reason is what sets me in opposition to all creation.
The world becomes alien and the human being becomes estranged from it, he feels isolated and limited. d e u n i t n o C Absurd Absurdity appears in the moments when man realizes his situation, in the moments of awareness of his position in the world. "Rising, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm-this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the "why" arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. ...Weariness comes at the end of the acts of
a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness". d e u n i t n o C Absurd The workman of today works of everyday in his life at the same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious." In other words, absurdity arises from moments when all the acts of life that flow mechanically stop, and when consciousness starts to wake up and move.
Absurdity is a permanent conflict, it is a contradiction and a struggle It seems that it is impossible to escape from the absurd fate, to stay here means to face it, to commit suicide means to consent to it, and therefore it must be accepted. Absurdity does not have any sense, does not have any reasons, any aims, that is why it does not reflect yesterday, nor tomorrow. The absurd man misses any hopes, plans, and troubles about his future. He is offered r e g n a r t S e h T n i y t i
d r u Abs For Camus, life has no rational meaning or order. We have trouble dealing with this notion and continually struggle to find rational structure and meaning in our lives. This struggle to find meaning where none exists is what Camus calls, the absurd. So strong is our desire for meaning that we dismiss out of hand the idea that there is none to be found. The hero, or anti-hero, of The Stranger is Meursault. His life and attitudes possess a strange rational order. His actions are strange to us, there seems to be no good reason behind them. Mother Marie Arab Raymond d
e u n i t n o C The Stranger Meursault refuses to accord himself with custom, and asserts his freedom by doing what strikes him as appropriate at any given moment. This includes smoking and showing indifference at the vigil for his dead mother, going to the beach and sleeping with a woman the day after his mother's funeral, and forging a letter for his friend Raymond, who is a thug and a pimp. This exercise of freedom also represents a revolt against any attempt to place restrictions on his life. d e u n i t n
o C r e The Strang Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I dont know. I got a telegram from the home: "Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours." That doesnt mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday Camus opening sentence of the novel embodies Meursaults absurdist outlook on life, his emotional indifference and detachment to people. Meursault is unaware, he doesnt know which day his mother died, and it doesnt mean anything to him anyway. d e u n i t n o C r e The Strang
I said that people never change their lives, that in any case one life was as good as another and that I wasnt dissatisfied with mine here at all Meursaults response to his bosss offer of a position in Paris betrays his belief that a certain hopelessness surrounds change and human existence. His comment also implies that each persons life is essentially equal to everyone elses, and that there is no sense in change y t i d r u s b A : r e The Strang
When confronted with the absurdity of the stranger's life, society reacts by imposing (accepted) meaning on the stranger In the second half of The Stranger, Camus depicts society's attempt to manufacture meaning behind Meursault's actions. The trial is absurd in that the judge, prosecutors, lawyers and jury try to find meaning where none is to be found. Everyone, except Meursault, has their own reason' why Meursault shot the Arab but none of them are, or can be, correct. In life there are never shortages of opinion as to why this or that thing occurred. As a result, he is a stranger amongst us. And when confronted with the absurdity of the stranger's life society reacts by imposing (accepted) meaning on the stranger. y t i d r u s b A s Meursault In his final outburst to the chaplain in prison, Meursault sums up a great deal of his absurd worldview, forcefully asserting that nothing really matters, that we all live and we all die, and what we
do before we die is ultimately irrelevant. "And I felt ready to live it all again too. As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myselfso like a brother, reallyI felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again." Meursault recognizes himself in a universe without meaning and without hope. At the end of the novel, he comes to a full acceptance of his absurd position in the universe and cannot but conclude that he is happy. M o ti f Watching or observation Endless search for meaning. We are all looking for a purpose in our lives. The characters of The Stranger all watch each other and the world around them. Meursault watches the world go by from his balcony. He later passively watches his own trial. The world around him is a fascination to Meursault. He keenly observes the sun, the heat, the physical geography of his surrounding. The eyes of the other are also depicted by Camus. Antagonism behind the eyes of the Arabs, as they watch Meursault and his friends. The eyes of the jury and witnesses at his trial. Finally the idea of the watching crowd,
representing the eyes of society Observation The motif of observation appearing frequently emphasizes existential Nihilism. I felt my eyes getting tired from watching the street filled with so many people and lights (24). Meursault constantly observes everyone; he is separate from the ? m s i l i h i N s
i t Wh a The term comes from the Latin word nihil, means nothing. It is a theory consisted of: - An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence. - Claims that there is no value or meaning to life. - All values are baseless and nothing can be communicated or known. - Lack of belief in anything at all. Nihilism extended Kierkegaards (a Danish philosopher) ideas, believing that the individual must decide which situations are moral situations. m s i l i h i
N f o s a Key Ide No meaning of life Nihilism is the rejection of morals. Nihilists rejected moral absolutes and Christian beliefs. God is dead They believed that: - Values were relative. - Self-interest is to the end of perfecting social problems. - Ethics should be based on scientific claims. - Man could create a perfect society. - Live according to the principle of self-enlightened e h c s
z t e i N h Friedric Nihilism is most associated with philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its destructive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history. In the Mid 20th century, the existentialists helped popularize tenets of nihilism in their attempts to blunt its destructive potential. By the end of the century, existential despair as a response to nihilism gave way to an attitude of indifference. e h T
n i e c n e r e ff i d n I f o e m e Th gerthat he may be partly responsible for his tranknows The S narrator
mothers death but doesnt really care much because he has no morals Then I felt like having a smoke. But I hesitated, because I didnt know if I could do it with Maman right there. I thought about it; it didnt matter (8) o The narrator feels as if he can smoke in the presence of his dead mother because morals do not exist and he can do as he pleases without his actions having true meaning. I felt like telling her it wasnt my fault It didnt mean anything. Besides, you always feel a little guilty (20) o For once, the narrator feels a little guilty about his mothers death, but just when he feels this way, he decides guilt does m s i l i h i N f o s e Typ
Existential: No value or meaning of life all existence is senseless and empty Political: destruction of order will result in future improvement Anarchism Ethical: no absolute moral or ethical values good vs evil does not exist. Epistemological: no truth or knowledge postmodernism Mereological: humans cannot see the smallest individual objects senses cant perceive objects without parts and objects can never truly unify as a whole. m
s i l i h i N n o s Camus Belief Camus, like the other existentialists, was convinced that nihilism was the most annoying problem of the twentieth century. Although he argues passionately that individuals could endure its destructive effects, his most famous works betray the extraordinary difficulty he faced building a convincing case.
r e g n a r t S e h T Nihilism in In The Stranger, Meursault has rejected the existential beliefs on which the uninitiated and weak rely. Through Meursaults character, Camus confronts the definition of existence and how life has no immediate purpose. He decides that life is valuable even if it has no purpose right before he is about to commit a murder. Imagery
Imagery, or lack there of, is used to convey existential Nihilism. I felt a little lost between the blue and white of the sky and the monotony of the colors around me - the sticky black of the tar, the dull black of all the clothes, and the shiny black of the hearse (17). Camus uses imagery to describe the physical world only. g n i d a e R e s Cl o Activity
ages 3-5 p te ta o n n A & d a e R HIGHLIGHT & UNDERLINE Look for: -examples of absurdism: tension between the world and the human being -examples of existential, political, ethical, epistemological, or mereological nihilism s g n
i d n fi d a e Close R The opening sentences of the novel embody very well Meursaults absurdist outlook on life, his emotional indifference and detachment to people, and his passive but quiet alienation from the rest of society. Its also a big flashing clue that our protagonist is unaware and apathetically so. He doesnt even know which day his mother died, and to him, it "doesnt mean anything" anyway. [A] soldier smiled at me and asked if Id been traveling long. I said, "Yes," just so I wouldnt have to say anything else. (1.1.4) Very typical of his particular brand of passivity and/or detachment (i.e., Absurdism), Meursault does something just so he wont have to do something else. s
g n i d n fi d a e Close R Meursault takes on a Nihilist standpoint when he treats his mothers death with the same casual demeanor with which he will later treat the death of the Arab: indifferent and meaningless Selfishness and moral lack is seen when Meursault says that seeing his mother took up his Sunday (pg.5 par.2) He is more concerned with the time and money he must spend than the well-being of his own mother.
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