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Literature - Albert Camus - Fortunately, life has no meaning!

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As a thinker of the absurd, Albert Camus shaped the history of philosophy. His basic question was: Is a life without meaning worth living at all? He was born a hundred years ago.

Camus was born on November 7, 1913 in what is now Algeria. He grew up in poor family circumstances, later studied philosophy, worked as a reporter, got involved in politics, wrote plays, novels and philosophical essays. His philosophy is wild, realistic, pictorial and intuitive. Unfortunately, his work also contains a lot of ambiguities, fallacies and contradictions.

However, there is seldom a lack of existential significance. "The Myth of Sisyphus" - Camus' most famous philosophical work - begins with the words: "There is only one really serious philosophical problem: suicide. To decide whether life is worth living or not is to answer the basic question of philosophy. "

Life is absurd

In the essay "The Myth of Sisyphus", Camus describes human existence as a hopeless absurdity. God is dead and life as a whole is pointless. We'd live in a hopeless world and still pretend everything has a purpose. The person seeking meaning in a meaningless universe.

This absurd combination is at the same time the starting point of every honest philosophy. We humans go about our work day in and day out, do our duties and take ourselves seriously - as if we didn't know that we will all die soon and that what we do is completely in vain. According to Camus, we must face this unpleasant fact with courage. Over and over again. Everything else is insincere, cowardly or illusory. Camus accuses philosophers like Kierkegaard, Jaspers or Heidegger of having fled the absurd.

The discovery of freedom

For Camus, the all-embracing indifference is neither a reason to despair, nor to flee in illusions or even to commit suicide. On the contrary: we should savor our existence in all its features and live the here and now as intensely as possible. The awareness of absurdity is at the same time a discovery of our freedom. We realize we have nothing to lose. Rules, duties, plans and worries become meaningless. You seem arbitrary - like everything else. We alone determine where to go. We are finally taking our fate into our own hands. And that feels damn good. Here Camus is quite an existentialist.

Happy Sisyphus

Camus compares us humans with the mythological figure of Sisyphus. This poor guy has to keep rolling a heavy stone up a mountain. The stone always rolls back down as soon as Sisyphus has reached the top. According to Camus, our life is like a "Sisyphus task", a senseless undertaking, without purpose and without success. But now comes the kicker. Camus says: "We have to imagine Sisyphus as a happy person".

I beg your pardon? Why the hell should this Sisyphus be happy, one wonders. Camus thinks that Sisyphus recognizes that the rock alone is his business: «His fate belongs to him». That is his luck. The same applies to us humans: In a godless universe there is no plan unless we humans forge it. The conscious person is, as Camus writes, "master of his days" and the smith of his fate.

And where is the moral?

The absurd person lives self-determined, wide awake, passionate, curious and intense. And he rebelled again and again against his absurd fate: "There is no fate that cannot be overcome through contempt," writes Camus. In this revolting attitude there is "the only human dignity".

At the same time, the revolt is the foundation of Camus’s emotion-based ethics of humanity: indignation in the face of inhumanity and suffering leads people out of loneliness to solidarity with their fellow human beings. In a revolt, people go from solitaire to solidaire and fight for something that unites them with all people - human dignity.

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