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The Myth of Sisyphus; and other essays


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The Myth of Sisyphus; And other essays, by Albert Camus is a book of ideas, a philosophical work which could be useful and accessible to any human, if they are willing to work for it. It is well written, but it is dense. I must admit I struggled with it, at times, due to that density, and for the simple reason that Camus is just smarter than I am. But I am glad I stuck with it, for it spoke to me of very important questions and ideas.

In the main essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus, who starts from the Skeptical conclusion that there is nothing we can absolutely know beyond our own experience of our existence, and that our life is patently absurd, explores the question; In a meaningless and absurd world, is suicide a valid option? And the answer Camus promulgates is that it is not. But in doing so he rejects any appeals to an unknowable God or unprovable religion, but instead opts for the idea that we can find peace and happiness here only by embracing, not merely accepting or not resisting, but embracing life in all it's vicissitudes. The case he makes is a good one, well thought out, delineated and explicated.

The remaining 5 essays speak of his homeland of Algeria, Greek thought vs modern thought, and the place of the artist in the modern world, sometimes all in the same paragraph, as well as illuminating how his philosophy and phenomenology impact his own life.

Camus is known as an existentialist, but he moved beyond the philosophy of Sartre and others and into Absurdism, a move which led, along with his rejection of the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union, to the fracturing of his relationship with Sartre. All in all a fascinating and thought provoking, albeit far from effortless, read. 5stars

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