Camus and The Absurd

IB Diploma: Part Three - Texts and Contexts, The Outsider By Albert Camus

IB English: Language and literature
Response tasks to support the information sheet: The Myth of Sisyphus

Questions on Part 1: The Absurd Reasoning
1. Who was Sisyphus. What is Sisyphus a symbol of and why?
Sisyphus was a king of Corinth. He is the symbol of futility because he was condemned to roll a marble block to the top of a hill, only to see it roll back down again: a useless action to punish his avidity.
2. What is Camus’ definition of an absurdist recognition?
Camus’ definition of an absurdist recognition is the man’s futile search for meaning, unity and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values.
3. How might one respond to an absurdist awakening?
When a man recognizes absurdity, he either decides to stop thinking rationally and instead asking God’s help, or either doing the opposite, so turning away from God to follow reason.
4. How does Camus respond to his recognition of the absurdity of life?
Camus responds to the recognition of the absurdity of life by understanding that there is a contradiction between human desire of reason and the unreasonable world.
5.What are the three consequences from the full knowledge of the absurd, according to Camus?
The three consequences from the knowledge of the absurd are: revolt, freedom and passion.
Questions on Part 2: The Absurd Man
1. Summarise the three examples of the Absurd Man, as described by Camus
The three examples of the absurd man according to Camus are: the serial seducer(Don Juan), the actor and the conqueror. The first man sees love as a passionate, intense but short story. The second man lives life in appearance. The third man is the strong man who prefers to take part to a battle instead of watching other people fight, so to become a part of history.
Questions on Part 3: Absurd Creation
1. Summarise Camus’ idea of “philosophical suicide”
Camus describes the absurd as being something that makes us ask many questions which cannot have a response. He described the feelings this produces as negative and depressing. He thinks people cannot escape absurdity, but need to learn how to live with it. the philosophers who try to escape from absurdity’s logic commit “philosophical suicide”
Questions on Part 4: The Myth of Sisyphus
1. Why does Camus see Sisyphus as an absurd hero?
Camus sees Sisyphus as an absurd hero because this Greek hero is condemned to repeat a useless task over and over again, which creates an absurd atmosphere. He has no faith in being freed from this tragic task.
2. Explain the metaphor of Sisyphus as related to the modern man
Sisyphus is related to the modern man who works in factories and offices. Camus describes both the task carried out by Sisyphus and the job of the modern man as being useless and pointless. They both do absurd things.
3. Why must one “imagine Sisyphus happy”?
“one must imagine Sisyphus happy” because even though he carries out the same futile task, he finally understood the absurdity of the situation and so the recognition of absurdity makes him finally accept his condemn and he manages to live happily.

Susanna & Sara

The myth of Sisyphus

 

Who was Sisyphus? What is Sisyphus a symbol of and why?

1)  Sisyphus is a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same task of pushing a boulder up a mountain which will then roll back down again.

 

What is Camus’ definition of an absurdist recognition?

2)  From the moment absurdity is recognised it becomes a passion the most harrowing of all.

 

How might one respond to an absurdist awakening?

3)  People respond or by abandoning reason and turning to God, or elevating reason and arriving at Platonic forms and an abstract God.

 

How does Camus respond to this recognition of the absurdity of life?

4)  He recognises the contradiction between the desire of human reason and the unreasonable world.

 

What are the three consequences from the full knowledge of the absurd, to Camus?

5)  Revolt, freedom and passion.

 

 

Summarise the three examples of The Absurd Man, as described by Camus.

1)  the first example is Don Juan, a serial seducer who lives his entire life passionately. The second example is the actor who shows a short lasting life for a short lasting fame. The third example is the conqueror the warrior who gives up all promises of eternity to affect and engage fully in human history.

 

Summarise Camus’ idea of “philosophical suicide”.

1)Absurd Creation

Camus’ idea of “philosophical suicide” does not consist in overcoming the feeling of absurdity, but in whether we can live with it, merging together three main aspects: absence of hope, continual rejection and conscious dissatisfaction. Philosophers who try to “wiggle away from the logic posed to them by the absurd” eventually will commit the philosophical suicide as there is no reconciliation or transcendence.

The Myth of Sisyphus

Why does Camus see Sisyphus as an absurd hero?

  1. Camus sees Sisyphus as an absurd hero because he lives life to the fullest, hates death and is condemned to a meaningless task.

Explain the metaphor of Sisyphus as related to modern man.

  1. Camus believes that modern men now do meaningless tasks just as Sisyphus does and is condemned to do (“metaphor for modern lives spent working at futile jobs in factories and offices.”)

Why must “one imagine Sisyphus happy”?

  1. Camus claims that when Sisyphus acknowledges the pointlessness of his task and the certainty of his fate and whole future life, he is freed to realize the absurdity of his situation and to reach a state of contented acceptance, therefore becoming happy.

Emma Chiara & Ludovica

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