Many people think that the most essential philosophical problem is understanding the meaning of existence. That’s a problem that Albert Camus explored in his essays. His answer was quite disheartening. Camus thought that life has no meaning, anything that could ever have meaning does not exist, and therefore the human pursuit to find meaning is absurd. What would be the point of living if the thought of life is absurd? This is the question Camus asks in his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus. Because of this, the question of suicide rises. Could suicide be the only sensible choice to the absurdity of life?
Camus sees suicide as “a natural response given that life is absurd in many ways”. Both the presence and absence of life add on to two responses. It is absurd to keep finding meaning in life when there is none, and it is absurd to believe in the afterlife given that death results to extinction. He also believes that it is absurd to try and understand, or find meaning in the world. Gaining knowledge is useless to him. Camus states, “Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal , 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” (12-13). As people continue to follow this routine, they slowly become conscious and they hit the absurd wall. They must choose whether to go back and stay in the past, keep hitting the wall, or go over it. This choice predicts if the person will commit suicide or live life fully although it has no meaning.Rationalism is the idea that human reason can make sense of the world. Why make sense of the world when life has no meaning? Camus does not agree with rationalist because of their beliefs. They build a system according to which all experiences can be explained. They want to be able to say how and why things are. For instance, clouds are white for this reason, I exist for that reason, or the universe works for that reason. His thoughts on time and nature all lead to death. For example, when one is young they are ready to be older, but when they get older they want to be younger because death gets closer. As for nature, people are outcast. They don’t exactly fit in because the world is cruel and inhuman. Death is inevitable for humans and is part of reality. Camus illustrates a particular meaning in life that doesn’t really have meaning when he says, “All the pretty speeches about the soul will have their contrary convincingly proved, at least for a time. From this inherent body on which a slap makes no mark the soul has disappeared” (15). Therefore, when people see the dead they believe their soul is in heaven, but the body is right there in front of them without life.
Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the essential problem in philosophy. Some may object that suicide is not a question, but an act of despair and inability to cope with life. Camus sees suicide as an attempt to take humans out of the equation of absurdity. Does he promote suicide? No, his interest in suicide corresponds to his belief on how life has no meaning. With humans in the equation, The Absurd remains because they want to try to understand. The mind wants to know what the meaning of everything is. Because of this, Camus sees this as The Absurd due to life having no meaning. Camus states, “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” (51). If humans were taken out of the universe, nothing would be absurd. There would be no one to question or try to understand the meaning of life.
The concept of the Absurd states a basic conflict in our existence. It is the product of an opposition between our human desire for purpose and meaning in life. Camus sees it as an unavoidable human condition. His solution on absurdity is to simply accept it, and continue living. After Camus sought the actual meaning of suicide, he came to a conclusion. If people decide that a life without purpose or meaning is not worth living and commit suicide, he sees this choice as cowardly. Basically, they are refusing life which is not a true revolt. As for freedom, rejection of hope is simply not believing in anything more than what a life of absurdity provides. If one hopes for nothing, they are free.
Albert Camus’s idea of “life has no meaning” has an understandable reasoning. Before reading The Myth of Sisyphus, I never really thought “why”, I just assumed everything had a purpose. I don’t believe that life has no meaning, but I do think those who commit suicide do. Although suicide can result from other reasons, such as bullying, they seem to coincide. I don’t think suicide is the answer, but I haven’t been in that situation to fully understand. People should face the situation that leads them to suicide, but then again I haven’t experienced this. Growing up I was always told that life is a precious gift that we were given and to not take it for granite. So, I see it as having meaning. Also, being catholic and believing in a God may be a big factor in my belief of life having meaning. Those who have guidance in their lives tend to appreciate it and feel as though they have a purpose in life. Religion has a big role in whether people think life has meaning or it doesn’t. It is not a bad thing if one believes life has no meaning. People are entitled to their own beliefs, but I don’t think suicide is the answer if life has no meaning. I do agree with Camus on his perspective of absurdity. Accept a life of absurdity and keep living fully.