Title

An Invincible Summer

Presenter Information

Andrew T. Fitzgerald

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Albert Camus' “The Myth of Sisyphus” famously begins: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” He sets out to ask, quite plainly, whether life is worth living and whether any meaning can be found. The inevitability of death injects human experience with the taste of absurdity; death forces us to question the meaning and value of life. Through close reading of Camus' philosophical, fictional, and dramatic works, I am exploring his struggle with death and meaning. This struggle resolves through a progression of three concepts: the absurdity of life, the question of suicide, and the potential for redemption or ultimate meaning. I have found that, without appealing to the metaphysical, “unknowable,” or spiritual, Camus does indeed find meaning in human life that can reconcile death. This meaning is manifested in the subjective experience of his protagonists, yet is appropriately multifaceted; the two most important facets are solidarity and location. These characters reveal greater or lesser meaning proportionately to the quality of their interpersonal relationships and of their identification with the natural landscape or sense of place. The paper will explore how these two elements give varying degrees of meaning to the individual lives of Camus' characters, and it will suggest how these elements can and do influence real, living individuals.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 13th, 2:00 PM Apr 13th, 2:20 PM

An Invincible Summer

UC 332

Albert Camus' “The Myth of Sisyphus” famously begins: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” He sets out to ask, quite plainly, whether life is worth living and whether any meaning can be found. The inevitability of death injects human experience with the taste of absurdity; death forces us to question the meaning and value of life. Through close reading of Camus' philosophical, fictional, and dramatic works, I am exploring his struggle with death and meaning. This struggle resolves through a progression of three concepts: the absurdity of life, the question of suicide, and the potential for redemption or ultimate meaning. I have found that, without appealing to the metaphysical, “unknowable,” or spiritual, Camus does indeed find meaning in human life that can reconcile death. This meaning is manifested in the subjective experience of his protagonists, yet is appropriately multifaceted; the two most important facets are solidarity and location. These characters reveal greater or lesser meaning proportionately to the quality of their interpersonal relationships and of their identification with the natural landscape or sense of place. The paper will explore how these two elements give varying degrees of meaning to the individual lives of Camus' characters, and it will suggest how these elements can and do influence real, living individuals.