Comparing Existentialism In Jean-Paul Sartre And Albert Camus

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Comparing Existentialism In Jean-Paul Sartre And Albert Camus



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He shares with these philosophers and with the other major writers in the existentialist tradition, from Augustine and Pascal to Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche an habitual and intense interest in the active human psyche, in the life of conscience or spirit as it is actually experienced and lived. Like these writers, he aims at nothing less than a thorough, candid exegesis of the human condition, and like them he exhibits not just a philosophical attraction but also a personal commitment to such values as individualism, free choice, inner strength, authenticity, personal responsibility, and self-determination.

However, one troublesome fact remains: throughout his career Camus repeatedly denied that he was an existentialist. Was this an accurate and honest self-assessment? In their view, Camus qualifies as, at minimum, a closet existentialist, and in certain respects e. On the other hand, besides his personal rejection of the label, there appear to be solid reasons for challenging the claim that Camus is an existentialist. Of course there is no rule that says an existentialist must be a metaphysician. Another point of divergence is that Camus seems to have regarded existentialism as a complete and systematic world-view, that is, a fully articulated doctrine.

In his view, to be a true existentialist one had to commit to the entire doctrine and not merely to bits and pieces of it , and this was apparently something he was unwilling to do. A further point of separation, and possibly a decisive one, is that Camus actively challenged and set himself apart from the existentialist motto that being precedes essence. Ultimately, against Sartre in particular and existentialists in general, he clings to his instinctive belief in a common human nature. In his view human existence necessarily includes an essential core element of dignity and value, and in this respect he seems surprisingly closer to the humanist tradition from Aristotle to Kant than to the modern tradition of skepticism and relativism from Nietzsche to Derrida the latter his fellow-countryman and, at least in his commitment to human rights and opposition to the death penalty, his spiritual successor and descendant.

The first thing that can be noted in this respect is that, unlike Sartre and many other European intellectuals, Camus never delivered a formal critique of colonialism. Nor did he sign any of the frequent manifestos and declarations deploring the practice — a sin for which he was sharply criticized and even accused of moral cowardice. In addition to his perceived silence on the issue of colonialism a silence, as Algerian Chronicles reveals, motivated by his fear that speaking out aggressively would be more likely to heighten tensions than secure the united and independent post-colonial Algeria he hoped for , Camus has also been criticized for the virtual erasure of Arab characters and culture from his fiction.

Moreover, the few Arab characters who do appear, these critics point out, are inevitably mute and anonymous. They are either shadow figures, including the nameless murder victim at the climactic center of The Stranger , or mere bodies, like the uncounted and unidentified native Algerians who presumably make up the major part of the death toll in The Plague but who otherwise have no speaking role or even visible presence in the novel. Along this same line of criticism, The Meursault Investigation is a fictional and metafictional riposte to Camus by the Algerian writer Kamel Daoud. A reimagining of the characters and events of The Stranger , told from the point of view of the brother of the murdered Arab, the novel represents both a corrective rebuke and a literary tribute to it famous original.

He truly lived his philosophy; thus it is in his personal political stands and public statements as well as in his books that his views are clearly articulated. In short, he bequeathed not just his words but also his actions. The result is something like a cross between Hemingway a Camus favorite and Melville another favorite or between Diderot and Hugo. For the most part when we read Camus we encounter the plain syntax, simple vocabulary, and biting aphorism typical of modern theatre or noir detective fiction.

This muted, laconic style frequently becomes a counterpoint or springboard for extended musings and lavish descriptions almost in the manner of Proust. Moreover, this base style frequently becomes a counterpoint or springboard for extended musings and lavish descriptions almost in the manner of Proust. It says, in effect, that the life of reason and the life of feeling need not be opposed; that intellect and passion can, and should, operate together. Perhaps the greatest inspiration and example that Camus provides for contemporary readers is the lesson that it is still possible for a serious thinker to face the modern world with a full understanding of its contradictions, injustices, brutal flaws, and absurdities with hardly a grain of hope, yet utterly without cynicism.

To read Camus is to find words like justice, freedom, humanity, and dignity used plainly and openly, without apology or embarrassment, and without the pained or derisive facial expressions or invisible quotation marks that almost automatically accompany those terms in public discourse today. David Simpson Email: dsimpson depaul. Albert Camus — Albert Camus was a French-Algerian journalist, playwright, novelist, philosophical essayist, and Nobel laureate. Yet, as he indicated in his acceptance speech at Stockholm, he considered his own career as still in mid-flight, with much yet to accomplish and even greater writing challenges ahead: Every person, and assuredly every artist, wants to be recognized.

Camus, Philosophical Literature, and the Novel of Ideas To pin down exactly why and in what distinctive sense Camus may be termed a philosophical writer, we can begin by comparing him with other authors who have merited the designation. Drama Camus began his literary career as a playwright and theatre director and was planning new dramatic works for film, stage, and television at the time of his death.

Philosophy To re-emphasize a point made earlier, Camus considered himself first and foremost a writer un ecrivain. Background and Influences Though he was baptized, raised, and educated as a Catholic and invariably respectful towards the Church, Camus seems to have been a natural-born pagan who showed almost no instinct whatsoever for belief in the supernatural. Themes and Ideas Regardless of whether he is producing drama, fiction, or non-fiction, Camus in his mature writings nearly always takes up and re-explores the same basic philosophical issues.

Guilt and Innocence Throughout his writing career, Camus showed a deep interest in questions of guilt and innocence. Christianity vs. Individual vs. History and Mass Culture A primary theme of early twentieth-century European literature and critical thought is the rise of modern mass civilization and its suffocating effects of alienation and dehumanization. Existentialism Camus is often classified as an existentialist writer, and it is easy to see why. References and Further Reading a. Works by Albert Camus The Stranger. Stuart Gilbert. New York: Vintage-Random House, The Plague. New York: Vintage-International, The Fall. The Myth of Sisyphus and other Essays. A philosophical meditation on suicide originally published as Le Mythe de Sisyphe by Librairie Gallimard in The Rebel.

Anthony Bower. Exile and the Kingdom. Lyrical and Critical Essays. Philip Thody. Ellen Conroy Kennedy. A selection of critical writings, including essays on Melville, Faulkner, and Sartre, plus all the early essays from Betwixt and Between and Nuptials. Resistance, Rebellion, and Death. New York: Vintage International, A collection of essays on a wide variety of political topics ranging from the death penalty to the Cold War. Caligula and Three Other Plays. The First Man. David Hapgood. New York: Alfred Knopf, A posthumous novel, partly autobiographical. Camus at Combat: Writings Jaqueline Levi-Valenci. Arthur Goldhammer. Algerian Chronicles.

Alice Kaplan. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, Critical and Biographical Studies Barthes, Roland. Writing Degree Zero. New York: Hill and Wang, Bloom, Harold, ed. Albert Camus. New York: Chelsea House, Camus: A Collection of Critical Essays. Cruickshank, John. Albert Camus and the Literature of Revolt. London: Oxford University Press, The Novelist as Philosopher. Foley, John. Albert Camus: From the Absurd to Revolt. Hughes, Edward J. The Cambridge Companion to Camus. Kauffman, Walter, ed. Religion from Tolstoy to Camus. New York: Harper, Lottman, Herbert R. Albert Camus: A Biography. Malraux, Andre. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Margerrison, Christine. Amsterdam, NL: Rodopi, McBride, Joseph. New York: St. London: Faber and Faber, Said, Edward.

New York: Vintage Books, Sartre, Jean-Paul. New York: George Braziller, Ronald D Srigley. Thrody, Philip. Albert Camus, London: Hamish Hamilton, Todd, Olivier. Albert Camus: A Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Zaretsky, Robert. Author Information David Simpson Email: dsimpson depaul. This service is similar to paying a tutor to help improve your skills. Our online services is trustworthy and it cares about your learning and your degree. Hence, you should be sure of the fact that our online essay help cannot harm your academic life. You can freely use the academic papers written to you as they are original and perfectly referenced.

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We offer charts and PowerPoint slides for visual papers to our clients. A History of Western Philosophy. American Continental Philosophy: A Reader. Indiana University Press. ISBN Foucault , Fontana Modern Masters series. University of California Press. Archived from the original Retrieved Continental philosophy. Theodor W. Category Index. Schools of thought. Mazdakism Mithraism Zoroastrianism Zurvanism. Kyoto School Objectivism Postcritique Russian cosmism more Formalism Institutionalism Aesthetic response. Consequentialism Deontology Virtue. Action Event Process. By region Related lists Miscellaneous. Portal Category. Western world and culture. Categories : Continental philosophy Philosophical traditions Contemporary philosophy 20th-century philosophy Western philosophy Post-structuralism Postmodernism Critical theory.

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