1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology

1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology

Philosophy, One Thousand Words at a Time

Camus on the Absurd: The Myth of Sisyphus

Author: Erik Van Aken Category:  Phenomenology and Existentialism , Ethics Word Count: 1000

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“T here is only 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 .” – Albert Camus

It might seem flippant to remark that the essential question in philosophy is “Should I kill myself?”

But the question of suicide rests on what Camus considered the essential human problem: the sense in which our lives are entirely absurd .

This essay will outline the origin and consequences of Camus’s notion of the absurd from his 1942 The Myth of Sisyphus . [1]

Albert Camus and The Myth of Sisyphus

1. The Absurd and its Origin

There are many things we might naturally call absurd: a rude joke, an outrageous statement, or the price of a pair of designer jeans.

This though is not what Camus means by “absurd.” For Camus, the absurd originates from a combination of two things: the way we want the world to be and the way the world actually is .

About how we want the world to be, it just seems to be a part of human nature that we have a sense of justice and fairness, and so we want the world to be just and fair: we want evil punished and virtue rewarded. We also want to understand why bad things happen to good people, why good things happen to bad people, why we’re here, where we’re going, and what it all means.

Concerning how things actually are, however, evil goes unpunished, good deeds often are not rewarded, good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people, and we don’t understand any of it. We just do not, and according to Camus, we cannot understand what we want to understand.

Camus’s doctrine of the absurd then has both metaphysical and epistemological aspects. As a metaphysical thesis, the absurd is a confrontation between the human mind and an indifferent universe: what exists is a “mind that desires and the world that disappoints” (50). As an epistemological thesis, the absurd highlights our desire to understand and the fundamental limits of our knowledge.

2. The Inescapability of the Absurd

Having diagnosed the essential human problem, Camus shifts his interest to prognosis , determining whether and how to live in the face of the absurd.

The Myth of Sisyphus is primarily a critique of existentialism, specifically the attempts by thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Jaspers, and Heidegger to overcome the absurd by appealing to God or the transcendent. These thinkers, Camus claims, contradict themselves by presupposing that life is absurd in some way, but proposing a solution to the absurd (so that life isn’t really absurd after all).

For example, Kierkegaard sees life as profoundly absurd, due to its central lack of meaning. He thereby proposes that we take “a leap of faith,” essentially arguing that belief in God will ultimately provide one’s life with meaning. Camus opposes this form of escapism , claiming that existentialists “deify what crushes them and find reason to hope in what impoverishes them” (24).

Camus rejects appeals to the transcendent; for him, the absurd – the “divorce” between us and the world – represents the inescapable human condition. As we’ll see, in place of the false hope of religiosity, Camus advises a vivid awareness of the absurd and a form of revolt .

3. Absurdity and Happiness: The Myth of Sisyphus

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to the pointless task of rolling a large rock up a mountain, only to watch the rock roll back down, and to repeat the task for eternity.

As a life filled entirely of mundane and trivial labor, Sisyphus’s existence is meant to illustrate the futility (and absurdity) we confront in our own lives. Camus observes that a person’s life can become, essentially, a mundane routine: “Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday and Sunday according to the same rhythm…” (12-13).

Yet, for Camus, Sisyphus is not to be pitied. Sisyphus represents the “absurd hero” because he chooses to live in the face of absurdity . This “choosing to live” is a matter of consciousness, for through his attitude and outlook, Sisyphus can free himself from his punishment and triumph over his situation without being able to change it . Sisyphus is aware of the full extent of his punishment: he is fully conscious of the fate imposed on him by the gods and the utter futility of his existence. His passion , freedom , and revolt , however, make him stronger than the punishment intended to crush him.

Though it may seem odd, Camus indicates that Sisyphus is happy. By making his rock “his thing” (123), Sisyphus finds joy in being. Perhaps the climb up becomes more comfortable over time: maybe the muscles that once strained under the weight of the rock now effortlessly control it; conceivably, the rock moves so gracefully upwards that the act of moving it becomes a work of art.

Through his freedom, Sisyphus revolts against the gods and refuses the futility of their punishment by consciously living with passion. The rock, the mountain, the sky, and the dirt belong to him and are his world. Sisyphus has no hope to change his situation but, nevertheless, he uses all that’s given to and available for him.

4. Conclusion

Camus’s answer to the question of suicide is no . Camus insists that we must persist in the face of absurdity and not give ourselves over to false hope; he ultimately suggests that life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning .

It is up to us to live our lives with passion , freedom , and revolt – three consequences of the absurd – or else we give in to false hope or even choose not to live at all. By embracing our passions and absurd freedom, we can thus throw ourselves into the world with a desire to use all that’s given. Though we can never reconcile the metaphysical and epistemological tensions that give rise to the absurd, we can remember that the “point,” after all, is “to live” (65).

[1] Further quotations will be from The Myth of Sisyphus and given in the main text. The first quote is from page 3.

Camus, Albert (1942), The Myth of Sisyphus, J.O’Brien (trans.). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2018.

For Further Reading

Aronson, Ronald, “Albert Camus”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = < https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2017/entries/camus/ >.

Related Essays

Existentialism by Addison Ellis

Meaning in Life: What Makes Our Lives Meaningful? by Matthew Pianalto

The Philosophy of Humor: What Makes Something Funny?  by Chris A. Kramer

Hope by Michael Milona & Katie Stockdale

Happiness by Kiki Berk

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The editors thank Matthew Howery and Melissa Shew for their feedback on this essay.

About the Author

Erik received an MSc in philosophy from the University of Edinburgh and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Kent. He has taught philosophy at the University of Kent as an Assistant and Associate Lecturer.  His main interests lie at the intersection of metaphysics and the philosophy of agency. https://kent.academia.edu/Erikvanaken

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“The Myth of Sisyphus”, analysis of the essay by Albert Camus

The punishment of the gods or the joy of liberated labor

It is difficult to find at least one work by Albert Camus, free from philosophical concepts. Such is the analysis of his many critics. However, the writer did not recognize himself as a philosopher in the classical sense of the word. But the “The Myth of Sisyphus”, written in 1942, can without exaggeration be considered a purely philosophical treatise.

True, Camus called his work “an essay on the absurd.” This genre was not chosen by him by chance, since it presupposes a free composition of the work and leaves the author with the right to remain at least a little writer, and not just a philosopher.

The composition of the essay is such that the myth of Sisyphus itself occupies only an insignificant part of the work and is placed in the epilogue. He summarizes the study of the problem of the absurdity of the existence of an individual. Sisyphus, according to the writer, is a happy person, because he rejects the gods and personally controls his fate. True, it is difficult for a reader with traditional thinking to imagine a happy man who is engaged in hard labor day and night. The rebellious mood of Camus himself, his desire to challenge the Higher Forces, clearly manifested here.

The problems of the essay “The Myth of Sisyphus”, in essence, are not new. The question of the meaning or meaninglessness of existence has always been a favorite subject of study of philosophers. He was engaged in many schools and the greatest single minds. Many scientists have come to the conclusion that human life is absurd. Camus takes this conclusion as the starting point of his reasoning.

Studying human experience, he believes that man isolates eternal truths about himself and the surrounding space not by knowing life, but by means of feelings. The main thing here is a sense of absurdity, which casts doubt on the existence of God and the rationality of social structure.

Sisyphus and stone

But, in this way, one has to deny any aesthetic norms and rules. In a state of absurdity, everything is permitted. The only meaning is the fullness of life experiences. Therefore, the absurdity should not be destroyed by suicide, you just need to live it by making your choice. In the life of everyone there comes a time when it is necessary to choose between action and contemplation. This is called: to become a person. This conclusion is made by Camus.

The author himself does not believe in the harmony of man with nature. She, in his opinion, is very hostile to sentient beings. Therefore, each person can understand the other only on an individual, absurd level. What then are the general laws of perception?

Camus conducts a serious analysis of the philosophical views of those thinkers who touched on the question of absurdity before him. Among them: Kierkegaard, Shestov, Dostoevsky, Husserl, Nietzsche and other philosophers. However, it is worth recognizing that, as a stable doctrine, absurdism is owed specifically to Camus.

Sisyphus is not alone at the top, where he once again rolled his stone. The storyline of the essay is such that before we meet with many historical and literary characters of the past, Camus are interesting in terms of confirming their conclusions. This is Kirillov from Dostoevsky’s Demons; Don Giovanni, Commander, Alcest Moliere; Adrienne Lekuvrer and many others.

“ I have chosen only those heroes who set as their goal the exhaustion of life …”, Camus admitted.

What, of course, is difficult to disagree with the writer, is that each person has his own choice: absurd or reasonable.

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the myth of sisyphus essay

The Myth of Sisyphus

Albert camus, everything you need for every book you read..

In The Myth of Sisyphus , Albert Camus aims to draw out his definition of absurdism and, later in the book, consider what strategies are available to people in living with the absurd. The absurd is often mischaracterized as the simple idea that life is meaningless. In fact, Camus defines the absurd as the confrontation between man’s desire for logic, meaning and order, and the world’s inability to satisfy this desire. Camus believes that confronting the absurd takes precedence over all other philosophical problems, because it is intimately linked with the act of suicide. People commit suicide when life is meaningless, he says, and sometimes to defend the meaning that they do perceive (for instance, someone dying for a political cause). If life is meaningless, which is a proposition Camus certainly agrees with, is it logical to commit suicide—dutiful, even? Camus outlines how people turn to religion and hold on to the hope of a better life that never comes in order to suppress the absurd. Camus wants to know if it’s possible to live in full awareness of the fact that life is meaningless.

Camus examines the work of philosophers like Soren Kierkegaard , Lev Chestov , Karl Jaspers and Edmund Husserl . All of these, says Camus, went some way to outlining the absurdity of life. But each of them has a fatal flaw—they were too afraid to commit to the absurdity of life, and instead restored meaning to the world through a leap of faith (usually to God). They try to conjure meaning out of meaninglessness, which Camus sees as distinctly irrational. Camus argues for three main characteristics of the absurd life: revolt, freedom and passion. The absurd life must resist any temptation for answers or explanations in life; act and think with total freedom; and pursue life with passion.

In “The Absurd Man,” Camus tries to move towards a more practical approach to the absurd, providing examples of figures that he feels have accommodating the absurd into their lives. For Camus, it is not about finding a solution to the absurd, but living a life that maintains full awareness of life’s meaninglessness. As an illustrative example, he looks first at Don Juan , a notorious seducer. He praises Don Juan for living a life of quantity, rather than quality—since no experience is inherently more valuable than any other, the absurd man should strive to experience as much as he can. In Don Juan’s case, this means sex with as many different women as possible. Camus’ other examples of absurd lives are actors —who live in the present and try out many different lives—and conquerors , whose political and violent struggles add urgency and vividness to life.

Camus then turns his attentions to the relationship between the absurd and creation. The creative life, says Camus, is an especially absurd one. Artists expend great energy on their creation, though their creation is ultimately meaningless. The creator can only experience and describe, not explain and solve; Camus is disdainful of those works that have a “smug” motive of proving a particular “truth.” Within this framework, Camus examines the writings of the Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevksy . In particular, he looks at a character from The Possessed , Kirilov , who commits a kind of “logical suicide.” In order for life to have meaning, Kirilov thinks, God must exist—but Kirilov intuitively feels that there is no God and decides to take control by killing himself. His last words are “all is well,” which for Camus are precisely the words that living with the absurd require. Though Camus praises Dostoevsky for showing the absurd in action—which is a special capability of novels as opposed to philosophy—he criticizes Dostoevsky for turning back to God later in his personal life.

Camus concludes his essay by discussing the myth of Sisyphus mentioned in the title. Sisyphus, a Greek King, was condemned by the gods. His eventual fate was to push a rock up a mountain, only for it to fall back down, necessitating the process to start over again and again for all eternity. There are different stories about why Sisyphus incurred the wrath of the gods but, in essence, he disrespected them. One of the stories is that he put Death in chains, angering the god Pluto . Just before he died, Sisyphus wanted to test his wife’s love by ordering that she “cast his unburied body into the middle of the public square.” Annoyed that she actually did so, instead of burying him properly, he received permission from Pluto to return to earth in order to chastise her. Upon his return from the underworld, Sisyphus fell in love with the earth again—particularly its natural beauty—and refused to leave. Mercury was sent to retrieve Sisyphus, and when Sisyphus got back to the underworld his rock and the eternal, futile labor it represents were waiting for him. In this fate, Camus sees the struggle of man longing for meaning in a meaningless world. Sisyphus, says Camus, is the ultimate “absurd hero,” because he is fully aware of the futility of his actions. The moment when Sisyphus walks back to the foot of the mountain is the one that most interests Camus, representing Sisyphus’ “hour of consciousness” and total understanding of his fate. Camus pictures Sisyphus saying that “all is well,” like Kirilov did earlier. It is necessary, says Camus, to “imagine Sisyphus happy.”

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The Myth of Sisyphus: Embracing the Absurdity of Existence 9 min read

  • July 1, 2023
  • Classic , Non-Fiction

the myth of sisyphus

One Sentence Summary

Unearth the timeless philosophical journey of “ The Myth of Sisyphus ” by Albert Camus , as it unravels the complexities of the human condition and the profound significance of embracing life’s inherent absurdity.

Favourite Quote By The Author

In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion. ―  Albert Camus,  The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

The Myth of Sisyphus Quick Summary

Many consider Albert Camus’s “The Myth of Sisyphus” to be a seminal philosophical essay because of the way it questions established ideas and provides a fresh viewpoint on humanity. In this article, Camus examines the idea of absurdity, which he defines as the struggle between humanity’s need for meaning and the universe’s apathy. Camus depicts the absurdity of life and encourages humans to accept it via the narrative of Sisyphus, a Greek legendary character who is doomed to roll a rock up a hill forever. Learn how “The Myth of Sisyphus” might help you find meaning and purpose in life by delving further into its philosophical relevance in this post.

rock push 1

#1. The Absurdity of Existence: Exploring the Foundations of “The Myth of Sisyphus”

Unveiling the concept of absurdity.

The concept of absurdity is central to Camus’ philosophy, and it refers to the conflict between our search for meaning and the indifferent universe. According to Camus, human beings have an innate desire for meaning and purpose, but the universe is inherently meaningless and indifferent to our existence. This conflict creates a sense of absurdity that can lead to despair and nihilism . However, Camus argues that we can also embrace the absurd and find freedom in our acceptance of the meaningless universe.

The Absurd Hero: Sisyphus and His Eternal Struggle

In “The Myth of Sisyphus,” Camus uses the story of Sisyphus to illustrate the absurdity of existence. Sisyphus is a Greek mythological figure who is condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a hill for eternity, only to see it roll back down again. This eternal struggle represents the futility of human existence, as we are all engaged in a similar struggle to find meaning in a meaningless universe.

#2. Embracing the Absurd: Camus’ Examination of the Human Condition

Confronting the absurd: existential crisis and its implications.

The conflict between our search for meaning and our indifference to the universe can lead to an existential crisis, a state of despair and confusion about the purpose of our existence. Camus argues that this crisis is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be confronted. By accepting the absurdity of existence, we can free ourselves from the burden of finding ultimate meaning and creating our own meaning and purpose.

The Search for Meaning: Absurdism versus Traditional Philosophies

Camus’s absurdism is critical of theories that aim to give human lives a higher significance. Camus argues that such philosophies are flawed because they assume too much and hence fail to adequately address the problem of the absurd. Instead, Camus encourages his readers to accept the absurd and look for meaning in their own lives.

abstract 23

#3. Absurdity and Rebellion: The Relevance of “The Myth of Sisyphus” in Today’s World

Nihilism and the absurd: a dichotomy explored.

The word ludicrous is commonly used to describe the notion of nihilism, the rejection of all religious and moral standards. Nihilism, as Camus says, is an escape from reality and not the answer to the problem of the ridiculous. Camus urges rebellion instead—a refusal to accept the illusory answers provided by established philosophies and a dedication to forging one’s own path in life.

Camus’ Call for Revolt: Embracing Freedom and Authenticity

Camus’ philosophy of rebellion is based on the idea that individuals have the freedom to create their own values and live authentically. This requires a rejection of the false values imposed by society and a commitment to creating our own values. By embracing the absurd and rebelling against traditional philosophies, we can find freedom and authenticity in our existence.

#4. The Absurd in Everyday Life: Applying Camus’ Philosophy

Absurdity in the modern world: examples and interpretations.

Absurdity is not just something that exists in theoretical discussions; it is present in actual life as well. The absurd is ever present in our lives, from the boredom of everyday routines to the existential anxiety of the brave new world . By adopting Camus’s absurdist worldview, we may achieve independence and calm in the face of the absurd.  According to Camus, the conflict between the search for meaning and the ultimate emptiness of the cosmos is at the heart of the absurdity of existence. The monotony of our daily lives is a reflection of this strain. It’s easy to feel foolish when going through the motions of mundane activities like commuting, working, and sleeping. Yet if we can see the humour in our mundane routines, we may free ourselves from their stifling confines. Finding happiness and contentment in the here and now is more important than searching for some greater meaning in life. Camus argues that the existential agony of existence may be alleviated if one accepts and embraces the absurdity of life.

Embracing the Absurd: Finding Freedom and Serenity

Realising that there is no ultimate meaning to life allows us to focus on developing our own sense of meaning and purpose. This calls for a denial of conventional wisdom and a dedication to genuine life. The ridiculous may help us achieve tranquilly and freedom in our lives despite the challenges we confront.


#5. Critiques and Controversies: Examining the Reception of “The Myth of Sisyphus”

Intellectual debates: camus and existentialism.

Camus’ philosophy of absurdism has been a subject of intellectual debate and controversy. Some scholars argue that Camus’ philosophy is a form of existentialism, while others see it as a distinct philosophy. Camus himself rejected the label of existentialism , but his philosophy shares some similarities with existentialism, such as the emphasis on the individual’s subjective experience and the rejection of traditional values.

The Influence of “The Myth of Sisyphus” on Philosophy and Literature

In both philosophical and literary circles, “The Myth of Sisyphus” has left a lasting impression. Several authors and intellectuals, including Samuel Beckett and Jean-Paul Sartre, have been influenced by Camus and his concept of absurdism . Literature, drama, and cinema are just a few of the art disciplines that have dabbled in absurdity.

#6. FAQs about “The Myth of Sisyphus”

What is the central idea of “the myth of sisyphus”.

The central idea of “The Myth of Sisyphus” is the concept of absurdity, the conflict between our search for meaning and the indifference of the universe. Camus argues that the absurdity of existence can lead to despair and nihilism, but it can also be embraced as a source of freedom and authenticity.  Camus argues that meaninglessness is intrinsic to the human experience since we live in a universe that doesn’t care about us. To illustrate the point that life is pointless and silly, he references the tale of Sisyphus, who is doomed to move a rock up a hill just to have it roll back down.

Camus contends that although our lives may appear meaningless, we have the ability to give them significance through acts of defiance and revolt against the absurdity of existence. Camus argues that in the face of an uncaring cosmos, authenticity and personal fulfilment may be found through an acceptance of the ridiculous. This kind of unconditional love and independence gives us strength and direction in an otherwise meaningless world. 

How does Camus define the absurd?

According to Camus, the ridiculous occurs when our need for meaning collides with the apathy of the cosmos. This war makes everything seem ridiculous, which might make people give up hope and become nihilists. Camus, however, thinks that we might find liberation in our acceptance of meaningless reality by embracing the ludicrous.

What is the significance of Sisyphus in Camus’ philosophy?

In Camus’s philosophy, Sisyphus stands for the meaninglessness of life. He rolls a rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down again and again, symbolising the pointlessness of the history of humankind . Camus views Sisyphus not just as a tragic figure who accepts his fate with resignation but also as a hero who finds liberation in doing so. Sisyphus finds freedom from the oppressive character of his punishment by accepting the absurdity of his duty.

Camus uses Sisyphus as a metaphor for humanity, which is doomed to repeat the same pointless tasks over and over again. But instead of giving in to hopelessness or nihilism, Sisyphus faces his calamity with stoic resolve. Because of his ability to laugh in the face of absurdity, he is able to overcome the restrictions set by the gods. Sisyphus, in this act of defiance, personifies Camus’s belief that the only way to find freedom is to accept and embrace the emptiness of life. By doing so, he serves as an example of how to forge one’s own identity and sense of purpose in a universe devoid of either. Because of this, Camus’ philosophy finds a potent metaphor in Sisyphus, who challenges us to face the absurdity of our own existence and find our own liberation within it.

Finally, “The Myth of Sisyphus” provides a fresh viewpoint on the human situation by forcing us to consider the purpose of life. The ideology of absurdism, which Camus championed, serves as a sobering reminder that existence lacks any absolute significance. Instead, we ought to embrace the ridiculous, reject conventional wisdom, and forge our own path.

It’s easy to become lost in the maze of contemporary life and forget what’s important in the process. Yet if we open ourselves to the absurd, we may discover freedom and peace even in the midst of turmoil and unpredictability. We don’t have to live by conventional standards in order to have a life that is genuine and fulfilling. Remember the myth of Sisyphus and the absurdist philosophy the next time you feel trapped in a never-ending loop of pointless toil. Be comfortable with the ridiculous, defy authority, and forge your own way. Maybe this is your chance to finally experience the independence and genuineness you’ve been yearning for.

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Albert Camus, Absurdity, and the Myth of Sisyphus

  • Arts & Humanities


Say Yes to Distress – Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus

“The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.” So begins existentialist philosopher Albert Camus’ famous essay, The Myth of Sisyphus . [1] But what kind of man was Sisyphus? What did he do to incur the gods’ wrath? Accounts differ.

According to Camus, Homer described Sisyphus as “the wisest and most prudent of mortals.” [2] Other translations of The Iliad use “wiliest.” [3] While the connotations of these two descriptions differ vastly, Sisyphus was at the very least intelligent. The king of Corinth, Sisyphus once offered to help the river-god Asopus find his lost daughter in exchange for a spring of fresh water for his kingdom. Unfortunately, Zeus himself had absconded with Asopus’ daughter, and after Sisyphus led Asopus to her rescue, Zeus sent his brother Hades to bring Sisyphus to his death. [4] But Sisyphus tricked the god of the underworld and held him captive so that no mortal could die. When Ares, god of war, finally rescued Hades and Sisyphus perished, he asked his wife to forgo the traditional funeral rites. Because such an oversight was considered extremely impious in the Greek tradition, Sisyphus convinced Hades to let him go back to Earth to correct this error. [5, 6] Yet Sisyphus had no intention of returning to the underworld once his task was complete, and he lived for many more years before Hades tracked him down and sentenced him to the stone.

Sisyphus was hardly a common sinner. Descriptions of his mortal exploits indicate he was a clever man who was good to his kingdom, loved life and desired to remain on Earth for as long as possible. And for this spirit, the gods condemned him to the most rote and eternally frustrating task in the afterlife. The man who lived to cheat death did merely die; he was sentenced to an endless existence of reiteration, which the gods must have considered the exact opposite of the pleasures he found in life.

The nature of Sisyphus’ torture lies in this endless repetition. Each time he reaches the top of the mountain, the stone falls back to the bottom again. He must push it up the mountain not once, not twice, but over and over again for all eternity. Sisyphus’ bane is his consciousness. He recognizes the nature of his fate. He knows the toll the last trip took on his body and his will, the toll each previous trip took, and he knows he will have to go through it all again. The parallels here to everyday human life are obvious if we view life as a series of tasks to be completed, obstacles to be conquered. But there is no hope of succeeding finally and absolutely in life, just as Sisyphus cannot escape his punishment. There is always another task, another obstacle, and a human lifetime is no match cosmically for time and mortality.

Say Yes to Distress – Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus

Yet Camus reminds us that “there is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.” [7] Once Sisyphus comes to grips with the inevitability of his lot, he regains a modicum of control. The rock sits before him. He can drive it up the mountain once again. The gods who put him there cease to matter. The task is in his power to complete. Each successful trip up the mountain is a victory. Each restart at the bottom is an opportunity. Therefore, Camus concludes, “the struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” [8] For Sisyphus, each step upward, each successful ascent, is another triumph over his fatigue, over the gods and over his past, and these cumulative victories are enough for his happiness.

For me, it is essential to the power of the myth that Sisyphus’ challenge is physical. The choice is certainly a reflection of the era of the story’s original telling (after all, this is the same culture that gave us the Olympics), but the ancient Greeks were not short on great thinkers either (see Aesop, Archimedes, Aristotle, Democritus, Euclid, Hippocrates, Homer, Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates, Sophocles and Zeno for starters). But consider the diminished impact of the following revision of the story:

The gods condemned Steve to ceaselessly solving the same Sudoku puzzle. But each time Steve was about to fill in the last number, all his work would disappear and he was forced to start again from scratch.

I find it hard to see the romantic luster of the original myth in Steve’s plight. We can imagine poor Steve chained to a desk, hunched over a worried scrap of newspaper, frantically jotting down numbers before they wash away. Hardly the same noble figure as Sisyphus straining under his rock.

Does Steve’s fate hit a little too close to home in comparison to our modern lives? Would our feelings about the story change if Steve’s task was to solve Fermat’s last theorem, cure cancer, or unlock the secret to thermonuclear fusion? I think not. Physical achievement holds a broad appeal across our society—consider the salaries earned by professional athletes in comparison to those of mathematicians, oncologists, and nuclear physicists.

What makes Sisyphus’ story so compelling and so tragic is its physicality, its very tangible nature. There are no half-measures, no equivocations. Sisyphus’ rock rests at the top of the mountain or it does not. Intellectual pursuits are too abstract, too indefinite, to carry the symbolism of myth. We can easily picture a scientist who develops a cure for all known forms of cancer, only to see the rise of some new mutation that resists her panacea. Did she truly cure cancer at all? But when the rock reaches the top of the mountain, the rock reaches the top of the mountain. Sisyphus’ task is accomplished. Hades may cause the rock to roll back down again or set a new peak in front of Sisyphus, but these are new challenges and not continuations of one long endeavor.

the myth of sisyphus essay

Likewise, the pure physical torment of Sisyphus’ task strikes a chord with us that the intellectual equivalent does not. There is no end to Sisyphus’ agony as he strains against his stone. His hands and shoulders scrape and bleed against the jagged rock, sweat cascades down his brow, every muscle fiber in his body burns and screams under the weight. Perhaps demons come to whip him if he tarries too long at the bottom before taking up his task again. How will the demons know if Steve is pondering the intricacies of the sums of exponentials or merely daydreaming of Elysia? Everyone sees Sisyphus’ pain. Everyone recognizes his effort. And when he succeeds, we can all acknowledge his triumph.

I in no way intend to diminish intellectual accomplishments. The genius of Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie and Albert Einstein is undisputed. But Camus’ Sisyphus demonstrates the psychological power of physical accomplishment. Because of the physical, tangible, definite nature of Sisyphus’ task, “his fate belongs to him.” [9] Each summit of the mountain is a victory of Sisyphus’ own making. “One must imagine Sisyphus happy” because he has the power to conquer adversity time and time again. Imagine what he could accomplish (physically, intellectually or otherwise) were he not condemned to his rock. Would anyone doubt him any achievement to which he set his will?

At its foundation, The Myth of Sisyphus is an argument against suicide. For Camus, “there is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” [10] If life is hopeless and agonizing is one morally justified in taking one’s own life? Camus says no. The Myth of Sisyphus , as a defense of that view, is an essay about a moral choice represented by the image of ceaseless physical toil. It teaches the power and the morality of exercising one’s free will to overcome a physical challenge. And though Camus’ argument applies to any obstacles encountered in the course of our lives, it is the physical nature of Sisyphus’ challenge that makes this myth so inspiring. In the coming months, I will delve more deeply into the connections between physical action and morality. Camus gets us off to a good start here as we prepare to climb that mountain.


  • Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. New York: Vintage International, 1991, p. 119.
  • Ibid, p. 119.
  • Homer. The Iliad . Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: The Penguin Group, 1991.
  • D’aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin. Book of Greek Myths . New York: Dell Publishing, 1992, p. 126-127.
  • Ibid, p. 127.
  • Pinsent, John. Greek Mythology . New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1982.
  • Camus, p. 121.
  • Ibid, p. 123.
  • Ibid, p. 3.

Sisyphus: Certainty and the hill I die on

An image of an outdoor sports track in the evening.

Banished, broken — bated breath Hopeless destination — Hades’ depth Boulder’s ascent — fate whispers Thousand climbs — never left – Ben Gao

The proverbial journey of a thousand miles takes an enigmatic turn in the myth of Sisyphus — it begins with a single step, only to traverse a draining cyclic path lost in perpetuity. The ostensibly straightforward task of rolling a boulder up a hill stands a step above the impressively elaborate and cruel punishments found in other classic tales.

It is a timeless and universal portrayal of the vexing and all-too-common struggle for tangible progress in everyday life: from those seemingly unending p-sets to the legendary battles waged against the persistent snooze button. But, if so many see these dreadful experiences in Sisyphus’ toil, why did Nobel prize-winning philosopher Albert Camus conclude in his famed essay The Myth of Sisyphus that “one must imagine Sisyphus happy”? How could Sisyphus possibly be happy? And more importantly, how could we possibly be happy ?

Everything worthwhile is uphill.  – an overachieving motivational speaker (couldn’t be me)

It’s spring 2023 — Lake Lag is full, MTL just resigned, and a rare respiratory illness suddenly took my breath away, literally. For months, every inhale was a struggle. Those sleepless nights spent cowering, locked in the dorm bathroom, gasping for air; those bottomless days spent languishing, boxed in desolate waiting rooms, anxiously awaiting an ever-elusive diagnosis and treatment, etched a sense of dread that tumbled down throughout my life. During that time, my health had distanced me from everything that had once held significance: clubs, classes, friends, teammates and even my family. 

In the span of a few weeks, I went from running around the track to between hospitals, and from learning through classes to through medical reports. I remember feeling so viscerally yet inexplicably lost. So confused. So powerless. So suddenly and violently divorced from a life I so loved and worked so hard to create. I felt hollow.

And, it makes sense — it’s hard to feel full when your breaths aren’t either. In an instant, the mountain I had climbed all of college had thrown me back to its base, shattering me into a thousand broken pieces. And it seemed like everything worthwhile was left uphill. 

Many months later, at the end of summer, I was a lot better. I had finally gotten a diagnosis and the treatment I’d been prescribed, though woefully slow, was working. Coupled with a change in scenery — I spent the summer exploring beautiful Seattle — it finally felt like I had a fresh start. Still, in spite of a genuinely promising outlook for my health, I found myself conflicted about which aspects of my past I could realistically carry into my future.

Many of the activities I so loved were still severely affected by my illness, making it difficult to justify their continuation in any practical sense. Running, for example, has been a cornerstone of who I am for over a decade. But with permanently impaired lungs, a sobering question emerged: why bother? I was never a particularly talented runner, and even attainable goals called for a colossal effort when I was healthy. The time off had also distanced me from friends and teammates, as despite efforts to stay connected, I fell out of stride. It felt like I was dangling off the tail of a group run, going just beyond my pace. 

We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one. – Confucius

Hope, I’ve learned, is a paradoxical thing. Strong enough to persist when nothing else can, yet so easily squashed in any other moment. For me, the hope of one day reclaiming the life I had before my illness was the wind in my sails as I navigated through the turmoil of my diagnosis and treatment. Yet, that same hope was suddenly gone with the wind when I had recovered, and realized that my plans to return had long sailed away.

In the time that I came to grasp the irony of my hope against the reality of my condition, I genuinely struggled to find anything more than a fleeting moment of happiness. And when I did, it felt like an accident or a harbinger of some sick, encroaching reminder of the scope of my current limitations. 

Take, for example, the laughs I shared with teammates during warmups — the kind that you’ll remember a month, quarter, year later and reminisce about. The kind where you’re laughing so hard you forget what you were laughing about. The kind where you laugh until your stomach hurts. Or in my case, the kind where you laugh until your lungs hurt too, and you drop to the ground in pain, hands clasped around your chest, as your teammates surround you in worry and ask if you’re okay.

In times like that, I often found myself wondering, what even is Happiness? And frankly, who knows? Entire careers have been lost grappling with much simpler questions, so who am I to say? But through those moments, I developed a belief about what Happiness means for myself, a belief that is rooted in a personal theory about Sisyphus. 

To me, the canonical telling of Sisyphus feels incomplete, as if a decisive second half were missing. I couldn’t quite pinpoint the void until I experienced my own uphill struggle, which led to a crucial realization: I believe there to be a second story of Sisyphus.

The first, a story of retribution, is familiar to us — an unreasonably clever and merciless king is condemned to an eternity of futile boulder rolling for a lifetime of crimes. The second, a story of finality, is understandably forgotten, and closely mirrors the conclusion of the first.

The subtle difference lies in the second story’s inception: it begins when Sisyphus realizes that there’s no end to the first. Carrying the same stone, along the same path, encountering the same fate as he had a thousand times prior, the king is for the first time, in a sobering moment of defining clarity, hopeless. He’s completely eviscerated of his ego, his hope, his tricks. He realizes for the first time that there is no escape. 

The boulder. The hill. An illusory summit. Forever. This is now his reality. What he does now — that’s the second story.

As for us, our lives harbor inconvenient truths that, like for Sisyphus, we can’t change — a poignant realization made accessible only with time and an ugly legacy of failure. For some, it’s their appearance. For others, a troubled past. Whatever they may be, they haunt us, relentlessly. And so we try to hide, disprove and ignore them. We buy into false narratives, mercenary products and senseless experiences that prey on the vain hope that somehow something somewhere will magically and mercifully solve our problems.

But like any inconvenient truth, things never change, no matter how hard we try. That’s the first story. Only then, when we grasp the finality of our condition after an eternity of futile struggle, do we reach that sobering and defining moment of clarity. What we do thereafter — well, that’s the crux of the second story. 

But if Sisyphus understands that there is no future, that any effort is futile, why does he continue to climb the hill for the rest of eternity? What’s the point? Why bother? It would be, like for me, returning to running knowing however hard I tried, I could never recreate the experiences that made running so meaningful in the first place. Indeed, the second story is a losing game, but the knowledge that Sisyphus will eventually drop the ball shouldn’t forbid him from playing at all.

Take, for example, the greatest losing game of all: life. The certainty of death doesn’t mean we should forfeit life. In fact, it motivates us to live it as much as we can, to the best that we can. As a friend and devoted hospice worker recently told me, even those cornered into the final moments of their lives, when all signs point to the certainty of death, choose to express the most heartfelt gratitude, reflect dearly on their most joyful memories, and surround themselves with those they love most. The game of life isn’t easy; it’s a losing game after all. But we play, no matter the cards that we’re dealt — and that’s no bluff. 

Still, the ever-important question remains: what does this mean, practically? To smile through the pain? To make your own meaning in life? Because I’ve tried, and those impossible p-sets have never solved themselves, however persuasively I’ve tried to smile. And so I’ll be the first to admit — I don’t know. Maybe Camus does, but I’m not him.

Yet, as I grapple with these practical questions on limiting our pain, I somehow feel that I’m missing the bigger picture: we’re so desperate and hurt that we’re doing more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure. In the case of running, I know nothing I do will recreate the experiences I once cherished. But that doesn’t mean I should run away from it, and the pain associated with the realization that it will never be the same. After all, my friends, teammates and a future in running still await, even if it’s packaged differently.

Loving something enough to persist despite every reason not to. Maybe that is Happiness. 

We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time . – T.S. Eliot

Clearly, I have unfinished business. I’d call it a negotiation, but really it’s a gamble, and all the chips are on the line. But to write my own story, to have closure no matter the outcome, it’s a gamble I’m willing to take — to climb even if there is no summit. Because in an indifferent world, we are the ones — the only ones — who can write our story. My past isn’t the hill I want to die on. It won’t be — it can’t be. But at your lowest, every direction is uphill; there’s only one way off the beaten path. I take a deep breath because I know. I know today, I must choose to climb. 

I’ll see you at the top. 

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Essays on The Myth of Sisyphus

Choosing the myth of sisyphus essay topics.

The Myth of Sisyphus, written by Albert Camus, is a thought-provoking philosophical essay that delves into the concept of absurdism and the human condition. As a student, selecting an essay topic related to The Myth of Sisyphus can be a challenging task. However, with the right guidance and understanding of the text, you can choose a topic that will captivate your audience and showcase your critical thinking skills.

Importance of the Topic

The Myth of Sisyphus presents a compelling argument about the futility of human existence and the necessity of finding meaning in a seemingly meaningless world. It challenges readers to confront their own existence and grapple with the absurdity of life. By choosing an essay topic related to this work, you have the opportunity to explore complex philosophical ideas and engage in deep introspection.

Advice on Choosing a Topic

When selecting a topic for your essay on The Myth of Sisyphus, it's essential to consider your interests and the themes that resonate with you. Additionally, you should choose a topic that allows for in-depth analysis and critical interpretation. Look for areas within the text that you find particularly intriguing and consider how you can craft an original and compelling argument.

Recommended Essay Topics

Here are some recommended essay topics related to The Myth of Sisyphus, divided into categories:

Existentialism and Absurdism

  • Discuss the concept of absurdism in The Myth of Sisyphus and its implications for the human condition.
  • Explore the role of existentialism in Camus' essay and its relevance to contemporary society.
  • Analyze the character of Sisyphus as a symbol of the absurd hero and its significance in the text.

Morality and Ethics

  • Examine the ethical implications of Sisyphus' eternal punishment and its relationship to Camus' philosophy.
  • Discuss the moral implications of embracing the absurd and living a life without inherent meaning.
  • Explore the role of morality in the context of the absurd and how it shapes human behavior.

Freedom and Choice

  • Analyze the theme of freedom in The Myth of Sisyphus and its connection to the human experience.
  • Discuss the concept of choice and its significance in confronting the absurd, as presented in the essay.
  • Examine the tension between freedom and the absurd and how it influences human agency.

Meaning and Purpose

  • Explore the quest for meaning in a meaningless world as depicted in The Myth of Sisyphus.
  • Analyze the various strategies for finding meaning in the face of absurdity, as proposed by Camus.
  • Discuss the role of purpose in the human experience and how it relates to the absurd condition.

Philosophical Influences

  • Examine the influence of existentialist philosophers such as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche on Camus' ideas in The Myth of Sisyphus.
  • Discuss the philosophical lineage of absurdism and its connections to other schools of thought.
  • Analyze the relationship between Camus' essay and the wider philosophical tradition, including its original contributions.

These essay topics offer a starting point for your exploration of The Myth of Sisyphus and its philosophical implications. Remember to choose a topic that resonates with you and allows for critical analysis and original insights. By delving into the themes and ideas presented in the text, you can craft a compelling and intellectually stimulating essay that showcases your understanding of existentialist philosophy and the human condition.

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus: an Allegory for The Human Condition

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Theme of Absurdity and Human Resilience in "The Myth of Sisyphus"

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Albert Camus’ Interpretations of Absurdity in The Myth of Sisyphus

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Absurdity of Life in Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus

Analysis of albert camus' thesis on religion and faith through literature.

Albert Camus

Existentialism, Absurdism

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the myth of sisyphus essay

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A Lesson About Living From a Survivor of Suicide

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please know that you are not alone. If you are in danger of acting on suicidal thoughts, call 911. For support and resources, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text 741741 for the Crisis Text Line.

“T here is but one truly serious philosophical problem,” Albert Camus begins his 1942 essay, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” “and that is suicide.” It’s a statement to which I’ve long found myself attracted, for both its philosophical rigor (deciding to live, after all, is the ultimate existentialist commitment) and its willful posture of provocation. Let’s stop playing, Camus seems to be insisting, and get real about what matters. Of course, there is no indication that Camus ever considered taking his own life; his essay represents an extended thought experiment, addressing the conundrum of how to exist meaningfully in an absurd universe. Compare that with Clancy Martin, whose new book, How Not to Kill Yourself: A Portrait of the Suicidal Mind , starts with a blunt account of the most recent of the author’s many suicide attempts. “The last time I tried to kill myself,” he confesses, “was in my basement with a dog leash.”

Like Camus, Martin is a philosopher and a fiction writer; he teaches at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and is perhaps best known for his 2009 novel, How to Sell . In How Not to Kill Yourself , he seeks to understand suicide as both philosophy and impulse, interweaving personal history, his own deep reading in the literature of self-annihilation, and the ethical or metaphysical concerns that immersion inspires. The result is a work that feels sui generis. It is also a blunt and bracing read that people who have had experience with suicide may find challenging (if there’s any precursor, it may be A. Alvarez’s 1972 inquiry, The Savage God .) “All my life,” Martin notes, “I’ve feared and avoided physical suffering. It’s mental suffering that I wasn’t able to avoid—as indeed none of us can—and that was what motivated my suicide attempts. Precisely what I was hoping to prevent when I thought about my own death was worse pain. Self-harm? No thank you. Self-extinguish? Now you’ve got my attention.”

I cite that passage because, among other things, it’s funny—intentionally so. Martin may be, as he claims, addicted to suicidal ideation, but he is also aware of the incongruities of this addiction. Early in the book, he recalls a moment when, during an alcoholic blackout, he rear-ends another car on the highway. Martin takes off, veering first down an embankment and then, with two of his wheels destroyed, onto the frontage road. “I’ve got a video of pretty much the whole thing on a CCTV camera,” his lawyer later informs him. “It’s actually hilarious. You want to watch it? Might be therapeutic.” Martin clearly intends to make us laugh.

We can read this as a war story; How Not to Kill Yourself is full of those. And yet, the humor has a bigger point here: to introduce the issue of choice. As a result of the accident,  Martin is sentenced to a brief incarceration at a minimum-security facility, where, during intake, he is shown the door through which he might be tempted to leave. The decision to stay or go—in a therapeutic sense, at least—belongs to him. If he makes the latter choice, however, he is told: “‘Be aware that as soon as you do—and we have cameras and alarms, so we’ll know when you do—that a warrant will be issued for your arrest. But no one is going to stop you, and no one from this facility is going to chase you down.’”

[ Read: The pandemic’s surprising effects on suicide rates ]

The idea of free will and its implications galvanize Martin. “I felt like I was choosing to be there,” he observes of the prison, then connects this realization, this intuition, to “the Stoics’ ‘the door is always open’ argument in defense of the right to kill yourself.” In framing suicide as a choice rather than a compulsion, we may find an unexpected agency—though it should be quickly added that once genetics or psychiatric disorders come into play, the idea of volition becomes more complicated. For Clancy, though, throughout How Not to Kill Yourself , the notion of a choice becomes a central tenet, one he credits with his capacity to remain alive. “For the Stoic,” he explains, “the ability to commit suicide is the most fundamental and all but irrevocable expression of our freedom. Seneca puts his short version of the … argument this way: ‘A wise man will live as long as he ought, not as long as he can.’” And yet, if this seems like a justification—death can be the wiser choice than living—it also contains its opposite. As he admits late in the book, “I’d always been free to do what I wanted.” For him, this has turned out to mean (much to his surprise, at times) staying alive.

T hat freedom should become the means of Martin’s reintegration (such as it is) feels almost redemptive, because he had often used that same freedom to make a different kind of choice. His first suicide attempt came at 6, when he intentionally stepped in front of a bus after school. He cites his father’s death in 1997 (a suicide itself, perhaps) as another point of origin; a few nights earlier, he’d refused to wire money so the older man could be released from a public mental hospital in Florida. In the aftermath, Martin began what he calls “the ‘gun-in-mouth’ phase of my daily morning suicide attempts,” a ritual that is precisely what it sounds like. That he never pulled the trigger had less to do with intention than it did with fear, he writes. If all of this sounds harrowing, that’s the whole idea; at times, reading How Not to Kill Yourself feels like the white-knuckle experience of fresh sobriety.

What does it feel like to live under constant pressure of death, in what the Austrian writer Jean Améry once called “the moment before the leap,” which Martin defines as “that instant in which one decides either to go on living or to die”? Améry, like Paul Celan and Primo Levi, survived the Holocaust only to die by suicide decades later. Again, Martin argues, this is the expression of a peculiar sort of freedom. “And how many minutes are left?” he writes, quoting Améry: “Maybe ten more minutes that one apportions to oneself. These minutes still let themselves stretch out into a deceptive eternity. Having already chosen to die, one is beset by the sweet enticement of life and its logic right up to the last second.” It is as cogent and (yes) rational an account of the mind existing in the shadow of its own self-destruction as I have read.

What Martin is revealing is a kind of nether state, in which the close contemplation of one’s impending nonexistence becomes at once expansive and unbearable. This is the place where things get serious. “Speaking for myself,” he confides, “especially at a certain stage of my life—say from puberty through my mid-twenties—suicide, despite my attempts, was still in some way a game I was playing … And while I was playing this game, performing this act for myself of the suicide who didn’t really want to die, slowly, slowly, over the course of the decades to come, I became more and more sincerely suicidal.” It’s a reminder to be careful of what you let yourself believe.

To highlight that, Martin turns his attention to a trio of writers who died by suicide: Édouard Levé, David Foster Wallace, and Nelly Arcan. All are his contemporaries who “provide the most detailed and intimate accounts I have found of what it feels like to continue living while frequently or even constantly wanting to kill yourself.” Nevertheless, and despite the power of their work (especially that of Levé, who died in 2007, 10 days after turning in his final novel, Suicide ), this is the one place How Not to Kill Yourself falters. It’s not Martin’s esteem for his subjects that is the problem, but rather his decision to reverse engineer their books, looking for evidence in the material they left behind. If all three wrote about their desire to die, at times in excruciating detail, the approach still seems to me to be tricky and self-determined, a cherry-picking of the data, so to speak.

Perhaps the problem with this section is that, for all its overlap, How Not to Kill Yourself is, in the end, its own sort of book. I say that not because it is nonfiction and Levé, Wallace, and Arcan are invoked for their fiction, but because Martin has an opposing set of goals in mind. For all his focus on suicidal trauma, he is, most fundamentally, trying to write his way out from under it, to create a book not of death but of life. That becomes clear in the closing chapter, which ends with a personal checklist, a set of suggested strategies to deflect the suicidal impulse. These include the value of family connections, the use of exercise, the necessity of abstaining from alcohol or drugs. What he’s getting at is presence, in the world and in one’s head. To explore such a balance, he uses the words of one more writer, Sarah Davys, who, in her 1971 memoir, A Time and a Time , recalls two suicide attempts from which, she laments, “I have brought back nothing”—that is, no useful information about life or death. “This is how I seem to have spent much of my life,” Davys tells us: “edging forward step by step, always forcing myself to look down at the abyss beneath my feet.”

[ Read: The suicide wave that never was ]

And yet, for Martin, there is, if not a way out, then a way (for the moment, at least) to live with the uncertainty. There is a way to make a choice. He recasts the 12-step bromide “One day at a time,” emphasizing all that is unknown about tomorrow. “I’m not sober for nine years,” he reflects, “or four years, or since my last relapse: I’m only ever sober today. You know, I’m also only ever alive today. In fact I’m only ever alive right now. I don’t know if I’ll make it to the end of the day—none of us do, whether we’re suicidal or not. Death comes when it pleases.”

Such a sentiment is as existential as any in “The Myth of Sisyphus,” although Martin’s terms are more down-to-earth. “One must imagine Sisyphus happy,” Camus insists at the end of his essay, an acknowledgment of the futility of his existence but also of the grace or consolation that comes from choosing to accept one’s fate. Martin has less use for Camus than I do, finding his conclusion “not entirely satisfying.” Yet both, I think, work in similar territory, in which in order to learn how to die, we must first, and most essentially, learn how to live.

A Lesson About Living From a Survivor of Suicide


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    The Myth Of Sisyphus And Other Essays Albert Camus Translated from the French by Justin O'Brien 1955. Contents Preface The Myth Of Sisyphus An Absurd Reasoning Absurdity and Suicide ... The fundamental subject of "The Myth of Sisyphus" is this: it is legitimate and necessary to wonder whether life has a meaning; therefore it is legitimate ...

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    The Myth of Sisyphus (French: Le mythe de Sisyphe) is a 1942 philosophical essay by Albert Camus. Influenced by philosophers such as Søren Kierkegaard, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd. The absurd lies in the juxtaposition between the fundamental human need to attribute meaning to life ...

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    The story of Sisyphus is so well-known in modern times thanks to Albert Camus, whose essay ' The Myth of Sisyphus ' (1942) is an important text about the absurdity of modern life (although it's often described as being 'Existentialist', Camus' essay is actually closer to Absurdism). For Camus, Sisyphus is the poster-boy for ...

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    The Myth of Sisyphus, philosophical essay by Albert Camus, published in French in 1942 as Le Mythe de Sisyphe. Published in the same year as Camus's novel L'Étranger ( The Stranger ), The Myth of Sisyphus contains a sympathetic analysis of contemporary nihilism and touches on the nature of the absurd. Together the two works established his ...

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    The myth of Sisyphus is a potent image of futility. Camus' response is that only the 'lucid' recognition of the absurdity of existence liberates us from belief in another life and permits us to live for the instant, for the beauty, pleasure and the 'implacable grandeur' of existence. Lucidity is the clarity and courage of mind which ...

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    Full Work Summary. The central concern of The Myth of Sisyphus is what Camus calls "the absurd." Camus claims that there is a fundamental conflict between what we want from the universe (whether it be meaning, order, or reasons) and what we find in the universe (formless chaos). We will never find in life itself the meaning that we want to find.

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    The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay written by French author and philosopher Albert Camus and published (as Mythe de Sisyphe) in 1942.In it, Camus explores the absurd, which he identifies as coming about in the confrontation between our desire for clarity and our understanding of the world's irrationality.. The essay contains no metaphysics, since Camus's goal in The Myth of ...

  8. The Myth of Sisyphus: 1. Absurdity and Suicide Summary & Analysis

    Suicide, says Camus, is an admission that life is "not worth the trouble.". Much of living is done by habit, and suicide represents a realization that this habit lacks any meaning. Camus likens this feeling to one of "exile.". The feeling of a divorce between man and his life represents "absurdity.". He states that his essay is ...

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    This essay will outline the origin and consequences of Camus's notion of the absurd from his 1942 The Myth of Sisyphus.[1] 1. The Absurd and its Origin. There are many things we might naturally call absurd: a rude joke, an outrageous statement, or the price of a pair of designer jeans.

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  11. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus Plot Summary

    1. Absurdity and Suicide. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus aims to draw out his definition of absurdism and, later in the book, consider what strategies are available to people in living with the absurd. The absurd is often mischaracterized as the simple idea that life is meaningless. In fact, Camus defines the absurd as the confrontation ...

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  15. The Myth of Sisyphus: Embracing the Absurdity of Existence

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  16. The myth of Sisyphus : and other essays : Camus, Albert, 1913-1960

    The myth of Sisyphus : and other essays by Camus, Albert, 1913-1960. Publication date 1955 Publisher New York : Vintage Books Collection printdisabled; marygrovecollege; internetarchivebooks; americana Contributor Internet Archive Language English. viii, 151 p. ; 19 cm Translation of Le mythe de Sisyphe Access-restricted-item

  17. The Myth of Sisyphus, and Other Essays

    The Myth of Sisyphus, and Other Essays. Albert Camus. Knopf, 1955 - Literary Collections - 212 pages. One of the most influential works of the 20th century, this is a crucial exposition of existentialist thought. Influenced by works such as Don Juan and the novels of Kafka, these essays begin with a meditation on suicide: the question of living ...

  18. Albert Camus, Absurdity, and the Myth of Sisyphus

    One of Camus' central ideas is the concept of the absurd, which he explores in his essay "The Myth of Sisyphus." Camus argues that life is inherently meaningless and absurd, as human beings are constantly striving for meaning and purpose in a universe that is indifferent to their existence. Despite this inherent absurdity, Camus asserts that ...

  19. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

    The Myth of Sisyphus is a collection of philosophical essays by Albert Camus, exploring the Philosophy of the Absurd and its correlation between humanity's craving to give meaning to life and the unreasonableness and futility of the universe. There is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

  20. [PDF] The myth of Sisyphus, and other essays

    The myth of Sisyphus, and other essays. A. Camus. Published 1955. Philosophy. Preface ... The fundamental subject of "The Myth of Sisyphus" is this: it is legitimate and necessary to wonder whether life has a meaning; therefore it is legitimate to meet the problem of suicide face to face. The answer, underlying and appearing through the ...

  21. Say Yes to Distress

    The Myth of Sisyphus, as a defense of that view, is an essay about a moral choice represented by the image of ceaseless physical toil. It teaches the power and the morality of exercising one's free will to overcome a physical challenge.

  22. Sisyphus: Certainty and the hill I die on

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  27. Owen Peters's review of The Myth of Sisyphus

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  28. A Lesson About Living From a Survivor of Suicide

    "T here is but one truly serious philosophical problem," Albert Camus begins his 1942 essay, "The Myth of Sisyphus," "and that is suicide." It's a statement to which I've long ...