The Absurd is a much misunderstood philosophical category, primarily due to its sense of linguistic finality both in French and English. To use the expression “that’s absurd!” brings with it an automatic negative judgement and a feeling that all further discussion is thereby closed.
For Camus, “absurdity” is the given premise of all modern experience, an uneasy feeling, above all, a sense of contradiction, and is only the begining of a perception of life, its meaning and consequences. Unlike the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)–whose influence on him is considerable–Camus does not need to declare God “dead”. God, or any kind of divine “unmoved mover” or guiding hand for human life, does not even come into the picture.
Camus simply presumes the absence of any kind of universal logic or direction generally associated with the idea of divinity. He doesn’t even miss or desire God. No thanks, I’ll find my own way around the labyrinth.
Without divinity there can be no presumed code of conduct for human beings, nor any explanation of life’s meaning. We are simply thrown into this world and the outcome is death, pure and simple. There is only life before and nothing beyond. And yet, this absence of explanation is not, in itself, the idea of the Absurd.
“What is absurd is the confrontation between the sense of the irrational and the overwhelming desire for clarity which resounds in the depths of man.”
The Absurd is thus a pointless quest for meaning in a universe devoid of purpose. It is a totally human foible and, once again, only defines the begining of the questioning of existence. Coming to terms with the Absurd is what essentially concerns Camus, because this accounts for the terrible “weight and strangeness” of the world as experienced by every human being. The feeling of absurdity is “the separation between man and his life”, an actor walking out on stage and not recognizing the scenery or knowing the lines of the play he is supposed to speak, a sense of permanent displacement and un-belonging.
theory or knowing the lines of the play he is supposed to speak, a sense of permanent displacement