The myth of Sisyphus’ by Camus and Existentialism by Sartre



            “The myth of Sisyphus’ by Camus and Existentialism by Sartre

             The French philosopher Albert Camus (1913-1960) is of a different opinion to that of Sartre in regards to philosophy and politics of existentialism. The most striking contradiction is the conception of the absurd. Camus's opinion coincides with that of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche in that absurdity is a result of the absence of God while for Sartre it belongs to a world before the activity of the consciousness. Camus suggests that without embracing God, there is an acute discrepancy between the world and human aspirations. The “The myth of Sisyphus” highlights a Greek myth of a character punished by the gods to push a rock up a mountain for all eternity only for it to roll back down to the bottom. It elucidates the concept of the absurd. It bases its argument that the world is not rational. Therefore, the only option is for a man to deal with this irrationality in the course of pursuit of happiness and reason (Spelletich, 2003 p.1). The absurdity arises from this conflict between human aspirations and the irrationality in the world.

            Absurdity raises the issue of suicide and the meaning of life becoming the “truly serious philosophical problem”. The myth paints a potent image of futility. Camus responds to this by suggesting lucid recognition of the absurdity of existence to liberate one from belief in another life-permitting one to live for the moment, pleasure, beauty, and grandeur of existence. He defines suicide as having clarity and courage of mind that eliminates comfort illusions and self-deceit. Camus’s lucidity is comparable to Sartre’s anguish, but in the end is more positive than the latter (Ann, 1999 p.2). Camus imagines that Sisyphus must be happy because he rolls the rock up the mountain again and again despite being a futile exercise. According to Sartre, judging whether life is truly worth living amounts to providing answers to a fundamental question of philosophy. Other aspects of life come afterward. In truth, it is a futile question. Others die because they judge life is not worth living while others get killed for their ideas, which give them a reason for living (Spelletich, 2003 p.1). Sartre, thus, concludes that the meaning of life is the most pertinent question to answer.

             Camus argues that there no idea worth dying for. He takes suicide as a kind of confession in response to one's inability to deal with the world's absurdity. It is the absurdity that transforms a familiar world into an exile. However, suicide is not a legitimate answer to tackling the absurd. Camus questions further and arrives at positivity and defeat of the absurd as the answer. He firmly states the real effort lies not in committing suicide or hope for another life but facing the absurd face to face and triumphing.

            Camus agrees with Sartre that man is limited in reasoning, which makes it insufficient in clearing the irrationality of the world. Sartre observes that the world is fine and arranged till one's hopes and dreams conflict an irrational world at which point their world’s cracks and tumbles. When faced with these realities, a reliable answer is a belief in one’s self. According to Camus the strongest evidence of this concept is the physical sciences. He realizes that even sciences that boast of clarity and rationality ultimately borrow on poetry, art, or metaphor (Camus, 1955 p. 5). He suggests that even intelligent thinkers conclude that the world is absurd. However, it would be a mistake to view the world or the human world as absurd. The realization of the conflict between the world and man is what assists in clarifying individual desires. Camus believes in the three elements: the world, the man, and the absurd, which are inseparable. Without one, the others cannot function properly (Bialor & Cosman, 1956 p. 5). Man wants to make sense of the world, but it cannot make sense enabling one to see the absurd through the conflict.

             Revolt is the only logical consequence of the absurd according to Camus. An absurd man is ready to accept death rather than philosophical and physical suicide. The value of life is through revolt, devoid of unapproachable hope and confusion. He concurs like Sartre and explains that the absurd liberates man and facilitates them to achieve freedom of thought and action (Daniel & Daniel, 2007 p.13). Camus is not against the Sartre in that he tends to concur with his atheistic existential philosophy, as they both talk about the same kind of freedom. Achieving consciousness by rejecting all outer rules represents the first step to achieving absurd freedom (Ann, 1999 p.2). However, Camus objects to existential preaching alluding to spiritual leap to escape consciousness.

            The second consequence of the absurdity hence is freedom. In relation to the third consequence, which is passion, he opines that in an absurd world what counts is the most living rather than best living. Therefore, rather than committing suicide, one should face the absurd with courage, full consciousness, and revolt to attain passion and freedom. Camus uses the mythical character of Sisyphus to provide responses to the absurd. He compares him to the workman of today who works on the same tasks every day without complaining. After analyzing "the myth of Sisyphus" it can plausible to argue that Camus's philosophy of tension of the absurd is one of the limitations (Bialor & Cosman, 1956 p. 4). The myth ends in optimism rather than pessimism devoid of the hope for another life and regard for an irrational world. It is better to live and revolt rather than commit physical or philosophical suicide.






Ann, P. (19 9). Apostles of Sartre. Existentialism in America. Northwestern University Press.

Bialor, P., & Cosman, M. (1956). Two Views of Camus. Chicago Review, 10(3), 91-97. doi:10.2307/25293259

Camus, A. (1955). The Myth of Sisyphus and other stories. 2020. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

DANIEL, D. M., & DANIEL, D. M. (2007). Sartres existentialism and humanism. Scm Press

Spelletich, K. (2003). The Myth of Sisyphus. Leonardo, 36(5), 359-359. Retrieved May 15, 2020, from

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