Albert Camus Teachings in The Myth of Sisyphus

July 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

There are two significant modalities within Camus’s works: the question of suicide, and the question of murder. In ‘The Myth of Sisyphus,’ Camus stated that there was only one serious philosophical problem, that of suicide. Everything else comes after. After Nietzsche’s proclamation of the death of God, Camus asked what now gave meaning to existence. It is a nihilistic universe that lies at the heart of Camus’ philosophy to which there is no intrinsic meaning. However, Camus was not a nihilist, far from it. Camus was a great affirmer of life who argued that we must accept the totality of the universe, even with the suffering and turmoil it brings. As he wrote see here:’ I have sought to transcend our darkest nihilism out of an inherent fidelity on to a light in which I was born, and in which for thousands of years men have learned to welcome life even in suffering’ (Camus). The question Camus sought to answer then was how the individual was able to rebel against a world of indifference and affirm one’s life in such a universe. Still, the question of rebellion in ‘The Plague’ demonstrates an evolution in Camus’s thoughts, which focuses not solely on the individual but the collective society. From Camus’s absurdism, I learned the meaning of existence in life. I say this because of Camus’ lessons in purpose in life, behavior in society, vocation, and leadership.

From Sisyphus, I learned the importance of pursuing happiness and meaning in life. After I read this essay, I thought about the things we do every day that would be an example of Sisyphus; in a way, we find the meaning and joy of pushing our rock again. As we can see in the following quote: ‘Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward tlower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain’ (Sisyphus) we could say that the stone, are our goals that often go wrong, but we fight until we can achieve then. For example, It was when I was doing poorly in my Physics class in high school. I review my classwork from the beginning so I could receive the grades I wanted, even though I had to go back and study twice as harder because I continued my struggles in life like Sisyphus. Sisyphus didn’t mind going back to the rock because he felt superior to it, as shown in this state:’ At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock’ (Sisyphus). This state shows how he never felt inferior because he always thought he would accomplish it. That is why I believe that I can do anything I propose in life as long I work hard to get it, for finding meaning and happiness. Every single person is an example of Sisyphus, since we have a daily routine in our lives, as we can see in this quote: ‘The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious’ (Sisyphus). I believe that the most significant learning of Camus was that we must follow happiness and signify in our lives since it is essential in my journey.

Also, from Meursault, I learned the importance of behavior in society. Meursault is a man of great indifference in his life because when his mother died, he was neither disturbed nor mourning. On the contrary, for me, when someone in my family dies, it is significant when is closer to myself as it happened to Mausault when his mother died, he shows this when he said: ‘Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday’ (‘Stranger’ 1). Like Meursault, my grandmother, died two weeks ago, she was living in the Dominican Republic. Whenever I could, I called my grandmother to talk to her about how she felt; there was a day I finished talking to her, and after that, my uncle called to tell me she died of a heart attack. I felt dragged side up-down, which is why I would never agree with his behavior towards his mother’s death. Even his reaction at the funeral was very different from what I have ever experienced in my life. Since, in the Dominican Republic, it is usually drinking coffee at the funeral but not smoking as Mausault did in this quote: ‘Then he offered to bring me a cup of coffee with milk. I like milk in my coffee, so I said yes, and he came back a few minutes later with a tray. I drank coffee.

Then I felt like having a smoke. But I hesitated because I didn’t know if I could do it with Maman right there. I thought about it; it didn’t matter. I offered the caretaker a cigarette, and we smoked’ (8). I think what Meursault feels here is a twinge of self-consciousness, because he is unsure of whether he is doing the right thing or not, since he ultimately excuses it as something meaningless. Also when I’m at funerals, I think about the person who died, not the insignificant things as Meursault did, as we can see in this quote: ‘He said I hadn’t wanted to see Maman, that I had smoked and slept some, and that I had had some coffee. It was then that I felt a stirring go through the room, and for the first time, I realized that I was guilty’ (90). This quote reminded me about when my uncle died, my mother could not sleep at all and was inconsolable, contrary to Meursault, that was thinking of sleeping throughout the whole funeral. After all, I learned the importance of behavior in society since everything Mausault did at the funeral was the meaning of his life.

Another lesson was Dr. Paul Volberding, who taught me the importance of finding my vocation. To have Dr. Volberding speak in my class was terrific, a hero in the AIDS crisis. I remember when he said that: ‘Nothing prepares doctors for something new, like what happens in San Francisco in early 1980’ (Volberding). Since when there are new diseases, it may have seen in the past in other countries, and we will continue to see it in the future because the conditions move from place to place. That’s why when a new epidemic emerges; it is because it existed previously. For example, in the Dominican Republic, when there was an epidemic of the Zika, we didn’t know how the virus started. Later on, we discovered that it comes from the mosquito, and that first existed in Uganda Country in East Africa. But one of the most important messages from Dr. Volberding was when he mentioned the value of the time, as he said: ‘Don’t waste time doing things that you find boring if you can manage to do what excites you.’ When Dr. Volberding started his career, he spent all his time in the laboratory because he loved research. Still, when Dr. Volberding stayed in the laboratory full time and realized he didn’t like it as much as he wanted to, because Dr.Volberding finds that he wants to take care of patients. That reminds me of when my brother was studying electrical engineering; then, after two years, he discovered that he loves technology like Dr.Volberding. After he said that, I have to do what excites me; I decided that I will do community service in the dentist to be sure that in the future, that’s what I want to be. Like Mr.Sanghvi graduated from Yale University who come to my class twice for success, he stated: ‘The group of people sing in the Titanic find meaning doing while the boat is sinking because they are doing what they love.’ Finally, I have to find my vocation to see what makes me happy.

Also through, Dr.Rieux, I learned the usefulness of leadership in society. In the plague, Dr.Rieux was a hero for me because Rieux becomes one of the first people in the town to recognize the epidemic for what it is, and he helps lead the fight against it. For Dr.Rieux, his patients were his top priority, as we can see in this quote: ‘After the reception of the patients, which he personally supervised, Rieux injected serum, lanced buboes, checked the statistics again, and returned for his afternoon consultations. Only when night was setting in did he start on his round of visits, and never got home till a very late hour’ (‘Plague’ 89). The role Dr.Rieux played in the plague, helped me to understand why I want to be a dentist, and it’s because, like Dr. Rieux, I want to be able to help people feel good to see that I have been able to help and contribute with something. In the next state Tarrou and Dr.Rieux show that it is essential doing good and lead in society: ‘But let us add that this goodwill of theirs was one that is shared by the schoolmaster and by all who have the same feelings as the schoolmaster, and, be it said to the credit of mankind’ (132). As we can see, Dr. Rieux agreed that when you do good to people and work without waiting for anything in return, you help your community. One example was when, in the Dominican Republic, every Saturday in the morning, I did like to visit the elderly home to bring food and help, as I could, which made me happy, as Dr. Rieux makes him pleased to lead people to be healthy. Then after seeing all the work that Dr. Rieux did like separate from his sick wife to stay and collaborate with the society that needed him at that time, it was what made me think that we should all do the same to help others for our wellness. That is why one of the lessons I learned from Dr. Rieux was that we should collaborate more with our community and society. After learning how useful leadership is in society, I feel that we must volunteer much more within our society.

Finally, Cottard taught me the ability to repent. When Oran falls under total quarantine, Cottard is happy because he no longer feels alone in his state of constant fear. Tarrou asked Cottard why he doesn’t join them to fight the plague, but Cottard said: ‘It is not my job’ (‘Plague’ 158). And all because Cottard committed a crime for which he wanted to commit suicide, but later realized that it was a mistake as we can see in this quote: ‘It was all a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes. And I can’t bear the idea of being pulled in for that, of being torn from my home and habits and everyone I know’ ( 159). I agree with Cottard that anyone is perfect since we can make mistakes, but I think the most important thing is to repent as Cottard did since he accepted what he did. Throughout, I disagree with no wanting to pay the price for what he did. For example, once in high school, I used a calculator in an exam where I was not allowed to use it, after using it I felt bad for myself and so I confess myself to the teacher. That way, Cottard taught me the ability to repent. Moreover, it is never too late to admit what I did. It was through Cottard that my account that we must always do the right thing to be at peace with oneself.

To conclude, the teachings through Camus characters like; Sisyphus, Meursault, Dr. Reieux, and Cottard as well as the hero of AIDSDr. Paul Volberding gave me an understanding that I always have the opportunity to achieve what I propose because no matter how desperate we are, we still have a chance. Like a drop of water in a desert. Previously, I always worried about meaningless things, and now that Camus taught me the meaning of existence. I understand what the essential in my life is. It was a fantastic engraving that I will always remember, Thank you, Camus.


Read more