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The existentialist theory of Albert Camus

The existentialist theory of Albert Camus

July 26, 2022

Existentialism is one of the philosophical currents that have most influenced contemporary thinking and the history of Psychology. Because of its influence, for example, appeared the Humanist Psychology of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, among others, authors who emphasized the importance of the subjective aspects of consciousness.

Now, to understand what is existentialism is not enough to know the footprint left in a part of Psychology. It is preferable to know its foundations, among which is the existentialist theory of Albert Camus . Next we will see the main aspects of the philosophy of this author.


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Who was Albert Camus? Short biography

Camus was born in French Algeria in 1913 . Because of the death of his father in World War II, he grew up with his mother in an environment of great poverty and precariousness.

When arriving at the young adult he studied philosophy in the University of Algiers, and later, with 25 years, moved to Paris, place in which it was involved in political movements and began to military in the French Communist Party. Shortly after it was expelled from the same because of its discrepancies on the objectives pursued in the political action. During world war II actively participated in the underground press and wrote part of the works that made him famous.


Some time after the armed conflict disappeared, in 1957, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in a car accident at 46 years old.

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The existentialist theory of Camus

The philosophical interests of Camus were a reflection of the convulsive period in which he lived. On the one hand, the serious armed conflicts questioned the idea of ​​progress caused by technological advances, and on the other the great ideological movements seemed to show that had lost a common frame of reference . The human being had lost a vector, a direction to move to reach goals pursued by all and unequivocally positive.

Existentialism explores this feeling of disorientation, as we will see in the main characteristics of Albert Camus's theory.


1. The subjective sense of meaning

Albert Camus begins by recognizing that human beings, spontaneously, develop a very strong sense of purpose, linked to their own identity. In other words, we internalize the idea that life makes sense , without anyone having to educate us in that direction. In turn, as we will see, this gets us into trouble without hardly knowing why, without noticing that from the beginning we have fallen into a trap.

2. The absence of the meaning of life

In turn, another of the main components of the existentialist theory of Albert Camus is the principle that life, in reality, has no meaning. It is a conclusion to which the philosopher comes simply by examining the arguments in favor of a meaning of life, and without finding a single reason why it should exist.

In turn, all recent scientific findings began to explain more and more knowledge plots veiled until then, which did not need the figure of a god who could give meaning to humanity. Camus thought that we are entirely human, and as such we are alone .

3. The contradiction of life

The two previous elements hint at a contradiction within our existence. We believe that our lives make sense, but this is false, and when reality gives us signs of this, we are frustrated, we perceive it as an attack on our identity and an existential crisis appears that generates a lot of discomfort .

So, for Camus, to get to live in a desirable way implies overcoming this contradiction, looking beyond it and accepting that tension that causes the emptiness of meaning.

4. Assuming non-sense

How to get to live well? The solution lies in assuming the absence of a sense built from the outside and constructing oneself. This is the revolutionary idea inherited by many thinkers interested in self-realization. If the absence of a meaning of life can be suffocating, at least it is an indicator that we have the freedom to assign a totally original meaning and proper to everything we do.

In this way, from the existentialism of Albert Camus each person has the responsibility to trace his own history. Independently of the objective facts that happen to him, he is one who interprets his vital trajectory according to the narration he has built about it.

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PHILOSOPHY - Albert Camus (July 2022).


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