Camus and Sartre on the AbsurdSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Please contact email@example.com to use this work in a way not covered by the license. :
For more information, read Michigan Publishing's access and usage policy.
In this paper, I highlight the philosophical differences between Camus’s and Sartre’s notions of the absurd. “The absurd” is a technical term for both philosophers, and they mean different things by it. The Camusian absurd is a mismatch between theoretical reasoning and practical reasoning. The Sartrean absurd, in contrast, is our theoretical inability to explain contingency or existence. For Sartre, there is only relative, local absurdity; for Camus, the absurd is universal and absolute. I show how their different understandings of the absurd led to Sartre’s misreading of The Stranger; he misses its main mechanism for generating the feeling of the absurd because he reads the novel through his own conception. In order to draw out their philosophical differences, I will provide a reading of the novel that contrasts with Sartre’s.