Sunday, January 10, 2010

Camus and a point of view--40 years past

Many have an aversion to the existential philosophy [popular in the 1960s] that stated among many other things that the universe had no purpose and that the individual must make sense of it the best he can.

"Matt Weinstock, Jan. 9, 1960"


Larry Harnisch

January 9th, 2010

The Daily Mirror

Albert Camus, 46, an important man in modern world thinking, was killed in an auto accident near Paris this week and it is appropriate that his most comprehensive obituary here should be in a university paper, the Daily Trojan.

There, Dr. William S. Snyder, SC philosophy prof. interviewed by Nita Biss, told what Camus, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957, stood for.

Philosophy is not an easy subject to understand without some basic training but, this being a leisurely Saturday, let’s give it a whirl.

CAMUS WAS AN EXISTENTIALIST, a rather forbidding word, and his novels, plays and essays were an expression of his philosophy, which holds that the universe is without purpose and man must work out for himself whatever meaning he finds in life. Many persons, of course, disagree violently with existentialism.

“Camus, probably better than any other writer,” Dr. Snyder said, “has been able to see through the tangled maze of problems confronting modern man.”

With other existentialists, Camus found that the traditional methods of philosophy and science offered no solution to man’s search for meanings. But whereas they, including Jean Paul Sartre, created mythologies as their solutions, Camus concluded, as Dr. Snyder put it, that “The life an individual lives is the life he creates, consciously or unconsciously.”

It was Camus’ belief, Dr. Snyder added, that the individual had better stop confronting the universe and confront the problems presented him in the life he has to live.

Too deep? Well, librarians will tell you that there is a greater interest than ever before in all phases of philosophy. Besides, I’ve been fascinated by the stuff ever since my UCLA prof. Dr. Barrett, managed years ago to seep a little of it through my skull.

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