Tagged: Suicide

Suicide and the Absurd

In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus implores his readers to acknowledge and accept the “Absurdity” of the contradiction between human rationality and the irrationality of the world. In his attempt to explain why we shouldn’t just kill ourselves once becoming conscious of the Absurd, Camus’ comes up with a seemingly unsatisfactory response: if we are to embrace the Absurdity of our existence, then we cannot commit suicide, because to do so would take a fundamental and necessary component of the paradox of the Absurd out of the equation: namely, ourselves. One must remember that for Camus, it is not existence itself that is Absurd, but the contradiction between the demands of human rationality, including its exceeding demand for conceptual ordering and structure, in a fundamentally and primordially irrational, chaotic world. Thus, if one is to truly confront the Absurd, the paradox of Absurdity must be lived but without the imposition of our false expectations and rational ordering.

While I certainly can appreciate Camus’ analysis of Absurdity, as well as his originality, I cannot share his conclusions with respect to physical suicide. It seems as though the only way to authentically embrace and confront Absurdity would be to retreat into what is, insofar as the rational-conscious component of our being is concerned, most irrational of all: the voluntary taking of one’s own life. Thus, rather than representing an attempt to escape absurdity, suicide would appear to take absurdity to its penultimate gloomy conclusion.