Camus on Freedom, Happiness and Suicide in Myth of Sisyphus


  • Author Ikhenoba Joseph
  • Published December 20, 2022
  • Word count 2,205


Approximately 1.5% of all deaths worldwide are by suicide (Fazel and Runeson, 2020). More than 800,000 people commit suicide every year – around one person every 40 seconds – (World Health Organization, 2022). In Myth of Sisyphus, Camus undertakes the venture of answering what he considers to be the most effective query of philosophy that topics: Does the belief of the meaninglessness and absurdity of existence always require suicide? He starts with the aid of describing the absurd situation that we build our lives on the wish for tomorrow, but day after day brings us in the direction of dying and it is the remaining enemy. Humans live their lives as if they were no longer aware of the knowledge of dying. Once stripped of its common romanticism, the world is an oversea, atypical and an inhumane vicinity that genuine understanding is impossible, rationality and technology cannot provide an explanation. Their memories in the end, end in meaningless abstractions, in metaphors. That is the absurd condition and from the instant absurdity is identified, it becomes an ardour, the most harrowing of all.

On freedom, Camus elucidates phrases redolent with benevolence. We just like the idea of being unfastened. We are outraged at the notion of being un-loose. It is frequently offered to us as a polarity: unfastened expression, free desire and democracy, on the one hand – and repression, censorship and autocracy on the alternative. We are to shield the former from the latter. In same vein, Camus argues that “there is the freedom that everybody has to choose between options, to do/think/refuse/etc. one thing or another, and then there is the “Absurd freedom” (Camus, 1957). In Plato's philosophy, people are not equally well prepared in phrases of their intellectual capacity to make morally and almost sound selections. Plato asserts (that sounds logical, even to modern thinkers) that every human being has a specified talent and should therefore be assigned to a specific job. This logically leads him to the conclusion that there can only be certain people that are capable of ruling. (Ulrich, 2015). We cannot live our day by day lives as though there is no means inside the universe. We cannot generate our very own faux. It’s intrinsic. So all we are able to do is pick a route that is in accordance with our ethical framework, that offers a few measure of achievement, and circulate forward. And that’s precisely what Camus’ endorsed with meaning. The pursuit of intrinsic meaning in the universe may seem highly dissimilar to a conversation about free will, but it turns out to be remarkably similar. (Daniel, 2018).

On happiness, Camus states that happiness and the absurd are carefully related. They are both connected to the invention that our rationality and our destiny is our very own, that there is hope and that our lifestyles is purely what we make of it. As he descends the mountain, Sisyphus is definitely aware of his fate. Camus concludes: "One should consider Sisyphus happy.” Although, research seems to show that sadness - and happiness - result from styles in our lives patterns; on how the matters we do embark on, which can be called behavioural styles, might affect our cognitive patterns. Specific behavioural and cognitive patterns cause special emotional patterns that are aligned to how happy we sense each day. Many things can make people unhappy, but the rise of global unhappiness has five main causes according to Gallup’s research: poverty, broken communities, hunger, loneliness and the scarcity of good work.

Today, 17% of people find it very difficult to get by on their present income. Broken communities aren’t helping: 2 billion people are so unhappy with where they live that they wouldn’t recommend their community to anyone they know. (Jon, 2022). “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” (Camus, 1957) For this reason, Camus arrives at three outcomes from completely acknowledging the absurd: suicide, freedom, and happiness, which forms the fundamental problems in human perspective today.


In these day’s society, the quantity of suicide cases is becoming increasingly common because of the accelerated pressure faced by humans. We are taking the term suicide too liberally without knowledge that suicide itself has special reasoning and rationale behind its notion. According to Emile Durkheim, the term “suicide is applied to all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim, which he/she knows will produce this result” (Pickering and Walford, 2011). Durkheim identifies four different types of suicide which are egoistic suicide, altruistic suicide, anomic suicide and fatalistic suicide.

However, Camus opens “An Absurd Reasoning,” the first essay in his collection The Myth of Sisyphus, with these words: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer.”(Camus, 1942). Camus embraces the fact that it's far important that we do not die of our own unfastened will because our embracing the absurd leads us day-to-day to take all of life and provide what we have. He exemplifies that suicide is a repudiation. The absurd man can best drain the whole thing every day and deplete himself. The absurd is his extreme anxiety, which he maintains constantly by means of solitary attempt, for he knows that during that recognition and in that rebel he offers evidence of his handiest fact, which is defiance.

Camus advertently describes our human lives as much like the torture of Sisyphus, who was condemned to roll the same stone up a mountain, simply to have it roll down again, over and over until the end of time. Sisyphus was being punished in component due to the fact he had escaped the underworld once and lived a few years enjoying existence on the planet. Now he is back within the underworld at his quintessentially meaningless mission. Camus unearths this absurd and he unearths dealing with the absurd heroic.

Nodding toward Durkheim, Camus tells us that suicide has been handled most effective as a social phenomenon and that he is rather worried with the relationship between individual thought and suicide. The problem he lays out is the general meaninglessness of life and the way absurd makes our lives sound and fury. Never the less, the absurd is tolerable. Camus writes that it's miles no greater than wordplay to conclude that because existence has no ultimate, doesn’t means it isn't always well worth living. The shortage of universal reason or purpose does not imply that there's no fee to dwelling.


Camus indicates that Sisyphus may even approach his assignment with pleasure. The moments of sorrow or despair come while he sets back at the arena he left behind, while he hopes or wishes for happiness. When Sisyphus accepts his destiny, however, the sorrow and despair of it vanished. Camus suggests that acknowledging "crushing truths" like the eternity and futility of his destiny is enough to render them much less crushing. Happiness and the absurd are closely interrelated, suggests Camus. They are each linked to the invention that our world and our fate is personal, that there may be hope and that our lifestyles is only what we make of it. As he descends the mountain, Sisyphus is definitely aware of his destiny. Camus concludes: "One ought to believe Sisyphus was glad." Camus has argued that the absurd hero sees existence as a steady war, without desire. Any try to deny or avoid the struggle and the hopelessness that outline our lives is an attempt to break out from this absurd contradiction. Camus's unmarried requirement for the absurd man is that he stays with full consciousness of the absurdity of his role. While Sisyphus is pushing his rock up the mountain, there was toil and battle. But in those moments where Sisyphus descends the mountain unfastened from his burden, he became aware. He knows that he'll battle for all time and he knows that this conflict gets him nowhere. This consciousness is exactly the identical consciousness that an absurd human has on this existence. So long as Sisyphus is conscious, his destiny is no exceptional and no worse than our lot in life. If the soar into wish or faith represents a try and get away from the fact of our destiny, and if happiness is handiest and feasible via any such leap, then happiness would basically be an escape.

Life itself could be inherently unhappy and happiness could be a sham born out of denial. We should believe Sisyphus was satisfied if we want to agree within contextual sphere of actual happiness. Camus basically believes the idea that human experience is the handiest component. This is actual. If he wishes to expose that happiness is actual, he need to show that humans can without a doubt be glad primarily based on their studies, now not on their denial to enjoy. If happiness is real, we have to be capable of discovering happiness without relying on hope, faith, or anything else that is going past the spot existence. The Myth of Sisyphus is basically a complex strive to expose that this is viable, and it concludes with its starting premise: if proper happiness is viable, then Sisyphus have to be satisfied.


In his book “The Rebel”, Camus argues that: “Every human is free, but freedom itself is relative; one must embrace limits, moderation, ‘calculated risks and absolutes which are anti-human.” (Camus, 1951). He reiterates that there are best certainties in life, man’s appetite for the absolute and for harmony and the impossibility of decreasing this intentional to a rational and reasonable principle.” To cope with the absurd, he says man must consistently understand those records. He believes that this constitutes a form of freedom, wherein man can live completely with what he knows. He examines the notion of “freedom” on the subject of the absurd. Before a man confronts the absurd, says Camus, he lives his life as though he have been loose by contemplating the future, establishing targets for himself and having possibilities. All of these are undermined by using the certainty of dying. Suicide could represent an elimination of absurd freedom, and therefore is not a rational answer. “The concept of freedom is linked closely to the ideas of responsibility and autonomy. “Freedom implies having personal responsibility, it gives you responsibility . . . . I am responsible for me, for what I choose to do . . . and for the type of person I want to become". (Svendsen, 2014).

The British philosopher Isaiah Berlin (1958) made a distinction between positive liberty and negative liberty in his essay "Two Concepts of Liberty." He defined negative liberty as the absence of constraints on, or interference with, an agent's possible action. Greater "negative freedom" meant fewer restrictions on possible action. Berlin associated positive liberty with the idea of self-mastery, or the capacity to determine oneself, to be in control of one's destiny. Positive liberty should be exercised within the constraints of negative liberty.


Kierkegaard sees life as profoundly absurd, due to its central lack of meaning. He thereby proposes that we take “a leap of faith,” essentially arguing that belief in God will ultimately provide one’s life with meaning. Camus opposes this form of escapism, claiming that existentialists “deify what crushes them and find reason to hope in what impoverishes them” (Erik Van Aken, 2019). Therefore, Camus recommends that you: get outdoor, revel in the light, move for a stroll by means of the seashore, play some football, have lunch at a café with a friend, refuse to provide into melancholy, and include the meaninglessness of existence via selecting to carry on with what you enjoy doing in spite of the dearth of which means to your moves. He believes that existence is really worth dwelling and need to be embraced. Whilst it's miles difficult to face meaninglessness without withdrawing into the loving palms of faith, technology, society, or even generating meaning ourselves, Camus encourages us to bravely face the absurd with a grin on our face.


  1. Albert, Camus (1942). The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

  2. Albert, Camus (1954). The Rebel. NY: Knopf, 1954. 1st Ed.

  3. Aken, (2019).Camus on the Absurd: The Myth of Sisyphus.

  4. Berlin, Isaiah (1958). Two Concepts of Liberty. London: Clarendon Press.

  5. Daniel, Meissler (2018). Free Will and the Absurdist Chasm.

  6. Fazel S, Runeson B (January 2020). "Suicide". New England Journal of Medicine. 382 (3):

266– 74. Doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1902944. PMC 7116087. PMID 31940700. S2CID 210332277.

  1. Jennifer Michael Hecht (2016). The Absurd Courage of Choosing to Live.

  2. Jon, Clifton (2022). Unhappiness is soaring around the world. The Economist.

  3. Lars, Svendsen (2014). A Philosophy of Freedom, Kerri Pierce (tr.), Reaktion Books, 287pp

  4. Pickering W.S.F; Geoffrey, W. (2000); British Centre for Durkheimian Studies. Durkheim’s

Suicide: a century of research and debate. Psychology Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-415-20582-5.

Retrieved 13 April 2011.

  1. Ulrich, Roschitsch (2015). The Concepts of Human Freedom and Radical questioning in the

works of Plato, René Descartes, and Albert Camus.pp 150.

I am Ikhenoba, Joseph. A and graduate in Biochemistry from University of Nigeria, Nsukka and University of Lagos, Akoka respectively. I have published a poetry called Weathering World and also published Poems in Poem hunter. I love writing because it enables me to speak with the audience. My email is If you have comments or questions, I am always willing to attend to them.

Article source:
This article has been viewed 176 times.

Rate article

This article has a 4 rating with 1 vote.

Article comments

There are no posted comments.