Camus and Nihilism

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Camus published an essay entitled ‘Nietzsche and Nihilism,’ which was later incorporated into The Rebel. Camus' aim was to assess Nietzsche's response to the problem of nihilism. My aim is to do the same with Camus. The paper explores Camus' engagement with nihilism through its two major modalities: with respect to the individual and the question of suicide in The Myth of Sisyphus, and with respect to the collective and the question of murder in The Rebel. While a Nietzschean influence thoroughly suffuses both books, it is in the second that Camus' most explicit, and most critical, engagement with the German philosopher takes place. The crux of Camus' critique of Nietzsche is that the absolute affirmation of existence he proposes as a response to nihilism cannot say ‘no’ to murder. In the terms of Camus' discussion in The Rebel, Nietzsche's philosophy is thus culpable in the straying of rebellion from its own foundations and its slide into bloody revolution. First, the paper argues that Camus' criticisms of Nietzsche are misplaced. Camus focuses his analysis on sections of the problematic text The Will to Power and misses important sections of Nietzsche's published texts which in fact support the condemnation of revolution which is the project of The Rebel. However, the paper argues that Camus moves beyond Nietzsche in radically democratizing the response to nihilism. While Nietzsche's hopes for the creation of meaning are focused on exceptional individuals, Camus insists that any response to nihilism needs to be accessible to the average person. Such a move is laudable, but it raises a number of questions and challenges regarding the type of problem nihilism is, and how these might be addressed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)543-559
    Number of pages17
    JournalSophia
    Volume50
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Fingerprint

    Nihilism
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    Rebel
    Murder
    Revolution
    Criticism
    Person
    Rebellion
    German philosopher
    Philosophy
    Affirmation
    Will to Power
    Condemnation
    Modality
    Suicide

    Keywords

    • Nihilism
    • Camus, Albert
    • Nietzsche, Friedrich

    Cite this

    Woodward, Ashley. / Camus and Nihilism. In: Sophia. 2011 ; Vol. 50, No. 4. pp. 543-559.
    @article{ad4598321038453591a2b80d3745203e,
    title = "Camus and Nihilism",
    abstract = "Camus published an essay entitled ‘Nietzsche and Nihilism,’ which was later incorporated into The Rebel. Camus' aim was to assess Nietzsche's response to the problem of nihilism. My aim is to do the same with Camus. The paper explores Camus' engagement with nihilism through its two major modalities: with respect to the individual and the question of suicide in The Myth of Sisyphus, and with respect to the collective and the question of murder in The Rebel. While a Nietzschean influence thoroughly suffuses both books, it is in the second that Camus' most explicit, and most critical, engagement with the German philosopher takes place. The crux of Camus' critique of Nietzsche is that the absolute affirmation of existence he proposes as a response to nihilism cannot say ‘no’ to murder. In the terms of Camus' discussion in The Rebel, Nietzsche's philosophy is thus culpable in the straying of rebellion from its own foundations and its slide into bloody revolution. First, the paper argues that Camus' criticisms of Nietzsche are misplaced. Camus focuses his analysis on sections of the problematic text The Will to Power and misses important sections of Nietzsche's published texts which in fact support the condemnation of revolution which is the project of The Rebel. However, the paper argues that Camus moves beyond Nietzsche in radically democratizing the response to nihilism. While Nietzsche's hopes for the creation of meaning are focused on exceptional individuals, Camus insists that any response to nihilism needs to be accessible to the average person. Such a move is laudable, but it raises a number of questions and challenges regarding the type of problem nihilism is, and how these might be addressed.",
    keywords = "Nihilism, Camus, Albert, Nietzsche, Friedrich",
    author = "Ashley Woodward",
    year = "2011",
    doi = "10.1007/s11841-011-0274-0",
    language = "English",
    volume = "50",
    pages = "543--559",
    journal = "Sophia",
    issn = "0038-1527",
    publisher = "Springer Netherlands",
    number = "4",

    }

    Camus and Nihilism. / Woodward, Ashley.

    In: Sophia, Vol. 50, No. 4, 2011, p. 543-559.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Camus and Nihilism

    AU - Woodward, Ashley

    PY - 2011

    Y1 - 2011

    N2 - Camus published an essay entitled ‘Nietzsche and Nihilism,’ which was later incorporated into The Rebel. Camus' aim was to assess Nietzsche's response to the problem of nihilism. My aim is to do the same with Camus. The paper explores Camus' engagement with nihilism through its two major modalities: with respect to the individual and the question of suicide in The Myth of Sisyphus, and with respect to the collective and the question of murder in The Rebel. While a Nietzschean influence thoroughly suffuses both books, it is in the second that Camus' most explicit, and most critical, engagement with the German philosopher takes place. The crux of Camus' critique of Nietzsche is that the absolute affirmation of existence he proposes as a response to nihilism cannot say ‘no’ to murder. In the terms of Camus' discussion in The Rebel, Nietzsche's philosophy is thus culpable in the straying of rebellion from its own foundations and its slide into bloody revolution. First, the paper argues that Camus' criticisms of Nietzsche are misplaced. Camus focuses his analysis on sections of the problematic text The Will to Power and misses important sections of Nietzsche's published texts which in fact support the condemnation of revolution which is the project of The Rebel. However, the paper argues that Camus moves beyond Nietzsche in radically democratizing the response to nihilism. While Nietzsche's hopes for the creation of meaning are focused on exceptional individuals, Camus insists that any response to nihilism needs to be accessible to the average person. Such a move is laudable, but it raises a number of questions and challenges regarding the type of problem nihilism is, and how these might be addressed.

    AB - Camus published an essay entitled ‘Nietzsche and Nihilism,’ which was later incorporated into The Rebel. Camus' aim was to assess Nietzsche's response to the problem of nihilism. My aim is to do the same with Camus. The paper explores Camus' engagement with nihilism through its two major modalities: with respect to the individual and the question of suicide in The Myth of Sisyphus, and with respect to the collective and the question of murder in The Rebel. While a Nietzschean influence thoroughly suffuses both books, it is in the second that Camus' most explicit, and most critical, engagement with the German philosopher takes place. The crux of Camus' critique of Nietzsche is that the absolute affirmation of existence he proposes as a response to nihilism cannot say ‘no’ to murder. In the terms of Camus' discussion in The Rebel, Nietzsche's philosophy is thus culpable in the straying of rebellion from its own foundations and its slide into bloody revolution. First, the paper argues that Camus' criticisms of Nietzsche are misplaced. Camus focuses his analysis on sections of the problematic text The Will to Power and misses important sections of Nietzsche's published texts which in fact support the condemnation of revolution which is the project of The Rebel. However, the paper argues that Camus moves beyond Nietzsche in radically democratizing the response to nihilism. While Nietzsche's hopes for the creation of meaning are focused on exceptional individuals, Camus insists that any response to nihilism needs to be accessible to the average person. Such a move is laudable, but it raises a number of questions and challenges regarding the type of problem nihilism is, and how these might be addressed.

    KW - Nihilism

    KW - Camus, Albert

    KW - Nietzsche, Friedrich

    U2 - 10.1007/s11841-011-0274-0

    DO - 10.1007/s11841-011-0274-0

    M3 - Article

    VL - 50

    SP - 543

    EP - 559

    JO - Sophia

    JF - Sophia

    SN - 0038-1527

    IS - 4

    ER -