When people speak of existentialism philosophy, often one of the first names to spring to mind is that of Albert Camus. And no wonder! He was one of the leading figures in the field, not to mention a Nobel Prize winner. So then it might seem slightly odd that he strongly rejected this label, saying, “No, I am not an existentialist. [Jean-Paul] Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked…” Where most people get confused is by the fact that Camus’ work had a closer connection with the rise of absurdism instead.
Just last week we remembered the 50th anniversary of Camus’ death, and in his wake he has left us with a wealth of philosophical and literary riches. Apart from the usual suspects that we’ve all come to expect in Camus’ list of influences, one that many people overlook is that of Saint Augustine of Hippo. In his studies, Camus had written a thesis focusing on the relationship between Greek and Christian schools of thought by comparing the writing of Plotnius and Augustine. It is important to note that while Camus publicly declared himself to be atheist, he was so influenced by the works of Augustine, that he came to accept that a “natural desire” for God and his salvation was normal in all people, himself included. To read more on this, have a look through his infloox page.
And for a little dose of humour, does anyone recall the field day that journalists had when they discovered that George Bush was toting around a copy of The Stranger while on holiday at his ranch in Texas? One spokesman had mentioned that Bush had “found it an interesting book and a quick read” and that he went on to briefly discuss the origins of existentialism with his aides. Take that as you will 😉