The Contemporary Relevance of Albert Camus Essay

The Contemporary Relevance of Albert Camus Essay

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The Contemporary Relevance of Albert Camus


ABSTRACT: After 350 years of continual social transformations under the push of industrialization, capitalism, world-wide social revolutions, and the development of modern science, what reasonably remains of the traditional faith in divine transcendence and providential design except a deep-felt, almost 'ontological' yearning for transcendence? Torn between outmoded religious traditions and an ascendant secular world, the contemporary celebration of individuality only makes more poignant the need for precisely that religious consolation that public life increasingly denies. People must now confront the meaning of their lives without the assured aid of transcendent purpose and direction. The resulting sense of absence profoundly marks the contemporary world. Confronted with the theoretical problems posed by the absence of absolute values, and the historical problems posed by contemporary social movements, Camus dramatized the urgency of developing guides to humane conduct in a world without transcendence. He continued to believe that only when the dignity of the worker and the respect for intelligence are accorded their rightful place can human existence hope to realize its highest ideals, and our life find the collective meaning and purpose that alone can truly sustain us in the face of an infinite and indifferent universe.

Celebrating individuality, our age invites us to express our feelings and realize our goals. It promotes happiness, while seeking to accommodate traditional moral values. But the focus on personal existence only makes the realization of death's inevitability more threatening. Torn between an outmoded religious tradition and a secular world on the ascendency, o...


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...was no longer to be a matter of status and deference, but of function and quality of performance. And decisions were to be made by the involved collective, respecting the dignity and legitimate interests of all participants.

While not despising the arts of "high culture" — though always quite uncomfortable with their mores — the renaissance always meant for Camus the qualitative transformation of daily life, the creation of dialogic communities at work and at home that gave voice and sustenance to the struggles for dignity of ordinary people. He continued to believe that only when the dignity of the worker and the respect for intelligence are accorded their rightful place can human existence hope to realize its highest ideals, and our life find the collective meaning and purpose that alone can truly sustain us in the face of an infinite and indifferent universe.

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