Letter to the Philosopher Albert Camus
In my philosophy class we were asked to write a letter to a famous philosopher explaining why we do not agree with them. I chose Albert Camus who lived from 1913–1960. Albert Camus was a brilliant humanitarian who wrote plays and won the Nobel Prize for literature. He grew up in Algeria and lived in poverty. His cynical outlook on life was due to the fact that he fought against the Nazis in the French Revolution. This is what I wrote:
Dear Albert Camus:
Even though according to Moore & Bruder “you loathe the Absolute cynicism of Modern Society” you seem to have a very cynical view on life (2008,P.177). Your principle philosophical question is “Is there any reason not to commit suicide” (Moore& Bruder, 2008, P.174). I believe this shows your cynical outlook. I believe the question is not, is there any reason not to commit suicide? The question is, is there ever a good enough reason to stop living, to stop trying?
It seems that you above all else are stuck dwelling on the “tragic nature of life”, this is a bleak approach to life. You seem to believe that it is better to accept that your life is miserable and wallow in it. You further state that it is not okay for people to be proud and search for happiness. (Moore& Bruder 2008, P.174) I believe that one should accept that life is tragic and keep on moving; helping as many people as one can along the way.
One of your major points is that since life is absurd that it holds no value. The value of life is exactly what you put into it. A person needs to only be a good person for their life to hold value. In reality, even bad people’s lives hold some type of value; it serves as a road map for what not to do. You were involved in the theater, wrote great pieces of work, were involved in social work, and won a Nobel Prize (Moore& Bruder 2008, P.17). With all of the good work that you have accomplished how can you not think your life holds value? You view the world through blood covered glasses. You expect the worst out of people and you believe that every person has a penchant of violence in them.
Do you, like Camus, believe that life is just one misery after another?
Basically, you believe that the world is a murder game; where people try and try to no avail. The only time a person may find a glimpse of happiness is when they are rebelling against the system. This is such a sad outlook! Nonetheless, it is definitely understandable that after witnessing all of the tragedy that you had to witness; that you would become jaded about Humanity. You wrote, “Let us die resisting; yet, we must have no illusions or false optimism about the possible results of our action, for it may well be that nothing will improve” (Moore& Bruder 2008, P.178). I agree with the sentiment that a GOOD person would rather die than be forced to commit acts of violence. However, I do not agree that the world is hopeless. I understand where you get your outlook. Even today, there are people who commit unfathomable acts of violence. BUT there are also people who commit selfless acts of charity and heroics.
You speak of life as if it is a tragedy to get your hopes up because it will all end in heartbreak. You further believe that people who are falsely optimist are doing themselves more hurt than they realize. I say, that even if optimism has to be forced sometimes a person will be happier if they look on the bright side. A person wallowing in despair may feel as if there is a perpetual black cloud over their head. How in the world is dwelling on the bad things in life the right thing to do? Furthermore, misery and despair are inevitable it does not matter if you’re an optimist or a pessimist everyone will have tragedies in their lives. But the good news is there are also moment of unimaginable joy and happiness if you open yourself up to them.
Finally, I believe that as Moore & Brooder state, ” your emphasis on the necessity of brave and unceasing struggle against violence and inhumanity discloses an implicit hope that human goodness ultimately will reign victorious” (Moore& Bruder 2008, P.178). It seems that even though you were a cynic with a bleak outlook on life you still held out a little hope for humanity.