The Absurd

In philosophy, "the Absurd" refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean "logically impossible", but rather "humanly impossible". The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously.

Accordingly, absurdism is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make total certainty impossible. As a philosophy, absurdism furthermore explores the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the Absurd, should respond to it. The absurdist philosopher Albert Camus stated that individuals should embrace the absurd condition of human existence while also defiantly continuing to explore and search for meaning.

Absurdism shares some concepts, and a common theoretical template, with existentialism and nihilism. It has its origins in the work of the 19th-century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who chose to confront the crisis that humans face with the Absurd by developing his own existentialist philosophy. Absurdism as a belief system was born of the European existentialist movement that ensued, specifically when the French Algerian philosopher and writer Albert Camus rejected certain aspects of that philosophical line of thought[4] and published his essay The Myth of Sisyphus. The aftermath of World War II provided the social environment that stimulated absurdist views and allowed for their popular development, especially in the devastated country of France.

“At the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman, and these hills, the softness of the sky, the outline of the trees, at this time all lose the illusory meaning with which we used to cloth them, henceforth more remote than a lost paradise.. . . Just one thing: that thickness and that strangeness of the world, all that is the absurd.” - Camus