Camus and Sartre Friendship Troubled by Ideological Feud - SPIEGEL ONLINE
1 Introduction on Sartre vs Camus: War & Philosophy: An historical The relationship between Sartre/Camus has modeled the post-war french philosophy. Sartre vs Camus: how radically opposed ideas of freedom broke up the philosophical friendship of the 20th century. Until now it has been impossible to read the full story of the relationship between Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Their dramatic rupture at the height of the.
Sisyphus, his hero of the absurd. Condemned to push a heavy rock up a hill for eternity, only to watch it roll down each time into the valley below, Sisyphus achieves a serene unity with the physical world: If Jean-Paul Sartre had written this essay, Sisyphus would have experienced "nausea" as he contemplated the puzzling substantiality the "being-in-itself" of the rock.
Though Camus is invariably linked with Sartre, whose name is synonymous with existentialism, they were an odd couple who clashed like Voltaire and Rousseau or Verlaine and Rimbaud. Sartre was tiny, plump and ugly; Camus tall, elegant and handsome.
Sartre played Quasimodo to Camus' Humphrey Bogart. Sartre famously described man as a useless passion; Camus described himself as a man of passion. Sartre wrote at Mozart speed; Camus at Beethoven's tortured pace. So what is existentialism, and why does Camus not qualify?
In simple terms, Sartre believed that existence precedes essence; Camus that essence precedes existence. In Sartre's bleak cosmos, man first becomes conscious of his existence as a free agent, condemned to forge his own identity -- his essence -- in a world unprotected by god.
Camus, on the other hand, was willing to posit principles as absolute "essences," among them a belief that almost all violence is immoral. Therein lies the foul: Preconceived dogma, no matter how well intentioned, is not "existential. Camus regarded existentialism as the harsh extension of a Teutonic tradition stretching from Hegel to Marx, reaching a perverse conclusion in Stalin's labor camps.
He decried dialectical materialism, and its use to "authorize any excess" in the quest for a classless society generations hence. In his view, there were no privileged executioners. In his fashion, Sartre also opposed Stalin's methods -- while at the same time claiming that mass imprisonment in the Soviet Union was not as bad as one lynching in the United States.
As the city began to rebuild, Sartre and Camus gave voice to the mood of the day. Europe had been immolated, but the ashes left by war created the space to imagine a new world. Readers looked to Sartre and Camus to articulate what that new world might look like. Sartre, Camus and their intellectual companions rejected religion, staged new and unnerving plays, challenged readers to live authentically, and wrote about the absurdity of the world — a world without purpose and without value.
We must choose to live in this world and to project our own meaning and value onto it in order to make sense of it. This means that people are free and burdened by it, since with freedom there is a terrible, even debilitating, responsibility to live and act authentically. If the idea of freedom bound Camus and Sartre philosophically, then the fight for justice united them politically.
They were committed to confronting and curing injustice, and, in their eyes, no group of people was more unjustly treated than the workers, the proletariat. Camus and Sartre thought of them as shackled to their labour and shorn of their humanity. In order to free them, new political systems must be constructed.
Camus and Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended It
In OctoberCamus published The Rebel. Most of all, Camus condemned revolutionary violence. Violence might be used in extreme circumstances he supported the French war effort, after all but the use of revolutionary violence to nudge history in the direction you desire is utopian, absolutist, and a betrayal of yourself.
As far as he was concerned, it was possible to achieve perfect justice and freedom — that described the achievement of communism. Under capitalism, and in poverty, workers could not be free. Their options were unpalatable and inhumane: But by removing the oppressors and broadly returning autonomy to the workers, communism allows each individual to live without material want, and therefore to choose how best they can realise themselves. This makes them free, and through this unbending equality, it is also just.
The problem is that, for Sartre and many others on the Left, communism required revolutionary violence to achieve because the existing order must be smashed. Not all leftists, of course, endorsed such violence.
This division between hardline and moderate leftists — broadly, between communists and socialists — was nothing new. With the destruction of fascism, the rupture between hardline leftists willing to condone violence and moderates who condemned it returned. This split was made all the more dramatic by the practical disappearance of the Right and the ascendancy of the Soviet Union — which empowered hardliners throughout Europe, but raised disquieting questions for communists as the horrors of gulags, terror and show trials came to light.
The question for every leftist of the postwar era was simple: With the publication of The Rebel, Camus declared for a peaceful socialism that would not resort to revolutionary violence.