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Albert Camus As A Pioneer In Philosophy: The Plague

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Throughout the novel, The Plague focuses on the philosophy of its characters. This shines in the existentialist views of Tarrou or in both the faith and absurdity of Father Paneloux. Through the previous examples, Albert Camus forces the reader to confront their own beliefs and how they would react in the despair each character faces.

The author, Albert Camus, is a pioneer in philosophy. Beginning his career two years before the start World War 2, His view of the world was surely influenced by the events he witnessed. Throughout his work, he strongly opposed nihilism — the view of the world as absurd. Instead, he emphasized pacifism and human rights rather than the meaninglessness of the world around him. Late in his life, he received a Nobel prize in Literature “for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times”. HIs worldview is woven throughout the plot of The Plague, allowing the reader to connect to him.

Existentialism is the philosophical idea that although the universe is absurd, men can create their own meaning in life. This means humanity has the freedom to choose and make rational decisions in a meaningless universe. It acknowledges absurdity but also seeks meaning. Existentialism is clearly emphasized throughout The Plague. The situation caused by the pestilence is ridiculous. In a quote taken from the book acknowledges the indifference of the universe “Thus each of us had to be content to live only for the day, alone under the vast indifference of the sky.” Within that world, people struggle to find meaning while surrounded by constant death. What constitutes meaning varies from person to person though. For Rieux meaning is found in continuing his work in caring for patients. For Rieux’s asthmatic patient, the Old Spaniard, meaning was found in persisting in his routine — using peas to track the passage of time instead of clocks. The question of meaning is clearest in Camus’ character Tarrou.When the

Throughout the novel, The Plague focuses on the philosophy of its characters. This shines in the existentialist views of Tarrou or in both the faith and absurdity of Father Paneloux. Through the previous examples, Albert Camus forces the reader to confront their own beliefs and how they would react in the despair each character faces.

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The author, Albert Camus, is a pioneer in philosophy. Beginning his career two years before the start World War 2, His view of the world was surely influenced by the events he witnessed. Throughout his work, he strongly opposed nihilism — the view of the world as absurd. Instead, he emphasized pacifism and human rights rather than the meaninglessness of the world around him. Late in his life, he received a Nobel prize in Literature “for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times”. HIs worldview is woven throughout the plot of The Plague, allowing the reader to connect to him.

Existentialism is the philosophical idea that although the universe is absurd, men can create their own meaning in life. This means humanity has the freedom to choose and make rational decisions in a meaningless universe. It acknowledges absurdity but also seeks meaning. Existentialism is clearly emphasized throughout The Plague. The situation caused by the pestilence is ridiculous. In a quote taken from the book acknowledges the indifference of the universe “Thus each of us had to be content to live only for the day, alone under the vast indifference of the sky.” Within that world, people struggle to find meaning while surrounded by constant death. What constitutes meaning varies from person to person though. For Rieux meaning is found in continuing his work in caring for patients. For Rieux’s asthmatic patient, the Old Spaniard, meaning was found in persisting in his routine — using peas to track the passage of time instead of clocks. The question of meaning is clearest in Camus’ character Tarrou.

When the reader is are first introduced to Tarrou, he is pondering his cat-spitting neighbor. Day after day, Tarrou watches as the man seems to lure stray cats close to his balcony and then proceeds to spit on them. Later, as the cats begin to disappear due to the outbreak of the plague, Tarrou observes his neighbor seems heartbroken due to their absence. Tarrou’s strange fascination with the man seems to be later explained as he talks to Rieux on the roof of the Old Spaniard’s house. He began by dividing the world into three categories: the pestilence, the men, and the saints and healers. What is a saint in a world without a god? Tarrou inquired if it was simply the aggregation of habit — meaning the cat-spitting neighbor was a Saint. Eventually, he reached the conclusion that “We can only reach approximations of sainthood. In which case, we must make a shift with a mild, benevolent diabolism.” Tarrou’s beliefs are an example of atheistic existentialism. He searches for purpose and sainthood in a world without a god, while still acknowledging the senselessness of the universe. This worldview mirrors Albert Camus’ viewpoints and provides greater insight into his philosophical beliefs.

Theistic existentialism, which is often traced to Søren Kierkegaard’s work, acknowledges the absurd universe. In addition to the previous statement, theistic existentialism also believes that through faith and rational thinking humanity can come to know God. Father Paneloux in The Plague is representative of these beliefs. As the plague begins to affect the population, Father Paneloux delivers a sermon. At the time it seems he is strong in his faith and distant from those enduring the illness. He uses language which implies he views the pestilence as others problem and not his own. A major shift in his behavior occurs as he watches the agony and death of a small child. This marks a shift in his behavior and faith. His second sermon is a far cry from his initial sermon. The confidence in his beliefs turns to doubt. How can one accept a god in the presence of seemingly senseless suffering? Father Paneloux’s death from a mysterious disease leaves the reader without knowledge of his final beliefs. The reader questions if Father Paneloux had been able to take a leap of faith or if he left the world without hope. While initially, it appears that Father Paneloux holds a traditional Christian worldview, there seems to be a shift to a more existentialist point of view. Theistic existentialism contrasts with Albert Camus’ belief in atheistic existentialism. Both understand the chaos in the world but Albert Camus considers it without a god.

There are many differences between Camus’ own views and some of the philosophies he presents in the Plague. Although most seem to represent some form of existentialism, there are some factors that separate them. In learning about each viewpoint, the reader can not only learn more about the author but also more about themselves.

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Albert Camus As A Pioneer In Philosophy: The Plague [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2022 Dec 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/albert-camus-as-a-pioneer-in-philosophy-the-plague/
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