Albert Camus

Albert Camus
The Myth of Sisyphus
Camus takes up the question of whether, we are free agents with souls and values, or if, we are just matter that moves about with mindless regularity. Reconciling these two equally undeniable perspectives is one of the great projects of religion and philosophy.
One of the most obvious—and one of the most puzzling—facts about human existence is that we have values. Having values is more than simply having desires: if I desire something, I quite simply want it and will try to get it. My values go beyond my desires in that by valuing something, I do not simply desire it, but I also somehow judge that that something ought to be desired. I only feel the world ought to be a certain way if it is not entirely that way already: if there was no such thing as murder it would not make sense to say that people shouldn’t commit murder.
Our capacity to see the world both as it is and as it ought to be allows us to look at ourselves in two very different lights. Most frequently, we see others and ourselves as willing people who can deliberate and make choices. Because we have values it only makes sense that we should also see ourselves as capable of expressing those values. There would be no point in valuing certain qualities if we were incapable of realizing those qualities.
While we generally take this outlook, there is also the outlook of the scientist, of trying to see the world quite simply as it is. Scientifically speaking, this is a world made up of matter and energy, where mindless particles interact in predetermined ways. There is no reason to think that humans are any exception to the laws of science. Just as we observe the behavior of ants milling about, mindlessly following some sort of mechanical routine, we can imagine alien scientists might also observe us milling about, and conclude that our behavior is equally predictable and routine-oriented.
The feeling of absurdity is effectively the feeling we get when we come to see...