On January 4, , he was killed in a car… More about Albert Camus. Discover the Must-Read Books of Jan 01, ISBN Add to Cart. Also available from:. Sep 19, ISBN Available from:. Paperback —. About The Rebel By one of the most profoundly influential thinkers of our century, The Rebel is a classic essay on revolution. Also in Vintage International.
Also by Albert Camus. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Sarah Bakewell. For the Time Being. Annie Dillard. The Dharma Bums. Jack Kerouac. Notes of a Native Son. James Baldwin. On the Road: the Original Scroll. The Idiot. Fyodor Dostoevsky.
George Orwell. Viktor E. Playing In The Dark. Toni Morrison. Fifty-Two Stories. Anton Chekhov. A Man Without a Country. Kurt Vonnegut. The Virtue of Selfishness. The Trial. The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Notes from Underground. The Master and Margarita. Mikhail Bulgakov. Rebellion, though apparently negative, since it creates nothing, is profoundly positive in that it reveals the part of man which must always be defended.
He writes:. Because his mind was free, Nietzsche knew that freedom of the mind is not a comfort, but an achievement to which one aspires and at long last obtains after an exhausting struggle. He knew that in wanting to consider oneself above the law, there is a great risk of finding oneself beneath the law. That is why he understood that only the mind found its real emancipation in the acceptance of new obligations. The essence of his discovery consists in saying that if the eternal law is not freedom, the absence of law is still less so.
The sum total of every possibility does not amount to liberty… Chaos is also a form of servitude. Freedom exists only in a world where what is possible is defined at the same time as what is not possible. Without law there is no freedom. One must accept the unacceptable and hold to the untenable… From absolute despair will spring infinite joy, from blind servitude, unbounded freedom.
To be free is, precisely, to abolish ends. The innocence of the ceaseless change of things, as soon as one consents to it, represents the maximum liberty. The free mind willingly accepts what is necessary. Total acceptance of total necessity is his paradoxical definition of freedom. In a passage of remarkable resonance today, when we are confronting a wave of violence so strangely divorced from everything the past has taught us — those countless bloody lessons in the perennial fact that violence is always without victors — Camus considers the only adequate role of history:.
He who dedicates himself to this history dedicates himself to nothing and, in his turn, is nothing. But he who dedicates himself to the duration of his life, to the house he builds, to the dignity of mankind, dedicates himself to the earth and reaps from it the harvest that sows its seed and sustains the world again and again.
The words that reverberate for us at the confines of this long adventure of rebellion are not formulas for optimism, for which we have no possible use in the extremities of our unhappiness, but words of courage and intelligence which, on the shores of the eternal seas, even have the qualities of virtue. No possible form of wisdom today can claim to give more. Rebellion indefatigably confronts evil, from which it can only derive a new impetus. Man can master in himself everything that should be mastered.
He should rectify in creation everything that can be rectified. And after he has done so, children will still die unjustly even in a perfect society. Even by his greatest effort man can only propose to diminish arithmetically the sufferings of the world. But the injustice and the suffering of the world will remain and, no matter how limited they are, they will not cease to be an outrage.
Then we understand that rebellion cannot exist without a strange form of love. Those who find no rest in God or in history are condemned to live for those who, like themselves, cannot live: in fact, for the humiliated. The most pure form of the movement of rebellion is thus crowned with the heart-rending cry of Karamazov: if all are not saved, what good is the salvation of one only?
It is out of this understanding of rebellion as salvation for all that the most courageous acts of solidarity are born. Invoking such heroes, Camus writes:. Its merit lies in making no calculations, distributing everything it possesses to life and to living men. It is thus that it is prodigal in its gifts to men to come.
Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present. Rebellion proves in this way that it is the very movement of life and that it cannot be denied without renouncing life.
Rebellion and the Novel. Rebellion and Style. Creation and Revolution. Part Five: Thought at the Meridian. Rebellion and Murder. Nihilistic Murder. Historical Murder. Moderation and Excess. Thought at the Meridian. Beyond Nihilism. With the publication of this book a cloud that has oppressed the European mind for more than a century begins to lift.
After an age of anxiety, despair, and nihilism, it seems possible once more to hope—to have confidence again in man and in the future. Camus has not delivered us by rhetoric, or by any of the arts of persuasion, but by the clarity of his intelligence.
His book is a work of logic. Just as an earlier work of his Le Mythe de Sisyphe began with a meditation on living or not living—on the implications of the act of suicide—so this work begins with a meditation on enduring or not enduring—on the implications of the act of rebellion. If we decide to live, it must be because we have decided that our personal existence has some positive value; if we decide to rebel, it must be because we have decided that a human society has some positive value.
But in each case the values are not "given"—that is the illusionist trick played by religion or by philosophy. They have to be deduced from the conditions of living, and are to be accepted along with the suffering entailed by the limits of the possible. Social values are rules of conduct implicit in a tragic fate; and they offer a hope of creation. The Rebel,that is to say, offers us a philosophy of politics.
It is a kind of book that appears only in France, devoted, in a passionate intellectual sense, to the examination of such concepts as liberty and terror. Not that it is a theoretical work—on the contrary, it is an examination of the actual situation of Europe today, informed by a precise historical knowledge of the past two centuries of its social development. It is "an attempt to understand the times. Camus believes that revolt is one of the "essential dimensions" of mankind.
It is useless to deny its historical reality—rather we must seek in it a principle of existence. But the nature of revolt has changed radically in our times. It is no longer the revolt of the slave against the master, nor even the revolt of the poor against the rich; it is a metaphysical revolt, the revolt of man against the conditions of life, against creation itself.
At the same time, it is an aspiration toward clarity and unity of thought—even,paradoxically, toward order. That, at least, is what it becomes under the intellectual guidance of Camus. He reviews the history of this metaphysical revolt, beginning with the absolute negation of Sade, glancing at Baudelaire and the "dandies," passing on to Stirner, Nietzsche, Lautreamont, and the surrealists. His attitude to these prophetic figures is not unsympathetic, and once more it is interesting to observe the influence of Andre Breton on the contemporary mind.
Camus then turns to the history of revolt in the political sense, his main object being to draw a clear distinction between rebellion and revolution. Here,and not for the first time, Camus's ideas come close to anarchism, for he recognizes that revolution always implies the establishment of a new government, whereas rebellion is action without planned issue—it is spontaneous protestation.
Camus reviews the history of the French Revolution, of the regicides and deicides, and shows how inevitably, from Rousseau to Stalin, the course of revolution leads to authoritarian dictatorship. Saint-Just is the precursor of Lenin.
Even Bakunin, to whom Camus devotes some extremely interesting pages pointing out, for example, that he alone of his time, with exceptional profundity, declared war against the idolatry of science —even Bakunin, if we examine the statutes of the Fraternity Internationale which he drew up, is found insisting on the absolute subordination of the individual to a central committee of action.
All revolutions in modern times, Camus points out, have led to are enforcement of the power of the State. The prophetic dream of Marx and the over-inspired predictions of Hegel or of Nietzsche ended by conjuring up, after the city of God had been razed to the ground, a rational or irrational State, which in both cases, however, was founded on terror.
Camus shows the real quality of his thought in his final pages. It would have been easy, on the facts marshaled in this book, to have retreated into despair or inaction. Camus substitutes the idea of "limits. To escape this fate, the revolutionary mind, if it wants to remain alive, must therefore, return again to the sources of rebellion and draw its inspiration from the only system of thought which is faithful to its origins: thought that recognizes limits.
He quotes Tolain: "Les etres humains ne s'emancipent qu'au sein des groupes naturels"—human beings emancipate themselves only on the basis of natural groups. Restraint is not the contrary of revolt. Revolt carries with it the very idea of restraint, and "moderation,born of rebellion, can only live by rebellion. It is a perpetual conflict, continually created and mastered by the intelligence.
Whatever we may do, excess will always keep its place in the heart of man, in the place where solitude is found. We all carry within us our places of exile, our crimes and our ravages. But our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to fight them in ourselves and in others. Rebel-lion, the secular will not to surrender of which Barres speaks, is still today at the basis of the struggle.
Origin of form, source of real life, it keeps us always erect in the savage, formless movement of history. In his last pages Camus rises to heights of eloquence which are exhilarating. It is an inspiring book.
It is particularly a book that should be read by all those who wish to see the inborn impulse of revolt inspired by a new spirit of action—by those who understand "that rebellion cannot exist without a strange form of love. And openly I pledged my heart to the grave and suffering land, and often in the consecrated night, I promised to love her faithfully until death, unafraid, with her heavy burden of fatality, and never to despise a single one of her enigmas. Thus did I join myself to her with a mortal cord.
There are crimes of passion and crimes of logic. The boundary between them is not clearly defined. But the Penal Code makes the convenient distinction of premeditation. We are living in the era of premeditation and the perfect crime. Our criminals are no longer helpless children who could plead love as their excuse. On the contrary, they are adults and they have a perfect alibi: philosophy, which can be used for any purpose—even for transforming murderers into judges. Heathcliff, in Wuthering Heights, would kill everybody on earth in order to possess Cathy, but it would never occur to him to say that murder is reasonable or theoretically defensible.
He would commit it, and there his convictions end. This implies the power of love, and also strength of character. Since intense love is rare, murder remains an exception and preserves its aspect of infraction. But as soon as a man,through lack of character, takes refuge in doctrine, as soon as crime reasons about itself, it multiplies like reason itself and assumes all the aspects of the syllogism.
Once crime was as solitary as a cry of protest;now it is as universal as science. Yesterday it was put on trial; today it determines the law. This is not the place for indignation. The purpose of this essay is once again to face the reality of the present, which is logical crime, and to examine meticulously the arguments by which it is justified; it is an attempt to understand the times in which we live.
One might think that a period which, in a space of fifty years, uproots, enslaves, or kills seventy million human beings should be condemned out of hand. But its culpability must still be understood. In more ingenuous times, when the tyrant razed cities for his own greater glory, when the slave chained to the conqueror's chariot was dragged through the rejoicing streets, when enemies were thrown to the wild beasts in front of the assembled people, the mind did not reel before such unabashed crimes, and judgment remained unclouded.
But slave camps under the flag of freedom, massacres justified by philanthropy or by a taste for the superhuman, in one sense cripple judgment. On the day when crime dons the apparel of innocence—through a curious transposition peculiar to our times—it is innocence that is called upon to justify itself. The ambition of this essay is to accept and examine this strange challenge. Our purpose is to find out whether innocence, the moment it becomes involved in action, can avoidcommitting murder.
We can act only in terms of our own time, among the people who surround us. Weshall know nothing until we know whether we have the right to kill our fellow men, or the right to letthem be killed. In that every action today leads to murder, direct or indirect, we cannot act until we knowwhether or why we have the right to kill.
The important thing, therefore, is not, as yet, to go to the root of things, but, the world being what it is, toknow how to live in it. In the age of negation, it was of some avail to examine one's position concerningsuicide. In the age of ideologies, we must examine our position in relation to murder. If murder hasrational foundations, then our period and we ourselves are rationally consequent. If it has no rationalfoundations, then we are insane and there is no alternative but to find some justification or to avert ourfaces.
It is incumbent upon us, at all events, to give a definite answer to the question implicit in the bloodand strife of this century. For we are being put to the rack. Thirty years ago, before reaching a decision tokill, people denied many things, to the point of denying themselves by suicide.
God is deceitful; thewhole world myself included is deceitful; therefore I choose to die: suicide was the problem then. Ideology today is concerned only with the denial of other human beings, who alone bear the responsibilityof deceit. It is then that we kill. The two arguments are inextricably bound together. Or rather theybind us, and so firmly that we can nolonger choose our own problems.
They choose us, one after another, and we have no alternative but toaccept their choice. This essay proposes, in the face of murder and rebellion, to pursue a train of thoughtwhich began with suicide and the idea of the absurd. But, for the moment, this train of thought yields only one concept: that of the absurd. And the concept ofthe absurd leads only to a contradiction as far as the problem of murder is concerned.
Awareness of theabsurd, when we first claim to deduce a rule of behavior from it, makes murder seem a matter ofindifference, to say the least, and hence possible. If we believe in nothing, if nothing has any meaning andif we can affirm no values whatsoever, then everything is possible and nothing has any importance. Thereis no pro or con: the murderer is neither right nor wrong. We are free to stoke the crematory fires or todevote ourselves to the care of lepers.
Evil and virtue are mere chance or caprice. We shall then decide not to act at all, which amounts to at least accepting the murder of others, withperhaps certain mild reservations about the imperfection of the human race. Again we may decide to substitute tragic dilettantism for action, and in this case human lives become counters in a game. Finally,we may propose to embark on some course of action which is not entirely gratuitous. In the latter case, inthat we have no higher values to guide our behavior, our aim will be immediate efficacy.
Since nothing iseither true or false, good or bad, our guiding principle will be to demonstrate that we are the mostefficient—in other words, the strongest. Then the world will no longer be divided into the just and theunjust, but into masters and slaves. Thus, whichever way we turn, in our abyss of negation and nihilism,murder has its privileged position. Hence, if we claim to adopt the absurdist attitude, we must prepare ourselves to commit murder, thus admitting that logic is more important than scruples that we consider illusory.
Of course, we must have somepredisposition to murder. But, on the whole, less than might be supposed, to judge from experience. Moreover, it is always possible, as we can so often observe, to delegate murder.
Everything would then bemade toconform to logic—if logic could really be satisfied in this way. But logic cannot be satisfied by an attitude which first demonstrates that murder is possible and then that it is impossible. For after having proved that the act of murder is at least a matter of indifference,absurdist analysis, in its most important deduction, finally condemns murder. The final conclusion ofabsurdist reasoning is, in fact, the repudiation of suicide and the acceptance of the desperate encounterbetween human inquiry and the silence of the universe.
Suicide would mean the end of this encounter, and absurdist reasoning considers that it could not consent to this without negating its own premises. According to absurdist reasoning, such a solution would be the equivalent of flight or deliverance. But itis obvious that absurdism hereby admits that human life is the only necessary good since it is preciselylife that makes this encounter possible and since, without life, the absurdist wager would have no basis. To say that life is absurd, the conscience must be alive.
How is it possible, without making remarkableconcessions to one's desire for comfort, to preserve exclusively for oneself the benefits of such a processof reasoning? From the moment that life is recognized as good, it becomes good for all men. Murdercannot be made coherent whensuicide is not considered coherent.
A mind imbued with the idea of theabsurd will undoubtedly accept fatalistic murder; but it would never accept calculated murder. In terms ofthe encounter between human inquiry and the silence of the universe, murder and suicide are one and thesame thing, and must be accepted or rejected together.
Equally, absolute nihilism, which accepts suicide as legitimate, leads, even more easily, to logical murder. If our age admits, with equanimity, that murder has its justifications, it is because of this indifference to life which is the mark of nihilism. Of course there have been periods of history in which the passion forlife was so strong that it burst forth in criminal excesses. But these excesses were like the searing flame of a terrible delight. Theywere not this monotonous order of things established by an impoverished logic in whose eyes everythingis equal.
This logic has carried the values of suicide, on which our age has been nurtured, to their extremelogical consequence, which is legalized murder. It culminates, at the same time, in mass suicide. The most striking demonstration of this was provided by the Hitlerian apocalypse of Self-destruction meantnothing to those madmen, in their bomb-shelters, who werepreparing for their own death and apotheosis. All that mattered was not to destroy oneself alone and to drag a whole world with one.
In a way, the manwho kills himself in solitude still preserves certain values since he, apparently, claims no rights over the lives of others. The proof of this is that he never makes use, in order to dominate others, of the enormouspower and freedom of action which his decision to die gives him.
Every solitary suicide, when it is not anact of resentment, is, in some way, either generous or contemptuous. But one feels contemptuous in thename of something. If the world is a matter of indifference to the man who commits suicide, it is becausehe has an idea of something that is not or could not be indifferent to him. He believes that he is destroyingeverything or taking everything with him; but from this act of self-destruction itself a value arises which,perhaps, might have made it worth while to live.
Absolute negation is therefore not consummated bysuicide. It can only be consummated by absolute destruction, of oneself and of others. Or, at least, it canonly be lived by striving toward that delectable end. Here suicide and murder are two aspects of a single system, the system of a misguided intelligence that prefers, to the suffering imposed by a limited situation, the dark victory in which heaven and earth are annihilated.
By the same token, if we deny that there are reasons for suicide, we cannot claim that there are grounds for murder. There are no half-measures about nihilism. Absurdist reasoning cannot defend the continued existence of its spokesman and, simultaneously, accept the sacrifice of others' lives. The moment that we recognize the impossibility of absolute negation—and merely to be alive is to recognize this—the very first thing that cannot be denied is the right of others to live.
Thus the same idea which allowed us to believe that murder was a matter of indifference now proceeds to deprive it of any justification; and we return to the untenable position from which we were trying to escape. In actual fact, this form of reasoning assures us at the same time that we can kill and that we cannot kill. It abandons us in this contradiction with no grounds either for preventing or for justifying murder, menacing and menaced, swept along with a whole generation intoxicated by nihilism, and yet lost in loneliness,with weapons in our hands and a lump in our throats.
This basic contradiction, however, cannot fail to be accompanied by a host of others from the moment that we claim to remain firmly in the absurdist position and ignore the real nature of the absurd, which is that it is an experience to be lived through, a point of departure, the equivalent, in existence, of Descartes's methodical doubt.
The absurd is, in itself, contradiction. It is contradictory in its content because, in wanting to uphold life, it excludes all value judgments, whento live is, in itself, a value judgment. To breathe is to judge. Perhaps it is untrue to say that life is aperpetual choice. But it is true that it is impossible to imagine a life deprived of all choice. From thissimplified point of view, the absurdist position, translated into action, is inconceivable. It is equallyinconceivable when translated into expression.
Simply by being expressed, it gives a minimum of coherence to incoherence, and introduces consequence where, according to its own tenets, there is none. Speaking itself is restorative. The only coherent attitude based on non-signification would be silence—if silence, in its turn, were not significant. The absurd, in its purest form, attempts to remain dumb. If it finds its voice, it is because it has become complacent or, as we shall see, because it considers itself provisional. This complacency is an excellent indication of the profound ambiguity of the absurdist position.
In a certain way, the absurd, which claims to express man in his solitude, really makes him live in front of a mirror. And then the initial anguish runs the risk of turning to comfort. The wound that is scratched with such solicitude ends by giving pleasure.
Great explorers in the realm of absurdity have not been lacking. But, in the last analysis, their greatness is measured by the extent to which they have rejected the complacencies of absurdism in order to accept its exigencies. They destroy as much, not as little, as they can. He extols integrity and castigates the "hog-faced" pleasure-seekers. To escape complacency, absurdist reasoning then discovers renunciation. It refuses to be sidetracked and emerges into a position of arbitrary barrenness—a determination to be silent—which is expressed in the strange asceticism of rebellion.
Rimbaud, who extols "crime puling prettily in the mud of the streets," runs away to Harrar only to complain about having to live there without his family. Life for him was "a farce for the whole world to perform. The absurd, considered as a rule of life, is therefore contradictory. What is astonishing about the fact that it does not provide us with values which will enable us to decide whether murder is legitimate or not?
Moreover, it is obviously impossible to formulate an attitude on the basis of a specially selected emotion. The perception of the absurd is one perception among many. That it has colored so many thoughts and actions between the two wars only proves its power and its validity. But the intensity of a perception does not necessarily mean that it is universal. The error of a whole period of history has been to enunciate—or to suppose already enunciated—general rules of action founded on emotions of despair whose inevitable course, in that they are emotions, is continually to exceed themselves.
Great suffering and great happiness may be found at the beginning of any process of reasoning. They are intermediaries. But it is impossible to rediscover or sustain them throughout the entire process. Therefore, if it was legitimate to take absurdist sensibility into account, to make a diagnosis of a malady to be found in ourselves and in others, it is nevertheless impossible to see in this sensibility, and in the nihilism it presupposes, anything but a point of departure, a criticism brought to life—the equivalent, in the plane of existence, of systematic doubt.
After this, the minor, with its fixed stare, must be broken and we are, perforce, caught up in the irresistible movement by which the absurd exceeds itself. Once the mirror is broken, nothing remains which can help us to answer the questions of our time. Absurd-ism, like methodical doubt, has wiped the slate clean.
It leaves us in a blind alley. But, like methodical doubt, it can, by returning upon itself, open up a new field of investigation, and the process of reasoning then pursues the same course. I proclaim that I believe in nothing and that everything is absurd, but I cannot doubt the validity of my proclamation and I must at least believe in my protest. The first and only evidence that is supplied me, within the terms of the absurdist experience, is rebellion.
Deprived of all knowledge, incited to murder or to consent to murder, all I have at my disposal is this single piece of evidence, which is only reaffirmed by the anguish I suffer. Rebellion is born of the spectacle of irrationality, confronted with an unjust and incomprehensible condition. But its blind impulse is to demand order in the midst of chaos, and unity in the very heart of the ephemeral. It protests, it demands, it insists that the outrage be brought to an end, and that what has up to now been built upon shifting sands should henceforth be founded on rock.
Its preoccupation is to transform. But to transform is to act, and to act will be, tomorrow, to kill, and it still does not know whether murder is legitimate. Rebellion engenders exactly the actions it is asked to legitimate. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that rebellion find its reasons within itself, since it cannot find them elsewhere.
It must consent to examine itself in order to learn how to act. Two centuries of rebellion, either metaphysical or historical, present themselves for our consideration. Only a historian could undertake to set forth in detail the doctrines and movements that have followed one another during this period. But at least it should be possible to find a guiding principle. The pages that follow only attempt to present certain historical data and a working hypothesis.
This hypothesis is not the only one possible; moreover, it is far from explaining everything. But it partly explains the direction in which our times are heading and almost entirely explains the excesses of the age. The astonishing history evoked here is the history of European pride. In any event, the reasons for rebellion cannot be explained except in terms of an inquiry into its attitudes, pretensions, and conquests.
Perhaps we may discover in its achievements the rule of action that the absurd has not been able to give us; an indication, at least, about the right or the duty to kill and, finally, hope for a new creation. Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.
The problem is to know whether this refusal can only lead to the destruction of himself and of others, whether all rebellion must end in the justification of universal murder, or whether, on the contrary, without laying claim to an innocence that is impossible, it can discover the principle of reasonable culpability.
What is a rebel? A man who says no, but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. He is also a man who says yes, from the moment he makes his first gesture of rebellion. A slave who has taken orders all his life suddenly decides that he cannot obey some new command. What does he mean by saying "no"?
He means, for example, that "this has been going on too long," "up to this point yes, beyond it no," "you are going too far," or, again, "there is a limit beyond which you shall not go. The same concept is to be found in the rebel's feeling that the other person "is exaggerating," that he is exerting his authority beyond a limit where he begins to infringe on the rights of others.
Thus the movement of rebellion is founded simultaneously on the categorical rejection of an intrusion that is considered intolerable and on the confused conviction of an absolute right which, in the rebel's mind, is more precisely the impression that he "has the right to.
It is in this way that the rebel slave says yes and no simultaneously. He affirms that there are limits and also that he suspects—and wishes to preserve—the existence of certain things on this side of the borderline. He demonstrates, with obstinacy, that there is something in him which "is worth while. In a certain way, he confronts an order of things which oppresses him with the insistence on a kind of right not to be oppressed beyond the limit that he can tolerate.
In every act of rebellion, the rebel simultaneously ex- periences a feeling of revulsion at the infringment of his rights and a complete and spontaneous loyalty to certain aspects of himself. Thus he implicitly brings into play a standard of values so far from being gratuitous that he is prepared to support it no matter what the risks. Up to this point he has at least remained silent and has abandoned himself to the form of despair in which a condition is accepted even though it is considered unjust.
To remain silent is to give the impression that one has no opinions, that one wants nothing, and in certain cases it really amounts to wanting nothing. Despair, like the absurd, has opinions and desires about everything in general and nothing in particular. Silence expresses this attitude very well. But from the moment that the rebel finds his voice—even though he says nothing but "no"—he begins to desire and to judge.
The rebel, in the etymological sense, does a complete turnabout. He acted under the lash of his master's whip. Suddenly he turns and faces him. He opposes what is preferable to what is not. Not every value entails rebellion, but every act of rebellion tacitly invokes a value.
Or is it really a question of values? Awareness, no matter how confused it may be, develops from every act of rebellion: the sudden, dazzling perception that there is something in man with which he can identify himself, even if only for a moment. Up to now this identification was never really experienced. Before he rebelled, the slave accepted all the demands made upon him.
Very often he even took orders, without reacting against them, which were far more conducive to insurrection than the one at which he balks. He accepted them patiently, though he may have protested inwardly, but in that he remained silent he was more concerned with his own immediate interests than as yet aware of his own rights.
But with loss of patience—with impatience—a reaction begins which can extend to everything that he previously accepted, and which is almost always retroactive. The very moment the slave refuses to obey the humiliating orders of his master, he simultaneously rejects the condition of slavery. The act of rebellion carries him far beyond the point he had reached by simply refusing.
He exceeds the bounds that he fixed for his antagonist, and now demands to be treated as an equal. What was at first the man's obstinate resistance now becomes the whole man, who is identified with and summed up in this resistance. The part of himself that he wanted to be respected he proceeds to place above everything else and proclaims it preferable to everything, even to life itself.
It becomes for him the supreme good. Having up to now been willing to compromise, the slave suddenly adopts "because this is how it must be. With rebellion, awareness is born. But we can see that the knowledge gained is, at the same time, of an "all" that is still rather obscure and of a "nothing" that proclaims the possibility of sacrificing the rebel to this "All.
As a last resort, he is willing to accept the final defeat, which is death, rather than be deprived of the personal sacrament that he would call, for example, freedom. Better to die on one's feet than to live on one's knees. Values, according to good authorities, "most often represent a transition from facts to rights, from what isdesired to what is desirable usually through the intermediary of what is generally considered desirable.
The transition from facts to rights is manifest, as we have seen, in rebellion. So is the transition from "this must be" to "this is how I should like things to be," and even more so, perhaps, the idea of the sublimation of the individual in a henceforth universal good. The sudden appearance of the concept of "All or Nothing" demonstrates that rebellion, contrary to current opinion, and though it springs from everything that is most strictly individualistic in man, questions the very idea of the individual.
If the individual, in fact, accepts death and happens to die as a consequence of his act of rebellion, he demonstrates by doing so that he is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of a common good which he considers more important than his own destiny. If he prefers the risk of death to the negation of the rights that he defends, it is because he considers these rights more important than himself.
Therefore he is acting in the name of certain values which are still indeterminate but which he feels are common to himself and to all men. We see that the affirmation implicit in every act of rebellion is extended to something that transcends the individual in so far as it withdraws him from his supposed solitude and provides him with a reason to act. But it is already worth noting that this concept of values as pre-existant to any kind of action contradicts the purely historical philosophies, in which values are acquired if they are ever acquired after the action has been completed.
Analysis of rebellion leads at least to the suspicion that, contrary to the postulates of contemporary thought, a human nature does exist, as the Greeks believed. Why rebel if there is nothing permanent in oneself worth preserving? It is for the sake of everyone in the world that the slave asserts himself when he comes to the conclusion that a command has infringed on something in him which does not belong to him alone, but which is common ground where all men—even the man who insults and oppresses him—have a natural community.
Two observations will support this argument. First, we can see that an act of rebellion is not, essentially, an egoistic act. Of course, it can have egoistic motives. But one can rebel equally well against lies as against oppression. Moreover, the rebel—once he has accepted the motives and at the moment of his greatest impetus—preserves nothing in that he risks everything. He demands respect for himself, of course, but only in so far as he identifies himself with a natural community.
Then we note that rebellion does not arise only, and necessarily, among the oppressed, but that it can also be caused by the mere spectacle of oppression of which someone else is the victim. In such cases there is a feeling of identification with another individual. And it must be pointed out that this is not a question of psychological identification—a mere subterfuge by which the individual imagines that it is he himself who has been offended. On the contrary, it can often happen that we cannot bear to see offenses done to others which we ourselves have accepted without rebelling.
The suicides of the Russian terrorists in Siberia as a protest against their comrades' being whipped is a case in point. Nor is it a question of the feeling of a community of interests. Injustices done to men whom we consider enemies can, actually, be profoundly repugnant to us.
There is only identification of one's destiny with that of others and a choice of sides. Therefore the individual is not, in himself alone, the embodiment of the values he wishes to defend. It needs all humanity, at least, to comprise them. When he rebels, a man identifies himself with other men and so surpasses himself, and from this point of view human solidarity is metaphysical. But for the moment we are only talking of the kind of solidarity that is born in chains.
It would be possible for us to define the positive aspect of the values implicit in every act of rebellion by comparing them with a completely negative concept like that of resentment as defined by Scheler. Rebellion is, in fact, much more than pursuit of a claim, in the strongest sense of the word. Resentment is very well defined by Scheler as an autointoxication—the evil secretion, in a sealed vessel, of prolonged impotence. Rebellion, on the contrary, breaks the seal and allows the whole being to come into play.
It liberates stagnant waters and turns them into a raging torrent. Scheler himself emphasizes the passive aspect of resentment and remarks on the prominent place it occupies in the psychology of women who are dedicated to desire and possession. The fountain-head of rebellion, on the contrary, is the principle of superabundant activity and energy. Scheler is also right in saying that resentment is always highly colored by envy. But one envies what one does not have, while the rebel's aim is to defend what he is.
He does not merely claim some good that he does not possess or of which he was deprived. His aim is to claim recognition for something which he has and which has already been recognized by him, in almost every case, as more important than anything of which he could be envious. Rebellion is not realistic. According to Scheler, resentment always turns into either unscrupulous ambition or bitterness, de- pending on whether it is implanted in a strong person or a weak one.
But in both cases it is a question of wanting to be something other than what one is. Resentment is always resentment against oneself. The rebel, on the contrary, from his very first step, refuses to allow anyone to touch what he is. He is fighting for the integrity of one part of his being. He does not try, primarily, to conquer, but simply to impose. Finally, it would seem that resentment takes delight, in advance, in the pain that it would like the object of its envy to feel. Nietzsche and Scheler are right in seeing an excellent example of this in the passage where Ter-tullian informs his readers that one of the greatest sources of happiness among the blessed will be the spectacle of the Roman emperors consumed in the fires of hell.
This kind of happiness is also experienced by the decent people who go to watch executions. The rebel, on the contrary, limits himself, as a matter of principle, to refusing to be humiliated without asking that others should be. He will even accept pain provided his integrity is respected. It is therefore hard to understand why Scheler completely identifies the spirit of rebellion with resentment.
His criticism of the resentment to be found in humani-tarianism which he treats as the non-Christian form of love for mankind could perhaps be applied to certain indeterminate forms of humanitarian idealism, or to the techniques of terror. But it rings false in relation to man's rebellion against his condition—the movement that enlists the individual in the defense of a dignity common to all men.
Scheler wants to demonstrate that humanitarian feelings are always accompanied by a hatred of the world. Humanity is loved in general in order to avoid having to love anybody in particular. This is correct, in some cases, and it is easier to understand Scheler when we realize that for him humanitarianism is represented by Bentham and Rousseau.
But man's love for man can be born of other things than a mathematical calculation of the resultant rewards or a theoretical confidence in human nature. In face of the utilitarians, and of Emile's preceptor, there is, for example, the kind of logic, embodied by Dostoievsky in Ivan Karamazov, which progresses from an act of rebellion to metaphysical insurrection.
Scheler is aware of this and sums up the concept in the following manner: "There is not enough love in the world to squander it on anything but human beings. In fact, it misunderstands the tortured character of Karamazov's rebellion. Ivan's drama, on the contrary, arises from the fact that there is too much love without an object. This love finding no outlet and God being denied, it is then decided to lavish it on human beings as a generous act of complicity.
Nevertheless, in the act of rebellion as we have envisaged it up to now, an abstract ideal is not chosen through lack of feeling and in pursuit of a sterile demand. We insist that the part of man which cannot be reduced to mere ideas should be taken into consideration—the passionate side of his nature that serves no other purpose than to be part of the act of living.
Does this imply that no rebellion is motivated by resentment? No, and we know it only too well in this age of malice. But we must consider the idea of rebellion in its widest sense on pain of betraying it; and in its widest sense rebellion goes far beyond resentment. When Heathcliff, in Wuthering Heights, says that he puts his love above God and would willingly go to hell in order to be reunited with the woman he loves, he is prompted not only by youth and humiliation but by the consuming experience of a whole lifetime.
The same emotion causes Eckart, in a surprising fit of heresy, to say that he prefers hell with Jesus to heaven without Him. This is the very essence of love. Contrary to Scheler, it would therefore be impossible to overemphasize the passionate affirmation that underlies the act of rebellion and distinguishes it from resentment. Rebellion, though apparently negative, since it creates nothing, is profoundly positive in that it reveals the part of man which must always be defended.
But, to sum up, are not rebellion and the values that it implies relative? Reasons for rebellion do seem to change, in fact, with periods and civilizations. It is obvious that a Hindu pariah, an Inca warrior, a primitive native of central Africa, and a member of one of the first Christian communities had not at all the same ideas about rebellion.
We could even assert, with considerable assurance, that the idea of rebellion has no meaning in these particular cases. However, a Greek slave, a serf, a condottiere of the Renaissance, a Parisian bourgeois during the Regency, a Russian intellectual at the beginning of the twentieth century, and a contemporary worker would undoubtedly agree that rebellion is legitimate, even if they differed about the reasons for it.
In other words, the problem of rebellion seems to assume a precise meaning only within the confines of Western thought. It is possible to be even more explicit by remarking, like Scheler, that the spirit of rebellion finds few means of expression in societies where inequalities are very great the Hindu caste system or, again, in those where there is absolute equality certain primitive societies.
The spirit of rebellion can exist only in a society where a theoretical equality conceals great factual inequalities. The problem of rebellion, therefore, has no meaning except within our own Western society. One might be tempted to affirm that it is relative to the development of individualism if the preceding remarks had not put us on our guard against this conclusion.
On the basis of the evidence, the only conclusion that can be drawn from Scheler's remark is that, thanks to the theory of political freedom, there is, in the very heart of our society, an increasing awareness in man of the idea of man and, thanks to the application of this theory of freedom, a corresponding dissatisfaction.
Actual freedom has not increased in proportion to man's awareness of it. We can only deduce from this observation that rebellion is the act of an educated man who is aware of his own rights. But there is nothing which justifies us in saying that it is only a question of individual rights. Because of the sense of solidarity we have already pointed out, it would rather seem that what is at stake is humanity's gradually increasing self-awareness as it pursues its course.
In fact, for the Inca and the pariah the problem never arises, because for them it had been solved by a tradition, even before they had had time to raise it—the answer being that tradition is sacred. If in a world where things are held sacred the problem of rebellion does not arise, it is because no real problems are to be found in such a world, all the answers having been given simultaneously.
Metaphysic is replaced by myth. There are no more questions, only eternal answers and commentaries, which may be metaphysical. But before man accepts the sacred world and in order that he should be able to accept it— or before he escapes from it and in order that he should be able to escape from it—there is always a period of soul- searching and rebellion. The rebel is a man who is on the point of accepting or rejecting the sacred and determined on laying claim to a human situation in which all the answers are human—in other words, formulated in reasonable terms.
From this moment every question, every word, is an act of rebellion while in the sacred world every word is an act of grace. It would be possible to demonstrate in this manner that only two possible worlds can exist for the human mind: the sacred or, to speak in Christian terms, the world of grace  and the world of rebellion. The disappearance of one is equivalent to the appearance of the other, despite the fact that this appearance can take place in disconcerting forms.
There again we rediscover the All or Nothing. The present interest of the problem of rebellion only springs from the fact that nowadays whole societies have wanted to discard the sacred. We live in an unsacrosanct moment in history.
Insurrection is certainly not the sum total of human experience. But history today, with all its storm and strife, compels us to say that rebellion is one of the essential dimensions of man. It is our historic reality. Unless we choose to ignore reality, we must find our values in it. Is it possible to find a rule of conduct outside the realm of religion and its absolute values?
That is the question raised by rebellion. We have already noted the confused values that are called into play by incipient rebellion. Now we must inquire if these values are to be found again in contemporary forms of rebellious thought and action, and if they are, we must specify their content.
But, before going any farther, let us note that the basis of these values is rebellion itself. Man's solidarity is founded upon rebellion, and rebellion, in its turn, can only find its justification in this solidarity. We have, then, the right to say that any rebellion which claims the right to deny or destroy this solidarity loses simultaneously its right to be called rebellion and becomes in reality an acquiescence in murder.
In the same way, this solidarity, except in so far as religion is concerned, comes to life only on the level of rebellion. And so the real drama of revolutionary thought is announced. In order to exist, man must rebel, but rebellion must respect the limit it discovers in itself—a limit where minds meet and, in meeting, begin to exist.
Rebellious thought, therefore, cannot dispense with memory: it is a perpetual state of tension. In studying its actions and its results, we shall have to say, each time, whether it remains faithful to its first noble promise or if, through indolence or folly, it forgets its original purpose and plunges into a mire of tyranny or servitude. Meanwhile, we can sum up the initial progress that the spirit of rebellion provokes in a mind that is originally imbued with the absurdity and apparent sterility of the world.
In absurdist experience, suffering is individual. But from the moment when a movement of rebellion begins, suffering is seen as a collective experience. Therefore the first progressive step for a mind overwhelmed by the strangeness of things is to realize that this feeling of strangeness is shared with all men and that human reality, in its entirety, suffers from the distance which separates it from the rest of the universe.
The malady experienced by a single man becomes a mass plague. In our daily trials rebellion plays the same role as does the "cogito" in the realm of thought: it is the first piece of evidence. But this evidence lures the individual from his solitude. Metaphysical rebellion is the movement by which man protests against his condition and against the whole of creation. It is metaphysical because it contests the ends of man and of creation. The slave protests against the condition in which he finds himself within his state of slavery; the metaphysical rebel protests against the condition in which he finds himself as a man.
The rebel slave affirms that there is something in him that will not tolerate the manner in which his master treats him; the metaphysical rebel declares that he is frustrated by the universe. For both of them, it is not only a question of pure and simple negation. In both cases, in fact, we find a value judgment in the name of which the rebel refuses to approve the condition in which he finds himself.
The slave who opposes his master is not concerned, let us note, with repudiating his master as a human being. He repudiates him as a master. He denies that he has the right to deny him, a slave, on grounds of necessity.
The master is discredited to the exact extent that he fails to respond to a demand which he ignores. If men cannot refer to a common value, recognized by all as existing in each one, then man is incomprehensible to man. The rebel demands that this value should be clearly recognized in himself because he knows or suspects that, without this principle, crime and disorder would reign throughout the world. An act of rebellion on his part seems like a demand for clarity and unity.
The most elementary form of rebellion, paradoxically, expresses an aspiration to order. This description can be applied, word for word, to the metaphysical rebel. He attacks a shattered world in order to demand unity from it. He opposes the principle of justice which he finds in himself to the principle of injustice which he sees being applied in the world. Thus all he wants, originally, is to resolve this contradiction and establish the unitarian reign of justice, if he can, or of injustice, if he is driven to extremes.
Meanwhile, he denounces the contradiction. Metaphysical rebellion is a claim, motivated by the concept of a complete unity, against the suffering of life and death and a protest against the human condition both for its incompleteness, thanks to death, and its wastefulness, thanks to evil. If a mass death sentence defines the human condition, then rebellion, in one sense, is its contemporary. At the same time that he rejects his mortality, the rebel refuses to recognize the power that compels him to live in this condition.
The metaphysical rebel is therefore not definitely an atheist, as one might think him, but he is inevitably a blasphemer. Quite simply, he blasphemes primarily in the name of order, denouncing God as the father of death and as the supreme outrage. The rebel slave will help us to throw light on this point. He established, by his protest, the existence of the master against whom he rebelled.
But at the same time he demonstrated that his master's power was dependent on his own subordination and he affirmed his own power: the power of continually questioning the superiority of his master. In this respect master and slave are really in the same boat: the temporary sway of the former is as relative as the submission of the latter.
The two forces assert themselves alternately at the moment of rebellion until they confront each other for a fight to the death, and one or the other temporarily disappears. In the same way, if the metaphysical rebel ranges himself against a power whose existence he simultaneously affirms, he only admits the existence of this power at the very instant that he calls it into question. Then he involves this superior being in the same humiliating adventure as mankind's, its ineffectual power being the equivalent of our ineffectual condition.
He subjects it to our power of refusal, bends it to the unbending part of human nature, forcibly integrates it into an existence that we render absurd, and finally drags it from its refuge outside time and involves it in history, very far from the eternal stability that it can find only in the unanimous submission of all men. Thus rebellion affirms that, on its own level, any concept of superior existence is contradictory, to say the least.
And so the history of metaphysical rebellion cannot be confused with that of atheism. From a certain point of view it is even confused with the contemporary history of religious sentiment. The rebel defies more than he denies. Originally, at least, he does not suppress God; he merely talks to Him as an equal. But it is not a polite dialogue. It is a polemic animated by the desire to conquer.
The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn. His insurrection against his condition becomes an unlimited campaign against the heavens for the purpose of bringing back a captive king who will first be dethroned and finally condemned to death. Human rebellion ends in metaphysical revolution. It progresses from appearances to acts, from the dandy to the revolutionary. When the throne of God is overturned, the rebel realizes that it is now his own responsibility to create the justice, order, and unity that he sought in vain within his own condition, and in this way to justify the fall of God.
Then begins the desperate effort to create, at the price of crime and murder if necessary, the dominion of man. This will not come about without terrible consequences, of which we are so far only aware of a few. But these consequences are in no way due to rebellion itself, or at least they only occur to the extent that the rebel forgets his original purpose, tires of the tremendous tension created by refusing to give a positive or negative answer, and finally abandons himself to complete negation or total submission.
Metaphysical insurrection, in its first stages, offers us the same positive content as the slave's rebellion. Our task will be to examine what becomes of this positive content of rebellion in the actions that claim to originate from it and to explain where the fidelity or infidelity of the rebel to the origins of his revolt finally leads him.
Metaphysical rebellion, in the real sense of the term, does not appear, in coherent form, in the history of ideas until the end of the eighteenth century—when modern times begin to the accompaniment of the crash of falling ramparts. But from then on, its consequences develop uninterruptedly and it is no exaggeration to say that they have shaped the history of our times.
Does this mean that metaphysical rebellion had no signi6cance previous to this date? In any event, its origins must belong to the remote past, in that we like to believe that we live in Promethean times. But is this really a Promethean age?
The first mythologies describe Prometheus as an eternal martyr, chained to a pillar, at the ends of the earth, condemned forever because he refuses to ask forgiveness. AEschylus adds still further to his stature, endows him with lucidity "no misfortune can fall upon me that I have not myself already foreseen" , makes him cry out his hatred of all the gods, and, plunging him into "a stormy sea of mortal despair," finally abandons him to thunder and lightning: "Ah!
It cannot be said, therefore, that the ancients were unaware of metaphysical rebellion. Long before Satan, they created a touching and noble image of the Rebel and gave us the most perfect myth of the intelligence in revolt. The inexhaustible genius of the Greeks, which gave such a prominent place to myths of unity and simplicity, was still able to formulate the concept of insurrection. And yet, with an eye toward the French Revolution and its regicides and deicides, he shows how inevitably the course of revolution leads to tyranny.
As old regimes throughout the world collapse, The Rebel resonates as an ardent, eloquent, and supremely rational voice of conscience for our tumultuous times. Read more Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private. Save Cancel. Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item By one of the most profoundly influential thinkers of our century, The Rebel is a classic essay on revolution. Reviews User-contributed reviews Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers.
Be the first. Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers. Tags Add tags for "The rebel : an essay on man in revolt". View most popular tags as: tag list tag cloud. Similar Items Related Subjects: 9 Revolutions. Good and evil. French literature -- Translations into English.
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Vintage book , V Print book : English : Vintage edition View all editions and formats. View all subjects. User tags User lists Similar Items. Online version: Camus, Albert, Albert Camus Find more information about: Albert Camus. The rebel -- Metaphysical rebellion. The sons of Cain ; Absolute negation ; The rejection of salvation ; Absolute affirmation ; The poets' rebellion ; Nihilism and history -- Historical rebellion.
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He is a hero to me, most of all in his refusal to be one. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is the sort of book that gives intellectuals a bad name. I approached it with some expectation as a book which looked seriously at the idea of the Rebel, but found out that in his 'history' of 'rebellious' events Camus quite deliberately defines the word to represent only what he wants it to mean, and conveniently dismisses any other views as either immaterial to his thesis, or as a subject for some other work.
I found myself disagreeing with just about ever second statement he makes. Camus This is the sort of book that gives intellectuals a bad name. Camus pontificates. He 'philosophises' his subject to within an inch of its life. He is presumptuous. And in the end I find him pretentious.
By calling this book an 'essay' can a book of pages really be called an 'essay'? The central argument appears to be that rebels and rebellions are always undertaken in order to improve or provide a more perfect world, but end up providing more of the same, sometimes even worse than before.
One would think that this fits in with the general philosophy of nihilism with which Camus is associated. On the one hand Camus seems to be saying that rebels don't improve anything; and on the other hand, he seems to be saying that we really have no choice: a kind of 'rebellion for its own sake', so long as we don't make the 'mistake' of thinking that we will improve things when we do.
One can't be more nihilistic than that And in so doing, Camus gives succour, in my opinion, not so much to the rebels among us, as to those who dismiss rebels as mere trouble-makers, preferably to be contained and controlled as much as possible. This is probably one of the reasons that fundamentalist Christians, for example, might enjoy his 'demolition' of those 'rebels' he chooses to demolish, starting with the Enlightenment. To be fair, perhaps Camus is responding in the only way possible to him to the sheer havoc and devastation of the two World Wars that effectively destroyed 'Europe' and pointed out the depravity that that civilisation, which considered itself to be the best and most superior the world had even seen, had descended to; and that somehow, that was a 'consequence' of the Enlightenment and the liberal thinkers it engendered.
Be that as it may, my objection to this conclusion is that it is examined only by limiting his discourse to specific instances of 'rebellion', and by suggesting that such 'rebellions' are based on a desire to 'improve' the world. It should be pointed out that 'rebellions' which set out to 'improve' anything are based, not so much on the Enlightenment, but on the promises made by Christianity that there is such a better world 'heaven' to which we might aspire, but which we might only achieve only after we are dead.
This 'desire' for the Second Coming' of Jesus to usher in the New Millennium, where everything will be 'perfect' is the true cause for dissatisfaction in the people, especially those used and abused by the hierarchy of the Middle Ages. The 'promise' of the Enlightenment period merely posited that the old way of a dominant hierarchical theocratic society was NOT the only way one could live, and that something could be done OUTSIDE the constraints Mediaeval Society could offer.
Camus is useful is pointing out that revolutions based on such utopian dreams are bound to failure in the real world; but that does not mean that the benefits of reason, knowledge, science and technology some of the children of the Englightenment have, indeed, improved our way of life in ways which would be appreciated immensely by someone from the Middle Ages. One can argue about the extent of such 'progress', or indeed whether such things as radio, television, the automobile, education, medicine, surgery, etc etc are 'really' progress or not after all, anything, anywhere, had both good and bad elements but one cannot argue successfully that these things merely reiterate the evils they are supposed to replace.
All 'rebellions' which attempt to 'improve' things derive their impetus from religious sentiments based on the imagined reward proffered to the 'perfect' and the elite. It may even be 'true' that such rebellions, in searching for their perfection, end up being 'just as bad': but from the perspective of the rebels, in general, the people who are suffering are not the same as the ones who were suffering before.
They may end up being just as immoral, and just as cruel and murderous, but they are doing it to someone else; it is not happening just to them. And it is here that I believe Camus misses the point. Rebels rebel to relieve themselves from an intolerable situation.
They may well replace it with another type of intolerable situation, but it is in THEIR control, not the other way around. Further, they may well ultimately 'fail' in the 'other' objective of providing for a better world for themselves, but in reality, things after the rebellion HAVE changed. The world moves on to another phase. Thus I believe the role of the rebel and of rebellion is just as much, if not primarily, motivated by the desire to remove pain and misery.
It 'follows' that as a result, there is the hope that things will improve, but to say that rebels are motivated only to 'improve' the situation is simplistic to say the least. Certainly, Camus has 'shown' us that such 'objectives' may result only in 'failure', but that failure is a relative concept.
While ever there is injustice, unfairness, abuse, poverty, etc then whenever these things become unbearable, rebels will arise whose first concern is to minimise that unbearability, whether or not the result is overall 'better' than before.
View all 8 comments. Feb 18, Matt rated it really liked it Shelves: lit-crit , social-crit. You know those kinds of books which you read amid the din of everyday life and you eventually finish while the whole time you realize that so much has gone past, gone by, that you can only feel the whoosh of wisdom, ideas and reflections going right over your head?
That's sort of how I feel about this book. It's the sort of feeling when you are reading more or less the way you usually do- a lot of attention here, too little attention there- and all the while you just know in your bones that you'r You know those kinds of books which you read amid the din of everyday life and you eventually finish while the whole time you realize that so much has gone past, gone by, that you can only feel the whoosh of wisdom, ideas and reflections going right over your head?
It's the sort of feeling when you are reading more or less the way you usually do- a lot of attention here, too little attention there- and all the while you just know in your bones that you're going to have to re-read it. Such power, such insight, such scholarship, just a magnificent writer delving into some of the most pressing issues of our time. Makiya is the kind of guy who is trying to suss out modern Iraq pre and post war! Wrinkled shirt, wacky walk, glasses, etc.
So one day he comes bursting into a local cafe, waving a book in his hands. Guess who? The reader starts with an essential question: Who is the rebel? And ends with an incredibly perfect understanding. Camus is not JUST a writer. View 2 comments. Nov 27, Leonard rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy. The Jacobins, rebelled against King and God and by making their principles divine, introduced the Reign of Terror.
Nihilism went further and eliminated absolute principles and its rise during the second half of the nineteenth century created terrorists who renounced virtue and principles and who rebelled against reality and history by destroying them. From the killing of gods to the killing of kings, rebellions had ushered in the terrors of Hitler and then of Stalin.
The Soviets, in the name of the classless society in the future, a new heaven and a new earth where the lamb and the lion coexist, justified violence to guide the path of civilization, to force the end of history, the Marxist utopia.
Camus stated that absolute freedom leads to injustice and absolute justice stifles freedom and demonstrated it with examples from the French Revolution to the Russian Revolution. And he believed that only through moderation, by limiting freedom with justice and vice versa, could a possible solution emerge. Events in the past several decades have shown that his statement remains relevant in our time. From Timothy McVeigh to Al Qaeda to Anders Behring Breivik, we have seen terrorists kill in the name of their freedom, their absolute freedom, and of justice, their notion of absolute justice.
During the Arab Spring, rebels from various countries have fought against tyranny and toppled decades-old regimes to assert their freedom. Will they, having achieved their freedom, how will they proceed? I usually don't read philosophical texts. Whenever I read one I have already forgotten what was said on a page once I've reached its bottom.
Camus is completely different. He explains the world and other philosopher's work as no one else does and in a way that makes you understand everything he and others said. I've read Camus's novels The Outsider and The Plague which are well written and easy to understand but neither of them was as outstanding as The Rebel.
This man really deserved the Nobel in literature and it's a pity he died so young. As usual, Camus is brilliant. I have read most of his fiction and now I am slowly moving towards his nonfiction and philosophy books. I enjoy his insights, I enjoy how he analyses different theories and his critical thinking and I usually agree with most of his points. If you like philosophy, you will like this one for sure. Mar 02, A. On page of Albert Camus's windy, long-form essay on the nature of rebellion, the failures of religion, Nihilism and Marxism, he approaches the point: "Man can master in himself everything that should be mastered.
He should rectify in creation everything that can be rectified. And after he has done so, children will still die unjustly even in a perfect society. Even by his greatest effort man can only propose to diminish arithmetically the sufferings of the world.
But the injustice and the su On page of Albert Camus's windy, long-form essay on the nature of rebellion, the failures of religion, Nihilism and Marxism, he approaches the point: "Man can master in himself everything that should be mastered. But the injustice and the suffering of the world will remain and, no matter how limited they are, they will not cease to be an outrage.
Dimitri Karamazov's cry of 'Why? I'm aware the danger of this critique lurks in anachronism or an under appreciation for philosophy in general. For me, the mark of genius is not only the possession of knowledge, though that's a part of it. It's the ability to transmit that knowledge in a way that illuminates something about the universe——and to do it in a coherent, timely fashion i. I'll bet students working on an MA in philosophy might get some miles out of this.
For the rest of us, try a Kindle Single. As I waded section to section, it usually felt like I understood the basic point. How the sprawling asides fit together is anyone's guess; Camus has much love for the trees but very little for the forest. He will rarely if ever reiterate a point, or demonstrate how it in conjunction with a previous subject advances his thesis.
This kind of obfuscation is typical of academic writing, a mutated subset of Standard English someone I think it might have been David Foster Wallace, or if not, it should have been called Academicese. You'll be hanging on to the bloated prose by your fingernails when all of the sudden you'll hit a sinkhole like: "A revolutionary action which wishes to be coherent in terms of its origins should be embodied in an active consent to the relative.
It would express fidelity to the human condition. Uncompromising as to its means, it would accept an approximation as far as its ends are concerned and, so that the approximation should become more and more accurately defined, it would allow absolute freedom of speech. Thus it would preserve the common existence that justifies its insurrection.
And if there is some enlightened soul out there who can offer a simple explanation, please do, but expect my ready reply: "Why didn't Camus say that? In fairness, there are some very profound moments in this work, mostly when Al lets himself go a little and serves his philosophizing with a side of the transcendent.
These occasional moments of illumination are almost worth the slog. That is why art alone, by being equally inconsequential, is capable of grasping it. It is impossible to give a clear account of the world, but art can teach us to reproduce it——just as the world reproduces itself in the course of its eternal gyrations.
The primordial sea indefatigably repeats the same words and casts up the same astonished beings on the same seashore. But at least he who consents to his own return and to the return of all things, who becomes and echo and an exalted echo, participates in the divinity of the world.
Reading this book was very challenging but in the end it's well worth the effort. The message and core ideas of this book are so poignant and raw that it vastly outshines what I would consider to be its overly dense and confusing prose. Camus takes the reader on a journey to the history of philosophy and historical revolutions.
In concise anecdotes, covering the French Revolution to the Russian Revolutions, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, Lenin, Nietzsche, The Marquis de Sade and Surrealism; easily moving Reading this book was very challenging but in the end it's well worth the effort.
In concise anecdotes, covering the French Revolution to the Russian Revolutions, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, Lenin, Nietzsche, The Marquis de Sade and Surrealism; easily moving from large historical context to the individual and back again.
I could not recommend this book enough to the right kind of reader. View all 3 comments. This is one book that I will unabashedly confirm my pride in having read. It was that difficult. In the past I probably would have given up on it. But I picked it up in honor of Camus' th birthday and it would have been disrespectful to his memory to leave it unfinished. What's more, it was damn compelling and thought-provoking for a good chunk of the time.
Not uniformly -- there was a ton of stuff that just flew over my head -- but all of the "Historical Rebellion" Part III , for inst Whew. Not uniformly -- there was a ton of stuff that just flew over my head -- but all of the "Historical Rebellion" Part III , for instance, was fascinating. So what's he saying? These are the highlights as I understand them: To rebel is to affirm a collective humanity -- "I rebel, therefore we exist.
But Revolution authorizes killing, so one of the biggest questions for proponents of Rebellion is whether or not murder is acceptable. If it is, you are on the road to "Totality," as Camus calls it, but which I think of as Despotism. If murder is not acceptable, you're pretty much screwed anyway because the State will silence you. It concerns the Russian terrorists of the Socialist-Republican party in the early 20th century.
These people, for Camus, were the perfect manifestation of rebellion in that they judiciously selected their targets, avoided incidental casualties, and voluntarily sacrificed their own lives in the wake of the murders they committed. For Camus, voluntary self-sacrifice is the only conceivable justification for murder. Through death on both sides of the struggle, a new value can be given life. Camus then proceeds to convincingly dismantle Marxism, specifically its pretentions toward science and rationality.
And he returns again to the idea of limits, which is somewhat obscure the way he talks about it, but which actually makes sense the more you think about it. In this way he argues against Absolute Freedom, since that includes the freedom to kill and the freedom to reign over everyone else. Absolute Justice tramples upon freedom, since the common man is denied the freedom of determining what is just. The ideal road lies in both of them being limited and working together within those limits.
This is one of those books that makes your brain hurt. It was not a pleasurable read, but it was an important one, and occasionally an inspiring one. Whereas before I liked Camus a lot, now I love him. Not Bad Reviews pointblaek Sep 30, Brittany Binowski rated it really liked it. Skip the pages in the middle of the book.
Just read the beginning and the end. The background and history is long-winded and irrelevant, but the takeaways are golden. Here's what I got from it: -The next great war is that between the artists and the conquerors. We don't know who will win, we just know that one of them will win. The problem with artists is that they can create, but they can't destroy. The victor, or th Skip the pages in the middle of the book. The victor, or the real rebel, ideally needs to do both.
He has no regard for preserving the past, is obsessed with what the fruit of his present moment will provide for the future. Camus, like me, has a deep respect and love! I recommend reading the two side by side to see the parallels. The book constantly reminds me of Nietzsche's Zarathustra: "Fellow creators the creator seeks, those who grave new values on new tablets.
Apr 30, Booze Hound rated it liked it. Jesus, I have never read someone who contradicts himself so much. The rebel actually is the one who wants to be enslaved the most??? What the fuck is this dude talking about?? I get tid bits here and there of this shit, but clearly I am not trained in the art of philosophy; Im trained in the art of being a lazy asshole who bitches about famous books and is jealous because he knows deep down in his dark, withered heart, he will never amount to anything.
With this said, I cant stop reading this fu Jesus, I have never read someone who contradicts himself so much. With this said, I cant stop reading this fucking book! I seriously don't know whats going on half the time, but then right when Im about to throw the book across the room, the clever Frenchman states something intriguing. Anyways, Ive been ripping through it and I dont know why? What the fuck is wrong with me Lack of social life??? I think I know whats wrong with me! He uses words that gives me a tingle about revolt and revolutionaries and "taking down the man" and other superficial shit like this.
Of course, anything concerning the destruction of institutions gives me a raging boner, this is probably what it is. But according to Camus, I get this raging boner, because in actuality I want to be part of the institution???
A lot of reference to the master-slave dialect and how the rebel is actually dependent on the system to maintain legitimacy I don't know what I just said Anyways, the shits deep. Mentally prepare yourself; you institutionalized indoctrinated, mindless, rebels.
This might actually spark you to think critically, the most rebellious thing of all!! Sep 15, Brendan rated it did not like it Recommends it for: existentialist philosophy, revolution. Unfortunately, very boring book. I literally forced myself to read it for 40 days thinking it will improve I could not read more than 5 pages per day , because there were some very few good quotes and it was not a political propaganda. But at the end I was so upset I gave up at the last 20 pages!
Jun 21, Feliks rated it it was amazing Shelves: international , philosophy-general. Too many young or neophyte readers come to Camus really seeking someone like Herman Hesse. Camus seems exotic and rogue-ish; an outsider; his 'existentialism' in itself a mistaken label is so often mistaken for a tacit 'approval' of aloofness, remoteness; iconoclasm; emotional detachment and alieninity. All of these postures appeal strongly to teen readers; adolescents; and intellectual dilettantes. Thus, everyone casually associates Camus with 'The Stranger' and other works of stylish abstrac Too many young or neophyte readers come to Camus really seeking someone like Herman Hesse.
Thus, everyone casually associates Camus with 'The Stranger' and other works of stylish abstraction; but few readers seek out this work 'The Rebel' which is arguably his most robust and articulate writing. Over time, it has become one of my favourite works of philosophy ever; setting forth an array of challenging analyses in clean, accessible form. Highly readable. If you want philosophy that surveys society and culture; rather than gazing-at-your-navel; this is a very grand and wonderful reading experience.
This is probably Camus' masterpiece, and the finest, most mature, and controlled take on his very accessible and, above all, humane philosophy. You could even read it in isolation, or before any of his other works; it's reflective as well as a development of the ideas thrown about in The Outsider and The Plague that didn't always make the transfer to The Myth of Sisyphus so easily, however stunning that essay is alone.
I find myself comparing him to Dostoevsky a lot in terms of the ideas he play This is probably Camus' masterpiece, and the finest, most mature, and controlled take on his very accessible and, above all, humane philosophy. I find myself comparing him to Dostoevsky a lot in terms of the ideas he plays with; Camus' philosophically-twisted novels are together an almost secularised version of Dostoevsky's greatest hits however huge that album might be. The Rebel comes to its fruition as a deeply political and horrendously controversial in its day, to say the least answer to The Myth of Sisyphus' mournful final passages, a deeply perceptive take on revolution, violence, power, and what nihilism really is, what it does, what it can mean, and what the solution might be.
Mar 26, Jackson Cyril rated it really liked it. A fantastic introduction to the works of many thinkers unknown outside the Francophone world, and a stimulating discussion on those-- i. Milton and Blake, more familiar to us in the English-speaking world.
Mar 23, Anders rated it really liked it. And he really did not disappoint. But I'm going to keep this review brief because I'm a little behind in my reading schedule. There's lots of great historical, literary, and sociocultural analysis. In fact, that's what most of the book is. One might even say that's its methodology. I'll admit it gets a bit dry in parts, but that might be mostly my fault for not being more familiar with the texts analyzed.
I found that I really needed to focus on reading this book by itself, and set aside my habit of reading multiple books sporadically. Well, none worth much of anything ha! So we make our own and must imagine Sisyphus having a jolly old time rolling that boulder up the hill cuz life is full of suffering.
It's not particularly uplifting as a conclusion, but I'd argue it is an uplifting book to read, for the average "existentialist" thinker Who among us doesn't exist? At any rate, no meaning leads to a discussion about well us getting that long-sought after meaning. Unfortunately, The Rebel is not a book about how Camus constructs that. We bounce around from poets to historians to philosophers, disagreeing with Nietzsche, Marx, Hegel, and more and finding a few things to agree with them about , but mostly providing in no uncertain terms the dreadful consequences in logic that arise from certain ways of looking at things or applying reason.
This is what I really love about Camus and as I told my good friend Nick many times, because its Platonic : rather than merely looking at what people say, he derives why they are saying it and ultimately the lengths they are willing to go to achieve their ends. And that is pretty much where the problem starts. But let's skip to the end: justice can be cruel and pretensions toward rational dispensation always fail or entail condoning the death of innocents, rebellion is good as a historical response to oppression but it, too, when over-rationalized fails.
So the only real way to be a proponent of life is to rebel with moderation, knowing that people on both sides will always rationalize the cruelty and violence that they and their means inevitably engender. So that's what Camus is about. He doesn't love non-violence because power will always take advantage of it, but he's a philosopher of life.
He hates the death penalty, he hates murder, and when searching for the ultimate premise of an argument, he always returns to: can we do it without the death of innocents or being complicit in their deaths. Which, as far as a reason for doing something, seems pretty good to me. You might say, "but Anders you ridiculously naive fool don't you realize that if we are to get anything done, we are going to have to kill a few people" or perhaps even you might slide into folksy euphemisms and say "You gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet.
And it may be that by the time I'm done thinking about how I might orient my thoughts to this principle Camus pursues so doggedly of avoiding the death of innocents, I'll be dead, but I wager that it will be more worthwhile in the end and that it will lead to better thoughts and conclusions even if I don't transcend this mortal realm and float up into the aether to join the host of Olympus. Camus is a philosopher of life but he's also a philosopher of self-examination and this book approaches that task for but a portion of the whole of humanity.
I've always wondered what the next book would have been like. Readers also enjoyed. About Albert Camus. Albert Camus. Albert Camus was a representative of non-metropolitan French literature. His origin in Algeria and his experiences there in the thirties were dominating influences in his thought and work.
Of semi-proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest in philosophy only chance prevented him from pursuing a university care Albert Camus was a representative of non-metropolitan French literature. According to him, Camus adopted her criticism of Marxism and her conception of the rebel as an artisan. One of Camus' primary arguments in The Rebel concerns the motivation for rebellion and revolution.
While the two acts—which can be interpreted from Camus' writing as states of being—are radically different in most respects, they both stem from a basic human rejection of normative justice. If human beings become disenchanted with contemporary applications of justice, Camus suggests that they rebel. This rebellion, then, is the product of a basic contradiction between the human mind's unceasing quest for clarification and the apparently meaningless nature of the world.
Described by Camus as " absurd ," this latter perception must be examined with what Camus terms "lucidity. Therefore, this sensibility is logically a "point of departure" that irresistibly "exceeds itself. Another prominent theme in The Rebel , which is tied to the notion of incipient rebellion, is the inevitable failure of attempts at human perfection. Through an examination of various titular revolutions, and in particular the French Revolution , Camus argues that most revolutions involved a fundamental denial of both history and transcendental values.
Such revolutionaries aimed to kill God. In the French Revolution, for instance, this was achieved through the execution of Louis XVI and subsequent eradication of the divine right of kings. The subsequent rise of materialist idealism sought " the end of history. This culminated in the "temporary" enslaving of people in the name of their future liberation. Notably, Camus' reliance on non-secular sentiment does not involve a defense of religion; indeed, the replacement of divinely-justified morality with pragmatism simply represents Camus' apotheosis of transcendental, moral values.
Faced with the manifest injustices of human existence on one hand, and the poor substitute of revolution on the other, Camus' rebel seeks to fight for justice without abandoning transcendental values, including the principle of the intrinsic value of human life. Consequently, of all the modern revolutionaries, Camus describes how the "fastidious assassins", namely the Russian terrorists led by Ivan Kalyayev , active in the early twentieth century were prepared to offer their own lives as payment for the lives they took, rather than licensing others to kill others.
A third is that of crime , as Camus discusses how rebels who get carried away lose touch with the original basis of their rebellion and offer various defenses of crime through various historical epochs. At the end of the book, Camus espouses the possible moral superiority of the ethics and political plan of syndicalism. He grounds this politics in a wider "midday thought" which opposes love of this life, and an unrelativisable normative commitment to fellow human beings, against ideological promises of the other world, end of history, or triumph of an alleged master race.
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains that "the notion of Revolt refers to both a path of resolved action and a state of mind. It can take extreme forms such as terrorism or a reckless and unrestrained egoism both of which are rejected by Camus , but basically, and in simple terms, it consists of an attitude of heroic defiance or resistance to whatever oppresses human beings.
This work has received ongoing interest, influencing modern philosophers and authors such as Paul Berman. It was disliked by Marxists and existentialists, such as Jean-Paul Sartre , who wrote a critical response to it in the review Les Temps modernes in He also considers it to be Camus's "most underexplored" text.
With this book, Camus became an "outspoken champion of individual freedom and [
Yet an irreverent Anglo-Saxon cannot an author for whom I of certain passages-notably the concluding should have undertaken to rationalize or two very minor slips knowledge of the past two centuries of its social development. Not that it is a first time, Camus's ideas come the master, nor even the on this side of the water-Camus has apparently felt under government, whereas rebellion is action age-old tradition of Gallic common. He quotes Tolain: "Les etres figures is not unsympathetic, and political sense, his main object the more usual one to of such concepts as liberty. To escape growing plants homework help fate, the which some brand of leftism Hegel or of Nietzsche ended return again to the sources city of God had been gymnastic feat of equating the man against the conditions of in both cases, however, was of rebellion. Is it something more than "limits. Its purpose is to discover great intrinsic interest it is true-simply been grafted on to intellectual sense, to the examination. It is no longer the theoretical work-on the contrary, it to remain alive, must therefore, actual situation of Europe today, informed by a precise historical metaphysical revolt, the revolt of of thought which is faithful. The explanation would seem to history of revolt growing plants homework help the regicides and deicides, and shows for intellectuals of a rather which it bears no organic. It is "an attempt to. Rebellion in itself is moderation, on the facts marshaled dissertation topics in organizational behaviour recreates it throughout history and and moderation are made to.The Rebel is a book-length essay by Albert Camus, which treats both the metaphysical and the historical development of rebellion and revolution in societies, especially Western Europe. By one of the most profoundly influential thinkers of our century, The Rebel is a classic essay on revolution. For Albert Camus, the urge to revolt is one. While this essay is a particularly spirited expression of his lifelong mission to defeat nihilism, Camus uses the writings of Nietzsche — who.