“I Just Want to be Happy”

Philosophy has many aspects and topics it covers, but one specific philosophy is that of existentialism. Existentialism is a philosophy that is applied to everyday life, and how to live it. With existentialism, people can find better ways to be happy, such as in the “Myth of Sisyphus”, which is an essay written by Albert Camus. It is a very modern philosophy, yet rejected by society, only because it is misunderstood.

Existentialism is a modern philosophy that developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, relating to the idea of one’s individual existence and freedom. The primary theme of the philosophy is, “Freedom of choice, through which each human being creates his or her own nature”(Existentialism: Basic Writings). This is further explored as each human being creates their lives with what is put into it. Existentialism is looked down upon because of its message that “human life requires a rational basis but the attempt is a futile passion”(Exist), the idea of looking for the lost meaning of life. The idea is not to find a reason for living, but to live for a reason, because there is no reason in life; only to live it to it’s fullest. Therefore making existentialism more of a humanism focusing on freedom and responsibility. The 19th century philosopher Heidegger “argued that human beings can never hope to understand why they are here; instead, each individual must choose a goal and follow it with passionate conviction, aware of the certainty of death and ultimate meaninglessness of one’s life”(Exist). Heidegger encompasses the meaning behind the philosophy with his argument, in that one will live and die, but will only be happy accepting one’s fate. This is further discovered with Mersault in Camus’ novel “The Stranger”, as he portrays him with an existential attitude towards life. In terms of theology, the philosophy portrays more of an agnostic or atheistic view but has had a “profound influence on 20th century theology, addressing such issues as transcendence and the limits of human experience”(Exist). Thus, existentialism allows one to understand the fate of death giving the opportunity to live beyond the material world and letting one become in touch with the spiritual self. This permits one to live life as it comes, rather than to live planning for the afterlife. The definition of existentialism cannot be precise because everyone has a different idea of it. It is a more personal philosophy that incorporates into each life, but encompasses the idea of living life to the moment and being aware of death.

A concept that relates to existentialism is acceptance of ones fate, which can be found in an essay called, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” written by Albert Camus. The Greek myth of Sisyphus was that of a man sentenced to eternity of rolling a rock up a hill, only to fall back down once the top is reached. Most people find the idea of this quite disturbing, because they feel that there is no point, or that it is absurd. But Camus’ approached the story in a positive way stating, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy” (The Myth). Camus wanted to portray Sisyphus as a man of today’s working society, and a reference to the character of Mersault. In the essay, Camus stated that, “One does not discover the absurd, without being tempted to write a manual of happiness”(The Myth). The idea that there is something better or more desirable makes the present fate absurd. If Sisyphus were never exposed to the gifts of the real world, his fate of suffering would not be known. It is only in the knowledge of something greater that creates a sense of meaninglessness, which creates one to suffer. In explaining the rock rolling back down the hill, Camus references to Sisyphus by saying, “If the descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow it can also take place in joy”(The Myth). When Sisyphus has to return back to the bottom of the hill, one would think of him, as being in sorrow, yet his burden is no longer upon his descent- therefore, those moments can be of happiness. This returns back to the philosophy of existentialism, in which one must live for the moments of life rather than to look into the sorrow