“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendou
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“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal”
With this sentence, Albert Camus criticizes man’s need to classify everything that surrounds him. All societies at some point of their history doubt their roots and “accepted truths” because they can’t find answers to their many questions. This leads the various cultures to want to expand their knowledge of the world in which they live.
Science is one of the many ways in which man does this. Although biology can explain how we reproduce, physics how the earth rotates, and chemistry how minerals are formed, none of these can give an explanation for why these events occur and how they started. Human kind can’t live in doubt and therefore “creates” his own truths. An example of “manmade truth” is religion. According to Plato “he was a wise man who invented God”. This quote could be interpreted as comparing God to a convenience created by society. Whether God exists or not, he has been introduced and adopted by man. There are over 100 different religions in all the world. How is it possible that each one of these beliefs are completely true?? The answer is that they aren’t all correct and we will never know which one, if existent, is accurate. The only thing that man can be sure of is death. So what is religion but a desperate attempt to explain what is incomprehensible?!
Throughout the ages, mankind has always categorized everything: people, places, objects, situations and feelings. This, as religion, is a way to “grasp” part of the inexplicable reality in which we live. Without laws or some kind of structure, man is lost and can go crazy. This can occur also when accepted truths are proved wrong such as the discovery of America. Until then the people were convinced to know every detail of the world in which they lived. The discovery of unknown land proved that man didn’t know everything of his planet and as a consequence led to the Baroque era, a period of artistic, scientific and literary decline. The discovery of the New World shows how every change drastically modifies the lives of people. The person that is reading this essay must try to imagine a world in which religion doesn’t exist and where there is no society that tells us what is right and wrong. How could we possibly go on with our lives?? We would end up doubting every action taken. In old mental institutes and prisons, patients were sometimes put, for a few days, in an empty room whose walls were all the same color. There was no difference between the walls, ceiling and floor. This is the worst punishment a human being can experience: not only is there no variation, but one loses all senses of coordination (being all the same we tend to not tell the difference between the various parts in the room). The reason why I chose this example is that this is what it would be like in a world without structure. The only difference would be that we would be born in it and therefore have no idea of what is outside that room.
Since we need structure, society makes it for us by defining what is normal and not normal. The denotative meaning of the word “normal” is “regular and not deviating from a norm, rule or principle”. This norm is decided and made by man. In the quote Camus explains that some people “expend tremendous energy” just to be considered normal. Usually people will put great amounts of energy to be considered original and better than average, but in this quote, there is no higher “qualification” than normal. This shows how pessimistic Camus was: all the energy is used only to be average. Being normal can be considered the most important objective of most people’s lives: be considered normal. After all being normal in modern day society means having a good job, growing a family, having a nice house, dressing well and having a view of the world and life similar to most of the other people. I find the word “normal” very subjective. What is normal for me might not for someone else. This can be seen
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Philosophy of life, Albert Camus, Normality, Pessimism, Norm
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