Study Guide

The Stranger Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

By Albert Camus

Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

The Stranger reflects Camus’ philosophical stance as an absurdist. Is there a logical meaning to life? Is there some higher order or law governing it? Some rational explanation to the chaos and nonsense? Can we make sense of life at all? The answer from The Stranger to these questions is a categorical "No." There is no truth, no certainty, nor any unwavering, non-relative laws in life—and there is no sense in pursuing such impossibilities.

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

  1. It is difficult for Meursault to explain his motivation(s) for killing the Arab. Are the reasons he cites irrational? Are they justifiable? 
  2. Based on absurdity as defined in The Stranger, can an absurdist live a good, meaningful life without believing in the possibility of it rationally? 
  3. From an absurdist’s viewpoint, is Meursault more "free" in prison or outside of it?

Chew on This

Meursault views his murder of the Arab as something that just "happened" at the sun-drenched beach: irrational and without premeditation. If you believe in the concept of responsibility is involved, this action is utterly indefensible. But if you're an Absurdist, Meursault’s explanation is at least possible.

Critics have stated that Absurdism is essentially meaningless because acceptance of it entails a life without meaning. This is incorrect; within the tenets of Absurdism, life can be meaningful despite its not having a rational order.