Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Rebel, Entry 2, Solidarity

     The title of the short first part of The Rebel is, called, well, 'The Rebel'.  He deals with rebellion in the forms it took since the 18th Century, where some group demanded its rights.  Camus argues that in a society that holds a sacred view of the world and social order, there is not the same type of rebellion.  He says:

"The spirit of rebellion can only exist 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."(pg. 20)

I think that he, well, equates Western society with certain notions of human equality.  In a society whose view of reality denies this, there is not the same potential for rebellion in the sense Camus is describing.  What is interesting to me is that it is against this very society that some are rebelling for the sake of returning to a 'sacred' world(I used to belong to a religious group that possessing this type of solidarity).  I suppose Camus would not call this the same type of 'rebellion'.  The solidarity these groups feel among themselves replaces Camus' notion of solidarity, which is in terms of humanity in a non-sacred world.  Finally, Camus writes:

"...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 it entirety, suffers from this 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. It founds its first value on the whole human race.  I rebel -- therefore we exist."(pg. 22)

Camus constructs a simple picture, we 'Westerners' experience the strangeness of things because we are mature enough to have disposed of the sacred, this common experience of strangeness and our notions of 'common humanity' produce solidarity.  Now the individual experiencing the absurd is not rebelling alone against the depersonalizing forces of modernism(or postmodernism).  The question is, would Camus say that those living in the sacred world are somehow living in a kind of Kierkegaardian/Sartrean 'bad faith'? If so, Camus is no relativist.  If not, then the 'universality' of the experience of the absurd is called into question. My bet is that Camus is no relativist.  His  rebellion is quite metaphysical in this sense.  Oh, wait, that's the name of the next section, 'Metaphysical Rebellion'.








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