What is Absurdism

Absurdism is a philosophical theory that explores life within our existence and proclaims it to be an absurd experience that lacks any inherent meaning. The world alongside the universe doesn’t have a rhyme or reason. It lacks any purpose as to why we are here dwelling in its existence. The philosophical theory explores human nature and questions its need to find purpose and meaning in life. 


The question is often asked, “what is the meaning of life?” However, Absurdism tackles the question head-on by answering it objectively. Absurdism Peradoxially answers that it would be impossible for a human being to find meaning or achieve any purpose in a purposeless world. At first glance, the theory is somewhat depressing to the uninitiated of philosophy. However, Absurdism’s goal is for us to recognize life’s inadequacies and that not everything needs purpose or meaning, living life to its fullest without wasting time searching for its meaning. 

Where Does Absurdism Originate?

Absurdism Original philosophy

The first philosopher to bring the idea of Absurdism into existence was Soran Kierkegaard, but Kierkegaard would only lay the foundation for the philosophical basis In the 19th century. At its inception, Absurdism was a skeletal idea that didn’t have the articulation of what it is today. It wasn’t until the 20th century that a philosopher named Albert Camus transcended the ideology of Absurdism and sprang it into fruition within society and academics. 


Albert Camus wrote the book “The Myth of Sisyphus,” which talks about one of the most taboo subjects, suicide. The book delves deeply into the topic to discuss humans’ daily conflicts. Camus equates human’s desire to find life’s meaning to the mythological character Sisyphus. The story goes that Zeus was upset at Sisyphus for cheating death twice, so Zeus cast punishment on Sisyphus by having him pointlessly roll a boulder up a hill for all eternity. 


The symbolism that Camus used was that society falls into this pointless routine, where we go to a job that doesn’t matter, do meaningless tasks, and then go home to do it again the next day. It’s a routine people fall into, but what overburdens is this compelling motivation for us to find the point in this life. Absurdism acknowledges an individual’s pursuit to find that purpose, but the theory tells us it’s just not there. Absurdism isn’t the only philosophy to engage in human’s desire to find life’s meaning; existentialism and nihilism delve into the topic of life and its meaning but offer a different explanation.  

Existentialism Influence on Absurdism

Absurdism was influenced by existential philosophy; existentialism was introduced in the 19th century through philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Kierkegaard. The primary definition of existentialism is that it explores the human condition, which emphasizes the existence of an individual as a free and responsible person capable of determining their path in life through acts of free will. However, it was through free will that many individuals would try to find purpose in their life, hence where the term existential crisis came to be.   


However, like absurdism, existentialism was transcended by another philosopher who lived in the 20th century. That philosopher would be known as Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre is a well-known existentialist and would rival Camus on several different points through existentialism. Sartre argues that existence precedes essence, meaning that the individual is born in this world, and it is up to the individual to define their existence and find meaning in this world. Everyone is responsible for their own choices, regardless of the outcome. Absurdism takes the existentialism belief and agrees that people are accountable for their own life. Still, instead of going against the grain in life and pursuing the meaning in their life, absurds embrace the meaningless of life and are content with what life can offer. 

Nihilism Influence on Absurdism 

Nihilism is a more aggressive approach to life’s meaningless theory. However, it doubles down on life’s pointless venture and suggests that everything is useless, there is no truth or moral principles, and existence within itself does not matter. Nihilists have a very pessimistic view of life. What’s interesting about the philosophy is that it doesn’t offer any approach on how to deal with the meaningless of life, thus making the point that Nihilism is in itself meaningless, proving its point of view with its approach to life. 


The philosopher that would study and research Nihilism and essentially put the philosophy on the map was Friedrich Nietzsche. However, Nietzche never intended to advocate for Nihilism; he was always considered an existentialist. Still, some of the work that he pursued throughout his career had nihilistic themes that could not be ignored within the philosophical community. For instance, Nietzsche coined the phrase “God is dead,” which came from his book “Thus spoke Zarathustra.”

The book would go on to be a condemned piece of literature in the Christian community for mimicking Jesuses discipleship but also spreading blasphemy in his fictional works. As controversial as the book was, it sparked a debate as the church of Christianity was losing its grasp on humanity due to higher thinking and developing science. People started to lose their faith in religion. Nietzche wanted to metaphorically compare god being dead to life not having any moral, principle, or value. 

How Nihilism and Existentialism tie into Absurdism

Nihilism is a very pessimistic view of life; it may not be one of the more popular forms of philosophy, but it is controversial and has its place in the community. Absurdism takes the notion that Nihilism suggests how everything in life is meaningless and that it has no value. But where Absurdism differs is that it offers a new way of thinking. It acknowledges that life is meaning, but that’s okay, embrace the meaning and enjoy its blissful nature, but don’t be like existentialism and go looking for life’s purpose because you will waste your time searching for it.

What are the Principles of Absurdism

Absurdism Principles graphics

Absurdism, at its core, is the belief that life is meaningless and that humans are powerless against fate. Absurdist’s believe that existence is ultimately purposeless, and our lives are without inherent meaning. An absurdist believes there isn’t some sort of special reason that we are here, not by divine or cosmic intervention, but strictly by coincidence.  


The theory may sound depressing, but it’s quite the opposite, absurdist’s see the Absurd as a source of humor, irony, and most importantly empowerment. They believe that by embracing the Absurd. We can find joy in life’s most absurd moments, so instead of going against the grain, Absurdist feel laughing at it is the best route to take. But, that’s easier said than done; it’s a type of philosophy that requires discipline in following its core principles.  

Here are some of the core principles of absurdism:

  • Understanding the Absurd is irrational. Irrationality frequently doesn’t make sense, and that’s okay if it doesn’t make sense. The Absurd reminds us that not everything in life has to make sense. Of course, this principle is subjective; spend your energy on things that matter by picking the battles that have meaning to you. 
  • The Absurd is the recognition of the human condition. We are all powerless against fate, and our lives are ultimately meaningless. However, we can find joy in life by embracing the Absurd. Every human being, past, present, and future, will have one thing in common: death; unfortunately, there is no escaping that reality. Fortunately, an Absurdist finds it hopeless to stress about that fate. There is nothing we can do about it, so why not just enjoy the journey instead of searching for something that is not there.   
  • The Absurd is a source of humor. By recognizing the Absurdity of life, we can find humor in even the most absurd moments. There is nothing more powerful than laughing at the adversaries of life and not letting it constrain us from enjoying our life. 
  • The Absurd is a state of mind. It’s not about changing your circumstances; it’s about changing your perspective. When you embrace the Absurd, you see the world in a new light and find joy in everyday moments. 

How Does Absurdism Reflect the Human Condition?

Absurdism: A person in distress

Absurdism reflects the human condition because it shows how we repeatedly do the same things without questioning why. We get up, go to work, and do the same thing every day until that final day of checking out. This can be seen as insanity, but it’s just part of being human. Very few humans are privileged enough not to work and hold regular jobs. Every single one of us, even our boss, going all the way to the CEO, experiences the heavy burden of a Monday. We all share the monotonous structure of our jobs, yet we show up on time over and over because we have to survive.


We need to recognize the mundane aspects of our lives by accepting them and finding joy in the little things. Otherwise what’s the point? we’ll end up going through the motions without living, and being alive without living is the worst thing any of us can do. But that is where absurdism comes into play; it brings logic and rationality that makes sense for us in our lives and to forget everything else because it ultimately doesn’t matter.

The Philosophy of Absurdism

Absurdism: ocean with the sun going down

In all of its despair Absurdism evokes that life is absurd or meaningless. However, absurdism has a lot of optimism behind it. It helps us recognize the absurd, embrace it, and enjoy the ride because life is ultimately without purpose. That might mean embracing our mortality or simply enjoying the experience of being alive, everyone’s means of joy and purpose will be different, and that’s what makes life worth living. We all have different hobbies and interest, and finding people with like minded induvial pursuing what you love is critical to adding value in life.


Absurdism has influenced many different fields, from art to politics. In art, absurdist writers and artists often explore themes of existential angst and Absurdist humor. In politics, Absurdists tend to see society as an irrational system that needs to be critiqued.

The philosophy is a rather complicated way of looking at life; it’s a deep look within ourselves and our existence. Albert Camus’s contributions have been immense in understanding this discipline because he helped pave the road for future thinkers associated with it by coming up with what they call “absurdism.” The concept of elusion sheds light on the idea that people fill their voids through systems or beliefs that serve as mere acts of escaping instead of acknowledging reality without any meaning.


Whether you agree with absurdism or not, there’s no denying that it’s a thought-provoking philosophy. It helps empower each individual in their life of the hopeless fate each person is destined in life. However, the moment we are born into this world, the Absurdity of life captures us, its starts with our curiosity, then it blossoms into hope and ambition. When adult life comes to fruition, it all comes crashing down. So, don’t stress it’s not worth your time or energy accept what life is and enjoy it to the fullest every day.

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