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I have been getting into the works of the French philosopher Albert Camus, who is the face of the philosophical idea of "The Absurd" or "Absurdism". I was wondering if this philosophy is compatible with Judaism, or if some components of it at least. Through his works, Camus conveys that the universe is a chaotic and indifferent place in which we humans will forever struggle to find meaning in/ will not ever fully comprehend. I think this can somewhat align with Judaism as there is an acknowledgment that humans don't fully understand the universe. I am just a mere beginner delving into this philosophy and I appreciate any response!

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    Mar 27, 2023 at 2:49

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Generally, the core tenant of absurdism is not just that humans struggle to find the meaning of the world, but that there is no meaning, that the world is absurd and undirected, Camus has said "The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world. This must not be forgotten. This must be clung to because the whole consequence of a life can depend on it. The irrational, the human nostalgia, and the absurd that is born of their encounter, these are the three characters in the drama that must necessarily end with all the logic of which an existence is capable." Essentially the position being that, mankind has formed a (pseudo) system of logic out of a completely irrational world, as opposed to Jewish teachings that the world is imbued with a rationality and a systematic completeness by God. While every philosopher has different views, generally absurdism, which teaches that the world is absurd, ie. that the world lacks meaning or a higher purpose and is not fully intelligible by reason, is not compatible with Judaism, which is juxtaposed by a strong belief in rationality throughout the universe, and a clear purpose for mankind.

Its also worth noting that absurdism is not compatible with almost any philosophical positions, or really any deep philosophy (ie. Logical deduction) as a practice, which relies upon reason as a system. Camus famously said that he did not consider himself a philosopher because he did "not believe sufficiently in reason to believe in a system."

If you would like to read some philosophers that are more compatible with Judaism, or even those which are not but at least give you more to contemplate, please let me know.

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  • Thank you for the detailed and clear response! I would love to get more recommendations to look into, as this topic really does incite my interest.
    – H.B.S.
    Mar 27, 2023 at 18:54
  • @H.B.S. I recommend "Duties of the Heart" by Bachya ibn Pequda for a very strongly Jewish philosophical treatise. Sefer HaIkkarim is also good in this regard but it is rather technical, it might not be what you are looking for. Everything by Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb is very good, he has a few books. The Brothers Karamazov/Book V/Chapter 4 by Dostoevsky en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Brothers_Karamazov/Book_V/Chapter_4 is very popular amongst (non Jewish) philosophers for the interesting question it asks, it is up to you to determine your thoughts on the matter.
    – BID
    Mar 28, 2023 at 3:50
  • @H.B.S. Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb has this treatise avaiable for free, it is a collection of his lectures, dovidgottlieb.com/works/RabbiGottliebLivingUpToTheTruth.pdf If it resonates with you, then you will probably like his bonafide books even better. He has also has many (many) lectures available on TorahAnytime and other sites.
    – BID
    Mar 28, 2023 at 3:58

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