Absurdity and Alterity: The Ethics of Camus in Context

David Ray Gadon, Fordham University


Camus was not an existentialist. He asserted this frequently. Nevertheless, Camus has been firmly anchored in the existentialist canon and remained in the shadow of his contemporary Sartre since his untimely death over half a century ago. In my dissertation, I argue for a reassessment and revaluation of Camus’ philosophy, taking his body of work as a unified, if inevitably incomplete, whole. My project reveals a Camus who, while adhering to the general themes of existential thought, differs dramatically from Sartre, particularly in his understanding of identity and alterity. Camus, I argue, offers a distinct ethical theory that may contribute uniquely to the landscape of contemporary philosophical ethics. While Sartre posits a Hegelian Master/Slave dialectic as the foundation of our relationship with otherness, Camus presents the Master/Disciple model, undermining what is in Sartre a strict model of the self’s relation with otherness. Identifying and elaborating this alternative will set Camus in sharp contrast to many of his contemporaries, including Sartre and Levinas, but it also highlights many affinities – with the philosophies of de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, and even Aristotle – that have been overlooked in the conventional reception of his work.

Subject Area

African literature|Ethics|Philosophy

Recommended Citation

Gadon, David Ray, "Absurdity and Alterity: The Ethics of Camus in Context" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10621322.