Does the absurdity of life dictate death? Can one find hope—can one truly live—in an absurd universe? 

These are the questions Albert Camus labors mightily to answer in his seminal work, The Myth of Sisyphus. Acknowledging the basic human impulse to seek meaning to existence, Camus nevertheless holds that existence provides us with no answer and, moreover, never will. Given this absurdity, Camus thus identifies suicide as the “one truly serious philosophical problem.” Why, Camus poses, do we bother to go on living once we recognize the absurdity of life? How, in the face of absurdity, can one embrace the struggle with meaninglessness and find happiness? In this reading course we will think seriously about these questions and closely examine the ways Camus provides for affirming life in an absurd universe.

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus (Vintage 1991)

  • April 21: The Absurd Truth, [Myth, pp. 1-50]

  • May 5: Absurd Freedom, [Myth, pp. 51-92]

  • May 19: The Absurd Man, [Myth, pp. 93-123]


The reading group will be led by David Lyons, Assistant Instructional Professor in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago. Each week, we will meet and discuss over dinner at Gavin House (1220 E. 58th St.). Dinner is served at 6pm. Discussion begins at 6:15. The goal is to think deeply about the text, ask meaningful questions, and debate in good faith. Perhaps we’ll even touch on the meaning of life. Questions can be directed to Austin Walker.




Image: Vedran Stimac / Creative Commons