Albert Camus and the Political Philosophy of the Absurd

Albert Camus and the Political Philosophy of the Absurd : Ambivalence, Resistance, and Creativity

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In Albert Camus and the Political Philosophy of the Absurd: Ambivalence, Resistance, and Creativity, Matthew H. Bowker takes an interdisciplinary approach to Albert Camus' political philosophy by reading absurdity itself as a metaphor for the psychosocial dynamics of ambivalence, resistance, integration, and creativity. Decoupling absurdity from its ontological aspirations and focusing instead on its psychological and phenomenal contours, Bowker discovers an absurdist foundation for ethical and political practice.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 214 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 453.59g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 073918136X
  • 9780739181362

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Introduction Albert Camus' Absurd Absurdity in Moral and Political Philosophy Absurd Confusion An Absurd and Ambivalent World The Organization of this Work Chapter 2: Absurdity in Context Nietzsche's Tragic Ethos Kierkegaard's Absurd Faith Sartre's Existential Approach Samuel Beckett and the Theatre of the Absurd Thomas Nagel's Attitudinal Approach Chapter 3: The Meaning of Absurdity: Albert Camus and his Critics The Meaning of Camus' Absurd The Status of Camus' Absurd Absurd Facts, Data, and Values Chapter 4: Absurdity and Ambivalence Ambivalence in the Early Psychoanalytic Tradition: Bleuler and Freud Ambivalence and Splitting in the Work of Melanie Klein Ambivalence and the Borderline Personality Absurdity as Ambivalence Camus' Absurd Ambivalence, Part 1: Merger Clarity and Unity Loving Mother Nature Jean Grenier's Influence Camus' Absurd Ambivalence, Part II: Selfhood and Autonomy The Three Refusals Chapter 5: Absurdity and Ambivalence in The Stranger The Modern Subject and Kant's Kingdom of Ends Meursault's Taboo Critical Absurdities Chapter 6: Revolt, Resistance, or Rebellion? The Road to Revolte The Is and Ought of the Absurd Revolt and Rebellion in The Rebel Metaphysical Rebellion and the Origins of the Absurd Ideal When Good Rebellions Go Bad: Revolution Chapter 7: A Grounding for an Absurd Political Morality Absurd Borderlands Absurd Responses Splitting Into All or Nothing Ambivalence and the Limitation of Rebellion La Mesure and Moderation Plagues Within and Without Rebellion and Creativity Bad Faith, Good Revolt Chapter 8: Political Theoretical Conclusions Kaliayev and the 'Just' Assassins Camus' Algeria Conclusion References About the Author
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Review quote

Bowker recasts the Camusian theme of absurdity in pursuit of a distinct moral and political philosophy...He disentangles the absurd from Camus's biography and codifies an independent ethic of the absurd. Beginning with a historical overview of the absurd, the author details the doctrine of absurdity directly through close analysis of Camus's works and indirectly through the lens of the concept of ambivalence. Both The Stranger and The Rebel function as loci in Bowker's analysis, and the exegetical chapters examining each book offer subtle reappraisals of traditional scholarship. Bowker wraps up with two chapters arguing for the relevance of absurd morality in the political sphere, and he ends with a turn back to Camus's biography and views on political assassinations and Algerian independence. In the end, Bowker posits that a political morality of the absurd arises through acknowledgment that all political systems and acts are fraught with injustice and that one need not necessarily rebel against them. Only by embracing the absurd can one develop a creative and mature ethical space for political deliberation. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. CHOICE Matthew H. Bowker's study, Albert Camus and the Political Philosophy of the Absurd: Ambivalence, Resistance, and Creativity, is arguably the most insightful, thoughtful, and well-researched book on Camus studies to appear in recent years...Every once-in-a-great-while there comes a book that is so engaging, so thorough, and so enjoyable to read and comprehend that it becomes a classic and a necessity for all academics in that particular field to own, study, and know. Bowker's Albert Camus and the Political Philosophy of the Absurd is that book. There is no doubt that it will indelibly shift and change the foci of Camus's political thought in addition to offering a fantastic and clarified understanding of the Absurd. Without reservation, every serious scholar of Camus studies needs to have this book in his or her library. It is invaluable. Journal of Camus Studies Bowker's approach ... opens the way, he suggests, to advances in contemporary psychosocial understandings of moral and creative action and interaction...This book is a cogent and thought-provoking reappraisal of Camus and key aspects of political philosophy. French Studies All things considered, this is a book that will probably be of most interest to those in fields such as philosophy or political science. French Review Bowker's book examines Camus' notion of the absurd in relation to the findings of modern psychoanalytic theory of ambivalence. His reading sets aside the 'ontological' questions most often associated with the absurd-the 'human condition,' 'the silence of god,' 'the deprivation of transcendence,' 'metaphysical revolt'-in favor of an analysis that treats the experience as a 'psychological disposition.' By means of this approach, Bowker succeeds both in overcoming the fruitless logical and epistemological debates about Camus' achievement that have dominated the literature for decades and in opening up a space in which the anthropological and experiential depth of Camus' analysis might be regained. Paradoxically, he also restores the ontological realities he initially sets aside to their rightful place in Camus' thought-'more as overpowering love-object[s] than an unthinkable 'is-ness'.' A thoughtful and engaging book. -- Ron Srigley, Laurentian University of Sudbury
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About Matthew H. Bowker

Matthew H. Bowker is visiting assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at Medaille College. He is the author of Rethinking the Politics of Absurdity: Albert Camus, Postmodernity, and the Survival of Innocence.
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