Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Albert Camus

French Philosopher, Novelist, Playwright, Journalist

"What is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying."

"What is a rebel? A man who says no: but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. He is also a man who says yes as soon as he begins to think for himself... He rebels because he categorically refuses to submit to conditions that he considers intolerable and also because he is confusedly convinced that his position is justified, or rather, because in his own mind he thinks that he ‘has the right to...’ Rebellion cannot exist without the feeling that somewhere, in some way, you are justified."

"You cannot acquire experience by making experiments. You cannot create experience. You must undergo it."

"To know oneself, one should assert oneself."

"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question in philosophy."

"The nobility of our calling will always be rooted in two commitments difficult to observe: refusal to lie about what we know, and resistance to oppression."

"The innocent is the person who explains nothing."

"The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding."

"Only he who is uncompromising as to his rights maintains his sense of duty."

"How could sincerity be a condition of friendship? A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing."

"He who despairs of the human condition is a coward, but he who has hope for it is a fool."

"All systems of morality are based on the idea that an action has consequences that legitimize or cancel it. A mind imbued with the absurd merely judges that those consequences must be considered calmly."

"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

"But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads."

"Don't wait for the last judgment-it takes place every day...An achievement is bondage. It obliges one to higher achievement."

"Freedom is not a reward or a decoration that is celebrated with champagne. Nor yet a gift, a box of dainties designed to make you lick your chops. Oh, no! it's a chore, on the contrary, and a long-distance race, quite solitary and very exhausting."

"Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better, whereas enslavement is a certainty of the worst."

"If God exists, all depends on him and we can do nothing against his will. If he does not exist, everything depends on us."

"If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another, and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life."

"If, after all, men cannot always make history have meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one."

"A reason for dying is also a good reason for living."

"It is very true that we seldom confide in those who are better than ourselves."

"Liberty is dangerous."

"Sometimes it is easier to see clearly into a liar than into a person telling the truth. Truth, like light, is blinding. Falsehood, on the other hand, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object."

"The aim of art, the aim of a life can only be to increase the sum of freedom and responsibility to be found in every man and in the world. It cannot, under any circumstances, be to reduce or suppress that freedom, even temporarily. No great work has ever been based on hatred and contempt. On the contrary, there is not a single true work of art that has not in the end added to the inner freedom of each person who has known and loved it."

"The certainty of a God giving meaning to life far surpasses in attractiveness the ability to behave badly with impunity. The choice would not be hard to make. But there is no choice and that is where the bitterness comes in. The absurd does not liberate; it binds. It does not authorize all actions. Everything is permitted does not mean that nothing is forbidden. The absurd merely confers an equivalence on the consequences of those actions."

"The soul of a murderer is blind."

"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a human heart. One must imagine Sisyphus is happy."

"There's no need to hang about waiting for the Last Judgment - it takes place every day."

"We are all special cases. We all want to appeal to something! Everyone insists on his innocence, at all costs, even if it means accusing the rest of the human race and heaven."

"We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking."

"We haven't time to be ourselves. All we have time for is happiness."

"We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives, that it is inside ourselves."

"Without freedom, no art; art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself, and dies of all others."

"You cannot create experience, you undergo it."

"A person's work is nothing but the long journey to recover, through the detours of art, the two or three simple and great images which first gained access to his heart."

"Debauchery is liberating because it creates no obligations. In it you possess only yourself; hence it remains the favorite pastime of the great lovers of their own person."

"Don’t wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day."

"Don't walk before me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend."

"I shall tell you a great secret my friend, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day."

"If I had to write a book on morality, it would have a hundred pages and ninety-nine would be blank. On the last page I should write: “I recognize only one duty, and that is to love.” And, as far as everything else is concerned, I say no."

"Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is."

"Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal."

"Prefer truth to everything."

"Reality is a perpetual process of evolution, propelled by the fertile impact of antagonisms which are resolved each time into a superior synthesis which, itself, creates its opposite and again causes history to advance."

"There can be no true goodness nor true love without the utmost clear-sightedness."

"There is dignity in work only when it is work freely accepted."

"There is not a ingle true work of art that has not in the end added to the inner freedom of each person who has known and loved it."

"There is only one philosophical problem that is really serious, and that is suicide. To decide whether life is worth living or not is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy."

"To grow old is to move from passion to compassion."