When Christianity was strong in the West, the concept of God answered both the need for external physical protection and the interior need for something to account for that sense of the numinous most of us sense now and then. That is, God was, at the same time powerfully immanent in the cosmos and the comforting “God within our bosoms.” One could say that God was continuous across a boundary of objective outer and subjective inner life. People quite naturally felt a greater kinship with the world – or even the cosmos, if one included the crude conceptualization of the heavens extant at the time. Everything, including the human race was part of God’s Creation. The concept of the individual was not particularly well-developed.
God once provided both physical security and inner comfort. Now our needs are divided between the state and psychology. (Photo: public domain)
French journalist and philosopher Albert Camus said, “man in the world is absurd.” Like so many recent Western philosophers, he was thinking of the individual rather than the human race as a whole. Camus felt that he (like all individuals) was alone in the world, and the world, being cold and inanimate, cared nothing for him. In return, he owed the indifferent world nothing. While he does end on a defiant note (we must stand against the uncaring world and take possession of it) this is definitely not a philosophy designed to infuse your spirit with joy.
Albert Camus’ emphasis on the individual left him with the feeling that “man in the world is absurd.” (Image: public domain)
Camus’ position arises from two sources: the human craving for meaning and the desire for individual immortality. In fact, he frames his entire argument from the perspective of the individual person. Nowhere does it occur to him that he might take a broader perspective, move to a higher level. When it comes to meaning and immortality, the concept of society (humans in organized groups) is not on the radar for Camus. There is only the wretched mortal individual and his pathetic lonely agony in a cruel world.