Albert Camus's Reconstruction of Symbolic Reality: Exile, Judgment, and Kingdom

Dissertation, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College (1998)
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Throughout his life, Albert Camus was deeply concerned with problems of language and representation. Often mislabeled an existentialist or philosopher of the absurd, his skepticism of modern rationality has been well recorded. Yet despite considerable scholarly attention, a satisfactory understanding of Camus's thoughts on language has not been achieved. This essay is an effort to rectify the situation by carefully exploring Camus's use and understanding of symbols. ;By first gleaning a theory of symbolization from the philosophical works of Ernst Cassirer, Eric Voegelin, and Paul Ricoeur, and then comparing it to Camus's writings on myth, symbols, and narrative, it is possible to establish that Camus was a writer self-consciously engaged in symbolic reality for explicit philosophic and political purposes. Subsequently, by carefully examining Camus's alterations of specific symbols--exile, rebellion, and kingdom--within his narratives, it is possible to gain a deeper understanding of his moral and political thought. In short, exposing the role of symbols and narratives within Camus's work not only makes him relevant to contemporary political theory, it also alters the traditional interpretation of his political thought



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