The Philosophy of Suicide: Albert Camus vs. Arthur Schopenhauer

2338 Words Aug 19th, 2011 10 Pages
Suicide is, according to Sartre, “an opportunity to stake out our understanding of our essence as individuals in a godless world” (Stanford, 2004). Fundamentally, existentialism argues all individuals are free and therefore responsible for their actions. Thus, it is up to the individual to create an ethos of personal ideology, which is the only way one is able to rise above the human condition of suffering, death and finality (Guigon, 2001). Suicide is seen as the individual’s act of giving in to the absurdity of human life. In other words, when a human is unable to create meaning out of the absurdity that surrounds him or herself, her or she live the typical life of pain, suffering, death and thus make suicide a natural act of existence …show more content…
Camus argues that even the healthy person will consider their own suicide because of the absurdity a person confronts in existence.

On the contrary, Schopenhauer perceives that the absurdity of life is more limited than Camus because the absurdity of the human existence comes from intellect. Moreover, the more intellectual one is, the more capable they are of realizing the inherent absurdity of human existence (Guigon, 2001). Thus, according to Schopenhauer, the more intellectually-inclined person is the one who suffers the most from mere existence. Taking this one step further, it can be argued that those of higher intellectual abilities are more likely to commit suicide as they understand the philosophy behind the act (Schopenhauer, 1966). Furthermore, Schopenhauer claims that, “At best we might see our way through the absurdity, and achieve peace by denying the Will and the futile desires that are its most immediate manifestations.” (Solomon, 1988) Schopenhauer acknowledged that the Will is absurd and therefore it should be denied. Schopenhauer saw the human Will as a window to the world behind the representation, which he defined as thing-in-itself. According to Schopenhauer, the entire world is the representation of a single Will, of which the individual Wills are phenomena. Schopenhauer states: “The world as idea is a mirror which reflects the Will. In this mirror the will recognizes itself in ascending grades