Is Sisyphus truly happy?

3 min read



Albert Camus uses Sisyphus as a metaphor to explore the human condition, particularly the struggle for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world. Despite the absurd and futile nature of Sisyphus' task, Camus argues that one must imagine Sisyphus happy. This statement implies that even in the face of a life devoid of inherent meaning or purpose, one can still find fulfillment and create their own sense of happiness.

Camus suggests that Sisyphus can find meaning and contentment in accepting and embracing his seemingly absurd task. By fully acknowledging and embracing his fate, Sisyphus transcends his suffering and finds purpose in the act of rolling the boulder. In this perspective, the process itself becomes meaningful. Camus suggests that by fully engaging in and accepting the absurdity of life, individuals can find happiness and fulfillment through their own authentic actions and choices. We can accept this or look at the matter differently.

The term "asymptomatic" refers to a medical condition or disease in which a person does not experience any noticeable or typical symptoms. Despite being affected by the condition, the individual does not display any outward signs of illness or discomfort. This can make it challenging to detect or diagnose the condition, as there are no obvious indicators that something is wrong.

So here is the reference to the meme: can we actually think of Sisyphus as asymptomatic in the sense that he is indeed happy - following Camus' reasoning - but consider this under the circumstance that this form of happiness is not at all transferable to other people, and if so, only to some very very few, i.e. those who are also asymptomatically happy? 

We could also go further, and pathologize Sisyphus on a social level. Is it normal to slave away like a donkey and consider oneself happy? Is it normal not to rebel against divine and earthly punishment? Is it normal to simply accept that we will not receive answers from the universe about the meaning and purpose of our own actions? Or could the exact opposite be normal and Sisyphus therefore simply be asymptomatic?

The situation in which he finds himself obviously does not seem desirable to us, so why should we want to get involved in an asymptomatic state if we are asking about the true nature of the Sispyhus and thus also about our own existence? We do want the real deal. So why hasn't anyone actually designed an "Anti-Sisyphus" yet? I could imagine a Sisyphus whose happiness does not immediately result in heated discussions. A person who is existentially healthy and does not need a (philosophical) diagnosis.

One thing is often overlooked in Camus' quote: We must imagine Sisyphus happy. But what does our imagination of him have to do with the actual emotional world of Sisyphus? Do we only have to imagine him happy in order to save ourselves? This could be seen as philosophical self-deception.

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