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. The Book of Job (Bible) on the one hand, and Camus and Sartre on the other, reflect a stark contrast in attitude towards God and organized religion. Having said that, how might the two contrasting attitudes be reflected in their respective approaches to the following areas:

A. Meaning/Meaninglessness of Life
B. Moral Responsibility
C. Human Freedom

2. How would you connect human freedom and moral decision making?  If religious or non-religious views influence decision making, what would you say would be the relationship between theses religious or non-religious views on human freedom?

3. Defend your understanding of the meaning of life as the right one using any of theories discussed in this course. Your answer should also include examples from real life experience.

4. Evaluate another classmate’s post defense of the right life to live by explaining whether or not you agree or disagree with their position and why.  

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Title: The Bible, King James version, Book 18: Job

Release Date: May, 2005 [EBook #8018]

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Book 18 Job

18:001:001 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and

that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and

eschewed evil.

18:001:002 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.

18:001:003 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three

thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five

hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this

man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

18:001:004 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his

day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to

drink with them.

18:001:005 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone

about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in

the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the

number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have

sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job


18:001:006 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present

themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

18:001:007 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan

answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the

earth, and from walking up and down in it.

18:001:008 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant

Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and

an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

18:001:009 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for


18:001:010 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house,

and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed

the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the


18:001:011 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and

he will curse thee to thy face.

18:001:012 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in

thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So

Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

18:001:013 And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were

eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:

18:001:014 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were

plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:

18:001:015 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they

have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only

am escaped alone to tell thee.

18:001:016 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said,

The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the

sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am

escaped alone to tell thee.

18:001:017 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said,

The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels,

and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with

the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell


18:001:018 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said,

Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in

their eldest brother’s house:

18:001:019 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and

smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the

young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to

tell thee.

18:001:020 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and

fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

18:001:021 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked

shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken

away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

18:001:022 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

18:002:001 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present

themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to

present himself before the LORD.

18:002:002 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And

Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in

the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

18:002:003 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant

Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and

an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and

still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me

against him, to destroy him without cause.

18:002:004 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all

that a man hath will he give for his life.

18:002:005 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his

flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

18:002:006 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but

save his life.

18:002:007 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote

Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

18:002:008 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he

sat down among the ashes.

18:002:009 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine

integrity? curse God, and die.

18:002:010 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish

women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of

God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job

sin with his lips.

18:002:011 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was

come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz

the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the

Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come

to mourn with him and to comfort him.

18:002:012 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not,

they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one

his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.

18:002:013 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven

nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his

grief was very great.

18:003:001 After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.

18:003:002 And Job spake, and said,

18:003:003 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which

it was said, There is a man child conceived.

18:003:004 Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above,

neither let the light shine upon it.

18:003:005 Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud

dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.

18:003:006 As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be

joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the

number of the months.

18:003:007 Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come


18:003:008 Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise

up their mourning.

18:003:009 Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for

light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the


18:003:010 Because it shut not up the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hid

sorrow from mine eyes.

18:003:011 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost

when I came out of the belly?

18:003:012 Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should


18:003:013 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have

slept: then had I been at rest,

18:003:014 With kings and counsellors of the earth, which build desolate

places for themselves;

18:003:015 Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with


18:003:016 Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants

which never saw light.

18:003:017 There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be

at rest.

18:003:018 There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of

the oppressor.

18:003:019 The small and great are there; and the servant is free from

his master.

18:003:020 Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life

unto the bitter in soul;

18:003:021 Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more

than for hid treasures;

18:003:022 Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find

the grave?

18:003:023 Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God

hath hedged in?

18:003:024 For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured

out like the waters.

18:003:025 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that

which I was afraid of is come unto me.

18:003:026 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet;

yet trouble came.

18:004:001 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,

18:004:002 If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? but

who can withhold himself from speaking?

18:004:003 Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened

the weak hands.

18:004:004 Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast

strengthened the feeble knees.

18:004:005 But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth

thee, and thou art troubled.

18:004:006 Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the

uprightness of thy ways?

18:004:007 Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or

where were the righteous cut off?

18:004:008 Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow

wickedness, reap the same.

18:004:009 By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his

nostrils are they consumed.

18:004:010 The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion, and

the teeth of the young lions, are broken.

18:004:011 The old lion perisheth for lack of prey, and the stout lion’s

whelps are scattered abroad.

18:004:012 Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received

a little thereof.

18:004:013 In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep

falleth on men,

18:004:014 Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to


18:004:015 Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh

stood up:

18:004:016 It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an

image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a

voice, saying,

18:004:017 Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more

pure than his maker?

18:004:018 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he

charged with folly:

18:004:019 How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose

foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?

18:004:020 They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for

ever without any regarding it.

18:004:021 Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die,

even without wisdom.

18:005:001 Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which

of the saints wilt thou turn?

18:005:002 For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly


18:005:003 I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his


18:005:004 His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the

gate, neither is there any to deliver them.

18:005:005 Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of

the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.

18:005:006 Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth

trouble spring out of the ground;

18:005:007 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.

18:005:008 I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:

18:005:009 Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things

without number:

18:005:010 Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the


18:005:011 To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn

may be exalted to safety.

18:005:012 He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their

hands cannot perform their enterprise.

18:005:013 He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of

the froward is carried headlong.

18:005:014 They meet with darkness in the day time, and grope in the

noonday as in the night.

18:005:015 But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and

from the hand of the mighty.

18:005:016 So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.

18:005:017 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore

despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:

18:005:018 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands

make whole.

18:005:019 He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there

shall no evil touch thee.

18:005:020 In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the

power of the sword.

18:005:021 Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither

shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.

18:005:022 At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou

be afraid of the beasts of the earth.

18:005:023 For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and

the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.

18:005:024 And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and

thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin.

18:005:025 Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine

offspring as the grass of the earth.

18:005:026 Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of

corn cometh in in his season.

18:005:027 Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou

it for thy good.

18:006:001 But Job answered and said,

18:006:002 Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid

in the balances together!

18:006:003 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea:

therefore my words are swallowed up.

18:006:004 For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison

whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set

themselves in array against me.

18:006:005 Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox

over his fodder?

18:006:006 Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there

any taste in the white of an egg?

18:006:007 The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful


18:006:008 Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me

the thing that I long for!

18:006:009 Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let

loose his hand, and cut me off!

18:006:010 Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in

sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words

of the Holy One.

18:006:011 What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is mine end,

that I should prolong my life?

18:006:012 Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of


18:006:013 Is not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me?

18:006:014 To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his

friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.

18:006:015 My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the

stream of brooks they pass away;

18:006:016 Which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow

is hid:

18:006:017 What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are

consumed out of their place.

18:006:018 The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing,

and perish.

18:006:019 The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for


18:006:020 They were confounded because they had hoped; they came

thither, and were ashamed.

18:006:021 For now ye are nothing; ye see my casting down, and are


18:006:022 Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your


18:006:023 Or, Deliver me from the enemy’s hand? or, Redeem me from the

hand of the mighty?

18:006:024 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to

understand wherein I have erred.

18:006:025 How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing


18:006:026 Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that

is desperate, which are as wind?

18:006:027 Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig a pit for your


18:006:028 Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident unto

you if I lie.

18:006:029 Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again,

my righteousness is in it.

18:006:030 Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern

perverse things?

18:007:001 Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his

days also like the days of an hireling?

18:007:002 As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling

looketh for the reward of his work:

18:007:003 So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights

are appointed to me.

18:007:004 When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be

gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of

the day.

18:007:005 My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is

broken, and become loathsome.

18:007:006 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent

without hope.

18:007:007 O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see


18:007:008 The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine

eyes are upon me, and I am not.

18:007:009 As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth

down to the grave shall come up no more.

18:007:010 He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place

know him any more.

18:007:011 Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the

anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my


18:007:012 Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?

18:007:013 When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my


18:007:014 Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through


18:007:015 So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my


18:007:016 I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days

are vanity.

18:007:017 What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou

shouldest set thine heart upon him?

18:007:018 And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him

every moment?

18:007:019 How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I

swallow down my spittle?

18:007:020 I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of

men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am

a burden to myself?

18:007:021 And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away

my iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt

seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.

18:008:001 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

18:008:002 How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the

words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?

18:008:003 Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert


18:008:004 If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them

away for their transgression;

18:008:005 If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy

supplication to the Almighty;

18:008:006 If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for

thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.

18:008:007 Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should

greatly increase.

18:008:008 For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare

thyself to the search of their fathers:

18:008:009 (For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our

days upon earth are a shadow:)

18:008:010 Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out

of their heart?

18:008:011 Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without


18:008:012 Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it

withereth before any other herb.

18:008:013 So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s

hope shall perish:

18:008:014 Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a

spider’s web.

18:008:015 He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall

hold it fast, but it shall not endure.

18:008:016 He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in

his garden.

18:008:017 His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of


18:008:018 If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him,

saying, I have not seen thee.

18:008:019 Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall

others grow.

18:008:020 Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he

help the evil doers:

18:008:021 Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with


18:008:022 They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the

dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought.

18:009:001 Then Job answered and said,

18:009:002 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with


18:009:003 If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a


18:009:004 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened

himself against him, and hath prospered?

18:009:005 Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which

overturneth them in his anger.

18:009:006 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars

thereof tremble.

18:009:007 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up

the stars.

18:009:008 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the

waves of the sea.

18:009:009 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers

of the south.

18:009:010 Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders

without number.

18:009:011 Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but

I perceive him not.

18:009:012 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto

him, What doest thou?

18:009:013 If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop

under him.

18:009:014 How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to

reason with him?

18:009:015 Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I

would make supplication to my judge.

18:009:016 If I had called, and he had answered me; yet would I not

believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.

18:009:017 For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds

without cause.

18:009:018 He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with


18:009:019 If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong: and if of judgment,

who shall set me a time to plead?

18:009:020 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I

say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.

18:009:021 Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would

despise my life.

18:009:022 This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the

perfect and the wicked.

18:009:023 If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of

the innocent.

18:009:024 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth

the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?

18:009:025 Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see

no good.

18:009:026 They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that

hasteth to the prey.

18:009:027 If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my

heaviness, and comfort myself:

18:009:028 I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold

me innocent.

18:009:029 If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain?

18:009:030 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so


18:009:031 Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes

shall abhor me.

18:009:032 For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we

should come together in judgment.

18:009:033 Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his

hand upon us both.

18:009:034 Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear

terrify me:

18:009:035 Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with


18:010:001 My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon

myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.

18:010:002 I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou

contendest with me.

18:010:003 Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou

shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the

counsel of the wicked?

18:010:004 Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?

18:010:005 Are thy days as the days of man? are thy years as man’s days,

18:010:006 That thou enquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after

my sin?

18:010:007 Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can

deliver out of thine hand.

18:010:008 Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round

about; yet thou dost destroy me.

18:010:009 Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay;

and wilt thou bring me into dust again?

18:010:010 Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like


18:010:011 Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me

with bones and sinews.

18:010:012 Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath

preserved my spirit.

18:010:013 And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that

this is with thee.

18:010:014 If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me

from mine iniquity.

18:010:015 If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I

not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see

thou mine affliction;

18:010:016 For it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again

thou shewest thyself marvellous upon me.

18:010:017 Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine

indignation upon me; changes and war are against me.

18:010:018 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh

that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!

18:010:019 I should have been as though I had not been; I should have

been carried from the womb to the grave.

18:010:020 Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may

take comfort a little,

18:010:021 Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of

darkness and the shadow of death;

18:010:022 A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of

death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.

18:011:001 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,

18:011:002 Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a

man full of talk be justified?

18:011:003 Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou

mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed?

18:011:004 For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in

thine eyes.

18:011:005 But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee;

18:011:006 And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they

are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth

of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.

18:011:007 Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the

Almighty unto perfection?

18:011:008 It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell;

what canst thou know?

18:011:009 The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than

the sea.

18:011:010 If he cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can

hinder him?

18:011:011 For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not

then consider it?

18:011:012 For vain men would be wise, though man be born like a wild

ass’s colt.

18:011:013 If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands

toward him;

18:011:014 If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not

wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.

18:011:015 For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou

shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear:

18:011:016 Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as

waters that pass away:

18:011:017 And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday: thou shalt

shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.

18:011:018 And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou

shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety.

18:011:019 Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid;

yea, many shall make suit unto thee.

18:011:020 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not

escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.

18:012:001 And Job answered and said,

18:012:002 No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.

18:012:003 But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to

you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these?

18:012:004 I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and

he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn.

18:012:005 He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised

in the thought of him that is at ease.

18:012:006 The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God

are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.

18:012:007 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the

fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:

18:012:008 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes

of the sea shall declare unto thee.

18:012:009 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath

wrought this?

18:012:010 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the

breath of all mankind.

18:012:011 Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?

18:012:012 With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days


18:012:013 With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and


18:012:014 Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he

shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.

18:012:015 Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he

sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.

18:012:016 With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver

are his.

18:012:017 He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges


18:012:018 He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a


18:012:019 He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty.

18:012:020 He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the

understanding of the aged.

18:012:021 He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength

of the mighty.

18:012:022 He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out

to light the shadow of death.

18:012:023 He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth

the nations, and straiteneth them again.

18:012:024 He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the

earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there

is no way.

18:012:025 They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to

stagger like a drunken man.

18:013:001 Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and

understood it.

18:013:002 What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto


18:013:003 Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason

with God.

18:013:004 But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.

18:013:005 O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be

your wisdom.

18:013:006 Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my


18:013:007 Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?

18:013:008 Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?

18:013:009 Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man

mocketh another, do ye so mock him?

18:013:010 He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons.

18:013:011 Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall

upon you?

18:013:012 Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies

of clay.

18:013:013 Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come

on me what will.

18:013:014 Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in

mine hand?

18:013:015 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will

maintain mine own ways before him.

18:013:016 He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come

before him.

18:013:017 Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears.

18:013:018 Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be


18:013:019 Who is he that will plead with me? for now, if I hold my

tongue, I shall give up the ghost.

18:013:020 Only do not two things unto me: then will I not hide myself

from thee.

18:013:021 Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me


18:013:022 Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer

thou me.

18:013:023 How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my

transgression and my sin.

18:013:024 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine


18:013:025 Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue

the dry stubble?

18:013:026 For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to

possess the iniquities of my youth.

18:013:027 Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly

unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my


18:013:028 And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is

moth eaten.

18:014:001 Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of


18:014:002 He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also

as a shadow, and continueth not.

18:014:003 And doth thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest

me into judgment with thee?

18:014:004 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

18:014:005 Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are

with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;

18:014:006 Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as

an hireling, his day.

18:014:007 For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will

sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not


18:014:008 Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock

thereof die in the ground;

18:014:009 Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth

boughs like a plant.

18:014:010 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost,

and where is he?

18:014:011 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and

drieth up:

18:014:012 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no

more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.

18:014:013 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest

keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest

appoint me a set time, and remember me!

18:014:014 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my

appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

18:014:015 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a

desire to the work of thine hands.

18:014:016 For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my


18:014:017 My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up

mine iniquity.

18:014:018 And surely the mountains falling cometh to nought, and the

rock is removed out of his place.

18:014:019 The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which

grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the

hope of man.

18:014:020 Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou

changest his countenance, and sendest him away.

18:014:021 His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are

brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.

18:014:022 But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within

him shall mourn.

18:015:001 Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,

18:015:002 Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly

with the east wind?

18:015:003 Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches

wherewith he can do no good?

18:015:004 Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.

18:015:005 For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the

tongue of the crafty.

18:015:006 Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own

lips testify against thee.

18:015:007 Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before

the hills?

18:015:008 Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain

wisdom to thyself?

18:015:009 What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou,

which is not in us?

18:015:010 With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder

than thy father.

18:015:011 Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any

secret thing with thee?

18:015:012 Why doth thine heart carry thee away? and what do thy eyes

wink at,

18:015:013 That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such

words go out of thy mouth?

18:015:014 What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of

a woman, that he should be righteous?

18:015:015 Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens

are not clean in his sight.

18:015:016 How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh

iniquity like water?

18:015:017 I will shew thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will


18:015:018 Which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid


18:015:019 Unto whom alone the earth was given, and no stranger passed

among them.

18:015:020 The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the

number of years is hidden to the oppressor.

18:015:021 A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer

shall come upon him.

18:015:022 He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he

is waited for of the sword.

18:015:023 He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth

that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.

18:015:024 Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail

against him, as a king ready to the battle.

18:015:025 For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth

himself against the Almighty.

18:015:026 He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses

of his bucklers:

18:015:027 Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh

collops of fat on his flanks.

18:015:028 And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man

inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps.

18:015:029 He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue,

neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the


18:015:030 He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up

his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away.

18:015:031 Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall

be his recompence.

18:015:032 It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall

not be green.

18:015:033 He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall

cast off his flower as the olive.

18:015:034 For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire

shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.

18:015:035 They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their

belly prepareth deceit.

18:016:001 Then Job answered and said,

18:016:002 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye


18:016:003 Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that

thou answerest?

18:016:004 I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s

stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head

at you.

18:016:005 But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my

lips should asswage your grief.

18:016:006 Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I

forbear, what am I eased?

18:016:007 But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my


18:016:008 And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness

against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to

my face.

18:016:009 He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me

with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me.

18:016:010 They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me

upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves

together against me.

18:016:011 God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into

the hands of the wicked.

18:016:012 I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also

taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up

for his mark.

18:016:013 His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins

asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the


18:016:014 He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me

like a giant.

18:016:015 I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in

the dust.

18:016:016 My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow

of death;

18:016:017 Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure.

18:016:018 O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no


18:016:019 Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on


18:016:020 My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.

18:016:021 O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth

for his neighbour!

18:016:022 When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I

shall not return.

18:017:001 My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are

ready for me.

18:017:002 Are there not mockers with me? and doth not mine eye continue

in their provocation?

18:017:003 Lay down now, put me in a surety with thee; who is he that

will strike hands with me?

18:017:004 For thou hast hid their heart from understanding: therefore

shalt thou not exalt them.

18:017:005 He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his

children shall fail.

18:017:006 He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I

was as a tabret.

18:017:007 Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members

are as a shadow.

18:017:008 Upright men shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall

stir up himself against the hypocrite.

18:017:009 The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath

clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

18:017:010 But as for you all, do ye return, and come now: for I cannot

find one wise man among you.

18:017:011 My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the

thoughts of my heart.

18:017:012 They change the night into day: the light is short because of


18:017:013 If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the


18:017:014 I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm,

Thou art my mother, and my sister.

18:017:015 And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?

18:017:016 They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest

together is in the dust.

18:018:001 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

18:018:002 How long will it be ere ye make an end of words? mark, and

afterwards we will speak.

18:018:003 Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your


18:018:004 He teareth himself in his anger: shall the earth be forsaken

for thee? and shall the rock be removed out of his place?

18:018:005 Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark

of his fire shall not shine.

18:018:006 The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle

shall be put out with him.

18:018:007 The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own

counsel shall cast him down.

18:018:008 For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon

a snare.

18:018:009 The gin shall take him by the heel, and the robber shall

prevail against him.

18:018:010 The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in

the way.

18:018:011 Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive

him to his feet.

18:018:012 His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be

ready at his side.

18:018:013 It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn

of death shall devour his strength.

18:018:014 His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it

shall bring him to the king of terrors.

18:018:015 It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his:

brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.

18:018:016 His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his

branch be cut off.

18:018:017 His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have

no name in the street.

18:018:018 He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of

the world.

18:018:019 He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any

remaining in his dwellings.

18:018:020 They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they

that went before were affrighted.

18:018:021 Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the

place of him that knoweth not God.

18:019:001 Then Job answered and said,

18:019:002 How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with


18:019:003 These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that

ye make yourselves strange to me.

18:019:004 And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with


18:019:005 If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead

against me my reproach:

18:019:006 Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me

with his net.

18:019:007 Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud,

but there is no judgment.

18:019:008 He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set

darkness in my paths.

18:019:009 He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my


18:019:010 He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine

hope hath he removed like a tree.

18:019:011 He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me

unto him as one of his enemies.

18:019:012 His troops come together, and raise up their way against me,

and encamp round about my tabernacle.

18:019:013 He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are

verily estranged from me.

18:019:014 My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have

forgotten me.

18:019:015 They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a

stranger: I am an alien in their sight.

18:019:016 I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him

with my mouth.

18:019:017 My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the

children’s sake of mine own body.

18:019:018 Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake

against me.

18:019:019 All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are

turned against me.

18:019:020 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped

with the skin of my teeth.

18:019:021 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the

hand of God hath touched me.

18:019:022 Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my


18:019:023 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed

in a book!

18:019:024 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock

for ever!

18:019:025 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at

the latter day upon the earth:

18:019:026 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my

flesh shall I see God:

18:019:027 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and

not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

18:019:028 But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of

the matter is found in me?

18:019:029 Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments

of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.

18:020:001 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,

18:020:002 Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I

make haste.

18:020:003 I have heard the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my

understanding causeth me to answer.

18:020:004 Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth,

18:020:005 That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the

hypocrite but for a moment?

18:020:006 Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head

reach unto the clouds;

18:020:007 Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which

have seen him shall say, Where is he?

18:020:008 He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he

shall be chased away as a vision of the night.

18:020:009 The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither

shall his place any more behold him.

18:020:010 His children shall seek to please the poor, and his hands

shall restore their goods.

18:020:011 His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie

down with him in the dust.

18:020:012 Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it

under his tongue;

18:020:013 Though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still

within his mouth:

18:020:014 Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps

within him.

18:020:015 He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up

again: God shall cast them out of his belly.

18:020:016 He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper’s tongue shall

slay him.

18:020:017 He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey

and butter.

18:020:018 That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not

swallow it down: according to his substance shall the

restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein.

18:020:019 Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because

he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not;

18:020:020 Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall not

save of that which he desired.

18:020:021 There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man

look for his goods.

18:020:022 In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits:

every hand of the wicked shall come upon him.

18:020:023 When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of

his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is


18:020:024 He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall

strike him through.

18:020:025 It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering

sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him.

18:020:026 All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not

blown shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that is left

in his tabernacle.

18:020:027 The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise

up against him.

18:020:028 The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall

flow away in the day of his wrath.

18:020:029 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage

appointed unto him by God.

18:021:001 But Job answered and said,

18:021:002 Hear diligently my speech, and let this be your consolations.

18:021:003 Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock


18:021:004 As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why

should not my spirit be troubled?

18:021:005 Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth.

18:021:006 Even when I remember I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on

my flesh.

18:021:007 Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in


18:021:008 Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their

offspring before their eyes.

18:021:009 Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God

upon them.

18:021:010 Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and

casteth not her calf.

18:021:011 They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their

children dance.

18:021:012 They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of

the organ.

18:021:013 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to

the grave.

18:021:014 Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not

the knowledge of thy ways.

18:021:015 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what

profit should we have, if we pray unto him?

18:021:016 Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked

is far from me.

18:021:017 How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and how oft

cometh their destruction upon them! God distributeth sorrows

in his anger.

18:021:018 They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the

storm carrieth away.

18:021:019 God layeth up his iniquity for his children: he rewardeth him,

and he shall know it.

18:021:020 His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the

wrath of the Almighty.

18:021:021 For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the

number of his months is cut off in the midst?

18:021:022 Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that

are high.

18:021:023 One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and


18:021:024 His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with


18:021:025 And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never

eateth with pleasure.

18:021:026 They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall

cover them.

18:021:027 Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye

wrongfully imagine against me.

18:021:028 For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? and where are

the dwelling places of the wicked?

18:021:029 Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know

their tokens,

18:021:030 That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they

shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.

18:021:031 Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him

what he hath done?

18:021:032 Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the


18:021:033 The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, and every man

shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him.

18:021:034 How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there

remaineth falsehood?

18:022:001 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,

18:022:002 Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be

profitable unto himself?

18:022:003 Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous?

or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?

18:022:004 Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee

into judgment?

18:022:005 Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?

18:022:006 For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and

stripped the naked of their clothing.

18:022:007 Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast

withholden bread from the hungry.

18:022:008 But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the

honourable man dwelt in it.

18:022:009 Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the

fatherless have been broken.

18:022:010 Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear

troubleth thee;

18:022:011 Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters

cover thee.

18:022:012 Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of

the stars, how high they are!

18:022:013 And thou sayest, How doth God know? can he judge through the

dark cloud?

18:022:014 Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he

walketh in the circuit of heaven.

18:022:015 Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?

18:022:016 Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was

overflown with a flood:

18:022:017 Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty

do for them?

18:022:018 Yet he filled their houses with good things: but the counsel

of the wicked is far from me.

18:022:019 The righteous see it, and are glad: and the innocent laugh

them to scorn.

18:022:020 Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them

the fire consumeth.

18:022:021 Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good

shall come unto thee.

18:022:022 Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his

words in thine heart.

18:022:023 If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou

shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.

18:022:024 Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as

the stones of the brooks.

18:022:025 Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have

plenty of silver.

18:022:026 For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and

shalt lift up thy face unto God.

18:022:027 Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee,

and thou shalt pay thy vows.

18:022:028 Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established

unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

18:022:029 When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting

up; and he shall save the humble person.

18:022:030 He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is

delivered by the pureness of thine hands.

18:023:001 Then Job answered and said,

18:023:002 Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than

my groaning.

18:023:003 Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even

to his seat!

18:023:004 I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with


18:023:005 I would know the words which he would answer me, and

understand what he would say unto me.

18:023:006 Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he

would put strength in me.

18:023:007 There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be

delivered for ever from my judge.

18:023:008 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I

cannot perceive him:

18:023:009 On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him:

he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:

18:023:010 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I

shall come forth as gold.

18:023:011 My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not


18:023:012 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I

have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary


18:023:013 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul

desireth, even that he doeth.

18:023:014 For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many

such things are with him.

18:023:015 Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am

afraid of him.

18:023:016 For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:

18:023:017 Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he

covered the darkness from my face.

18:024:001 Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they

that know him not see his days?

18:024:002 Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks,

and feed thereof.

18:024:003 They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the

widow’s ox for a pledge.

18:024:004 They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide

themselves together.

18:024:005 Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their

work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food

for them and for their children.

18:024:006 They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the

vintage of the wicked.

18:024:007 They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have

no covering in the cold.

18:024:008 They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace

the rock for want of a shelter.

18:024:009 They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge

of the poor.

18:024:010 They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take

away the sheaf from the hungry;

18:024:011 Which make oil within their walls, and tread their

winepresses, and suffer thirst.

18:024:012 Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded

crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them.

18:024:013 They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not

the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.

18:024:014 The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy,

and in the night is as a thief.

18:024:015 The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight,

saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face.

18:024:016 In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for

themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.

18:024:017 For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one

know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.

18:024:018 He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the

earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards.

18:024:019 Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave

those which have sinned.

18:024:020 The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him;

he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken

as a tree.

18:024:021 He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: and doeth not

good to the widow.

18:024:022 He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and

no man is sure of life.

18:024:023 Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth;

yet his eyes are upon their ways.

18:024:024 They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought

low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off

as the tops of the ears of corn.

18:024:025 And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my

speech nothing worth?

18:025:001 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

18:025:002 Dominion and fear are with him, he maketh peace in his high


18:025:003 Is there any number of his armies? and upon whom doth not his

light arise?

18:025:004 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean

that is born of a woman?

18:025:005 Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars

are not pure in his sight.

18:025:006 How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which

is a worm?

18:026:001 But Job answered and said,

18:026:002 How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest

thou the arm that hath no strength?

18:026:003 How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast

thou plentifully declared the thing as it is?

18:026:004 To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from


18:026:005 Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the

inhabitants thereof.

18:026:006 Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.

18:026:007 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth

the earth upon nothing.

18:026:008 He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is

not rent under them.

18:026:009 He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his

cloud upon it.

18:026:010 He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and

night come to an end.

18:026:011 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his


18:026:012 He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding

he smiteth through the proud.

18:026:013 By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath

formed the crooked serpent.

18:026:014 Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is

heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?

18:027:001 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,

18:027:002 As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the

Almighty, who hath vexed my soul;

18:027:003 All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in

my nostrils;

18:027:004 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter


18:027:005 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not

remove mine integrity from me.

18:027:006 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart

shall not reproach me so long as I live.

18:027:007 Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against

me as the unrighteous.

18:027:008 For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained,

when God taketh away his soul?

18:027:009 Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?

18:027:010 Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call

upon God?

18:027:011 I will teach you by the hand of God: that which is with the

Almighty will I not conceal.

18:027:012 Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it; why then are ye thus

altogether vain?

18:027:013 This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage

of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty.

18:027:014 If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword: and his

offspring shall not be satisfied with bread.

18:027:015 Those that remain of him shall be buried in death: and his

widows shall not weep.

18:027:016 Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as

the clay;

18:027:017 He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the

innocent shall divide the silver.

18:027:018 He buildeth his house as a moth, and as a booth that the

keeper maketh.

18:027:019 The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he

openeth his eyes, and he is not.

18:027:020 Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him

away in the night.

18:027:021 The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth: and as a

storm hurleth him out of his place.

18:027:022 For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee

out of his hand.

18:027:023 Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of

his place.

18:028:001 Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold

where they fine it.

18:028:002 Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the


18:028:003 He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all

perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.

18:028:004 The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters

forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away

from men.

18:028:005 As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is

turned up as it were fire.

18:028:006 The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust

of gold.

18:028:007 There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s

eye hath not seen:

18:028:008 The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion

passed by it.

18:028:009 He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the

mountains by the roots.

18:028:010 He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every

precious thing.

18:028:011 He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is

hid bringeth he forth to light.

18:028:012 But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of


18:028:013 Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the

land of the living.

18:028:014 The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not

with me.

18:028:015 It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed

for the price thereof.

18:028:016 It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious

onyx, or the sapphire.

18:028:017 The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of

it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.

18:028:018 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price

of wisdom is above rubies.

18:028:019 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be

valued with pure gold.

18:028:020 Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of


18:028:021 Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close

from the fowls of the air.

18:028:022 Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with

our ears.

18:028:023 God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place


18:028:024 For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the

whole heaven;

18:028:025 To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters

by measure.

18:028:026 When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the

lightning of the thunder:

18:028:027 Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and

searched it out.

18:028:028 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is

wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

18:029:001 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,

18:029:002 Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God

preserved me;

18:029:003 When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I

walked through darkness;

18:029:004 As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was

upon my tabernacle;

18:029:005 When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about


18:029:006 When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out

rivers of oil;

18:029:007 When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared

my seat in the street!

18:029:008 The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose,

and stood up.

18:029:009 The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their


18:029:010 The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the

roof of their mouth.

18:029:011 When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye

saw me, it gave witness to me:

18:029:012 Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless,

and him that had none to help him.

18:029:013 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and

I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.

18:029:014 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as

a robe and a diadem.

18:029:015 I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.

18:029:016 I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I

searched out.

18:029:017 And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out

of his teeth.

18:029:018 Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my

days as the sand.

18:029:019 My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all

night upon my branch.

18:029:020 My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.

18:029:021 Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my


18:029:022 After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped

upon them.

18:029:023 And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their

mouth wide as for the latter rain.

18:029:024 If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of

my countenance they cast not down.

18:029:025 I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in

the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.

18:030:001 But now they that are younger than I have me in derision,

whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs

of my flock.

18:030:002 Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in

whom old age was perished?

18:030:003 For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the

wilderness in former time desolate and waste.

18:030:004 Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their


18:030:005 They were driven forth from among men, (they cried after them

as after a thief;)

18:030:006 To dwell in the cliffs of the valleys, in caves of the earth,

and in the rocks.

18:030:007 Among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were

gathered together.

18:030:008 They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they

were viler than the earth.

18:030:009 And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword.

18:030:010 They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in

my face.

18:030:011 Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have

also let loose the bridle before me.

18:030:012 Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my feet, and

they raise up against me the ways of their destruction.

18:030:013 They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they have no


18:030:014 They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters: in the

desolation they rolled themselves upon me.

18:030:015 Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind:

and my welfare passeth away as a cloud.

18:030:016 And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction

have taken hold upon me.

18:030:017 My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews

take no rest.

18:030:018 By the great force of my disease is my garment changed: it

bindeth me about as the collar of my coat.

18:030:019 He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and


18:030:020 I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and

thou regardest me not.

18:030:021 Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou

opposest thyself against me.

18:030:022 Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon

it, and dissolvest my substance.

18:030:023 For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house

appointed for all living.

18:030:024 Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though

they cry in his destruction.

18:030:025 Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul

grieved for the poor?

18:030:026 When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I

waited for light, there came darkness.

18:030:027 My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction

prevented me.

18:030:028 I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in

the congregation.

18:030:029 I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.

18:030:030 My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.

18:030:031 My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the

voice of them that weep.

18:031:001 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon

a maid?

18:031:002 For what portion of God is there from above? and what

inheritance of the Almighty from on high?

18:031:003 Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to

the workers of iniquity?

18:031:004 Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?

18:031:005 If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to


18:031:006 Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine


18:031:007 If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked

after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands;

18:031:008 Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be

rooted out.

18:031:009 If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid

wait at my neighbour’s door;

18:031:010 Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down

upon her.

18:031:011 For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be

punished by the judges.

18:031:012 For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root

out all mine increase.

18:031:013 If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my

maidservant, when they contended with me;

18:031:014 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth,

what shall I answer him?

18:031:015 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one

fashion us in the womb?

18:031:016 If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused

the eyes of the widow to fail;

18:031:017 Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath

not eaten thereof;

18:031:018 (For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a

father, and I have guided her from my mother’s womb;)

18:031:019 If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor

without covering;

18:031:020 If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed

with the fleece of my sheep;

18:031:021 If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw

my help in the gate:

18:031:022 Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be

broken from the bone.

18:031:023 For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of

his highness I could not endure.

18:031:024 If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold,

Thou art my confidence;

18:031:025 If I rejoice because my wealth was great, and because mine

hand had gotten much;

18:031:026 If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in


18:031:027 And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath

kissed my hand:

18:031:028 This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I

should have denied the God that is above.

18:031:029 If I rejoice at the destruction of him that hated me, or

lifted up myself when evil found him:

18:031:030 Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to

his soul.

18:031:031 If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his

flesh! we cannot be satisfied.

18:031:032 The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my

doors to the traveller.

18:031:033 If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine

iniquity in my bosom:

18:031:034 Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families

terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door?

18:031:035 Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the

Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written

a book.

18:031:036 Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a

crown to me.

18:031:037 I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince

would I go near unto him.

18:031:038 If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise

thereof complain;

18:031:039 If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have

caused the owners thereof to lose their life:

18:031:040 Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of

barley. The words of Job are ended.

18:032:001 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was

righteous in his own eyes.

18:032:002 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the

Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath

kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.

18:032:003 Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because

they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.

18:032:004 Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were

elder than he.

18:032:005 When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these

three men, then his wrath was kindled.

18:032:006 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I

am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and

durst not shew you mine opinion.

18:032:007 I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach


18:032:008 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the

Almighty giveth them understanding.

18:032:009 Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand


18:032:010 Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine


18:032:011 Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons,

whilst ye searched out what to say.

18:032:012 Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, there was none of you

that convinced Job, or that answered his words:

18:032:013 Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth

him down, not man.

18:032:014 Now he hath not directed his words against me: neither will I

answer him with your speeches.

18:032:015 They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off


18:032:016 When I had waited, (for they spake not, but stood still, and

answered no more;)

18:032:017 I said, I will answer also my part, I also will shew mine


18:032:018 For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me.

18:032:019 Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to

burst like new bottles.

18:032:020 I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and


18:032:021 Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let

me give flattering titles unto man.

18:032:022 For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker

would soon take me away.

18:033:001 Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to

all my words.

18:033:002 Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in

my mouth.

18:033:003 My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips

shall utter knowledge clearly.

18:033:004 The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty

hath given me life.

18:033:005 If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me,

stand up.

18:033:006 Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am

formed out of the clay.

18:033:007 Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my

hand be heavy upon thee.

18:033:008 Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the

voice of thy words, saying,

18:033:009 I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is

there iniquity in me.

18:033:010 Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for

his enemy,

18:033:011 He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths.

18:033:012 Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that

God is greater than man.

18:033:013 Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of

any of his matters.

18:033:014 For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.

18:033:015 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth

upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;

18:033:016 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their


18:033:017 That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from


18:033:018 He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from

perishing by the sword.

18:033:019 He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude

of his bones with strong pain:

18:033:020 So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat.

18:033:021 His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his

bones that were not seen stick out.

18:033:022 Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the


18:033:023 If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a

thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:

18:033:024 Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from

going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.

18:033:025 His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to

the days of his youth:

18:033:026 He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him:

and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto

man his righteousness.

18:033:027 He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and

perverted that which was right, and it profited me not;

18:033:028 He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life

shall see the light.

18:033:029 Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man,

18:033:030 To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with

the light of the living.

18:033:031 Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will


18:033:032 If thou hast anything to say, answer me: speak, for I desire

to justify thee.

18:033:033 If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach

thee wisdom.

18:034:001 Furthermore Elihu answered and said,

18:034:002 Hear my words, O ye wise men; and give ear unto me, ye that

have knowledge.

18:034:003 For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat.

18:034:004 Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what

is good.

18:034:005 For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my


18:034:006 Should I lie against my right? my wound is incurable without


18:034:007 What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water?

18:034:008 Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and

walketh with wicked men.

18:034:009 For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should

delight himself with God.

18:034:010 Therefore hearken unto me ye men of understanding: far be it

from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty,

that he should commit iniquity.

18:034:011 For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause

every man to find according to his ways.

18:034:012 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the

Almighty pervert judgment.

18:034:013 Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath

disposed the whole world?

18:034:014 If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his

spirit and his breath;

18:034:015 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto


18:034:016 If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the

voice of my words.

18:034:017 Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn

him that is most just?

18:034:018 Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? and to princes,

Ye are ungodly?

18:034:019 How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of

princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they

all are the work of his hands.

18:034:020 In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled

at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away

without hand.

18:034:021 For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his


18:034:022 There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers

of iniquity may hide themselves.

18:034:023 For he will not lay upon man more than right; that he should

enter into judgment with God.

18:034:024 He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set

others in their stead.

18:034:025 Therefore he knoweth their works, and he overturneth them in

the night, so that they are destroyed.

18:034:026 He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others;

18:034:027 Because they turned back from him, and would not consider any

of his ways:

18:034:028 So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and

he heareth the cry of the afflicted.

18:034:029 When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when

he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be

done against a nation, or against a man only:

18:034:030 That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.

18:034:031 Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne

chastisement, I will not offend any more:

18:034:032 That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I

will do no more.

18:034:033 Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it,

whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I:

therefore speak what thou knowest.

18:034:034 Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken

unto me.

18:034:035 Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without


18:034:036 My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his

answers for wicked men.

18:034:037 For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands

among us, and multiplieth his words against God.

18:035:001 Elihu spake moreover, and said,

18:035:002 Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My

righteousness is more than God’s?

18:035:003 For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and,

What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin?

18:035:004 I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee.

18:035:005 Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which

are higher than thou.

18:035:006 If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy

transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?

18:035:007 If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth

he of thine hand?

18:035:008 Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy

righteousness may profit the son of man.

18:035:009 By reason of the multitude of oppressions they make the

oppressed to cry: they cry out by reason of the arm of the


18:035:010 But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the


18:035:011 Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh

us wiser than the fowls of heaven?

18:035:012 There they cry, but none giveth answer, because of the pride

of evil men.

18:035:013 Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty

regard it.

18:035:014 Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, yet judgment is

before him; therefore trust thou in him.

18:035:015 But now, because it is not so, he hath visited in his anger;

yet he knoweth it not in great extremity:

18:035:016 Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth

words without knowledge.

18:036:001 Elihu also proceeded, and said,

18:036:002 Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to

speak on God’s behalf.

18:036:003 I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe

righteousness to my Maker.

18:036:004 For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in

knowledge is with thee.

18:036:005 Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in

strength and wisdom.

18:036:006 He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to

the poor.

18:036:007 He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings

are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever,

and they are exalted.

18:036:008 And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of


18:036:009 Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that

they have exceeded.

18:036:010 He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that

they return from iniquity.

18:036:011 If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in

prosperity, and their years in pleasures.

18:036:012 But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they

shall die without knowledge.

18:036:013 But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when

he bindeth them.

18:036:014 They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.

18:036:015 He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their

ears in oppression.

18:036:016 Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a

broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which

should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.

18:036:017 But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment

and justice take hold on thee.

18:036:018 Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his

stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.

18:036:019 Will he esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of


18:036:020 Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.

18:036:021 Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen

rather than affliction.

18:036:022 Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?

18:036:023 Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast

wrought iniquity?

18:036:024 Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold.

18:036:025 Every man may see it; man may behold it afar off.

18:036:026 Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the

number of his years be searched out.

18:036:027 For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain

according to the vapour thereof:

18:036:028 Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly.

18:036:029 Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the

noise of his tabernacle?

18:036:030 Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the

bottom of the sea.

18:036:031 For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in


18:036:032 With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to

shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt.

18:036:033 The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also

concerning the vapour.

18:037:001 At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his


18:037:002 Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that

goeth out of his mouth.

18:037:003 He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto

the ends of the earth.

18:037:004 After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his

excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard.

18:037:005 God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth

he, which we cannot comprehend.

18:037:006 For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to

the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.

18:037:007 He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his


18:037:008 Then the beasts go into dens, and remain in their places.

18:037:009 Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the


18:037:010 By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the

waters is straitened.

18:037:011 Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth

his bright cloud:

18:037:012 And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do

whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in

the earth.

18:037:013 He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for his

land, or for mercy.

18:037:014 Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the

wondrous works of God.

18:037:015 Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of

his cloud to shine?

18:037:016 Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous

works of him which is perfect in knowledge?

18:037:017 How thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth by the

south wind?

18:037:018 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as

a molten looking glass?

18:037:019 Teach us what we shall say unto him; for we cannot order our

speech by reason of darkness.

18:037:020 Shall it be told him that I speak? if a man speak, surely he

shall be swallowed up.

18:037:021 And now men see not the bright light which is in the clouds:

but the wind passeth, and cleanseth them.

18:037:022 Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God is terrible


18:037:023 Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent

in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will

not afflict.

18:037:024 Men do therefore fear him: he respecteth not any that are wise

of heart.

18:038:001 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

18:038:002 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

18:038:003 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee,

and answer thou me.

18:038:004 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?

declare, if thou hast understanding.

18:038:005 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who

hath stretched the line upon it?

18:038:006 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid

the corner stone thereof;

18:038:007 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God

shouted for joy?

18:038:008 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if

it had issued out of the womb?

18:038:009 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness

a swaddlingband for it,

18:038:010 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,

18:038:011 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here

shall thy proud waves be stayed?

18:038:012 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the

dayspring to know his place;

18:038:013 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the

wicked might be shaken out of it?

18:038:014 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.

18:038:015 And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high

arm shall be broken.

18:038:016 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou

walked in the search of the depth?

18:038:017 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou

seen the doors of the shadow of death?

18:038:018 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou

knowest it all.

18:038:019 Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness,

where is the place thereof,

18:038:020 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that

thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?

18:038:021 Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the

number of thy days is great?

18:038:022 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou

seen the treasures of the hail,

18:038:023 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the

day of battle and war?

18:038:024 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east

wind upon the earth?

18:038:025 Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters,

or a way for the lightning of thunder;

18:038:026 To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the

wilderness, wherein there is no man;

18:038:027 To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud

of the tender herb to spring forth?

18:038:028 Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?

18:038:029 Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven,

who hath gendered it?

18:038:030 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep

is frozen.

18:038:031 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the

bands of Orion?

18:038:032 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou

guide Arcturus with his sons?

18:038:033 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the

dominion thereof in the earth?

18:038:034 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of

waters may cover thee?

18:038:035 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto

thee, Here we are?

18:038:036 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given

understanding to the heart?

18:038:037 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the

bottles of heaven,

18:038:038 When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast


18:038:039 Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of

the young lions,

18:038:040 When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie

in wait?

18:038:041 Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry

unto God, they wander for lack of meat.

18:039:001 Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring

forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?

18:039:002 Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? or knowest thou

the time when they bring forth?

18:039:003 They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they

cast out their sorrows.

18:039:004 Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn;

they go forth, and return not unto them.

18:039:005 Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the

bands of the wild ass?

18:039:006 Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land

his dwellings.

18:039:007 He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he

the crying of the driver.

18:039:008 The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth

after every green thing.

18:039:009 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy


18:039:010 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or

will he harrow the valleys after thee?

18:039:011 Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt

thou leave thy labour to him?

18:039:012 Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and

gather it into thy barn?

18:039:013 Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and

feathers unto the ostrich?

18:039:014 Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust,

18:039:015 And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild

beast may break them.

18:039:016 She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were

not her’s: her labour is in vain without fear;

18:039:017 Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he

imparted to her understanding.

18:039:018 What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the

horse and his rider.

18:039:019 Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck

with thunder?

18:039:020 Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his

nostrils is terrible.

18:039:021 He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he

goeth on to meet the armed men.

18:039:022 He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he

back from the sword.

18:039:023 The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the


18:039:024 He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither

believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.

18:039:025 He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the

battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the


18:039:026 Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward

the south?

18:039:027 Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on


18:039:028 She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the

rock, and the strong place.

18:039:029 From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar


18:039:030 Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are,

there is she.

18:040:001 Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,

18:040:002 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he

that reproveth God, let him answer it.

18:040:003 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,

18:040:004 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine

hand upon my mouth.

18:040:005 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I

will proceed no further.

18:040:006 Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and


18:040:007 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and

declare thou unto me.

18:040:008 Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me,

that thou mayest be righteous?

18:040:009 Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice

like him?

18:040:010 Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array

thyself with glory and beauty.

18:040:011 Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that

is proud, and abase him.

18:040:012 Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread

down the wicked in their place.

18:040:013 Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in


18:040:014 Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand

can save thee.

18:040:015 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass

as an ox.

18:040:016 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the

navel of his belly.

18:040:017 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are

wrapped together.

18:040:018 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like

bars of iron.

18:040:019 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make

his sword to approach unto him.

18:040:020 Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the

beasts of the field play.

18:040:021 He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and


18:040:022 The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of

the brook compass him about.

18:040:023 Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth

that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.

18:040:024 He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.

18:041:001 Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with

a cord which thou lettest down?

18:041:002 Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through

with a thorn?

18:041:003 Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft

words unto thee?

18:041:004 Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a

servant for ever?

18:041:005 Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him

for thy maidens?

18:041:006 Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part

him among the merchants?

18:041:007 Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with

fish spears?

18:041:008 Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more.

18:041:009 Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down

even at the sight of him?

18:041:010 None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to

stand before me?

18:041:011 Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is

under the whole heaven is mine.

18:041:012 I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely


18:041:013 Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to

him with his double bridle?

18:041:014 Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible

round about.

18:041:015 His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close


18:041:016 One is so near to another, that no air can come between them.

18:041:017 They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they

cannot be sundered.

18:041:018 By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the

eyelids of the morning.

18:041:019 Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap


18:041:020 Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or


18:041:021 His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.

18:041:022 In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy

before him.

18:041:023 The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in

themselves; they cannot be moved.

18:041:024 His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of

the nether millstone.

18:041:025 When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason

of breakings they purify themselves.

18:041:026 The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear,

the dart, nor the habergeon.

18:041:027 He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.

18:041:028 The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with

him into stubble.

18:041:029 Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a


18:041:030 Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things

upon the mire.

18:041:031 He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like

a pot of ointment.

18:041:032 He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep

to be hoary.

18:041:033 Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.

18:041:034 He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the

children of pride.

18:042:001 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,

18:042:002 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can

be withholden from thee.

18:042:003 Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore

have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for

me, which I knew not.

18:042:004 Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee,

and declare thou unto me.

18:042:005 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine

eye seeth thee.

18:042:006 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

18:042:007 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto

Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is

kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have

not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job


18:042:008 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and

go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt

offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will

I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye

have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my

servant Job.

18:042:009 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the

Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them:

the LORD also accepted Job.

18:042:010 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for

his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had


18:042:011 Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his

sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance

before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they

bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the

LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of

money, and every one an earring of gold.

18:042:012 So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his

beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six

thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand

she asses.

18:042:013 He had also seven sons and three daughters.

18:042:014 And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of

the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch.

18:042:015 And in all the land were no women found so fair as the

daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among

their brethren.

18:042:016 After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his

sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations.

18:042:017 So Job died, being old and full of days.


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Existentialism is a Humanism By Jean Paul Sartre
Translated by translate.google.com and Adam Norman

I would like to defend existentialism against a number of criticisms.

Existentialism has been accused of inviting people to remain in quietism of despair. Because all solutions are
impossible, one should consider that action in this world is totally impossible, and that eventually leads to
contemplative philosophy. However since contemplation is a luxury, we are brought back to a bourgeois
philosophy. This criticism is mainly from the Communists.

We have been criticized, on the other hand, for emphasizing the human ignominy, for showing all the sordid,
the louche, the slimy, and for neglecting a number of smiling beauties and the bright side of human nature. For
example, according to Ms. Mercier, a Catholic critic, we have forgotten the smile of the child. One and another
accuse us of missing human solidarity, of believing that man is isolated, largely also because we start, say the
Communists, with pure subjectivity; that is, we start with Cartesian thought, i.e, the moment when man attains
his own solitude, the position that makes man unable thereafter to return to solidarity with men outside of
himself, whom cannot be reached from the cogito.

And from the Christian side, we are criticized for denying the reality and seriousness of human undertakings,
since if we remove the commandments of God and the values enshrined in eternity, there remains only strict
freedom; each can do what she wants, and is incapable from his point of view of condemning the views and
actions of others.

It is to these various reproaches that I seek to respond today, which is why I titled this brief account:
Existentialism is a Humanism. Many will be surprised that we are talking about humanism. We will try to see
which in which sense we understand it. In any case, what we can say at the outset is that by “existentialism” we
mean a doctrine that makes human life possible and which, moreover, declares that every truth and every
action involving a milieu and a human subjectivity. The main criticism says, as we know, that existentialists
focus on the bad side of human life. A lady, I was told recently, says when she drops a vulgar word in a moment
of nervousness, “I think I am becoming an existentialist.” Ugliness is equated to existentialism, which is why
one declares that we are naturalists, and if we are, it is surprising that we would frighten anyone. We scandalize
many more than the naturalists, who can properly say that they do not frighten or scandalize anyone today.
Those who can swallow a  novel by Zola, like The Earth, are disgusted when they read an existentialist novel.
Those that appeal to the knowledge of the people—which is very sad—find us even sadder. Yet what could be
more disillusioned than sayings like “charity begins at home” or “Love a villain and he’ll hate you. Hate a villain
and he’ll love you”? We know the cliches on this subject, and they all say the same thing: Do not try to rise
above your station. Do not fight the powers that be, do not struggle; any action that does not fit into tradition is
a romance; an attempt which is not based on proven experience is doomed to failure; and experience shows
that men are always descending into baseness and anarchy and must be restrained by force. But it is the people
who insist on these sad proverbs: the people who say “How typical!” every time they are shown a more or less
repugnant act, the people who revel in sickening songs. These are the  people who accuse existentialism of
being too dark, and to the point that I wonder if what grieves them is not its pessimism, but rather its optimism.
Is it the foundation that scares them, the doctrine that I am going to explain to you, that leaves a possibility of
choice to man? To find out, we need to revisit the issue from a strictly philosophical framework. What is it we
call existentialism?

Most people who use that word would be lost to justify it, because today it has become a fashion; we gladly say
that a musician or a painter is existentialist. A gossip columnist from Clartés signs his articles, “the

Existentialist”, and basically took the word todayhas such breadth and such an extension that it means nothing
at all. It seems that in the absence of an avant-garde doctrine analogous to surrealism, people hungry for
scandal and movement are attracted to this philosophy, which can not give them anything; in reality it is the the
least scandalous doctrine , the most austere, and it is strictly for technicians and philosophers. However, it can
be defined easily. What makes things complicated is that there are two kinds of existentialists: the first, who are
Christian existentialists, and among whom I put Jaspers and Gabriel Marcel, a Catholic; and, secondly, the
atheist existentialists among whom we must place Heidegger, and also the French existentialists and myself.
What they have in common is simply that they believe that existence precedes essence, or, if you prefer, that we
must begin from subjectivity. What, exactly, does this mean? When considering a manufactured object, such as
a book or a paper cutter, this object was made by a craftsman who was inspired by a concept; he referred to the
concept of cut paper, and also a pre-production technique that is part of the concept, which is basically a recipe.
Thus, the cutter is at once an object that occurs in a certain way and also, on the other hand, has a defined
value, and we cannot assume a man would produce a paper cutter without knowing how it will be used. Let us
say that, for the paper-cutter, the essence—that is to say all definitions and qualities that help produce it and
define it—precedes existence, and thus the presence in front of me, like the paper cutter or the book, is
determined. Here we have a technical vision of the world in which we can say that production precedes

When we design a creator God, this God is considered mostly a superior craftsman, and whatever we consider
the doctrine, whether it be a doctrine like that of Descartes or Leibniz’s, we always assume that the will more or
less follows the understanding or, at least, accom panies it, and that when God creates, He knows precisely
what He creates. Thus, the concept of man, who has the spirit of God, is comparable to the concept of a paper
cutter in the spirit of the artisan, and God produces man following techniques and design, just as the artisan
manufactures a paper cutter following a definition and a technique. Thus the individual man carries a concept
that is also in the divine. In the eighteenth century, in the atheism of philosophers, the notion of God is
suppressed, but not for all the idea that essence precedes existence. We find this idea everywhere: we find in
Diderot, Voltaire, and even in Kant. Man is possessed of a human nature. That human nature, the human
concept, is found in all men, meaning that every man is a particular example of a universal concept, “man”. In
Kant, it follows from this that the hermit, the wild man, and the bourgeois are constrained by the same
definition and have the same basic qualities. So, again, the essence of man precedes that historic existence
which we encounter in nature.

The atheistic existentialism, which I represent, is more consistent. It states that if there is no God, there is at
least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists before it can be defined by any concept,
and that this being is man or, as Heidegger says, human reality. What is meant by this, that existence precedes
essence? This means that man first exists, occurs, arises in the world, and is only defined later. Man, as
conceived by the existentialist, if he is not definable, is not definable because he is, at first, nothing. He will not
be until later, and then he will be as he makes himself. Thus, there is no human nature, since there is no God to
conceive it. Man is not only as he is conceived, but as he wants to be, and as he conceives himself after
existence, as he wants to be after this impulse towards existence. Man is nothing other than what he is. This is
the first principle of existentialism. It is also called subjectivity, and it is this for which we are also criticized.
But what do we mean by this, but that man has more dignity than a stone or a table? We mean that man first
exists, that is to say, man is, first, what is thrust into a future, and he is conscious of himself existing into that
future. Man is primarily a project that is lived subjectively, rather than a foam, a rot or a cauliflower. Nothing
exists prior to this project, nothing is intelligible to heaven, and man, to exist, will first have to be a project. He
is not what he wishes to be, however. For we usually mean by “a will” that there is a conscious decision, and
that is, for most of us, after we have made ourselves. I may want to join a party, write a book, get married; all
these are just one manifestation of a more original choice, more spontaneous than what is called “will”. But if
indeed existence precedes essence, man is responsible for what he is. Thus, the first step of existentialism is to
put every man in possession of what he is and to base him on total responsibility for his own existence. And

when we say that man is responsible for himself, we do not want to say that man is responsible for his strict
individuality, but he is responsible for all men. There are two meanings to the word “subjectivism”, and our
opponents play on both senses. Subjectivism means on the one hand a choice of the individual subject himself,
and, on the other hand, the impossibility of man transcending human subjectivity. The second meaning is the
deeper meaning of existentialism. When we say that man chooses himself, we believe that each of us chooses,
but by this we mean that by choosing he also chooses all men. In effect, when a man chooses what we wants to
be, he creates a man as he must be. To choose to be this or that is to affirm at the same time the value of what
we choose. We can never choose evil; what we choose is always good, and nothing can be good for us without
being for all. If existence precedes essence and we want to exist at the same time as we shape our image, that
image is valid for all and for our whole epoch. Thus, our responsibility is much greater than we might suppose,
because it involves all mankind. If I’m laborer, and if I choose to join a Christian trade union rather than
communist; if, by that membership, I want to indicate that resignation is basically the right solution for man,
that the kingdom the man is not on earth; I do not do so only for my case: I want resignation for everyone, so
my approach has committed all humanity. And if what I want is more individual, to get married, have children,
even if this marriage depends solely on my situation, or my passion or my desire, by that I commit not only
myself, but all humanity on the path of monogamy. So I am responsible for myself and for all, and I create a
certain image of man that I choose; by choosing me, I choose man.

This allows us to understand what is meant by rather grandiloquent words such as anguish, abandonment, and
despair. As you’ll see, it is extremely simple. First, what do we mean by anguish? The existentialist says that
man is in happy agony. She means this: the man who is committed and who realizes he is not only choosing for
himself but is also a legislator choosing at the same time for all humanity cannot escape the sense of his total
and deep responsibility. While many people are not anxious, they pretend to conceal their anguish, they flee
from it. Certainly, many people believe in  not committing themselves, and when asked “But what if everyone
did that?” shrug their shoulders and answer: “Everybody does not do that.” But in truth, we must always ask:
what if everyone did the same? and we will escape this disturbing thought only by a sort of bad faith. He who
lies and excuses himself by saying everyone does not similarly is someone who is uncomfortable with his
conscience, because the act of lying implies a universal value attributed to the lie. Even at the same time, a mask
if anxiety appears. It is this anguish that Kierkegaard called the anguish of Abraham. You know the story: An
angel commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son (if all goes well it’s really an angel). It came and said, you,
Abraham, shalt sacrifice thy son. But everyone should ask themselves, first, is that it is an angel, and is what I
am Abraham? What proves it? There was a madwoman who had hallucinations: she spoke to a man by phone
and he gave orders. The doctor asked, “But who is he talking to you?” She replied, “He says He is God.” And
what he proved, indeed, that he was God? If an angel comes to me, what proves that he is an angel? And if I
hear voices, what proves that they come from heaven, not hell, or my subconscious, or a medical condition?
What proves that they come to me? What proves that I am annointed to impose my conception of man and my
choice on humanity? I’ll never find evidence, any evidence, to convince me. If a voice speaks to me, it’s always
me who will decide that this voice is the voice of an angel; if I consider that such an act is good, it is I who will
choose to say that this act is good rather than bad. I have no way to be Abraham, and yet I am obliged to make
the same exemplary acts.

It is as if, for every man, mankind had fixed its eyes on what he does and settled on what it will do. And every
man must ask: Am I the one who has the right to act so that humanity will be ruled my actions? And if he does
not say this, it only means he masks the anxiety. This is not an anxiety that leads to quietism, inaction. This is a
simple anxiety, for all who are aware of the responsibilities. When, for example, a military leader takes
responsibility for an attack and sends a number of men to death, he chooses to do, and basically he chooses
alone. No doubt there are orders coming from above, but they are too wide and his interpretation is required,
and on that interpretation depends the life of ten or fourteen or twenty men. He cannot but have, in the
decision he makes, some anxiety. All leaders know that anguish. This does not prevent them from acting; on the
contrary, it is the very condition of their action, because it means they are considering a plurality of

possibilities, and when they choose one, they realize that the choice is valuable only because it is chosen. And
this kind of anguish, which is the one described existentialism, we will see is also due to a direct responsibility
vis-à-vis other men. It is not a curtain that separates us from action, but it is part of the action itself.

And when speaking of abandonmnent, a word dear to Heidegger, we mean only that God does not exist, and we
must draw out the consequences. The existentialist is strongly opposed to a certain type of secular morality that
would remove God with the least possible expense. When, around 1880, French teachers tried a secular
morality, they said something like this: God is a useless and costly hypothesis, but it is necessary, however, for
there to be a moral compass for society, for a civilized world, that some values are taken seriously and regarded
as existing a priori. It must be mandatory a priori to be honest, not to lie, not to beat one’s wife, to have
children, etc. etc. So we will do a little work to show that these values exist all the same, inscribed in an
intelligible heaven even though there is no God. In other words, (and this is, I believe, the tendency of all that is
called in France “radicalism”) nothing will be changed if God does not exist, we will meet the same standards of
honesty, progress, of humanism, and we will have made God an outdated hypothesis which will die quietly and
of itself. The existentialist, on the contrary, thinks it is very embarrassing that God does not exist, because with
him disappears the possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any a priori
good, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it; it is nowhere written that property exists,
or that man must be honest and not tell lies, precisely because we are on a plane where there are only men.
Dostoyevsky wrote: “If God did not exist, everything would be permitted.” This is the starting point of
existentialism. Indeed, everything is permitted if God does not exist, and therefore man is helpless, because he
finds neither within nor outside himself a fixed point. He first finds no excuses. If, indeed, existence precedes
essence, one can never explain by reference to a fixed and given human nature, meaning that there is no
determinism; man is free, man is freedom. If, on the other hand, there is no God, we do not find in front of us
values or orders which legitimize our conduct. Thus, we have neither justifications nor excuses behind us nor
before us in a field of numinous values. We are alone, without apologies. This is what I express by saying that
man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because did not create himself; free, however, because once thrown
into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. The existentialist does not believe in the power of
passion. He will never think that a beautiful passion is a devastating torrent which fatally leads man to certain
acts, and that, therefore, it is an excuse. He thinks that man is responsible for his passion.

The existentialist does not think that man can find relief in a given sign, or on firm ground, which would
somehow guide him, for he thinks that man interprets a sign as he pleases. He therefore thinks every man,
without any support, is condemned at every instant to invent man. Ponge said, in a very nice article, “Man is the
future of man.” It is perfectly true. But if by that we mean that this future is written in heaven, as God sees it,
then it is false, because that would not even be a future. But if we understand that, however man appears, there
is a future to be, a virgin future that awaits him, then this is correct. But then it was abandoned. To give you an
example that allows better understanding of neglect, I cite the case of one of my students came to me in the
following circumstances: his father had quarreled with his mother, and was also inclined to collaborate; his
older brother was killed in the German offensive of 1940, and this young man, with somewhat primitive but
generous feelings, wanted revenge. His mother lived alone with him and was very distressed by the semi-
treason of his father and the death of his eldest son, and could find consolation in him. This young man had a
choice, at that time, between going to England and enlisting in the French Underground forces—that is to say
abandoning his mother—or remaining with his mother, helping them survive. He was well aware that this
woman lived only for him and that his disappearance—and perhaps his death—would plunge her into despair.
He also knew deeply, concretely, that every act he was doing with respect to his mother was as her sponsor, in
the sense that it helped her to live; if, instead, he went to go and fight, his actions could get lost in the sands and
be of no avail: for example, leaving for England, he could have to stay indefinitely in a Spanish camp, it could
happen in England or Algiers; he could be in an office doing paperwork. Therefore, he was faced with two very
different types of action: one concrete, immediate, but addressed only one individual, or another action that
targeted a whole infinitely greater, a nation, but which was thus ambiguous, and could be stopped on the way.

And at the same time, he hesitated between two types of morality. On the one hand, a morality of sympathy, of
personal devotion, and secondly, a wider morality, but of more questionable effectiveness. We had to choose
between the two. What could help him choose? Christian doctrine? No. Christian doctrine says: be charitable,
love your neighbor, sacrifice yourself to others, choose the hardest way, etc. etc. But what way is the hardest?
Who is he to love as his brother, the fellow patriot or his mother? How useful is the large action, the wave of
fighting, in a whole compared to one that is specific and will help a specific living being? Who can decide a
priori? No one. No moral code can help. Kantian ethics says: never treat others as means but only ever as an
ends. Okay, if I live with my mother, I will treat her as an end and not as a means; but doing so, I treat as means
those who fight around me; and vice versa if I join those who fight. I will treat them as ends, and therefore I will
treat my mother as a means.

If values are vague, and if they are still too vast for precise and concrete cases, we think it only remains for us to
trust our instincts. That’s what this young man has tried to do, and when I saw him, he said, basically, what
matters is the feeling. I should choose the direction I am pushed in. If I feel that I love my mother enough to
sacrifice everything else—my revenge, my want of action, my desire for adventure—I stay with her. If, on the
contrary, I feel that my love for my mother is not enough, I’m leaving. But how to determine the value of a
feeling? What was the value of his feeling for his mother? Precisely the fact that he stayed there with her. I can
say: I like this friend enough to give him a sum of money, but I cannot say it unless I’ve done it. I can say I love
my mother enough to stay with her, if I stayed with her. I determine the value of the feeling by acting to endorse
it and define it. I also ask the feeling to justify my action. I find myself drawn into a vicious circle.

On the other hand, Gide has said very well that a feeling that is merely playing and a feeling that lives are
almost indistinguishable: I decide that I love my mother by staying with her, or play a little theatre that will
make it so that I do; it’s a bit the same. In other words, the feeling is built by the acts we do, I cannot consult
feeling to guide me though actions. Which means that I can neither seek in myself an authentic state nor claim
a moral concept that will allow me to act. At least, you say, did he go see a professor for advice? But if you
should seek advice from a priest, for example, you chose this priest; you already knew basically, more or less,
what he would advise you to do. In other words, to choose the counselor is to still commit yourself. The proof is
that if you are Christian, you will say, see a priest. But there are collaborationist priests, fence sitters, and
priests of the resistance. Which to choose? And if the young man chooses a priest of the resistance, or a priest of
the collaborationists, he has already decided the kind of advice he receives. Thus, coming to find me, he knew
the answer I was going to give, and I had a reply for him: you are free to choose, that is to say, you are free to
invent. No general moral code can tell you what to do; there is no evidence in the world. Catholics will say: but
there are signs. Let’s face it; I myself must read the direction from the signs. I knew, while I was captive, a
remarkable man who was a Jesuit; he entered the Jesuit order as follows: he had suffered a number of quite
bitter failures; as a child, his father had died, leaving him poor, and he was left in a religious institution where
they constantly made him feel that he was accepting charity; later, he missed a number of honors that appeal to
children, and then at eighteen, he missed out on an affair. And finally, at twenty-two, something quite childish
happened, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, he failed his military training. This young man
could therefore feel that he had failed at everything; it was a sign. But a sign of what? He could take refuge in
bitterness or despair. But he held, very cleverly for him, that this was the sign that he was not made for secular
triumphs, and that only the triumphs of religion, holiness, faith, were accessible. He then felt the calling, and
entered into orders. Who cannot see that the decision about the meaning of the sign was made by him alone?
We could have concluded something else in this series of failures: for example it would better that he should
become a carpenter or a revolutionary. He therefore bears full responsibility for the interpretation.
Abandonment implies that we choose our beings ourselves. Neglect goes with anxiety. As for abandonment, this
is extremely simple. Abandonment means that we can only rely on what depends on our will, or the set of
probabilities that make our work possible.

When you want something, there are always likely elements. I can count on the arrival of a friend. This friend
comes by rail or tram; I can assume that the railway will arrive on time, or that the tram will not derail. I
remain in the realm of possibility, but it is not wise to rely on the things that are outside my sphere of influence.
From the moment I consider the possibilities that are not rigorously involved in my action, I have to ignore
them, because no God, no plan can adapt the world and its possibilities to my will. Basically, when Descartes
said: “To conquer oneself rather than the world” he meant the same thing: act without hope. Marxists, to whom
I have spoken, responded: “You can, in your action that will, of course, be limited by your death, count on the
support of others. This means, to count both what the others will do now, in China, Russia, to help you, and on
what they will do later, after your death, to take action and bring towards its attainment in the Revolution. You
should count on it, otherwise you are not moral.” I say first that I will rely on comrades still in the struggle, just
to the degree that these comrades are engaged with me in the concrete and real struggle, in the unit of a party or
group that I can more or less control, where I am a militant and I know every minute detail. In times like that, I
count on the unity and the will of the party; exactly as I count on the fact that the tram will arrive on time or
that the train did not derail. But I cannot count on men that I do not know based on human goodness, or the
interest of man for the good of society, because man is free, and that there is no bottom I can find to human

I do not know what will become of the Russian Revolution. I can admire it and take it as an
example that proves that the proletariat plays a role in Russia today that he does not play in any
other nation. But I cannot say that it will necessarily lead to a triumph of the proletariat; I must
confine myself to what I see. I cannot be sure that my comrades in struggle will resume work
after my death to bring it to a maximum of perfection, as these men are free and they decide
freely what will become of man tomorrow. After my death, men could decide to establish
fascism, and others may be fairly sloppy and helpless and let them do; fascism is human truth,
and too bad for us. In reality, things will be like man has decided they are. Does that mean I
should abandon myself to quietism? No. First I must commit myself, then act according to the
old formula. That does not mean I should not belong to a party, but I’ll shall be without illusion
and I shall do what I can. For example, if I ask myself, collectivization, when will it happen? I do
not know. I just know that everything is in my power to make it happen. Beyond that, I cannot
count on anything.

Quietism is the attitude of people who say “others can do what I cannot do”. The doctrine I am
presenting is precisely the opposite of quietism, since it says there is no reality except in action;
it also goes further, since it adds that man is nothing but his project. He exists only insofar as he
is realized, so there is nothing more than all of his actions, nothing more than his life. From this
we can understand why our doctrine horrifies some people. They often have only one way of
supporting their misery, which is to think: “The circumstances were against me; I was worth
much more than I seemed, of course. I did not have a great love or great friendship, but that’s
because I have not met a man or a woman who were worthy. I have not written very good books,
but it’s because I had no leisure to do so. I have not had children to devote myself to, but that is
because I have not found the man with whom I could have made my life. I have remained so, at
home, unused and fully viable, with a variety of dispositions, inclinations, and possibilities that
give me a value that the simple series of my actions do not display.” In reality, for an
existentialist, there is no love other than that which is being built; there is no possibility of love
other than that which manifests itself in a love. There is no genius other than one that is
expressed in works of art: the genius of Proust is all of the works of Proust, and the genius of

Racine is his series of tragedies. Apart from that there is nothing; why attribute to Racine the
opportunity to write another tragedy, precisely because he has not written it? A woman enters her
life, her face drawn, and outside of this there is nothing. Obviously, this thought may seem harsh
to someone who failed in her life. But then, the existentialist understands that reality alone
counts, that dreams, expectations, and hopes only define man as a disappointed dream, as
abortive. Hopes and unnecessary expectations define man in the negative and not the positive.
However, this does not imply that the artist will be judged solely on his artwork. A thousand
other things also contribute to defining him. What we mean is that a man is nothing but a series
of enterprises. He is the sum, the organization, the set of relations that constitute these

Under these conditions, when we are reproached, it is not for our deep pessimism, but for our
optimistic toughness. If people criticize us for our novels in which we describe beings spineless,
weak, cowardly and sometimes even downright bad, it’s not just because these people are
spineless, weak, loose or bad: if, like Zola, we declare that they are so because of heredity,
because of the influence of environment, society, due to organic or psychological determinism,
people would be reassured, they would say, “Voilà, we are like that! Nobody can do anything
about it!” But the existentialist, when he describes a coward, says the coward is responsible for
his cowardice. He is not like that because he has a heart, lung or brain loose. He is not like that
from a physiological disorganization. He is like that because he has made himself a coward
through his actions. There are no loose temperaments. There are temperaments that are nervous;
there are those with weak blood, as the good people say. There are wealthy temperaments. But
the man who has weak blood is not cowardly as a result, because what makes cowardice is the
wavering or resigning. A temperament does not make the act; the coward is defined by the act he
did. What people feel obscurely and what horrifies them is that the coward that we present is
guilty of cowardice. What people want is one born a coward or a hero. One of the criticisms most
often made is that the Roads to Freedom is formulated thus: but then, these people who are so
spineless, how will you make yourselves heroes? This objection makes us laugh because it
assumes that people are born heroes. And basically that’s what people want to think: if you are
born a coward, you’ll be perfectly quiet, you cannot help it; you will be cowardly all your life,
whatever you do; and if you are born a hero, you will also be perfectly still; you will be a hero all
your life, you will drink like a hero, and you will eat like a hero. What the existentialist says is
that the coward is a coward, that the hero is a hero, but there is always a possibility for the
coward not to be a coward, and for the hero to stop being a hero. What matters is the total
commitment, and this is not a special case, a particular action; you engage fully.

Thus, we have responded to, I believe, a number of criticisms about existentialism. You see it
cannot be considered a philosophy of quietism, since it defines man by action; nor as a
pessimistic description of man: there is no doctrine more optimistic, since the destiny of man is
in himself; nor as an attempt to discourage man from action, since it says that there is hope in
action, and the only thing that allows man to live is the act. Therefore, in this regard, we are
dealing with a moral action and commitment. However, we are sometimes reproached for
confining man in his individual subjectivity. Again we are understood very poorly. Our starting
point is indeed the subjectivity of the individual, and for strictly philosophical reasons. Not

because we are bourgeois, but because we want a doctrine based on truth, not a collection of fine
theories, full of hope but with no real foundation. There can be no other truth, as this one, the
starting point: I think therefore I am. This is the absolute truth of consciousness itself. Any theory
which takes man out of this moment he attained himself is primarily a theory that suppresses the
truth, because, apart from this Cartesian cogito, all objects are only probable, and a doctrine of
probabilities that is not suspended from a truth collapses into nothingness; to define the probable
one must possess the true. So for there to be any truth, there must be an absolute truth, and it is
simple, easy to reach, it is accessible to everyone, and it can be seized without an intermediary.

Secondly, this theory is the only one to give dignity to man; this is the only one that does not
make man an object. While materialism has the effect of treating all men, including himself, as
objects, that is to say as a set of determined reactions with qualities and phenomena no different
from a table or chair or a stone. We want to create the human kingdom as a set of distinct values
of the material realm. But the subjectivity which we reach there as truth is not a strictly
individual subjectivity, because we demonstrated that in the cogito, we did not discover
ourselves only, but also others. By “I think”, contrary to the philosophy of Descartes, contrary to
the philosophy of Kant, we reach ourselves in front of the other, and the other is as certain to us
as ourselves. Thus, the man reached directly through the cogito also discovers all the others, and
he finds the condition of existence. He realizes that he cannot be anything (in the sense that we
say we are spiritual, or we are bad, or we’re jealous) unless others recognize it as such. For any
truth about me, I must pass by the other. The other is essential to my existence, as well as to the
knowledge I have of myself. Under these conditions, the discovery of my privacy at the same
time uncovers the other as a freedom posed in front of me, whom I think of, and who wants only
to be for or against me. Thus we discover at once a world we call intersubjectivity, and it is in
this world that man decides what he is and what is the other.

Furthermore, it is impossible to find in each man a universal essence that would be human
nature, yet there is a universal human condition. It is not by chance that the thinkers of today
speak more readily of the human condition and as to its nature. They mean by condition with
varying degrees of clarity all the a priori limits that outline our fundamental situation in the
universe. Historical situations vary: the man can be born a slave in a pagan society or a feudal
lord or a proletarian. What does not vary is the need for him to be in the world, to be at work, to
be surrounded by the other and be mortal. These limits are neither subjective nor objective; or,
rather, they have an objective side and a subjective side. The are objective because they are
ubiquitous and are recognizable everywhere; they are subjective because they are lived and are
nothing if man did not live them, that is to say did not freely determine its existence in relation to
them. And although the projects may be diverse, at least none have been left unknown, because
we all attempt to overcome these limits or to reduce or deny them or to accommodate them.
Accordingly, any project, however individual, has a universal value. Any project, even that of the
Chinese, the Indian or the negro, can be understood by a European. It can be understood; this
means that the European of 1945 may throw himself from a situation he conceives, to its limits in
the same way, and he can remake himself into the project of Chinese of the Indian or African.
There is universality of any project in the sense that any project is understandable for everyone.
This does not mean that the project defines man forever, but it can be found. There is always a

way to understand the idiot, the child, the primitive or foreigner, provided we have sufficient
information. In this sense we can say that there is a universality of man, but it is not given; it is
perpetually constructed. I build the universal in choosing me, I build it in the project including
any other man, whatever time it is. This absolute choice does not remove the relativity of each
epoch. That existentialism has at heart to show is the connection of the absolute nature of the free
commitment, by which every man realizes himself in realizing a type of humanity, commitment
always understandable at any time and anyone, and the relativity of the cultural landscape that
may result from such a choice must mark both the relativity of Cartesianism and the absolute
nature of the Cartesian commitment. In this sense we can say, if you will, that each of us makes
the absolute by breathing, eating, sleeping or acting in any way. There is no difference between
being free, being as a project, as existence choosing its essence, and be absolute and there is no
difference between being an absolute temporally localized, that is to say that is is located in
history, and be universally understood.

This does not entirely solve the objection of subjectivism. Indeed, this objection takes on
even more forms. The first is this: we are told, then you can do anything; this is expressed
in various ways. First, they tax us with anarchy; then they say: you cannot judge others,
because there is no reason to prefer one project to another; and the final objection:
everything is free in what you choose; you are giving with one hand what you pretend to
receive the other. These three objections are not very serious. The first objection, you can
choose anything, is not accurate. The choice is possible in one sense, but it is not possible
not to choose. I can always choose, but I do know that if I do not choose, I choose again.
This, although seemingly purely formal, is of great importance to limit whim and caprice.
Sometimes on faces a situation, for example the situation that I am a sexual being and can
have sex with someone of another gender, and can have children; I have to choose a
attitude, and anyway I bear the responsibility of a choice that, in committing myself, also
commits the whole of humanity, even if no a priori value determines my choice. It has
nothing to do with caprice, and if one sees in this Gide’s theory of gratuitous action, then
it is because one has not seen the enormous differences between this theory and that of
Gide. Gide does not know that this is but a situation, his act is mere whim. For us, on the
contrary, man finds himself in an organized situation, where man is committed to himself,
he undertakes in his choice one for all mankind, and he cannot avoid choosing: he either
remains chaste, or he will marry without having children, or he will marry and have
children; anyway whatever he does, it is impossible that he does not take full
responsibility facing this problem. Doubtless he chooses without reference to preset
values, but it is unfair to accuse him of caprice. Rather, it is necessary to compare the
moral choice with the construction of a work of art. And here I must immediately stop to
say that this is not a moral aesthetic, because our opponents are of bad faith if they
criticize us for that. The example I chose is a comparison. That said, has anyone ever
criticized an artist who makes a picture not abide by rules established a priori? Has
anyone ever told an artist what he must do at the easel? It is understood that there is no
picture to be painted. The artist engages in the construction of his painting, and the
picture to be made is exactly the picture he did make; it is understood that there are no a
priori aesthetic values, but there are values which are then in the actual picture, in the

relationship that exists between the desire to create and the result. Nobody can say what
the painting of tomorrow will be; it can only be determined once the painting done. What
does that have to do with morality? We are in the same creative situation. We never talk
about the freedom of a work of art. When we speak of a Picasso painting, we never say
that it is free; we understand that it is constructed at the same time as it is painted, as the
work come to life. It is the same in moral terms. What is common between art and
morality is that, in both cases, we have creation and invention. We cannot decide a priori
what to do. I think I have sufficiently shown this by talking about the case of the student
who came to me; and he could have applied any moralities, Kantian or otherwise, without
finding any kind of guidance. He was obliged to invent his law himself. We will never
say that this man, who chose to stay with his mother by taking as his basis moral
sentiments, individual action and concrete charity, or who had chosen to go to England,
preferring sacrifice, made a free choice. Man is; he is not all made in advance; he is
choosing his ethics, and the pressure of circumstances is such that he cannot not choose
one. We do not define man only in relation to a commitment. It is therefore absurd to
reproach us for free choice. Secondly, we are told: you cannot judge others. This is true to
an extent, and false in another. This is true in the sense that whenever a man chooses his
commitment and project in all sincerity and with lucidity, whatever his project, it is
impossible for him to prefer another; it’s true in the sense that we do not believe in
progress; progress is an improvement; man is always the same in the face of a situation
that varies, and choice is always a choice in a situation. The moral problem has not
changed since the time when one could choose between slavery and non-slavery, for
example in the Civil War, and at moment where you can opt for the MRP or for the

But we can judge, however, because as I have said, we choose in front of others, and we
choose ourselves in front of others. We can be judged, first (and this is perhaps not a
value judgment, but it is a logical judgment), that some choices are based on error, and
others on truth. We can judge a man by saying he is in bad faith. If we defined the
situation of man as free choice, without excuse and without help, every man who hides
behind the excuse of his passions, every man who invents a determinism, is a man of bad
faith. One could object: but did not he choose to be in bad faith? I reply that I did not
judge him morally, but I define bad faith as an error. Here, one cannot escape a judgment
of truth. Bad faith is obviously a lie, because it hides the total freedom of commitment.
On the same plane, I would say that there is also bad faith if I choose to declare that
certain values exist before me; I contradict myself if, at a time, I want them and they are
imposed on me. If it is said, but what if I want to be in bad faith? I answer: there is no
reason why you cannot, but I declare that you are, and that the attitude of strict
consistency is the attitude of good faith. And also I can make a moral judgment. I said
that freedom, through each concrete circumstance, can have no other purpose than to
want itself; if once man has recognized that, he values neglect, he can want only one
thing: freedom as the foundation of all values. This does not mean that he wants freedom
in the abstract. It simply means that the actions of men of good faith have ultimate

significance as the pursuit of freedom as such. A man who belongs to union, communist
or revolutionary, wants concrete goals; these goals will involve abstract freedom but this
freedom is meant in the concrete. We want freedom for freedom and through every
circumstance. And wanting freedom, we discover that it depends entirely on the freedom
of others, and that the freedom of others depends on ours. Of course, freedom as the
definition of man does not depend on others, but once there is commitment, I am obliged
to want, along with my freedom, the freedom of others. I cannot take only my freedom.
So I also take the other’s freedom as a goal. Accordingly, where, in the scheme of total
authenticity, I recognized that man is a being in whom essence is preceded by existence,
he is a free being who cannot, in diverse circumstances, but want freedom; I recognized
the same time as I cannot wish but for the freedom of others. Thus, in the name of this
desire for freedom, the freedom implied by itself, I can make judgments on those who
seek to hide the total gratuitousness of their existence, and its total freedom. Those who
will hide, in the spirit of seriousness or deterministic excuses, their total freedom: I call
them cowards. Others who will try to show that their existence was necessary, that it is
the very contingency of the appearance of man on earth, I will call them bastards. But
cowards or bastards cannot be judged in terms of strict authenticity. Thus, although the
content of morality is variable, some form of this morality is universal. Kant declared that
freedom wants itself and wants the freedom of others. Okay, but he believes the formal
and universal to be morality enough. We believe, however, that principles are too abstract
to define the action. Again, take the case of this student, in the name of what, on behalf of
what great moral maxim, do you think he could have with peace of mind chosen to
abandon his mother or stay with her? There is no way to judge. The content is always
concrete, and therefore unpredictable, and there always invention. The only thing that
matters is whether the invention done is done in the name of freedom.

Consider, for example, the following two cases, you will see how they agree and differ.
Take The Mill on the Floss. Here we find a girl, Maggie Tulliver, who embodies the value
of passion and who is conscious of that, and is in love with a young man, Stephen, who is
engaged to an insubstantial girl. This Maggie Tulliver, instead of recklessly preferring her
own happiness, in the name of human solidarity, chooses to sacrifice herself and chooses
to abandon the man she loves. In contrast, the Sanseverina in La Chartreuse de Parme,
believing that the passion is the true value of man, would declare that a great love merits
sacrifices. She would prefer great love to the banality of that married love that would
unite Stephen and the young goose that he was to marry. She would choose to sacrifice
this goose to realize her own happiness, and, as Stendhal shows, she will sacrifice herself
for a passionate life if required. We are here faced with two opposing moralities; yet I
claim that they are equivalent: in both cases, there is one one goal: freedom. And you can
imagine that the two attitudes exactly similar as to the effect: one girl, in resignation,
prefers to renounce her love. The other, through sexual appetite, prefers to disregard the
earlier commitments of the man she loves. These two actions outwardly resemble those
we just described. They are, however, entirely different; the attitude of the Sanseverina is
much closer to that of Maggie Tulliver than it is to reckless greed.

So you see that second reproach is both true and false. We can all choose, in terms of free

The third objection is this: “you receive with one hand what you give to the other”, that is
to say, our values are not serious, since we choose them. To this I reply that I am very
sorry it is so, but if I removed God the father, someone must invent values. We must take
things as they are. And, moreover, that we invent values does not mean anything but this:
life has no meaning a priori. Before you live life it is nothing, but it’s up to you to give it
meaning, and that value is nothing but the direction you choose. Thus, you see, there is
the possibility of creating a human community. I have been accused of asking if
existentialism is a humanism. I was told: “but you wrote in Nausea that humanists were
wrong; you’ve made fun of a certain type of humanism, why come back now?” In fact,
the word ‘humanism’ has two very different meanings. ‘Humanism’ can mean a theory
that takes man as the end and of the highest value. There’s humanism in the sense of
Cocteau, for example, when in his story, Around the World in 80 Hours, a character says,
“Man is amazing because he flies over mountains by plane!” This means that I,
personally, who have not built airplanes, I benefit from these particular inventions, and I
could personally, as a man, consider myself responsible and be honored by particular acts
of other men. This would imply that we value a man according to the highest acts of
some other men. This humanism is absurd, because only the dog or the horse could pass
general judgment upon man and declare that man is amazing; which they have not done,
to my knowledge at least. But one cannot admit that a man can pass judgment on man.
Existentialism has waived any such judgment: the existentialist will never take man as as
finished; he is always at work. And we must not believe that there is a humanity that we
can worship in the manner of Auguste Comte. The cult of humanity leads to humanism
closed in on itself, and, it must be said, to fascism. It is a humanism which we do not

But there is another sense of humanism, which basically means this: man is constantly
outside himself; it is in projecting and losing himself that man is made, and, on the other
hand, it is pursuing transcendent aims that he can exist; man is transcendent and does not
know objects except as compared to that transcendence. This is the heart, the center of the
transendence. There is no universe other than the human universe, the universe of human
subjectivity. This binding to transcendence as constitutive of man—not in the sense that
God is transcendent, but in the sense of self-transcendence—and subjectivity in the sense
that man is not confined to himself but is always present in a human world, this is what
we call existential humanism. Humanism, because we remind man that there is no other
legislator but himself, and that it is in neglect that he will decide for himself, and because
we show that it is not in turning to himself, but in always looking out of himself that a
release (a goal that is liberation, as particular realization) that man will realize what is

We see from these few reflections that nothing is more unjust than the objections made of
use. Existentialism is nothing other than an effort to draw all the consequences of a

coherent atheistic position. It does not try at all to plunge man into despair. But if you
mean despair as Christians do, despair and every attitude of disbelief, depart from the
original despair.

Existentialism is not so much an atheism in the sense that it would run out to prove that
God does not exist. It says instead: even if God existed, it would not change anything.
That’s our point of view. Not that we believe that God exists; but we think the problem is
not one of his existence. Man must find himself and persuade himself that nothing can
save him, not even a proof of the existence of God. In this sense existentialism is
optimistic, a doctrine of action, and it is only by bad faith, confusing their own despair
with ours, that Christians can call us desperate.


The myth of Sisyphus, and other essays / Albert Camus; translated

from the French by Justin O’Brien

FOR ME “The Myth of Sisyphus” marks the beginning
of an idea which I was to pursue in The Rebel. It at-
tempts to resolve the problem of suicide, as The Rebel
attempts to resolve that of murder, in both cases without
the aid of eternal values which, temporarily perhaps, are
absent or distorted in contemporary Europe. The funda-
mental subject of “The Myth of Sisyphus” is this: it is
legitimate and necessary to wonder whether life has a
meaning; therefore it is legitimate to meet the problem
of suicide face to face. The answer, underlying and ap-
pearing through the paradoxes which cover it, is this:
even if one does not believe in God, suicide is not legiti-
mate. Written fifteen years ago, in 1940, amid the
French and European disaster, this book declares that
even within the limits of nihilism it is possible to find
the means to proceed beyond nihilism. In all the books
I have written since, I have attempted to pursue this di-
rection. Although “The Myth of Sisyphus” poses mortal
problems, it sums itself up for me as a lucid invitation to
live and to create, in the very midst of the desert.

It has hence been thought possible to append to this
philosophical argument a series of essays, of a kind 1
have never ceased writing, which are somewhat marginal
to my other books. In a more lyrical form, they all il-
lustrate that essential fluctuation from assent to refusal

which, in my view, defines the artist and his difficult
calling. The unity of this hook, that I should like to he
apparent to American readers as it is to me, resides in
the reflection, alternately cold and impassioned, in
which an artist may indulge as to his reasons for living
and for creating. After fifteen years I have progressed
beyond several of the positions which are set down here;
hut I have remained faithful, it seems to me, to the
exigency which prompted them. That is why this hook
is in a certain sense the most personal of those I have
published in America. More than the others, therefore,
it has need of the indulgence and understanding of
its readers.



O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, lout exhaust
the limits of the possible.

—Pindar, Pythian iii

THE PAGES that follow deal with an absurd sensitivity
that can be found widespread in the age—and not with
an absurd philosophy which our time, properly speak-
ing, has not known. It is therefore simply fair to point
out, at the outset, what these pages owe to certain con-
temporary thinkers. It is so far from my intention to
hide this that they Will be found cited and commented
upon throughout this work.

But it is useful to note at the same time that the
absurd, hitherto taken as a conclusion, is considered in
this essay as a starting-point. In this sense it may be said
that there is something provisional in my commentary:
one cannot prejudge the position it entails. There will
be found here merely the description, in the pure state,
of an intellectual malady. No metaphysic, no belief is
involved in it for the moment. These are the limits and
the only bias of this book. Certain personal experiences
urge me to make this clear.


Absurdity and Suicide

HERE 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 of philosophy. All the rest— whether or not
the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has
nine or twelve categories—comes afterwards. These are
games; one must first answer. And if it is true, as
Nietzsche claims, that a philosopher, to deserve our
respect, must preach by example, you can appreciate the
importance of that reply, for it will precede the
definitive act. These are facts the heart can feel; yet
they call for careful study before they become clear to
the intellect.

If I ask myself how to judge that this question is more
urgent than that, I reply that one judges by the actions
it entails. I have never seen anyone die for the ontologi-
cal argument. Galileo, who held a scientific truth of
great importance, abjured it with the greatest ease as
soon as it endangered his life. In a certain sense, he did
right.1 That truth was not worth the stake. Whether the
earth or the sun revolves around the other is a matter of
1 From the point of view of the relative value of truth. On the
other hand, from the point of view of virile behavior, this
scholar’s fragility may well make us smile.



profound indifference. To tell the truth, it is a futile
question. On the other hand, I see many people die be-
cause they judge that life is not worth living. I see others
paradoxically getting killed for the ideas or illusions that
give them a reason for living (what is called a reason for
living is also an excellent reason for dying). I therefore
conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of
questions. How to answer it? On all essential problems
(I mean thereby those that run the risk of leading to
death or those that intensify the passion of living) there
are probably but two methods of thought: the method
of La Palisse and the method of Don Quixote. Solely
the balance between evidence and lyricism can allow us
to achieve simultaneously emotion and lucidity. In a
subject at once so humble and so heavy with emotion,
the learned and classical dialectic must yield, one can
see, to a more modest attitude of mind deriving at one
and the same time from common sense and understand-

Suicide has never been dealt with except as a social
phenomenon. On the contrary, we are concerned here,
at the outset, with the relationship between individual
thought and suicide. An act like this is prepared within
the silence of the heart, as is a great work of art. The
man himself is ignorant of it. One evening he pulls the
trigger or jumps. Of an apartment-building manager
who had killed himself I was told that he had lost his
daughter five years before, that he had changed greatly
since, and that that experience had “undermined” him.
A more exact word cannot be imagined. Beginning to
think is beginning to be undermined. Society has but

little connection with such beginnings. The worm is in
man’s heart. That is where it must be sought. One must
follow and understand this fatal game that leads from
lucidity in the face of existence to flight from light.

There are many causes for a suicide, and generally the
most obvious ones were not the most powerful. Rarely
is suicide committed (yet the hypothesis is not excluded)
through reflection. What sets off the crisis is almost al-
ways unverifiable. Newspapers often speak of “personal
sorrows” or of “incurable illness.” These explanations
are plausible. But one would have to know whether a
friend of the desperate man had not that very day ad-
dressed him indifferently. He is the guilty one. For that
is enough to precipitate all the rancors and all the bore-
dom still in suspension.2

But if it is hard to fix the precise instant, the subtle
step when the mind opted for death, it is easier to de-
duce from the act itself the consequences it implies. In
a sense, and as in melodrama, killing yourself amounts

to confessing. It is confessing that life is too much for
you or that you do not understand it. Let’s not go too
far in such analogies, however, but rather return to
everyday words. It is merely confessing that that “is not
worth the trouble.” Living, naturally, is never easy. You
continue making the gestures commanded by
existence, for many reasons, the first of which is habit.
Dying voluntarily implies that you have recognized,
even instinc-

2 Let us not miss this opportunity to point out the relative char-
acter of this essay. Suicide may indeed be related to much more
honorable considerations—for example, the political suicides of
protest, as they were called, during the Chinese revolution.

tively, the ridiculous character of that habit, the absence
of any profound reason for living, the insane character
of that daily agitation, and the uselessness of suffering.
What, then, is that incalculable feeling that deprives
the mind of the sleep necessary to life? A world that can
be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world.
But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested
of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His
exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the mem-
ory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This
divorce between man and his life, the actor and his set-
ting, is properly the feeling of absurdity. All healthy
men having thought of their own suicide, it can be
seen, without further explanation, that there is a direct
connection between this feeling and the longing
for death.

The subject of this essay is precisely this relationship
between the absurd and suicide, the exact degree to
which suicide is a solution to the absurd. The principle
can be established that for a man who does not cheat,
what he believes to be true must determine his action.
Belief in the absurdity of existence must then dictate his
conduct. It is legitimate to wonder, clearly and without
false pathos, whether a conclusion of this importance
requires forsaking as rapidly as possible an incompre-
hensible condition. I am speaking, of course, of men in-
clined to be in harmony with themselves.

Stated clearly, this problem may seem both simple
and insoluble. But it is wrongly assumed that simple
questions involve answers that are no less simple and
that evidence implies evidence. A priori and reversing

the terms of the problem, just as one does or does not
kill oneself, it seems that there are but two philosophi-
cal solutions, either yes or no. This would be too easy.
But allowance must be made for those who, without
concluding, continue questioning. Here I am only
slightly indulging in irony: this is the majority. I notice
also that those who answer “no” act as if they thought
“yes.” As a matter of fact, if I accept the Nietzschean
criterion, they think “yes” in one way or another. On
the other hand, it often happens that those who commit
suicide were assured of the meaning of life. These con-
tradictions are constant. It may even be said that they
have never been so keen as on this point where, on the
contrary, logic seems so desirable. It is a commonplace
to compare philosophical theories and the behavior of
those who profess them. But it must be said that of the
thinkers who refused a meaning to life none except
Kirilov who belongs to literature, Peregrinos who is
torn of legend,3 and Jules Lequier who belongs to hy-
pothesis, admitted his logic to the point of refusing that
life. Schopenhauer is often cited, as a fit subject for
laughter, because he praised suicide while seated at a
well-set table. This is no subject for joking. That way
of not taking the tragic seriously is not so grievous, but
it helps to judge a man.

In the face of such contradictions and obscurities
must we conclude that there is no relationship between

31 have heard of an emulator of Peregrinos, a post-war writer
who, after having finished his first book, committed suicide to
attract attention to his work. Attention was in fact attracted,
but the book was judged no good.

the opinion one has about life and the act one commits
to leave it? Let us not exaggerate in this direction. In a
man’s attachment to life there is something stronger than
all the ills in the world. The body’s judgment is as good
as the mind’s, and the body shrinks from annihilation.
We get into the habit of living before acquiring the
habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us
toward death, the body maintains its irreparable lead.
In short, the essence of that contradiction lies in what I
shall call the act of eluding because it is both less and
more than diversion in the Pascalian sense. Eluding is
the invariable game. The typical act of eluding, the fatal
evasion that constitutes the third theme of this essay, is
hope. Hope of another life one must “deserve” or trick-
ery of those who live not for life itself but for some great
idea that will transcend it, refine it, give it a meaning,
and betray it.

Thus everything contributes to spreading confusion.
Hitherto, and it has not been wasted effort, people have
played on words and pretended to believe that refusing
to grant a meaning to life necessarily leads to declaring
that it is not worth living. In truth, there is no necessary
common measure between these two judgments. One
merely has to refuse to be misled by the confusions, di-
vorces, and inconsistencies previously pointed out. One
must brush everything aside and go straight to the real
problem. One kills oneself because life is not worth liv-
ing, that is certainly a truth—yet an unfruitful one be-
cause it is a truism. But does that insult to existence, that
flat denial in which it is plunged come from the fact
that it has no meaning? Does its absurdity require one to

escape it through hope or suicide—this is what must be
clarified, hunted down, and elucidated while brushing
aside all the rest. Does the Absurd dictate death? This
problem must be given priority over others, outside all
methods of thought and all exercises of the disinterested
mind. Shades of meaning, contradictions, the psychol-
ogy that an “objective” mind can always introduce into
all problems have no place in this pursuit and this pas-
sion. It calls simply for an unjust—in other words, logi-
cal—thought. That is not easy. It is always easy to be
logical. It is almost impossible to be logical to the bitter
end. Men who die by their own hand consequently fol-
low to its conclusion their emotional inclination. Re-
flection on suicide gives me an opportunity to raise the
only problem to interest me: is there a logic to the point
of death? I cannot know unless I pursue, without reck-
less passion, in the sole light of evidence, the reasoning
of which I am here suggesting the source. This is what I
call an absurd reasoning. Many have begun it. I do not
yet know whether or not they kept to it.

When Karl Jaspers, revealing the impossibility of
constituting the world as a unity, exclaims: “This limi-
tation leads me to myself, where I can no longer with-
draw behind an objective point of view that I am merely
representing, where neither I myself nor the existence
of others can any longer become an object for me,” he is
evoking after many others those waterless deserts where
thought reaches its confines. After many others, yes in-
deed, but how eager they were to get out of them! At
that last crossroad where thought hesitates, many men
have arrived and even some of the humblest. They then

abdicated what was most precious to them, their life.
Others, princes of the mind, abdicated likewise, but
they initiated the suicide of their thought in its purest
revolt. The real effort is to stay there, rather, in so far as
that is possible, and to examine closely the odd vegeta-
tion of those distant regions. Tenacity and acumen are
privileged spectators of this inhuman show in which
absurdity, hope, and death carry on their dialogue. The
mind can then analyze the figures of that elementary yet
subtle dance before illustrating them and reliving them

Absurd Walls

Like great works, deep feelings always mean more
than they are conscious of saying. The regularity of an
impulse or a repulsion in a soul is encountered again in
habits of doing or thinking, is reproduced in conse-
quences of which the soul itself knows nothing. Great
feelings take with them their own universe, splendid or
abject. They light up with their passion an exclusive
world in which they recognize their climate. There is a
universe of jealousy, of ambition, of selfishness, or of
generosity. A universe—in other words, a metaphysic
and an attitude of mind. What is true of already spe-
cialized feelings will be even more so of emotions basi-
cally as indeterminate, simultaneously as vague and as
“definite,” as remote and as “present” as those furnished us
by beauty or aroused by absurdity. At any streetcorner the
feeling of absurdity can strike

any man in the face. As it is, in its distressing nudity, in
its light without effulgence, it is elusive. But that very
difficulty deserves reflection. It is probably true that a
man remains forever unknown to us and that there is in
him something irreducible that escapes us. But practi-
cally I know men and recognize them by their behavior,
by the totality of their deeds, by the consequences caused
in life by their presence. Likewise, all those irrational
feelings which offer no purchase to analysis. I can de-
fine them practically, appreciate them practically, by
gathering together the sum of their consequences in the
domain of the intelligence, by seizing and noting all
their aspects, by outlining their universe. It is certain
that apparently, though I have seen the same actor a
hundred times, I shall not for that reason know him any
better personally. Yet if I add up the heroes he has per-
sonified and if I say that I know him a little better at the
hundredth character counted off, this will be felt to
contain an element of truth. For this apparent paradox
is also an apologue. There is a moral to it. It teaches
that a man defines himself by his make-believe as well
as by his sincere impulses. There is thus a lower key of
feelings, inaccessible in the heart but partially disclosed
by the acts they imply and the attitudes of mind they as-
sume. It is clear that in this way I am defining a method.
But it is also evident that that method is one of analysis
and not of knowledge. For methods imply metaphysics;
unconsciously they disclose conclusions that they often
claim not to know yet. Similarly, the last pages of a book
are already contained in the first pages. Such a link is

inevitable. The method defined here acknowledges the
feeling that all true knowledge is impossible. Solely ap-
pearances can be enumerated and the climate make
itself felt.

Perhaps we shall be able to overtake that elusive feel-
ing of absurdity in the different but closely related
worlds of intelligence, of the art of living, or of art itself.
The climate of absurdity is in the beginning. The end
is the absurd universe and that attitude of mind which
lights the world with its true colors to bring out the
privileged and implacable visage which that attitude has
discerned in it.

* * *

All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridicu-
lous beginning. Great works are often born on a street-
corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door. So it is with
absurdity. The absurd world more than others derives
its nobility from that abject birth. In certain situations,
replying “nothing” when asked what one is thinking
about may be pretense in a man. Those who are loved
are well aware of this. But if that reply is sincere, if it
symbolizes that odd state of soul in which the void be-
comes eloquent, in which the chain of daily gestures is
broken, in which the heart vainly seeks the link that will
connect it again, then it is as it were the first sign of

It happens that the stage sets collapse. Rising, street-
car, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, street-
car, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tues-
day Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday accord-

ing to the same rhythm—this path is easily followed
most of the time. But one day the “why” arises and
everything begins in that weariness tinged with amaze-
ment. “Begins”—this is important. Weariness comes at
the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same
time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness. It
awakens consciousness and provokes what follows. What
follows is the gradual return into the chain or it is the
definitive awakening. At the end of the awakening
comes, in time, the consequence: suicide or recovery.
In itself weariness has something sickening about it.
Here, I must conclude that it is good. For everything be-
gins with consciousness and nothing is worth anything
except through it. There is nothing original about these
remarks. But they are obvious; that is enough for a
while, during a sketchy reconnaissance in the origins of
the absurd. Mere “anxiety,” as Heidegger says, is at the
source of everything.

Likewise and during every day of an unillustrious life,
time carries us. But a moment always comes when ~r we
have to carry it. We live on the future: “tomorrow,” “later
on,” “when you have made your way,” “you will
understand when you are old enough.” Such irrelevan-
cies are wonderful, for, after all, it’s a matter of dying. Yet
a day comes when a man notices or says that he is thirty.
Thus he asserts his youth. But simultaneously he situates
himself in relation to time. He takes his place in it. He
admits that he stands at a certain point on a curve that he
acknowledges having to travel to its end. He belongs to
time, and by the horror that seizes him,

he recognizes his worst enemy. Tomorrow, he was long-
ing for tomorrow, whereas everything in him ought to
reject it. That revolt of the flesh is the absurd.4

A step lower and strangeness creeps in: perceiving
that the world is “dense,” sensing to what a degree a
stone is foreign and irreducible to us, with what in-
tensity nature or a landscape can negate us. At the heart
of all beauty lies something inhuman, and these hills,
the softness of the sky, the outline of these trees at this
very minute lose the illusory meaning with which we
had clothed them, henceforth more remote than a lost
paradise. The primitive hostility of the world rises up
to face us across millennia. For a second we cease to
understand it because for centuries we have understood
in it solely the images and designs that we had at-
tributed to it beforehand, because henceforth we lack
the power to make use of that artifice. The world evades
us because it becomes itself again. That stage scenery
masked by habit becomes again what it is. It withdraws
at a distance from us. Just as there are days when under
the familiar face of a woman, we see as a stranger her
we had loved months or years ago, perhaps we shall
come even to desire what suddenly leaves us so alone.
But the time has not yet come. Just one thing: that
denseness and that strangeness of the world is the ab-

Men, too, secrete the inhuman. At certain moments

4 But not in the proper sense. This is not a definition, but rather
an enumeration of the feelings that may admit of the absurd.
Still, the enumeration finished, the absurd has nevertheless not
been exhausted.

of lucidity, the mechanical aspect of their gestures, their
meaningless pantomime makes silly everything that sur-
rounds them. A man is talking on the telephone behind
a glass partition; you cannot hear him, but you see his
incomprehensible dumb show: you wonder why he is
alive. This discomfort in the face of man’s own inhu-
manity, this incalculable tumble before the image of
what we are, this “nausea,” as a writer of today calls it,
is also the absurd. Likewise the stranger who at certain
seconds comes to meet us in a mirror, the familiar and
yet alarming brother we encounter in our own photo-
graphs is also the absurd.

I come at last to death and to the attitude we have to-
ward it. On this point everything has been said and it is
only proper to avoid pathos. Yet one will never be suf-
ficiently surprised that everyone lives as if no one
“knew.” This is because in reality there is no experience
of death. Properly speaking, nothing has been experi-
enced but what has been lived and made conscious.
Here, it is barely possible to speak of the experience of
others’ deaths. It is a substitute, an illusion, and it never
quite convinces us. That melancholy convention cannot
be persuasive. The horror comes in reality from the
mathematical aspect of the event. If time frightens us,
this is because it works out the problem and the solu-
tion comes afterward. All the pretty speeches about the
soul will have their contrary convincingly proved, at
least for a time. From this inert body on which a slap
makes no mark the soul has disappeared. This ele-
mentary and definitive aspect of the adventure consti-
tutes the absurd feeling. Under the fatal lighting of that

destiny, its uselessness becomes evident. No code of
ethics and no effort are justifiable a priori in the face of
the cruel mathematics that command our condition.

Let me repeat: all this has been said over and over. I
am limiting myself here to making a rapid classification
and to pointing out these obvious themes. They run
through all literatures and all philosophies. Everyday
conversation feeds on them. There is no question of re-
inventing them. But it is essential to be sure of these
facts in order to be able to question oneself subsequently
on the primordial question. I am interested—let me re-
peat again—not so much in absurd discoveries as in their
consequences. If one is assured of these facts, what is
one to conclude, how far is one to go to elude nothing?
Is one to die voluntarily or to hope in spite of every-
thing? Beforehand, it is necessary to take the same rapid
inventory on the plane of the intelligence.

* *

The mind’s first step is to distinguish what is true
from .what is false. However, as soon as thought reflects
on itself, what it first discovers is a contradiction. Useless
to strive to be convincing in this case. Over the cen-
turies no one has furnished a clearer and more elegant
demonstration of the business than Aristotle: “The often
ridiculed consequence of these opinions is that they de-
stroy themselves. For by asserting that all is true we as-
sert the truth of the contrary assertion and consequently
the falsity of our own thesis (for the contrary assertion
does not admit that it can be true). And if one says that
all is false, that assertion is itself false. If we declare that
solely the assertion opposed to ours is false or else that

solely ours is not false, we are nevertheless forced to ad-
mit an infinite number of true or false judgments. For
the one who expresses a true assertion proclaims simul-
taneously that it is true, and so on ad infinitum,”

This vicious circle is but the first of a series in which
the mind that studies itself gets lost in a giddy whirling.
The very simplicity of these paradoxes makes them ir-
reducible. Whatever may be the plays on words and the
acrobatics of logic, to understand is, above all, to unify.
The mind’s deepest desire, even in its most elaborate op-
erations, parallels man’s unconscious feeling in the face
of his universe: it is an insistence upon familiarity, an
appetite for clarity. Understanding the world for a man
is reducing it to the human, stamping it with his seal.
The cat’s universe is not the universe of the anthill. The
truism “All thought is anthropomorphic” has no other
meaning. Likewise, the mind that aims to understand
reality can consider itself satisfied only by reducing it to
terms of thought. If man realized that the universe like
him can love and suffer, he would be reconciled. If
thought discovered in the shimmering mirrors of phe-
nomena eternal relations capable of summing them up
and summing themselves up in a single principle, then
would be seen an intellectual joy of which the myth of
the blessed would be but a ridiculous imitation. That
nostalgia for unity, that appetite for the absolute il-
lustrates the essential impulse of the human drama. But
the fact of that nostalgia’s existence does not imply that
it is to be immediately satisfied. For if, bridging the gulf
that separates desire from conquest, we assert with
Parmenides the reality of the One (whatever it may be),

we fall into the ridiculous contradiction of a mind that
asserts total unity and proves by its very assertion its own
difference and the diversity it claimed to resolve. This
other vicious circle is enough to stifle our hopes.
These are again truisms. I shall again repeat that they

are not interesting in themselves but in the conse-
quences that can be deduced from them. I know an-
other truism: it tells me that man is mortal. One can
nevertheless count the minds that have deduced the ex-
treme conclusions from it. It is essential to consider as a
constant point of reference in this essay the regular
hiatus between what we fancy we know and what we
really know, practical assent and simulated ignorance
which allows us to live with ideas which, if we truly put
them to the test, ought to upset our whole life. Faced
with this inextricable contradiction of the mind, we shall
fully grasp the divorce separating us from our own cre-
ations. So long as the mind keeps silent in the motionless
world of its hopes, everything is reflected and arranged
in the unity of its nostalgia. But with its first move this
world cracks and tumbles: an infinite number of shim-
mering fragments is offered to the understanding. We
must despair of ever reconstructing the familiar, calm
surface which would give us peace of heart. After so
many centuries of inquiries, so many abdications among
thinkers, we are well aware that this is true for all our
knowledge. With the exception of professional rational-
ists, today people despair of true knowledge. If the only
significant history of human thought were to be written, it
would have to be the history of its successive regrets and
its impotences.

Of whom and of what indeed can I say: “I
that!” This heart within me I can feel, and I judge that
it exists. This world I can touch, and I likewise judge
that it exists. There ends all my knowledge, and the rest
is construction. For if I try to seize this self of which I
feel sure, if I try to define and to summarize it, it is
nothing but water slipping through my fingers. I can
sketch one by one all the aspects it is able to assume, all
those likewise that have been attributed to it, this up
bringing, this origin, this ardor or these silences, this
nobility or this vileness. But aspects cannot be added up.
This very heart which is mine will forever remain in
definable to me. Between the certainty I have of my
existence and the content I try to give to that assurance,
the gap will never be filled. Forever I shall be a stranger
to myself. In psychology as in logic, there are truths but
no truth. Socrates’ “Know thyself” has as much value as
the “Be virtuous” of our confessionals. They reveal a
nostalgia at the same time as an ignorance. They are
sterile exercises on great subjects. They are legitimate
only in precisely so far as they are approximate.

And here are trees and I know their gnarled surface,
water and I feel its taste. These scents of grass and stars at
night, certain evenings when the heart relaxes — how shall
I negate this world whose power and strength I feel? Yet
all the knowledge on earth will give me nothing to assure
me that this world is mine. You describe it to me and you
teach me to classify it. You enumerate its laws and in my
thirst for knowledge I admit that they are true. You take
apart its mechanism and my hope increases. At the final
stage you teach me that this won-

drous and multicolored universe can be reduced to the
atom and that the atom itself can be reduced to the elec-
tron. All this is good and I wait for you to continue. But
you tell me of an invisible planetary system in which
electrons gravitate around a nucleus. You explain this
world to me with an image. I realize then that you have
been reduced to poetry: I shall never know. Have I the
time to become indignant? You have already changed
theories. So that science that was to teach me everything
ends up in a hypothesis, that lucidity founders in meta-
phor, that uncertainty is resolved in a work of art. What
need had I of so many efforts? The soft lines of these
hills and the hand of evening on this troubled heart
teach me much more. I have returned to my beginning. I
realize that if through science I can seize phenomena
and enumerate them, I cannot, for all that, apprehend
the world. Were I to trace its entire relief with my
finger, I should not know any more. And you give me
the choice between a description that is sure but that
teaches me nothing and hypotheses that claim to teach
me but that are not sure. A stranger to myself and to the
world, armed solely with a thought that negates itself
as soon as it asserts, what is this condition in which I
can have peace only by refusing to know and to live, in
which the appetite for conquest bumps into walls that
defy its assaults? To will is to stir up paradoxes. Every-
thing is ordered in such a way as to bring into being
that poisoned peace produced by thoughtlessness, lack
of heart, or fatal renunciations.

Hence the intelligence, too, tells me in its way that
this world is absurd. Its contrary, blind reason, may well

claim that all is clear; I was waiting for proof and long-
ing for it to be right. But despite so many pretentious
centuries and over the heads of so many eloquent and
persuasive men, I know that is false. On this plane, at
least, there is no happiness if I cannot know. That uni-
versal reason, practical or ethical, that determinism,
those categories that explain everything are enough to
make a decent man laugh. They have nothing to do
with the mind. They negate its profound truth, which
is to be enchained. In this unintelligible and limited
universe, man’s fate henceforth assumes its meaning. A
horde of irrationals has sprung up and surrounds him
until his ultimate end. In his recovered and now studied
lucidity, the feeling of the absurd becomes clear and
definite. I said that the world is absurd, but I was too
hasty. This world in itself is not reasonable, that is all
that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation
of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose
call echoes in the human heart. The absurd depends as
much on man as on the world. For the moment it is all
that links them together. It binds them one to the other
as only hatred can weld two creatures together. This is
all I can discern clearly in this measureless universe
where my adventure takes place. Let us pause here. If I
hold to be true that absurdity that determines my rela-
tionship with life, if I become thoroughly imbued with
that sentiment that seizes me in face of the world’s
scenes, with that lucidity imposed on me by the pursuit
of a science, I must sacrifice everything to these cer-
tainties and I must see them squarely to be able to main-
tain them. Above all, I must adapt my behavior to them

and pursue them in all their consequences. I am speak-
ing here of decency. But I want to know beforehand if
thought can live in those deserts.

* * *
I already know that thought has at least entered those

deserts. There it found its bread. There it realized that
it had previously been feeding on phantoms. It justified
some of the most urgent themes of human reflection.
From the moment absurdity is recognized, it becomes a

passion, the most harrowing of all. But whether or not one
can live with one’s passions, whether or not one can accept
their law, which is to burn the heart they simultaneously
exalt—that is the whole question. It is not, however, the
one we shall ask just yet. It stands at the center of this
experience. There will be time to come back to it. Let
us recognize rather those themes and those impulses
born of the desert. It will suffice to enumerate them. They,
too, are known to all today. There have always been men
to defend the rights of the irrational. The tradition of
what may be called humiliated thought has never ceased
to exist. The criticism of rationalism has been made so
often that it seems unnecessary to begin again. Yet our
epoch is marked by the rebirth of those paradoxical
systems that strive to trip up the reason as if truly it had
always forged ahead. But that is not so much a proof of
the efficacy of the reason as of the intensity of its hopes.
On the plane of history, such a constancy of two attitudes
illustrates the essential passion of man torn between his
urge toward unity and the clear vision he may have of the
walls enclosing him. But never perhaps at any time has the
attack on rea-

son been more violent than in ours. Since Zarathustra’s
great outburst: “By chance it is the oldest nobility in
the world. I conferred it upon all things when I pro-
claimed that above them no eternal will was exercised,”
since Kierkegaard’s fatal illness, “that malady that leads
to death with nothing else following it,” the significant
and tormenting themes of absurd thought have followed
one another. Or at least, and this proviso is of capital im-
portance, the themes of irrational and religious thought.
From Jaspers to Heidegger, from Kierkegaard to Che-
stov, from the phenomenologists to Scheler, on the logi-
cal plane and on the moral plane, a whole family of
minds related by their nostalgia but opposed by their
methods or their aims, have persisted in blocking the
royal road of reason and in recovering the direct paths
of truth. Here I assume these thoughts to be known and
lived. Whatever may be or have been their ambitions,
all started out from that indescribable universe where
contradiction, antinomy, anguish, or impotence reigns.
And what they have in common is precisely the themes
so far disclosed. For them, too, it must be said that what
matters above all is the conclusions they have managed
to draw from those discoveries. That matters so much
that they must be examined separately. But for the mo-
ment we are concerned solely with their discoveries and
their initial experiments. We are concerned solely with
noting their agreement. If it would be presumptuous to
try to deal with their philosophies, it is possible and suf-
ficient in any case to bring out the climate that is com-
mon to them.

Heidegger considers the human condition coldly and

announces that that existence is humiliated. The only
reality is “anxiety” in the whole chain of beings. To the
man lost in the world and its diversions this anxiety is a
brief, fleeting fear. But if that fear becomes conscious of
itself, it becomes anguish, the perpetual climate of the
lucid man “in whom existence is concentrated.” This
professor of philosophy writes without trembling and in
the most abstract language in the world that “the finite
and limited character of human existence is more pri-
mordial than man himself.” His interest in Kant extends
only to recognizing the restricted character of his “pure
Reason.” This is to conclude at the end of his analyses
that “the world can no longer offer anything to the man
filled with anguish.” This anxiety seems to him so much
more important than all the categories in the world that
he thinks and talks only of it. He enumerates its aspects:
boredom when the ordinary man strives to quash it in
him and benumb it; terror when the mind contemplates
death. He too does not separate consciousness from the
absurd. The consciousness of death is the call of anxiety
and “existence then delivers itself its own summons
through the intermediary of consciousness.” It is the
very voice of anguish and it adjures existence “to return
from its loss in the anonymous They.” For him, too, one
must not sleep, but must keep alert until the consum-
mation. He stands in this absurd world and points out
its ephemeral character. He seeks his way amid these

Jaspers despairs of any ontology because he claims
that we have lost “naïveté.” He knows that we can
achieve nothing that will transcend the fatal game of

appearances. He knows that the end of the mind is
failure. He tarries over the spiritual adventures revealed
by history and pitilessly discloses the flaw in each sys-
tem, the illusion that saved everything, the preaching
that hid nothing. In this ravaged world in which the im-
possibility of knowledge is established, in which ever-
lasting nothingness seems the only reality and irremedi-
able despair seems the only attitude, he tries to recover
the Ariadne’s thread that leads to divine secrets.

Chestov, for his part, throughout a wonderfully mo-
notonous work, constantly straining toward the same
truths, tirelessly demonstrates that the tightest system,
the most universal rationalism always stumbles eventu-
ally on the irrational of human thought. None of the
ironic facts or ridiculous contradictions that depreciate
the reason escapes him. One thing only interests him,
and that is the exception, whether in the domain of the
heart or of the mind. Through the Dostoevskian experi-
ences of the condemned man, the exacerbated adven-
tures of the Nietzschean mind, Hamlet’s imprecations,
or the bitter aristocracy of an Ibsen, he tracks down, il-
luminates, and magnifies the human revolt against the
irremediable. He refuses the reason its reasons and be-
gins to advance with some decision only in the middle
of that colorless desert where all certainties have become

Of all perhaps the most engaging, Kierkegaard, for a
part of his existence at least, does more than discover the
absurd, he lives it. The man who writes: “The surest of
stubborn silences is not to hold one’s tongue but to talk”
makes sure in the beginning that no truth is absolute or

can render satisfactory an existence that is impossible in
itself. Don Juan of the understanding, he multiplies
pseudonyms and contradictions, writes his Discourses
of Edification at the same time as that manual of cynical
spiritualism, The Diary of the Seducer. He refuses con-
solations, ethics, reliable principles. As for that thorn he
feels in his heart, he is careful not to quiet its pain. On
the contrary, he awakens it and, in the desperate joy of
a man crucified and happy to be so, he builds up piece
by piece—lucidity, refusal, make-believe—a category of
the man possessed. That face both tender and sneering,
those pirouettes followed by a cry from the heart are the
absurd spirit itself grappling with a reality beyond its
comprehension. And the spiritual adventure that leads
Kierkegaard to his beloved scandals begins likewise in
the chaos of an experience divested of its setting and
relegated to its original incoherence.

On quite a different plane, that of method, Husserl
and the phenomenologists, by their very extravagances,
reinstate the world in its diversity and deny the tran-
scendent power of the reason. The spiritual universe be-
comes incalculably enriched through them. The rose
petal, the milestone, or the human hand are as im-
portant as love, desire, or the laws of gravity. Thinking
ceases to be unifying or making a semblance familiar in
the guise of a major principle. Thinking is learning all
over again to see, to be attentive, to focus consciousness;
it is turning every idea and every image, in the manner
of Proust, into a privileged moment. What justifies
thought is its extreme consciousness. Though more posi-
tive than Kierkegaard’s or Chestov’s, Husserl’s manner

of proceeding, in the beginning, nevertheless negates
the classic method of the reason, disappoints hope, opens
to intuition and to the heart a whole proliferation of
phenomena, the wealth of which has about it something
inhuman. These paths lead to all sciences or to none.
This amounts to saying that in this case the means are
more important than the end. All that is involved is “an
attitude for understanding” and not a consolation. Let
me repeat: in the beginning, at very least.

How can one fail to feel the basic relationship of
these minds! How can one fail to see that they take their
stand around a privileged and bitter moment in which
hope has no further place? I want everything to be ex-
plained to me or nothing. And the reason is impotent
when it hears this cry from the heart. The mind aroused
by this insistence seeks and finds nothing but contradic-
tions and nonsense. What I fail to understand is non-
sense. The world is peopled with such irrationals. The
world itself, whose single meaning I do not understand,
is but a vast irrational. If one could only say just once:
“This is clear,” all would be saved. But these men vie
with one another in proclaiming that nothing is clear,
all is chaos, that all man has is his lucidity and his
definite knowledge of the walls surrounding him.

All these experiences agree and confirm one another.
The mind, when it reaches its limits, must make a judg-
ment and choose its conclusions. This is where suicide
and the reply stand. But I wish to reverse the order of
the inquiry and start out from the intelligent adventure
and come back to daily acts. The experiences called to
mind here were born in the desert that we must not leave

behind. At least it is essential to know how far they
went. At this point of his effort man stands face to face
with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for
happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this
confrontation between the human need and the un-
reasonable silence of the world. This must not be for-
gotten. This must be clung to because the whole conse-
quence of a life can depend on it. The irrational, the
human nostalgia, and the absurd that is born of their
encounter—these are the three characters in the drama
that must necessarily end with all the logic of which an
existence is capable.

Philosophical Suicide

The feeling of the absurd is not, for all that, the no-
tion of the absurd. It lays the foundations for it, and that
is all. It is not limited to that notion, except in the brief
moment when it passes judgment on the universe. Sub-
sequently it has a chance of going further. It is alive; in
other words, it must die or else reverberate. So it is with
the themes we have gathered together. But there again
what interests me is not works or minds, criticism of
which would call for another form and another place,
but the discovery of what their conclusions have in com-
mon. Never, perhaps, have minds been so different. And
yet we recognize as identical the spiritual landscapes in
which they get under way. Likewise, despite such dis-
similar zones of knowledge, the cry that terminates their
itinerary rings out in the same way. It is evident that the
thinkers we have just recalled have a common climate.

To say that that climate is deadly scarcely amounts to
playing on words. Living under that stifling sky forces
one to get away or to stay. The important thing is to
find out how people get away in the first case and why
people stay in the second case. This is how I define the
problem of suicide and the possible interest in the con-
clusions of existential philosophy.

But first I want to detour from the direct path. Up to
now we have managed to circumscribe the absurd from
the outside. One can, however, wonder how much is
clear in that notion and by direct analysis try to discover
its meaning on the one hand and, on the other, the con-
sequences it involves.

If I accuse an innocent man of a monstrous crime, if I
tell a virtuous man that he has coveted his own sister, he
will reply that this is absurd. His indignation has its
comical aspect. But it also has its fundamental reason.
The virtuous man illustrates by that reply the definitive
antinomy existing between the deed I am attributing to
him and his lifelong principles. “It’s absurd” means “It’s
impossible” but also “It’s contradictory.” If I see a man
armed only with a sword attack a group of machine
guns, I shall consider his act to be absurd. But it is so
solely by virtue of the disproportion between his
intention and the reality he will encounter, of the
contradiction I notice between his true strength and the
aim he has in view. Likewise we shall deem a verdict
absurd when we contrast it with the verdict the facts
apparently dictated. And, similarly, a demonstration by
the absurd is achieved by comparing the consequences
of such a reasoning with the logical reality one wants

set up. In all these cases, from the simplest to the most
complex, the magnitude of the absurdity will be in di-
rect ratio to the distance between the two terms of my
comparison. There are absurd marriages, challenges,
rancors, silences, wars, and even peace treaties. For each
of them the absurdity springs from a comparison. I am
thus justified in saying that the feeling of absurdity does
not spring from the mere scrutiny of a fact or an im-
pression, but that it bursts from the comparison between
a bare fact and a certain reality, between an action and
the world that transcends it. The absurd is essentially a
divorce. It lies in neither of the elements compared; it is
born of their confrontation.

In this particular case and on the plane of intelli-
gence, I can therefore say that the Absurd is not in man
(if such a metaphor could have a meaning) nor in the
world, but in their presence together. For the moment
it is the only bond uniting them. If I wish to limit myself
to facts, I know what man wants, I know what the
world offers him, and now I can say that I also know
what links them. I have no need to dig deeper. A single
certainty is enough for the seeker. He simply has to
derive all the consequences from it.

The immediate consequence is also a rule of method.
The odd trinity brought to light in this way is certainly
not a startling discovery. But it resembles the data of ex-
perience in that it is both infinitely simple and in-
finitely complicated. Its first distinguishing feature in
this regard is that it cannot be divided. To destroy one
of its terms is to destroy the whole. There can be no
absurd outside the human mind. Thus, like everything

else, the absurd ends with death. But there can be no
absurd outside this world either. And it is by this ele-
mentary criterion that I judge the notion of the absurd
to be essential and consider that it can stand as the first
of my truths. The rule of method alluded to above ap-
pears here. If I judge that a thing is true, I must pre-
serve it. If I attempt to solve a problem, at least I must
not by that very solution conjure away one of the terms
of the problem. For me the sole datum is the absurd.
The first and, after all, the only condition of my in-
quiry is to preserve the very thing that crushes me, con-
sequently to respect what I consider essential in it. I
have just defined it as a confrontation and an unceasing

And carrying this absurd logic to its conclusion, I
must admit that that struggle implies a total absence of
hope (which has nothing to do with despair), a con-
tinual rejection (which must not be confused with re-
nunciation), and a conscious dissatisfaction (which
must not be compared to immature unrest). Everything
that destroys, conjures away, or exorcises these require-
ments (and, to begin with, consent which overthrows
divorce) ruins the absurd and devaluates the attitude
that may then be proposed. The absurd has meaning
only in so far as it is not agreed to.

There exists an obvious fact that seems utterly moral:
namely, that a man is always a prey to his truths. Once
he has admitted them, he cannot free himself from
them. One has to pay something. A man who has be-
come conscious of the absurd is forever bound to it. A

man devoid of hope and conscious of being so has
ceased to belong to the future. That is natural. But it
is just as natural that he should strive to escape the
universe of which he is the creator. All the foregoing
has significance only on account of this paradox. Cer-
tain men, starting from a critique of rationalism, have
admitted the absurd climate. Nothing is more instruc-
tive in this regard than to scrutinize the way in which
they have elaborated their consequences.

Now, to limit myself to existential philosophies, I see
that all of them without exception suggest escape.
Through an odd reasoning, starting out from the absurd
over the ruins of reason, in a closed universe limited to
the human, they deify what crushes them and find
reason to hope in what impoverishes them. That forced
hope is religious in all of them. It deserves attention.

I shall merely analyze here as examples a few themes
dear to Chestov and Kierkegaard. But Jaspers will pro-
vide us, in caricatural form, a typical example of this
attitude. As a result the rest will be clearer. He is left
powerless to realize the transcendent, incapable of
plumbing the depth of experience, and conscious of
that universe upset by failure. Will he advance or at
least draw the conclusions from that failure? He con-
tributes nothing new. He has found nothing in expe-
rience but the confession of his own impotence and no
occasion to infer any satisfactory principle. Yet without
justification, as he says to himself, he suddenly asserts
all at once the transcendent, the essence of experience,
and the superhuman significance of life when he
writes: “Does not the failure reveal, beyond any possi-

ble explanation and interpretation, not the absence but
the existence of transcendence?” That existence which,
suddenly and through a blind act of human confidence,
explains everything, he defines as “the unthinkable
unity of the general and the particular.” Thus the
absurd becomes god (in the broadest meaning of this
word) and that inability to understand becomes the
existence that illuminates everything. Nothing logically
prepares this reasoning. I can call it a leap. And para-
doxically can be understood Jaspers’s insistence, his
infinite patience devoted to making the experience of
the transcendent impossible to realize. For the more
fleeting that approximation is, the more empty that
definition proves to be, and the more real that transcend-
ent is to him; for the passion he devotes to asserting it is
in direct proportion to the gap between his powers of ex-
planation and the irrationality of the world and of
experience. It thus appears that the more bitterly Jaspers
destroys the reason’s preconceptions, the more radically
he will explain the world. That apostle of humiliated
thought will find at the very end of humiliation the
means of regenerating being to its very depth.

Mystical thought has familiarized us with such de-
vices. They are just as legitimate as any attitude of
mind. But for the moment I am acting as if I took a cer-
tain problem seriously. Without judging beforehand
the general value of this attitude or its educative power,
I mean simply to consider whether it answers the con-
ditions I set myself, whether it is worthy of the conflict
that concerns me. Thus I return to Chestov. A com-
mentator relates a remark of his that deserves interest:

“The only true solution,” he said, “is precisely where
human judgment sees no solution. Otherwise, what
need would we have of God? We turn toward God only
to obtain the impossible. As for the possible, men suf-
fice.” If there is a Chestovian philosophy, I can say that
it is altogether summed up in this way. For when, at
the conclusion of his passionate analyses, Chestov dis-
covers the fundamental absurdity of all existence, he
does not say: “This is the absurd,” but rather: “This
is God: we must rely on him even if he does not corre-
spond to any of our rational categories.” So that confu-
sion may not be possible, the Russian philosopher even
hints that this God is perhaps full of hatred and hateful,
incomprehensible and contradictory; but the more hid-
eous is his face, the more he asserts his power. His great-
ness is his incoherence. His proof is his inhumanity.
One must spring into him and by this leap free oneself
from rational illusions. Thus, for Chestov acceptance of
the absurd is contemporaneous with the absurd itself.
Being aware of it amounts to accepting it, and the whole
logical effort of his thought is to bring it out so that at
the same time the tremendous hope it involves may
burst forth. Let me repeat that this attitude is legitimate.
But I am persisting here in considering a single problem
and all its consequences. I do not have to examine the
emotion of a thought or of an act of faith. I have a whole
lifetime to do that. I know that the rationalist finds
Chestov’s attitude annoying. But I also feel that
Chestov is right rather than the rationalist, and I merely
want to know if he remains faithful to the command-
ments of the absurd.

Now, if it is admitted that the absurd is the contrary
of hope, it is seen that existential thought for Chestov
presupposes the absurd but proves it only to dispel it.
Such subtlety of thought is a conjuror’s emotional trick.
When Chestov elsewhere sets his absurd in opposition
to current morality and reason, he calls it truth and
redemption. Hence, there is basically in that definition
of the absurd an approbation that Chestov grants it.
If it is admitted that all the power of that notion lies
in the way it runs counter to our elementary hopes, if it
is felt that to remain, the absurd requires not to be con-
sented to, then it can be clearly seen that it has lost its
true aspect, its human and relative character in order
to enter an eternity that is both incomprehensible and
satisfying. If there is an absurd, it is in man’s universe.
The moment the notion transforms itself into eternity’s
springboard, it ceases to be linked to human lucidity.
The absurd is no longer that evidence that man ascer-
tains without consenting to it. The struggle is eluded.
Man integrates the absurd and in that communion
causes to disappear its essential character, which is op-
position, laceration, and divorce. This leap is an escape.
Chestov, who is so fond of quoting Hamlet’s remark:
“The time is out of joint,” writes it down with a sort
of savage hope that seems to belong to him in particular.
For it is not in this sense that Hamlet says it or Shake-
speare writes it. The intoxication of the irrational and
the vocation of rapture turn a lucid mind away from
the absurd. To Chestov reason is useless but there is
something beyond reason. To an absurd mind reason is
useless and there is nothing beyond reason.

This leap can at least enlighten us a little more as to
the true nature of the absurd. We know that it is worth-
less except in an equilibrium, that it is, above all, in the
comparison and not in the terms of that comparison.
But it so happens that Chestov puts all the emphasis on
one of the terms and destroys the equilibrium. Our ap-
petite for understanding, our nostalgia for the absolute
are explicable only in so far, precisely, as we can under-
stand and explain many things. It is useless to negate
the reason absolutely. It has its order in which it is effi-
cacious. It is properly that of human experience.
Whence we wanted to make everything clear. If we
cannot do so, if the absurd is born on that occasion, it is
born precisely at the very meeting-point of that effica-
cious but limited reason with the ever resurgent irra-
tional. Now, when Chestov rises up against a Hegelian
proposition such as “the motion of the solar system takes
place in conformity with immutable laws and those
laws are its reason,” when he devotes all his passion to
upsetting Spinoza’s rationalism, he concludes, in effect,
in favor of the vanity of all reason. Whence, by a
natural and illegitimate reversal, to the pre-eminence
of the irrational.5 But the transition is not evident. For
here may intervene the notion of limit and the notion of
level. The laws of nature may be operative up to a
certain limit, beyond which they turn against them-
selves to give birth to the absurd. Or else, they may
justify themselves on the level of description without
for that reason being true on the level of explanation.
5 Apropos of the notion of exception particularly and against

Everything is sacrificed here to the irrational, and, the
demand for clarity being conjured away, the absurd
disappears with one of the terms of its comparison. The
absurd man, on the other hand, does not undertake such
a leveling process. He recognizes the struggle, does not
absolutely scorn reason, and admits the irrational. Thus
he again embraces in a single glance all the data of ex-
perience and he is little inclined to leap before knowing.
He knows simply that in that alert awareness there is
no further place for hope.

What is perceptible in Leo Chestov will be perhaps
even more so in Kierkegaard. To be sure, it is hard to
outline clear propositions in so elusive a writer. But,
despite apparently opposed writings, beyond the pseu-
donyms, the tricks, and the smiles, can be felt through-
out that work, as it were, the presentiment (at the same
time as the apprehension) of a truth which eventually
bursts forth in the last works: Kierkegaard likewise
takes the leap. His childhood having been so frightened
by Christianity, he ultimately returns to its harshest
aspect. For him, too, antinomy and paradox become
criteria of the religious. Thus, the very thing that led to
despair of the meaning and depth of this life now gives
it its truth and its clarity. Christianity is the scandal,
and what Kierkegaard calls for quite plainly is the third
sacrifice required by Ignatius Loyola, the one in which
God most rejoices: “The sacrifice of the intellect.”6

6 It may be thought that I am neglecting here the essential prob-
lem, that of faith. But I am not examining the philosophy of
Kierkegaard or of Chestov or, later on, of Husserl (this would
call for a different place and a different attitude of mind); I am
simply borrowing a theme from them and examining whether
its consequences can fit the already established rules. It is
merely a matter of persistence

This effect of the “leap” is odd, but must not surprise
us any longer. He makes of the absurd the criterion of
the other world, whereas it is simply a residue of the ex-
perience of this world. “In his failure,” says Kierke-
gaard, “the believer finds his triumph.”

It is not for me to wonder to what stirring preaching
this attitude is linked. I merely have to wonder if the
spectacle of the absurd and its own character justifies it.
On this point, I know that it is not so. Upon considering
again the content of the absurd, one understands better
the method that inspired Kierkegaard. Between the ir-
rational of the world and the insurgent nostalgia of the
absurd, he does not maintain the equilibrium. He does
not respect the relationship that constitutes, properly
speaking, the feeling of absurdity. Sure of being unable
to escape the irrational, he wants at least to save himself
from that desperate nostalgia that seems to him sterile
and devoid of implication. But if he may be right on this
point in his judgment, he could not be in his negation.
If he substitutes for his cry of revolt a frantic adherence,
at once he is led to blind himself to the absurd which
hitherto enlightened him and to deify the only certainty
he henceforth possesses, the irrational. The important
thing, as Abbe Galiani said to Mme d’Epinay, is not to
be cured, but to live with one’s ailments. Kierkegaard
wants to be cured. To be cured is his frenzied wish,
and it runs throughout his whole journal. The entire


effort of his intelligence is to escape the antinomy of the
human condition. An all the more desperate effort since
he intermittently perceives its vanity when he speaks of
himself, as if neither fear of God nor piety were capable
of bringing him to peace. Thus it is that, through a
strained subterfuge, he gives the irrational the appear-
ance and God the attributes of the absurd: unjust, in-
coherent, and incomprehensible. Intelligence alone in
him strives to stifle the underlying demands of the
human heart. Since nothing is proved, everything can
be proved.

Indeed, Kierkegaard himself shows us the path taken.
I do not want to suggest anything here, but how can
one fail to read in his works the signs of an almost
intentional mutilation of the soul to balance the mutila-
tion accepted in regard to the absurd? It is the leitmotiv
of the Journal. “What I lacked was the animal which
also belongs to human destiny. . . . But give me a
body then.” And further on: “Oh! especially in my
early youth what should I not have given to be a man,
even for six months . . . what I lack, basically, is a
body and the physical conditions of existence.” Else-
where, the same man nevertheless adopts the great cry
of hope that has come down through so many centuries
and quickened so many hearts, except that of the absurd
man. “But for the Christian death is certainly not the
end of everything and it implies infinitely more hope
than life implies for us, even when that life is over-
flowing with health and vigor.” Reconciliation through
scandal is still reconciliation. It allows one perhaps, as

can be seen, to derive hope of its contrary, which is
death. But even if fellow-feeling inclines one toward
that attitude, still it must be said that excess justifies
nothing. That transcends, as the saying goes, the human
scale; therefore it must be superhuman. But this “there-
fore” is superfluous. There is no logical certainty here.
There is no experimental probability either. All I can
say is that, in fact, that transcends my scale. If I do not
draw a negation from it, at least I do not want to found
anything on the incomprehensible. I want to know
whether I can live with what I know and with that
alone. I am told again that here the intelligence must
sacrifice its pride and the reason bow down. But if I
recognize the limits of the reason, I do not therefore
negate it, recognizing its relative powers. I merely want
to remain in this middle path where the intelligence
can remain clear. If that is its pride, I see no sufficient
reason for giving it up. Nothing more profound, for
example, than Kierkegaard’s view according to which
despair is not a fact but a state: the very state of sin.
For sin is what alienates from God. The absurd, which
is the metaphysical state of the conscious man, does not
lead to God.7 Perhaps this notion will become clearer if
I risk this shocking statement: the absurd is sin without

It is a matter of living in that state of the absurd. I
know on what it is founded, this mind and this world
straining against each other without being able to em-
brace each other. I ask for the rule of life of that state,
71 did not say “excludes God,” which would still amount to as-

and what I am offered neglects its basis, negates one of
the terms of the painful opposition, demands of me a
resignation. I ask what is involved in the condition I
recognize as mine; I know it implies obscurity and
ignorance; and I am assured that this ignorance explains
everything and that this darkness is my light. But there
is no reply here to my intent, and this stirring lyricism
cannot hide the paradox from me. One must therefore
turn away. Kierkegaard may shout in warning: “If man
had no eternal consciousness, if, at the bottom of every-
thing, there were merely a wild, seething force produc-
ing everything, both large and trifling, in the storm of
dark passions, if the bottomless void that nothing can
fill underlay all things, what would life be but despair?”
This cry is not likely to stop the absurd man. Seeking
what is true is not seeking what is desirable. If in order
to elude the anxious question: “What would life be?”
one must, like the donkey, feed on the roses of illusion,
then the absurd mind, rather than resigning itself to
falsehood, prefers to adopt fearlessly Kierkegaard’s
reply: “despair.” Everything considered, a determined
soul will always manage.

I am taking the liberty at this point of calling the
existential attitude philosophical suicide. But this does
not imply a judgment. It is a convenient way of indicat-
ing the movement by which a thought negates itself and
tends to transcend itself in its very negation. For the
existentials negation is their God. To be precise, that
god is maintained only through the negation of human

reason.8 But, like suicides, gods change with men.
There are many ways of leaping, the essential being to
leap. Those redeeming negations, those ultimate con-
tradictions which negate the obstacle that has not yet
been leaped over, may spring just as well (this is the
paradox at which this reasoning aims) from a certain
religious inspiration as from the rational order. They
always lay claim to the eternal, and it is solely in this
that they take the leap.

It must be repeated that the reasoning developed in
this essay leaves out altogether the most widespread
spiritual attitude of our enlightened age: the one, based
on the principle that all is reason, which aims to explain
the world. It is natural to give a clear view of the world
after accepting the idea that it must be clear. That is
even legitimate, but does not concern the reasoning we
are following out here. In fact, our aim is to shed light
upon the step taken by the mind when, starting from
a philosophy of the world’s lack of meaning, it ends up
by finding a meaning and depth in it. The most touch-
ing of those steps is religious in essence; it becomes
obvious in the theme of the irrational. But the most
paradoxical and most significant is certainly the one that
attributes rational reasons to a world it originally
imagined as devoid of any guiding principle. It is impos-
sible in any case to reach the consequences that concern
us without having given an idea of this new attainment
of the spirit of nostalgia.
8 Let me assert again: it is not the affirmation of God that is
questioned here, but rather the logic leading to that affirma-

I shall examine merely the theme of “the Intention”
made fashionable by Husserl and the phenomenologists.
I have already alluded to it. Originally Husserl’s method
negates the classic procedure of the reason. Let me
repeat. Thinking is not unifying or making the appear-
ance familiar under the guise of a great principle.
Thinking is learning all over again how to see, directing
one’s consciousness, making of every image a privileged
place. In other words, phenomenology declines to ex-
plain the world, it wants to be merely a description of
actual experience. It confirms absurd thought in its
initial assertion that there is no truth, but merely truths.
From the evening breeze to this hand on my shoulder,
everything has its truth. Consciousness illuminates it by
paying attention to it. Consciousness does not form the
object of its understanding, it merely focuses, it is the
act of attention, and, to borrow a Bergsonian image, it
resembles the projector that suddenly focuses on an
image. The difference is that there is no scenario, but a
successive and incoherent illustration. In that magic
lantern all the pictures are privileged. Consciousness
suspends in experience the objects of its attention.
Through its miracle it isolates them. Henceforth they
are beyond all judgments. This is the “intention” that
characterizes consciousness. But the word does not im-
ply any idea of finality; it is taken in its sense of “direc-
tion”: its only value is topographical.

At first sight, it certainly seems that in this way noth-
ing contradicts the absurd spirit. That apparent modesty
of thought that limits itself to describing what it de-
clines to explain, that intentional discipline whence

result paradoxically a profound enrichment of expe-
rience and the rebirth of the world in its prolixity are
absurd procedures. At least at first sight. For methods of
thought, in this case as elsewhere, always assume two
aspects, one psychological and the other metaphysical.9

Thereby they harbor two truths. If the theme of the in-
tentional claims to illustrate merely a psychological at-
titude, by which reality is drained instead of being
explained, nothing in fact separates it from the absurd
spirit. It aims to enumerate what it cannot transcend. It
affirms solely that without any unifying principle
thought can still take delight in describing and under-
standing every aspect of experience. The truth involved
then for each of those aspects is psychological in nature.
It simply testifies to the “interest” that reality can offer.
It is a way of awaking a* sleeping world and of making it
vivid to the mind. But if one attempts to extend and
give a rational basis to that notion of truth, if one claims
to discover in this way the “essence” of each object of
knowledge, one restores its depth to experience. For an
absurd mind that is incomprehensible. Now, it is this
wavering between modesty and assurance that is no-
ticeable in the intentional attitude, and this shimmering
of phenomenological thought will illustrate the absurd
reasoning better than anything else.

For Husserl speaks likewise of “extra-temporal es-
sences” brought to light by the intention, and he sounds
like Plato. All things are not explained by one thing
9 Even the most rigorous epistemologies imply metaphysics.
And to such a degree that the metaphysic of many contempo-
rary thinkers consists in having nothing but an epistemology.

but by all things. I see no difference. To be sure, those
ideas or those essences that consciousness “effectuates”
at the end of every description are not yet to be con-
sidered perfect models. But it is asserted that they are
directly present in each datum of perception. There is
no longer a single idea explaining everything, but an
infinite number of essences giving a meaning to an
infinite number of objects. The world comes to a stop,
but also lights up. Platonic realism becomes intuitive,
but it is still realism. Kierkegaard was swallowed up in
his God; Parmenides plunged thought into the One.
But here thought hurls itself into an abstract polythe-
ism. But this is not all: hallucinations and fictions like-
wise belong to “extra-temporal essences.” In the new
world of ideas, the species of centaurs collaborates with
the more modest species of metropolitan man.

For the absurd man, there was a truth as well as a bit-
terness in that purely psychological opinion that all
aspects of the world are privileged. To say that every-
thing is privileged is tantamount to saying that every-
thing is equivalent. But the metaphysical aspect of that
truth is so far-reaching that through an elementary re-
action he feels closer perhaps to Plato. He is taught, in
fact, that every image presupposes an equally privileged
essence. In this ideal world without hierarchy, the
formal army is composed solely of generals. To be sure,
transcendency had been eliminated. But a sudden shift
in thought brings back into the world a sort of frag-
mentary immanence which restores to the universe its

Am I to fear having carried too far a theme handled

with greater circumspection by its creators? I read
merely these assertions of Husserl, apparently paradoxi-
cal yet rigorously logical if what precedes is accepted:
“That which is true is true absolutely, in itself; truth is
one, identical with itself, however different the creatures
who perceive it, men, monsters, angels or gods.” Reason
triumphs and trumpets forth with that voice, I cannot
deny. What can its assertions mean in the absurd world?
The perception of an angel or a god has no meaning
for me. That geometrical spot where divine reason rati-
fies mine will always be incomprehensible to me. There,
too, I discern a leap, and though performed in the ab-
stract, it nonetheless means for me forgetting just what
I do not want to forget. When farther on Husserl ex-
claims: “If all masses subject to attraction were to dis-
appear, the law of attraction would not be destroyed but
would simply remain without any possible application,”
I know that I am faced with a metaphysic of consola-
tion. And if I want to discover the point where thought
leaves the path of evidence, I have only to reread the
parallel reasoning that Husserl voices regarding the
mind: “If we could contemplate clearly the exact laws
of psychic processes, they would be seen to be likewise
eternal and invariable, like the basic laws of theoretical
natural science. Hence they would be valid even if there
were no psychic process.” Even if the mind were not,
its laws would be! I see then that of a psychological truth
Husserl aims to make a rational rule: after having de-
nied the integrating power of human reason, he leaps
by this expedient to eternal Reason.

Husserl’s theme of the “concrete universe” cannot

then surprise me. If I am told that all essences are not
formal but that some are material, that the first are the
object of logic and the second of science, this is merely
a question of definition. The abstract, I am told, indi-
cates but a part, without consistency in itself, of a con-
crete universal. But the wavering already noted allows
me to throw light on the confusion of these terms. For
that may mean that the concrete object of my attention,
this sky, the reflection of that water on this coat, alone
preserve the prestige of the real that my interest isolates
in the world. And I shall not deny it. But that may mean
also that this coat itself is universal, has its particular
and sufficient essence, belongs to the world of forms. I
then realize that merely the order of the procession has
been changed. This world has ceased to have its reflec-
tion in a higher universe, but the heaven of forms is
figured in the host of images of this earth. This changes
nothing for me. Rather than encountering here a taste
for the concrete, the meaning of the human condition, I
find an intellectualism sufficiently unbridled to gen-
eralize the concrete itself.

* *
It is futile to be amazed by the apparent paradox that

leads thought to its own negation by the opposite paths
of humiliated reason and triumphal reason. From the
abstract god of Husserl to the dazzling god of Kierke-
gaard the distance is not so great. Reason and the irra-
tional lead to the same preaching. In truth the way
matters but little; the will to arrive suffices. The abstract
philosopher and the religious philosopher start Out from
the same disorder and support each other in the same

anxiety. But the essential is to explain. Nostalgia is
stronger here than knowledge. It is significant that the
thought of the epoch is at once one of the most deeply
imbued with a philosophy of the non-significance of the
world and one of the most divided in its conclusions. It
is constantly oscillating between extreme rationalization
of reality which tends to break up that thought into
standard reasons and its extreme irrationalization which
tends to deify it. But this divorce is only apparent. It is
a matter of reconciliation, and, in both cases, the leap
suffices. It is always wrongly thought that the notion of
reason is a one-way notion. To tell the truth, however
rigorous it may be in its ambition, this concept is none-
theless just as unstable as others. Reason bears a quite
human aspect, but it also is able to turn toward the
divine. Since Plotinus, who was the first to reconcile it
with the eternal climate, it has learned to turn away from
the most cherished of its principles, which is contradic-
tion, in order to integrate into it the strangest, the quite
magic one of participation.1 It is an instrument of
thought and not thought itself. Above all, a man’s
thought is his nostalgia.

Just as reason was able to soothe the melancholy of
Plotinus, it provides modern anguish the means of
1 A.—At that time reason had to adapt itself or die. It adapts
itself. With Plotinus, after being logical it becomes aesthetic.
Metaphor takes the place of the syllogism.

B.—Moreover, this is not Plotinus’ only contribution to
phenomenology. This whole attitude is already contained in the
concept so dear to the Alexandrian thinker that there is not
only an idea of man but also an idea of Socrates.

calming itself in the familiar setting of the eternal. The
absurd mind has less luck. For it the world is neither so
rational nor so irrational. It is unreasonable and only
that. With Husserl the reason eventually has no limits
at all. The absurd, on the contrary, establishes its lim-
its since it is powerless to calm its anguish. Kierkegaard
independently asserts that a single limit is enough to
negate that anguish. But the absurd does not go so far.
For it that limit is directed solely at the reason’s ambi-
tions. The theme of the irrational, as it is conceived by
the existentials, is reason becoming confused and escap-
ing by negating itself. The absurd is lucid reason not-
ing its limits.

Only at the end of this difficult path does the absurd
man recognize his true motives. Upon comparing his
inner exigence and what is then offered him, he sud-
denly feels he is going to turn away. In the universe of
Husserl the world becomes clear and that longing for
familiarity that man’s heart harbors becomes useless. In
Kierkegaard’s apocalypse that desire for clarity must be
given up if it wants to be satisfied. Sin is not so much
knowing (if it were, everybody would be innocent) as
wanting to know. Indeed, it is the only sin of which the
absurd man can feel that it constitutes both his guilt
and his innocence. He is offered a solution in which all
the past contradictions have become merely polemical
games. But this is not the way he experienced them.
Their truth must be preserved, which consists in not be-
ing satisfied. He does not want preaching.

My reasoning wants to be faithful to the evidence

that aroused it. That evidence is the absurd. It is that
divorce between the mind that desires and the world
that disappoints, my nostalgia for unity, this fragmented
universe and the contradiction that binds them to-
gether. Kierkegaard suppresses my nostalgia and Husserl
gathers together that universe. That is not what I was
expecting. It was a matter of living and thinking with
those dislocations, of knowing whether one had to ac-
cept or refuse. There can be no question of masking the
evidence, of suppressing the absurd by denying one of
the terms of its equation. It is essential to know whether
one can live with it or whether, on the other hand, logic
commands one to die of it. I am not interested in
philosophical suicide, but rather in plain suicide. I
merely wish to purge it of its emotional content and
know its logic and its integrity. Any other position im-
plies for the absurd mind deceit and the mind’s retreat
before what the mind itself has brought to light. Husserl
claims to obey the desire to escape “the inveterate habit
of living and thinking in certain well-known and con-
venient conditions of existence,” but the final leap re-
stores in him the eternal and its comfort. The leap does
not represent an extreme danger as Kierkegaard would
like it to do. The danger, on the contrary, lies in the
subtle instant that precedes the leap. Being able to re-
main on that dizzying crest—that is integrity and the
rest is subterfuge. I know also that never has helpless-
ness inspired such striking harmonies as those of Kierke-
gaard. But if helplessness has its place in the indifferent
landscapes of history, it has none in a reasoning whose
exigence is now known.

Absurd Freedom

Now the main thing is done, I hold certain facts from
which I cannot separate. What I know, what is certain,
what I cannot deny, what I cannot reject—this is what
counts. I can negate everything of that part of me that
lives on vague nostalgias, except this desire for unity,
this longing to solve, this need for clarity and cohesion.
I can refute everything in this world surrounding me
that offends or enraptures me, except this chaos, this
sovereign chance and this divine equivalence which
springs from anarchy. I don’t know whether this world
has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I do
not know that meaning and that it is impossible for me
just now to know it. What can a meaning outside my
condition mean to me? I can understand only in human
terms. What I touch, what resists me—that is what I
understand. And these two certainties—my appetite for
the absolute and for unity and the impossibility of re-
ducing this world to a rational and reasonable principle
—I also know that I cannot reconcile them. What other
truth can I admit without lying, without bringing in a
hope I lack and which means nothing within the limits
of my condition?

If I were a tree among trees, a cat among animals,
this life would have a meaning, or rather this problem
would not arise, for I should belong to this world. I
should be this world to which I am now opposed by my
whole consciousness and my whole insistence upon fa-
miliarity. This ridiculous reason is what sets me in op-
position to all creation. I cannot cross it out with a

stroke of the pen. What I believe to be true I must there-
fore preserve. What seems to me so obvious, even against
me, I must support. And what constitutes the basis of
that conflict, of that break between the world and my
mind, but the awareness of it? If therefore I want to
preserve it, I can through a constant awareness, ever
revived, ever alert. This is what, for the moment, I must
remember. At this moment the absurd, so obvious and
yet so hard to win, returns to a man’s life and finds its
home there. At this moment, too, the mind can leave
the arid, dried-up path of lucid effort. That path now
emerges in daily life. It encounters the world of the
anonymous impersonal pronoun “one,” but henceforth
man enters in with his revolt and his lucidity. He has
forgotten how to hope. This hell of the present is his
Kingdom at last. All problems recover their sharp edge.
Abstract evidence retreats before the poetry of forms
and colors. Spiritual conflicts become embodied and re-
turn to the abject and magnificent shelter of man’s heart.
None of them is settled. But all are transfigured. Is one
going to die, escape by the leap, rebuild a mansion of
ideas and forms to one’s own scale? Is one, on the con-
trary, going to take up the heart-rending and marvelous
wager of the absurd? Let’s make a final effort in this
regard and draw all our conclusions. The body, affec-
tion, creation, action, human nobility will then resume
their places in this mad world. At last man will again
find there the wine of the absurd and the bread of in-
difference on which he feeds his greatness.

Let us insist again on the method: it is a matter of
persisting. At a certain point on his path the absurd

man is tempted. History is not lacking in either re-
ligions or prophets, even without gods. He is asked to
leap. All he can reply is that he doesn’t fully understand,
that it is not obvious. Indeed, he does not want to do
anything but what he fully understands. He is assured
that this is the sin of pride, but he does not understand
the notion of sin; that perhaps hell is in store, but he has
not enough imagination to visualize that strange future;
that he is losing immortal life, but that seems to him an
idle consideration. An attempt is made to get him to ad-
mit his guilt. He feels innocent. To tell the truth, that
is all he feels—his irreparable innocence. This is what
allows him everything. Hence, what he demands of him-
self is to live solely with what he knows, to accommodate
himself to what is, and to bring in nothing that is not
certain. He is told that nothing is. But this at least is a
certainty. And it is with this that he is concerned: he
wants to find out if it is possible to live without appeal.

* * *
Now I can broach the notion of suicide. It has al-

ready been felt what solution might be given. At this
point the problem is reversed. It was previously a ques-
tion of finding out whether or not life had to have a
meaning to be lived. It now becomes clear, on the con-
trary, that it will be lived all the better if it has no mean-
ing. Living an experience, a particular fate, is accepting
it fully. Now, no one will live this fate, knowing it to be
absurd, unless he does everything to keep before him
that absurd brought to light by consciousness. Negating
one of the terms of the opposition on which he lives
amounts to escaping it. To abolish conscious revolt is to

elude the problem. The theme of permanent revolution
is thus carried into individual experience. Living is
keeping the absurd alive. Keeping it alive is, above all,
contemplating it. Unlike Eurydice, the absurd dies only
when we turn away from it. One of the only coherent
philosophical positions is thus revolt. It is a constant
confrontation between man and his own obscurity. It is
an insistence upon an impossible transparency. It chal-
lenges the world anew every second. Just as danger pro-
vided man the unique opportunity of seizing awareness,
so metaphysical revolt extends awareness to the whole of
experience. It is that constant presence of man in his
own eyes. It is not aspiration, for it is devoid of hope.
That revolt is the certainty of a crushing fate, without
the resignation that ought to accompany it.

This is where it is seen to what a degree absurd ex-
perience is remote from suicide. It may be thought that
suicide follows revolt—but wrongly. For it does not
represent the logical outcome of revolt. It is just the
contrary by the consent it presupposes. Suicide, like the
leap, is acceptance at its extreme. Everything is over and
man returns to his essential history. His future, his
unique and dreadful future—he sees and rushes toward
it. In its way, suicide settles the absurd. It engulfs the
absurd in the same death. But I know that in order to
keep alive, the absurd cannot be settled. It escapes sui-
cide to the extent that it is simultaneously awareness
and rejection of death. It is, at the extreme limit of the
condemned man’s last thought, that shoelace that de-
spite everything he sees a few yards away, on the very

brink of his dizzying fall. The contrary of suicide, in
fact, is the man condemned to death.

That revolt gives life its value. Spread out over the
whole length of a life, it restores its majesty to that life.
To a man devoid of blinders, there is no finer sight than
that of the intelligence at grips with a reality that tran-
scends it. The sight of human pride is unequaled. No
disparagement is of any use. That discipline that the
mind imposes on itself, that will conjured up out of
nothing, that face-to-face struggle have something ex-
ceptional about them. To impoverish that reality whose
inhumanity constitutes man’s majesty is tantamount to
impoverishing him himself. I understand then why the
doctrines that explain everything to me also debilitate
me at the same time. They relieve me of the weight of
my own life, and yet I must carry it alone. At this junc-
ture, I cannot conceive that a skeptical metaphysics can
be joined to an ethics of renunciation.

Consciousness and revolt, these rejections are the con-
trary of renunciation. Everything that is indomitable
and passionate in a human heart quickens them, on the
contrary, with its own life. It is essential to die unrecon-
ciled and not of one’s own free will. Suicide is a repudi-
ation. The absurd man can only drain everything to the
bitter end, and deplete himself. The absurd is his ex-
treme tension, which he maintains constantly by solitary
effort, for he knows that in that consciousness and in
that day-to-day revolt he gives proof of his only truth,
which is defiance. This is a first consequence.

* * *

If I remain in that prearranged position which con-
sists in drawing all the conclusions (and nothing else)
involved in a newly discovered notion, I am faced with
a second paradox. In order to remain faithful to that
method, I have nothing to do with the problem of
metaphysical liberty. Knowing whether or not man is
free doesn’t interest me. I can experience only my own
freedom. As to it, I can have no general notions, but
merely a few clear insights. The problem of “freedom as
such” has no meaning. For it is linked in quite a dif-
ferent way with the problem of God. Knowing whether
or not man is free involves knowing whether he can
have a master. The absurdity peculiar to this problem
comes from the fact that the very notion that makes the
problem of freedom possible also takes away all its mean-
ing. For in the presence of God there is less a problem
of freedom than a problem of evil. You know the alterna-
tive: either we are not free and God the all-powerful is
responsible for evil. Or we are free and responsible but
God is not all-powerful. All the scholastic subtleties have
neither added anything to nor subtracted anything from
the acuteness of this paradox.

This is why I cannot get lost in the glorification or
the mere definition of a notion which eludes me and
loses its meaning as soon as it goes beyond the frame of
reference of my individual experience. I cannot under-
stand what kind of freedom would be given me by a
higher being. I have lost the sense of hierarchy. The
only conception of freedom I can have is that of the
prisoner or the individual in the midst of the State. The
only one I know is freedom of thought and action. Now

if the absurd cancels all my chances of eternal freedom,
it restores and magnifies, on the other hand, my freedom
of action. That privation of hope and future means an
increase in man’s availability.

Before encountering the absurd, the everyday man
lives with aims, a concern for the future or for justifica-
tion (with regard to whom or what is not the question).
He weighs his chances, he counts on “someday,” his re-
tirement or the labor of his sons. He still thinks that
something in his life can be directed. In truth, he acts
as if he were free, even if all the facts make a point of
contradicting that liberty. But after the absurd, every-
thing is upset. That idea that “I am,” my way of acting
as if everything has a meaning (even if, on occasion, I
said that nothing has)—all that is given the lie in
vertiginous fashion by the absurdity of a possible death.
Thinking of the future, establishing aims for oneself,
having preferences—all this presupposes a belief in
freedom, even if one occasionally ascertains that one
doesn’t feel it. But at that moment I am well aware that
that higher liberty, that freedom to be, which alone can
serve as basis for a truth, does not exist. Death is there
as the only reality. After death the chips are down. I am
not even free, either, to perpetuate myself, but a slave,
and, above all, a slave without hope of an eternal revolu-
tion, without recourse to contempt. And who without
revolution and without contempt can remain a slave?
What freedom can exist in the fullest sense without as-
surance of eternity?

But at the same time the absurd man realizes that
hitherto he was bound to that postulate of freedom on

the illusion of which he was living. In a certain sense,
that hampered him. To the extent to which he imagined
a purpose to his life, he adapted himself to the demands
of a purpose to be achieved and became the slave of his
liberty. Thus I could not act otherwise than as the father
(or the engineer or the leader of a nation, or the post-
office sub-clerk) that I am preparing to be. I think I can
choose to be that rather than something else. I think so
unconsciously, to be sure. But at the same time I
strengthen my postulate with the beliefs of those around
me, with the presumptions of my human environment
(others are so sure of being free, and that cheerful mood
is so contagious!). However far one may remain from
any presumption, moral or social, one is partly influ-
enced by them and even, for the best among them (there
are good and bad presumptions), one adapts one’s life
to them. Thus the absurd man realizes that he was not
really free. To speak clearly, to the extent to which I
hope, to which I worry about a truth that might be in-
dividual to me, about a way of being or creating, to the
extent to which I arrange my life and prove thereby that
I accept its having a meaning, I create for myself bar-
riers between which I confine my life. I do like so many
bureaucrats of the mind and heart who only fill me with
disgust and whose only vice, I now see clearly, is to take
man’s freedom seriously.

The absurd enlightens me on this point: there is no
future. Henceforth this is the reason for my inner free-
dom. I shall use two comparisons here. Mystics, to begin
with, find freedom in giving themselves. By losing them-
selves in their god, by accepting his rules, they become

secretly free. In spontaneously accepted slavery they re-
cover a deeper independence. But what does that free-
dom mean? It may be said, above all, that they feel free
with regard to themselves, and not so much free as
liberated. Likewise, completely turned toward death
(taken here as the most obvious absurdity), the absurd
man feels released from everything outside that pas-
sionate attention crystallizing in him. He enjoys a free-
dom with regard to common rules. It can be seen at this
point that the initial themes of existential philosophy
keep their entire value. The return to consciousness, the
escape from everyday sleep represent the first steps of
absurd freedom. But it is existential preaching that is al-
luded to, and with it that spiritual leap which basically
escapes consciousness. In the same way (this is my sec-
ond comparison) the slaves of antiquity did not belong
to themselves. But they knew that freedom which con-
sists in not feeling responsible.2 Death, too, has patrician
hands which, while crushing, also liberate.

Losing oneself in that bottomless certainty, feeling
henceforth sufficiently remote from one’s own life to
increase it and take a broad view of it—this involves the
principle of a liberation. Such new independence has a
definite time limit, like any freedom of action. It does
not write a check on eternity. But it takes the place of
the illusions of freedom, which all stopped with death.
The divine availability of the condemned man before
whom the prison doors open in a certain early dawn,
21 am concerned here with a factual comparison, not with an
apology of humility. The absurd man is the contrary of the
reconciled man.

that unbelievable disinterestedness with regard to every-
thing except for the pure flame of life—it is clear that
death and the absurd are here the principles of the only
reasonable freedom: that which a human heart can ex-
perience and live. This is a second consequence. The
absurd man thus catches sight of a burning and frigid,
transparent and limited universe in which nothing is
possible but everything is given, and beyond which all
is collapse and nothingness. He can then decide to ac-
cept such a universe and draw from it his strength, his
refusal to hope, and the unyielding evidence of a life
without consolation.

But what does life mean in such a universe? Nothing
else for the moment but indifference to the future and a
desire to use up everything that is given. Belief in the
meaning of life always implies a scale of values, a choice,
our preferences. Belief in the absurd, according to our
definitions, teaches the contrary. But this is worth ex-

Knowing whether or not one can live without appeal
is all that interests me. I do not want to get out of my
depth. This aspect of life being given me, can I adapt
myself to it? Now, faced with this particular concern,
belief in the absurd is tantamount to substituting the
quantity of experiences for the quality. If I convince
myself that this life has no other aspect than that of the
absurd, if I feel that its whole equilibrium depends on
that perpetual opposition between my conscious revolt
and the darkness in which it struggles, if I admit that
my freedom has no meaning except in relation to its

limited fate, then I must say that what counts is not the
best living but the most living. It is not up to me to won-
der if this is vulgar or revolting, elegant or deplorable.
Once and for all, value judgments are discarded here in
favor of factual judgments. I have merely to draw the
conclusions from what I can see and to risk nothing that
is hypothetical. Supposing that living in this way were
not honorable, then true propriety would command me
to be dishonorable.

The most living; in the broadest sense, that rule
means nothing. It calls for definition. It seems to begin
with the fact that the notion of quantity has not been
sufficiently explored. For it can account for a large share
of human experience. A man’s rule of conduct and his
scale of values have no meaning except through the
quantity and variety of experiences he has been in a
position to accumulate. Now, the conditions of modern
life impose on the majority of men the same quantity of
experiences and consequently the same profound ex-
perience. To be sure, there must also be taken into con-
sideration the individual’s spontaneous contribution, the
“given” element in him. But I cannot judge of that, and
let me repeat that my rule here is to get along with the
immediate evidence. I see, then, that the individual
character of a common code of ethics lies not so much in
the ideal importance of its basic principles as in the
norm of an experience that it is possible to measure. To
stretch a point somewhat, the Greeks had the code of
their leisure just as we have the code of our eight-hour
day. But already many men among the most tragic cause
us to foresee that a longer experience changes this table

of values. They make us imagine that adventurer of the
everyday who through mere quantity of experiences
would break all records (I am purposely using this sports
expression) and would thus win his own code of ethics.3

Yet let’s avoid romanticism and just ask ourselves what
such an attitude may mean to a man with his mind made
up to take up his bet and to observe strictly what he
takes to be the rules of the game.

Breaking all the records is first and foremost being
faced with the world as often as possible. How can that
be done without contradictions and without playing on
words? For on the one hand the absurd teaches that all
experiences are unimportant, and on the other it urges
toward the greatest quantity of experiences. How, then,
can one fail to do as so many of those men I was speak-
ing of earlier—choose the form of life that brings us the
most possible of that human matter, thereby introducing
a scale of values that on the other hand one claims to

But again it is the absurd and its contradictory life
that teaches us. For the mistake is thinking that that
quantity of experiences depends on the circumstances
of our life when it depends solely on us. Here we have
to be over-simple. To two men living the same number
of years, the world always provides the same sum of ex-
periences. It is up to us to be conscious of them. Being
3 Quantity sometimes constitutes quality. If I can believe the
latest restatements of scientific theory, all matter is constituted
by centers of energy. Their greater or lesser quantity makes its
specificity more or less remarkable. A billion ions and one ion
differ not only in quantity but also in quality. It is easy to find
an analogy in human experience.

aware of one’s life, one’s revolt, one’s freedom, and to
the maximum, is living, and to the maximum. Where
lucidity dominates, the scale of values becomes useless.
Let’s be even more simple. Let us say that the sole ob-
stacle, the sole deficiency to be made good, is constituted
by premature death. Thus it is that no depth, no emo-
tion, no passion, and no sacrifice could render equal in
the eyes of the absurd man (even if he wished it so) a
conscious life of forty years and a lucidity spread over
sixty years.4 Madness and death are his irreparables.
Man does not choose. The absurd and the extra life it in-
volves therefore do not depend on man’s will, but on its
contrary, which is death.5 Weighing words carefully, it
is altogether a question of luck. One just has to be able
to consent to this. There will never be any substitute
for twenty years of life and experience.

By what is an odd inconsistency in such an alert race,
the Greeks claimed that those who died young were be-
loved of the gods. And that is true only if you are willing
to believe that entering the ridiculous world of the gods
is forever losing the purest of joys, which is feeling, and
feeling on this earth. The present and the succession of
presents before a constantly conscious soul is the ideal
4 Same reflection on a notion as different as the idea of eternal
nothingness. It neither adds anything to nor subtracts anything
from reality. In psychological experience of nothingness, it is by
the consideration of what will happen in two thousand years
that our own nothingness truly takes on meaning. In one of its
aspects, eternal nothingness is made up precisely of the sum of
lives to come which will not be ours.
5 The will is only the agent here: it tends to maintain con-
sciousness. It provides a discipline of life, and that is

of the absurd man. But the word “ideal” rings false in
this connection. It is not even his vocation, but merely
the third consequence of his reasoning. Having started
from an anguished awareness of the inhuman, the
meditation on the absurd returns at the end of its itinerary
to ? the very heart of the passionate flames of human

* * *

Thus I draw from the absurd three consequences,
which are my revolt, my freedom, and my passion. By the
mere activity of consciousness I transform into a rule of
life what was an invitation to death—and I refuse
suicide. I know, to be sure, the dull resonance that vi-
brates throughout these days. Yet I have but a word to
say: that it is necessary. When Nietzsche writes: “It
clearly seems that the chief thing in heaven and on
earth is to obey at length and in a single direction: in
the long run there results something for which it is
worth the trouble of living on this earth as, for example,
virtue, art, music, the dance, reason, the mind—some-
thing that transfigures, something delicate, mad, or di-
vine,” he elucidates the rule of a really distinguished
code of ethics. But he also points the way of the absurd
man. Obeying the flame is both the easiest and the 6

What matters is coherence. We start out here from acceptance of
the world. But Oriental thought teaches that one can indulge in
the same effort of logic by choosing against the world. That is just
as legitimate and gives this essay its perspectives and its limits.
But when the negation of the world is pursued just as
rigorously, one often achieves (in certain Vedantic schools)
similar results regarding, for instance, the indifference of works.
In a book of great importance, Le Choix, Jean Grenier establishes
in this way a veritable “philosophy of indifference.”

hardest thing to do. However, it is good for man to judge
himself occasionally. He is alone in being able to do so.
“Prayer,” says Alain, “is when night descends over
thought.” “But the mind must meet the night,” reply
the mystics and the existentials. Yes, indeed, but not
that night that is born under closed eyelids and through
the mere will of man—dark, impenetrable night that
the mind calls up in order to plunge into it. If it must
encounter a night, let it be rather that of despair, which
remains lucid—polar night, vigil of the mind, whence
will arise perhaps that white and virginal brightness
which outlines every object in the light of the intelli-
gence. At that degree, equivalence encounters pas-
sionate understanding. Then it is no longer even a
question of judging the existential leap. It resumes its
place amid the age-old fresco of human attitudes. For
the spectator, if he is conscious, that leap is still absurd.
In so far as it thinks it solves the paradox, it reinstates
it intact. On this score, it is stirring. On this score, every-
thing resumes its place and the absurd world is reborn
in all its splendor and diversity.

But it is bad to stop, hard to be satisfied with a single
way of seeing, to go without contradiction, perhaps the
most subtle of all spiritual forces. The preceding merely
defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live.


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