Camus and Spiritual Exercises: Travel, meditation and philosophy as a way of life

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By reading the early work of Albert Camus from the perspective of Pierre Hadot’s interpretation of ancient philosophy, I suggest that Camus’ early philosophical work becomes clearer and reveals itself as an attempt to guide and inform a philosophical way of life; a way of being. Beginning by indicating the close points of contact between the early thought of Camus and the description Hadot gives of spiritual exercises in ancient thought, I go on to discuss the original contribution Camus makes to the realm of spiritual exercises through his writings on travel. Alongside meditation on death, attention to the present moment and something akin to what Hadot calls ‘practical physics’, I suggest that travel functions as an emotive and powerful spiritual exercise in the thought of Camus which contributes to his attempt to live lucidly, courageously and consistently with what he believes regarding his human condition. Finally, I suggest that reading Camus in this way indicates the significant value his early works continue to offer to readers today; as inspiration for their own spiritual exercises and as subtle yet powerful antidotes to the modern temptation to believe ourselves capable of mastering or controlling our lives and the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-106
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Camus Studies
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2015

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