What did Camus and Sartre disagree on?

Answered by Jason Smith

Camus and Sartre had a fundamental disagreement on the relationship between morality and politics. This difference in viewpoint shaped their political disagreements and led to contrasting approaches to social and political issues.

For Albert Camus, politics was subordinate to morality. He believed that ethical considerations should guide political action, and that political decisions should be based on principles of justice and compassion. Camus was deeply concerned with the individual’s moral responsibility towards others and believed in the importance of empathy and solidarity.

In his works, such as “The Rebel” and “The Plague,” Camus emphasized the need for individuals to stand up against injustice and oppression, even if it meant going against established political structures. He argued that political systems should be evaluated based on their ability to promote human dignity and protect individual rights.

On the other hand, Jean-Paul Sartre held the opposite view, where morality was subordinated to politics. Sartre believed in the primacy of political action and considered it the ultimate means of achieving social change and liberation. He argued that moral considerations should be secondary to the pursuit of political goals.

Sartre’s existentialist philosophy emphasized the importance of personal freedom and individual choice. He believed that individuals had the power to shape their own existence through their actions, and thus, political engagement was a crucial aspect of leading an authentic and meaningful life. Sartre famously stated, “Existence precedes essence,” meaning that individuals must first exist and act in the world before defining their essence or moral values.

This fundamental difference in their views on the relationship between morality and politics led to disagreements on specific issues. For example, during the Algerian War of Independence, Camus opposed French colonialism and advocated for a peaceful resolution, while Sartre supported the Algerian struggle for independence and believed in the use of violence if necessary.

Camus criticized Sartre’s support for violent methods, arguing that the ends did not justify the means and that principles of non-violence and justice should guide political action. Sartre, on the other hand, saw the use of violence as a necessary means to dismantle oppressive structures and achieve political liberation.

Their differing perspectives also influenced their stance on communism. Camus was critical of the totalitarian aspects of communism and believed that individual freedom and human rights were being sacrificed in the pursuit of political ideology. Sartre, on the other hand, saw communism as a pathway to societal transformation and believed in the potential for collective action to bring about a more just and equal society.

Camus and Sartre disagreed on the relationship between morality and politics. Camus believed that politics should be subordinated to morality, emphasizing the importance of ethical considerations and individual responsibility. Sartre, on the other hand, viewed politics as the primary means of achieving social change and prioritized political action over moral principles. These differences informed their respective stances on specific issues and shaped their overall political perspectives.