Despite the fact that they are both known as leading figures of existentialism, the relationship between 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and 20th century French philosopher and novelist Albert Camus has largely gone unexplored in secondary scholarship. In the few times that their relationship is discussed, focus is heavily placed on the most obvious difference between the two thinkers: their religious orientations, which tends to prevent any further analysis or discussion. Furthermore, popular conceptions of each thinker-largely informed by their most popular works, arguably Fear and Trembling and The Myth of Sisyphus, respectively-tend to depict them as pessimistic and individualistic figures, the former basing his philosophy on an irrational leap of faith and the latter basing his own on the world's meaninglessness and absurdity. The purpose of this thesis is to provide an alternative, or rather a corrective, to these aforementioned views on the two thinkers. Through literary and philosophical analyses, I will attempt to demonstrate not only that there is a concrete, fecund relationship between Kierkegaard and Camus, but furthermore that this relationship is grounded in a practical, duty-based philosophy of love. The thesis will look at three concepts that play a key role in both philosophies: the absurd, love, and aesthetic creation. As the analysis progresses, it is repeatedly shown that the thinkers' opposing views on theology do not prevent us from finding similar conceptions and practical manifestations of selfhood, neighborly and romantic love, and the social role of the artist. Thus, I shall argue that they are most properly understood as philosophers of love who saw themselves as social critics whose main goal was to help eradicate the corrupting and dangerous nihilism of their respective eras rather than as traditional philosophers.


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Thesis Completion





Strauser, Michael


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities

Degree Program



Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

Included in

Philosophy Commons