Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Philosophy

First Advisor

Timothy Yenter

Second Advisor

Steven Skultety

Third Advisor

Bryan Smyth

Relational Format



Absurdity is the sudden discomfort caused by direct awareness of your being consciousand your relation to reality. Camus’ absurdist philosophy refers to the conflict between the human desire for inherent meaning in reality and the incomprehensible and irrational nature of the universe. Facing absurdity requires confronting the absurd feeling through introspective awareness of this tension. Otherwise, you are overcome by it, succumbing to a lack of mindfulness and avoidance of the confrontation. Absurdity, especially in its aesthetic dimension, has not received the sustained attention it deserves. In this paper, I argue that due to the sustained relevance of the absurd in philosophical literature, artistic movements, digital media, and everyday aesthetic experiences, absurdity should be understood as a distinctive aesthetic category in its own right. I survey absurdity within 20th century philosophical thought and traditional artistic movements. I additionally contend that new media art has reignited interest in absurdist aesthetics in present society. This serves to highlight that absurdity is an aesthetic reaction that can be found both in art and in everyday experiences.



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