Albert Camus, through this quote, expresses his existentialist and absurdist perspective on life. The existentialist part focuses on the notion of creating one’s own purpose and happiness, rather than seeking it as an inherent or external entity. The absurdist part acknowledges that life may inherently lack a universal or absolute meaning or purpose.
When Camus says, “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of,” he’s suggesting that happiness is not something that can be sought out as a concrete thing or defined in absolute terms. Happiness, to him, is subjective, deeply personal, and often found in the act of living itself, rather than being a goal or endpoint. By ceaselessly searching for a definition or formula for happiness, one might miss out on the joy of the present moments, or the contentment found in simply living life.
In the second sentence, “You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life,” Camus echoes a similar sentiment. He argues that if you spend your time looking for an inherent or ultimate meaning in life, you may fail to truly live. For him, life might not have an inherent meaning, and it is up to each individual to create their own purpose or significance. The quest for absolute meaning, in this view, might distract from the act of living and experiencing life in all its fullness.
These thoughts are central to Camus’s philosophical view known as Absurdism, which is the belief that human beings exist in a purposeless, chaotic universe, and that seeking meaning or moral order is ultimately futile. Rather than despairing, however, Camus suggested that we should embrace the absurdity of existence and continue to live passionately and authentically, creating our own meaning.