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In his essay 'The Myth of Sisyphus', Albert Camus considers suicide, the "one truly serious philosophical problem", and asks, "is there a logic to the point of death?" Then he gives us this paragraph:

When Karl Jaspers, revealing the impossibility of constituting the world as a unity, exclaims: “This limitation leads me to myself, where I can no longer withdraw behind an objective point of view that I am merely representing, where neither I myself nor the existence of others can any longer become an object for me,” he is evoking after many others those waterless deserts where thought reaches its confines. After many others, yes indeed, but how eager they were to get out of them! At that last crossroad where thought hesitates, many men have arrived and even some of the humblest. They then abdicated what was most precious to them, their life. Others, princes of the mind, abdicated likewise, but they initiated the suicide of their thought in its purest revolt. The real effort is to stay there, rather, in so far as that is possible, and to examine closely the odd vegetation of those distant regions. Tenacity and acumen are privileged spectators of this inhuman show in which absurdity, hope, and death carry on their dialogue. The mind can then analyze the figures of that elementary yet subtle dance before illustrating them and reliving them itself.

(English translation by Justin O'Brien, 1955.) What did Camus mean by the sentences in bold?

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  • Damn, so much formality.
    – Patrick S
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 16:59
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    Please, help us help you. Context around the quote, and knowing what specifically you don't understand, is essential for an answer to address your problem.
    – bobble
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 23:16

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It's a metaphor for philosophical space. In many languages, including French and English, a new area (itself a metaphor) of study or thought of conceived of in spatial or physical terms. You see this in all sorts of mental activities. A new relationship might lead you to "places you've never been before," while a psychotropic experience might let you explore "the outer reaches of the mind." When you are working step-by-step on a problem, you "arrive at" or "come to" a conclusion.

Camus is taking this arrival one step further. What do you do once you arrive? You explore it in depth, and that means examining its "vegetation." You can only do that if you "dwell" there and really examine its implications.

The key to understanding this is in the rest of the passage you quoted. The real part that needed to be bold was the first sentence:

When Karl Jaspers, revealing the impossibility of constituting the world as a unity, exclaims: “This limitation leads me to myself, where I can no longer withdraw behind an objective point of view that I am merely representing, where neither I myself nor the existence of others can any longer become an object for me,” he is evoking after many others those waterless deserts where thought reaches its confines.

Camus thus makes it clear that he's employing landscape imagery to describe Jaspers' philosophical conclusion.

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