Why Does It Matter That Nothing Matters?

Mr. Heidkamp’s discussion on the meaning of life was very upsetting for me at first. Relationships, love, and helping others are all incredibly important to me, and so hearing that all of those ideas were just “illusions” was really discouraging. However, as we continued to talk about these ideas through a pessimistic perspective, I started to wonder if I agreed with everything being said. I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t sure, but even if I did agree, did I even care?

Even if my values were all illusions, what did that really mean? These concepts and feelings are real to me, and in my life, that’s all that really matters. Life doesn’t have to have “meaning” for you to enjoy it, and these concepts don’t have to be “real” for them to be important for you. Since nothing matters, why does the concept that “nothing matters” even matter?

Eventually the class came to a similar conclusion, and we all discussed how life gives the meaning to life, and that that can mean something different for everyone. As long as you’re content with your life, that should be enough. We are the ones who give our lives meaning, so we are also the only ones who can take away that meaning by saying “nothing matters” (so don’t say that!).

I think that these beliefs are why I don’t really like the main character in The Stranger by Albert Camus. Many view him as smart for realizing that life has no meaning and being above it all, but I don’t know if I agree. Sure he’s figured out the “secret to life,” but what does that even do for him? He’s completely disconnected from the rest of society and apathetic towards every thing that happens in his life.

Maybe this is what makes him content, and in that case, he has found his meaning in life and I think that’s great. However, from my perspective, his life seems sad. I want everything in my life to have meaning for me personally, even if it doesn’t for the rest of the world. Since nothing matters, anything can matter.

2 thoughts on “Why Does It Matter That Nothing Matters?

  1. CAROLINE TURNER

    I really agree with your perspective. During class, I wondering that as well. If nothing matters, why does ‘the meaning’ matter? I think it’s important to find whatever makes your life what you want to be. In reference to “The Stranger,” I noticed that Meursault often dismisses any feelings he has because ‘it does not really matter anyway’ to him. For example, whenever he is irritated, usually by the sun motif, he dismisses it. I think this further leads to his exploding bottled up emotions. Anyways, I agree that Meursault’s life seems sad because no emotions or anything matter to him.

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  2. Athanasios P.

    I agree with how you interpret existentialism. Although existentialism contends that nothing really matters and that helping people and relationships are just illusions, I feel like to live a life worth living and to feel content, you have to choose some illusions that will give your life meaning. Even though they do not truly matter because they are constructs, you can make them matter to you and this can give you purpose in life to make you feel satisfied and content. So yeah, I feel the same way about Meursault, where although he has discovered that nothing matters, it is sad that he chooses to live his life this way and not give meaning to anything, because then it just seems like he is drifting through life meaninglessly at times.

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