“Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter.” (114)
What an interesting thought. What a dark one too.
I have heard people say before they enjoy watching documentaries on murder and psychopathy because the complete radically different nature of them is intriguing.
I would hold similar sentiments about philosophy, and today I am going to dive into this quote. I have been exercising my philosophy muscle quite ardently these past few months; I would hope I am able to pick apart this quote for the juicy undertones.
Let’s start by discerning the difference between subjective and objective value. Subjective value is value we assign either as a collective or individually, and objective value are things that are objectively valuable, no matter how one looks at it. I do not believe in objective value too much, I think most of all meaningful things in our lives do originate from us placing meaning in them. However, as you read this book, I bet you have thought that you and Meursault radically differ in values. I will touch on that more later.
We could also denote the difference between the descriptive and normative statements Meursault makes here. A descriptive statement is a statement regarding what the world is or things we consider to be facts; something that describes the world, and normative statements relate to what we should do about it or statements that invoke our values. One example of a descriptive, then normative, statement would be: “Dogs generally have four legs. We should give them five.”
Anyway, let us return to Meursault. The descriptive claim is that we are all going to die, and the normative is that because of that, nothing matters. He first discusses a factual statement regarding the seemingly inevitable force of death, but he then adds an opinion to it.
Another key thing to remember is that normative values cannot be proven to be correct or incorrect. You can fully disagree with Meursault, because you perhaps subjectively value life more than he does. One cannot prove life is meaningful or meaningless, because that is up to you to decide.
Finally, before we go, Meursault is also wrong that it is obvious that time and death doesn’t matter…because that is also subjective.
Today we broke down one of the most famous quotes from The Stranger, and we discusses its formation. I hope my walkthrough of the quote was satisfactory.
And remember, you’re more than entitled to disagree with Meursault. And…if we share similar moral values, I would say you should oppose this man.