The Hollowness of “Nothing Really Matters”

“Existentialism, I think, incorporates a lot of the same ideas as Stoicism, but it sort of fails rhetorically for a lot of people in a way that Stoicism doesn’t. It seems like it is very popular today among young, educated people to naively accept some form of Existentialism, or at least some stripped down interpretation of it that has worked its way through popular culture. You will hear people repeat, as if it were a truism, something like “nothing really ultimately matters, and it is up to each of us to decide what is important in our own lives, and find our own meaning.” Well, that’s great and all, but then these same people will lose their mind if the waiter brings them the wrong dish, or someone cuts them off in traffic. It’s like, wait a second, NOTHING matters, but somehow a minor inconvenience matters enough to ruin your day? The so called mantra that they repeat reflectively has no effect on them, because they don’t really take it to have any real meaning. Stoicism directly explains why these kind of things, quite literally, don’t matter. Once you understand that, there is no reason to be upset by them. At that point it is possible to try to understand how an existential account of truly meaningful activity can happen.”

Corey Mohler (read our full interview here.)

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