For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
“Short and sorrowful is our life,
and there is no remedy when a man comes to his end,
and no one has been known to return from Hades.
2 Because we were born by mere chance,
and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been;
because the breath in our nostrils is smoke,
and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our hearts.
3 When it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes,
and the spirit will dissolve like empty air.
4 Our name will be forgotten in time,
and no one will remember our works;
our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud,
and be scattered like mist
that is chased by the rays of the sun
and overcome by its heat.
5 For our allotted time is the passing of a shadow,
and there is no return from our death,
because it is sealed up and no one turns back.
6 “Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist,
and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.
7 Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes,
and let no flower of spring pass by us.
8 Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.
9 Let none of us fail to share in our revelry,
everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment,
because this is our portion, and this our lot.
10 Let us oppress the righteous poor man;
let us not spare the widow
nor regard the gray hairs of the aged.
11 But let our might be our law of right,
for what is weak proves itself to be useless. (Wisdom 2:1-11, Revised Standard Version)
Having noted that we suffer and then we die, Jordan Peterson asks himself a question:
What in the world should be done about that?
The simplest, most obvious, and most direct answer? Pursue pleasure. Follow your impulses. Live for the moment. Do what’s expedient. Lie, cheat, steal, deceive, manipulate — but don’t get caught. In an ultimately meaningless universe, what possible difference could it make? (162)
He then quotes almost all of the passage above, from the apocryphal book of Wisdom. It’s clear, though, that he doesn’t share the quoted opinion and that the “simple, obvious, and direct answer” that he supplies doesn’t represent his own view.
He doesn’t quote the rest of Wisdom 2, which is also interesting:
12 “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
and accuses us of sins against our training.
13 He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.
14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
15 the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
16 We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.
17 Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
18 for if the righteous man is God’s son, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
19 Let us test him with insult and torture,
that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”
21 Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
22 and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hope for the wages of holiness,
nor discern the prize for blameless souls;
23 for God created man for incorruption,
and made him in the image of his own eternity,[b]
24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his party experience it.