Existential Quotes

 

About the Existential Quotes: This page list some of the most important existential quotes, along with some of my favorites. It is a work in progress, so this will probably be regularly updated over time. Hopefully, this will help tantalize readers into seeking out some of the books. For older quotes, I have tried to update them into gender inclusive language, though sometimes I have also included them in their original. The complete reference for the quotes are in the references section unless otherwise noted.

"Recall how often in human history the saint and the rebel have been the same person."
      ~ Rollo May, 1975, The Courage to Create, p. 35

"Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level."
      ~ Ernest Becker, 1973, The Denial of Death, p. 196

"...only the philosophical question is perennial, not the answers."
     ~ Paul Tillich, 1957, The Dynamics of Faith, p. 94

"What is the ideal for mental health, then? A lived, compelling illusion that does not lie about life, death, and reality; one honest enough to follow its own commandments: I mean, not to kill, not to take the lives of others to justify itself."
     ~ Ernest Becker, 1973, The Denial of Death, p. 204

"...hope cannot be said to exist, nor can it be said not to exist. It is just like the roads across the earth. For actually the earth had no roads to begin with, but when many men pass one way, a road is made."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1921/1959, "My Old Home" (In Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 191)

"I finally went to a concentration camp for the first time in my life last August… I wanted to do that, and am glad I did. It was a very powerful experience. It sort of felt like paying one's existential dues… That if you are going to be alive in the 20th century or
21st century, that you are going to claim to be alive and had lived in that time, then what should you be aware of, or in touch with?... There's a whole bunch of existential facts that one ought to really... embrace, or acknowledge, even feel existential guilt about."
     ~ Tom Greening, 2010, (cited in On Becoming an Existential Psychologist: Journeys of Contemporary Leaders by Trent Claypool [dissertation]), p.

"…the purpose of psychotherapy is to set people free."
     ~ Rollo May, 1981, Freedom and Destiny, p. 19

"But a people unable to reform will not be able to preserve its old culture either."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1925/1961, ("Sudden Notions" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 1), p. 138

"...no existence can be validly fulfilled if it is limited to itself."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1948, The Ethics Of Ambiguity, p. 67

"Thus, human existence--at least as long as it has not been neurotically distorted--is always directed to something, or someone, other than itself, be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter lovingly.
     ~ Viktor E. Frankl, 2000, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning, p. 84

"...the individual is defined only by his relationship to the world and to other individuals; he exists only by transcending himself, and his freedom can be achieved only through the freedom of others. He justifies his existence by a movement which, like freedom, springs from his heart but which leads outside of himself."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1948, The Ethics Of Ambiguity, p. 156

"It is highly significant and indeed almost a rule, that moral courage has its source in such identification through one's own sensitivity with suffering of one's fellow human beings."
     ~ Rollo May, 1975, The Courage to Create, pp. 16-17

"For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself."
     ~ Viktor E. Frankl, 1984, Man's Search for Meaning (3rd ed), p. 12

"A myth is a way of making sense in a senseless world. Myths are narrative patterns that give significance to our existence. Whether the meaning of existence is only what we put into life by our own individual fortitude, as Sartre would hold, or whether there is a meaning we need to discover, as Kierkegaard would state, the result is the same: myths are our way of finding this meaning and significance."
     ~ Rollo May, 1991, The Cry for Myth, p. 15

"There can be no stronger proof of the impoverishment of our contemporary culture than the popular - though profoundly mistaken - definition of myth as falsehood."
     ~ Rollo May, 1991, The Cry for Myth, p. 23

"Myth opens the door to a world that cannot be predicted and controlled, where truth is more amorphous, multifaceted, relative, pluralistic."
     ~ David N. Elkins, Beyond Religion, p. 193

"The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt."
     ~ Rollo May, 1975, The Courage to Create, p. 21

"Our greatest challenge today is to couple conviction with doubt. By conviction, I mean some pragmatically developed faith, trust, or centeredness; and by doubt I mean openness to the ongoing changeability, mystery, and fallibility of the conviction."
     ~ Kirk Schneider, 1999, The Paradoxical Self, p. 7

"I call a lie: wanting not to see something one does see, wanting not to see something as one sees it... The most common lie is the lie one tells to oneself; lying to others is relatively the exception."
     ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, 1894/1990, The Anti-Christ (R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.), p. 185

"...we always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love--first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1972, A Happy Death (R. Howard, Trans.), p. 116

"The notion of ambiguity must not be confused with that of absurdity. To declare that existence is absurd is to deny that it can ever be given a meaning; to say that it is ambiguous is to assert that its meaning is never fixed, that it must be constantly won. Absurdity challenges every ethics; but also the finished rationalization of the real would leave no room for ethics; it is because man's condition is ambiguous that he seeks, through failure and outrageousness, to save his existence."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1948, The Ethics Of Ambiguity, p. 129

"What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms. Logos is deeper than logic."
     ~ Viktor E. Frankl, 1959/1984, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 122

"Forever I shall be a stranger to myself. In psychology as in logic, there are truths but no truth."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1955, The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays, p. 167

"Dogmatism of all kinds--scientific, economic, moral, as well as political--are threatened by the creative freedom of the artist. This is necessarily and inevitably so. We cannot escape our anxiety over the fact that the artists together with creative persons of all sorts, are the possible destroyer of our nicely ordered systems."
     ~ Rollo May, 1975, The Courage to Create, p. 76

"If someone told me that I could live my life again free of depression provided I was willing to give up the gifts depression has given me--the depth of awareness, the expanded consciousness, the increased sensitivity, the awareness of limitation, the tenderness of love, the meaning of friendship, the appreciation of life, the joy of a passionate heart--I would say, 'This is a Faustian bargain! Give me my depressions. Let the darkness descend. But do not take away the gifts that depression, with the help of some unseen hand, has dredged up from the deep ocean of my soul and strewn along the shores of my life. I can endure darkness if I must; but I cannot live without these gifts. I cannot live without my soul.'"
     ~ David N. Elkins, Beyond Religion, p. 188

"...despair is suffering without meaning."
     ~ Viktor E. Frankl, 2000, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning, p. 133

"Indeed, compulsive and rigid moralism arises in given persons precisely as the result of a lack of sense of being. Rigid moralism is a compensatory mechanism by which the individual persuades himself to take over the external sanctions because he has no fundamental assurance that his own choices have any sanction of their own."
     ~ Rollo May, 1958, "Contributions of Existential Psychotherapy" in Existence, p. 45

"Our age is one of transition, in which the normal channels for utilizing the daimonic are denied; and such ages tend to be times when the daimonic is expressed in its most destructive form."
     ~ Rollo May, 1969, Love and Will, p. 130

" Existential angst permeates our society. It is in our art, music, literature, movies, and plays: it is behind the increasing rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide; it is the ennui and the sense of hopelessness that threaten to swallow our children."
      ~ David N. Elkins, 1998, Beyond Religion, p. 62

"It is absolutely impossible for a subject to see or have insight into something while leaving itself out of the picture, so impossible that knowing and being are the most opposite of all spheres."
     ~ Nietzsche, 1873/1962, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, p. 83

"...less and less is life animated through personal discovery, intimacy with others, or self-reflection. While life has become more manageable for many people, it has become commensurately less engaged."
     ~ Kirk Schneider, 2004, Rediscovery of Awe, p. 20

"The greatest cause of evil included all human motives in one giant paradox. Good and bad were so inextricably mixed that we couldn't make them out; bad seemed to lead to good, and good motives led to bad. The paradox is that evil comes from man's urge to heroic victory over evil."
     ~ Ernest Becker (1975), Escape from Evil, p. 135-136

"...there is no doubt that healthy-mindedness is inadequate as a philosophical doctrine, because the evil facts which it refuses positively to account for are a genuine portion of reality; and they may after all be the best key to life's significance, and possibly the only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth."
     ~ William James, 1902/1997, The Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 140

"Therefore, it is we who are responsible for much of the evil in the world; and we are each morally required to accept rather than project that ponderous responsibility-lest we prefer instead to wallow in a perennial state of powerless, frustrated, furious, victimhood. For what one possesses the power to bring about, one has also the power to limit, Mitigate, counteract, or transmute."
     ~ Stephen A. Diamond, 1996, Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic, p. 85

"The citizens of a city are not guilty of the crimes committed in their city; but they are guilty as participants in the destiny of [humanity] as a whole and in the destiny of their city in particular; for their acts in which freedom was united with destiny have contributed to the destiny in which they participate. They are guilty, not of committing the crimes of which their group is accused, but of contributing to the destiny in which these crimes happened."
     ~ Paul Tillich, 1957, Systematic Theology (Vol. 2), p. 58

"In the beginning, we create the enemy. Before the weapon comes the image. We think others to death and then invent the battle-axe or ballistic missiles with which to actually kill them. Propaganda precedes technology."
     ~ Sam Keen, 1991, "The Enemy Maker" (in C. Zweig & J. Abrams, Meeting the Shadow), p. 198

"...man's natural and inevitable urge to deny mortality and achieve a heroic self-image are the root causes of human evil."
     ~ Ernest Becker (1975), Escape from Evil, p. xviii

"No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse."
     ~ Nietzsche, 1892/1966, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (W. Kaufmann, Trans.), p. 18

"...you have to reform yourself before reforming society and the world."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1919/1961 ("Random Thoughts - Dying in Bitterness," in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 52

"Instead of being hypnotized by the enemy we need to begin looking at the eyes with which we see the enemy... We need to become conscious of..."the shadow." The heroes and leaders toward peace in our time will be those men and women who have the courage to plunder into the darkness at the bottom of the personal and corporate psyche and face the enemy within. Depth psychology has presented us with the undeniable wisdom that the enemy is constructed from denied aspects of the self.
     ~ Sam Keen, 1991, "The Enemy Maker" (in C. Zweig & J. Abrams, Meeting the Shadow), p. 198-199

"Gods and goddesses, also, are personifications of principles; while theologians and philosophers often remind us that the word God points to a mystery so deep that it can never be captured in human form, most of us continue to personify God."
     ~ David N. Elkins, 1998, Beyond Religion, p. 1999

". . . the best existential analysis of the human condition leads directly into the problems of God and faith..."
     ~ Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, 1973, p. 68

"The desire for a strong faith is not the proof of a strong faith, rather the opposite. If one has it one may permit oneself the beautiful luxury of skepticism: one is secure enough, fixed enough for it."
     ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, 1889/1990, Twilight of the Idols (R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.), p. 85

"In those who rest on their unshakable faith, pharisaism and fanaticism are the unmistakable symptoms of doubt which has been repressed. Doubt is not overcome by repression but by courage. Courage does not deny that there is doubt, but it takes the doubt into itself as an expression of its own finitude and affirms the content of an ultimate concern. Courage does not need the safety of an unquestionable conviction. It includes the risk without which no creative life is possible."
     ~ Paul Tillich, 1957, The Dynamics of Faith, p. 101

"I can negate everything of that part of me that lives on vague nostalgias, except this desire for unity, this longing to solve, this need for clarity and cohesion. I can refute everything in this world surrounding me that offends or enraptures me, except this chaos, this sovereign chance and this divine equivalence which springs from anarchy. I don't know whether this world has meaning that transcends it. But I know that I do not know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it. What can a meaning outside my condition mean to me? I can understand only in human terms."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1955, The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays, p. 51

"I would say that our patients never really despair because of any suffering in itself! Instead, their despair stems in each instance from a doubt as to whether suffering is meaningful. Man is ready and willing to shoulder any suffering as soon and as long as he can see a meaning in it."
     ~ Viktor Frankl, 1961, Logotherapy and the Challenge of Suffering,
         In Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 1, p. 5

"One must have at least a readiness to love the other person, broadly speaking, if one is to be able to understand him."
     ~ Rollo May, 1958, "Contributions of Existential Psychotherapy" in Existence, p. 39

"Though love is instinctive, it cannot develop without a certain stimulus and use."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1925/1961 ("Guafuism" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 214

"When we are dealing with human beings, no truth has reality by itself; it is always dependent upon the reality of the immediate relationship."
     ~ Rollo May, 1958, The Origins of the Existential Movement in Psychology, in Existence, p. 27

"One must not let oneself be misled: they say 'Judge not!' but they send to Hell everything that stands in their way."
     ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, 1894/1990, The Anti-Christ (R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.), p. 170

"There can be no question of holding forth on ethics. I have seen people behave badly with great morality and I note every day that integrity has no need of rules."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1955, The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays, p. 67

"...that because of this interplay of conscious and unconscious factors in guilt and the impossibility of legalistic blame, we are forced into an attitude of acceptance of the universal human situation and a recognition of the participation of every one of us in man's inhumanity to man."
     ~ Rollo May, 1961, The Meaning of the Oedipus Myth
        In Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 1, p. 50

"Viewed from an existential standpoint, questions of choice, freedom and responsibility cannot be isolated or contained within some separate being (such as 'self' or 'other'). In the inescapable interrelationship that exists between 'a being' and 'the world', each impacts upon and implicates the other, each is defined through the other and, indeed, each 'is' through the existence of the other. Viewed in this way, no choice can be mine or yours alone, no experienced impact of choice can be separated in terms of 'my responsibility' versus 'your responsibility', no sense of personal freedom can truly avoid its interpersonal dimensions."
     ~ Ernesto Spinelli, 2001, The Mirror and the Hammer: Challenges to Therapeutic Orthodoxy, p. 16

"Artistic symbols and myths speak out of the primordial, preconscious realm of the mind which is powerful and chaotic. Both symbol and myth are ways of bringing order and form into this chaos."
     ~ Rollo May, 1985, My Quest for Beauty, p. 155

‎"The most important thing... was to change their spirit; and since at that time I felt that literature was the best means to this end, I decided to promote literary movement." 
     ~ Lu Xun, 1922/1959, from the preface to A Call to Arms, (in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 35).

"Without awareness, we are not truly alive."
     ~ James F. T. Bugental, 1999, Psychotherapy Isn't What You Think, p. 257

"What we are talking about here is an alternative way of knowing. Communication is an effort to overcome the subject-object split and to open ourselves to the oneness and interconnectedness of all things. Frankly, most Westerners do not know how to do this. We have been shaped by a culture that idealizes objectivity and denigrates subjectivity. Consequently, we are estranged from our own inner experience and cannot rely on it as a way of knowing the world."
     ~ David N. Elkins, 1998, Beyond Religion, p. 219

"But anyone who thinks themselves genuinely unbiased is bound to be taken in."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1926/1961 ("On Seeing Off the Kitchen God" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 253

"Self-awareness or self-consciousness can lead to the enlarging of consciousness. It can lead to the expansion of control of one's life. Self-awareness involves the capacity of not only looking back, but also looking ahead. Self-awareness is not only a gift, but it is a responsibility."
      ~ Mufti James Hannush
         "The Development of the Self in the Light of the Existential-Humanistic Psychology of Rollo May"
         In Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 24, 1999, pp. 75-76

"I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast."
     ~ Viktor E. Frankl, 1959/1984, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 134

"Human freedom involves our capacity to pause between the stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight. The capacity to create ourselves, based upon this freedom, is inseparable from consciousness or self-awareness."
     ~ Rollo May, 1975, The Courage to Create, p. 100

"...how hard it must be to live only with what one knows and what one remembers, cut off from what one hopes for!... There can be no peace without hope."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1948, The Plague (Trans. Stuart Gilbert), p. 262-263

"Whether you think of it as heavenly or as earthly, if you love life immortality is no consolation for death."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1965, A Very Easy Death, p. 92

"The earthly meaning of eternal life was death, and she refused to die."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1965, A Very Easy Death, p. 60

"Today, however, we are having a hard time living because we are so bent on outwitting death."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1948, The Ethics Of Ambiguity, p. 120

"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1955, The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays, p. 3

"...man is free, in so far as he has the power of contradicting himself and his essential nature. Man is free even from his freedom; that is, he can surrender his humanity."
     ~ Paul Tillich, 1957, Systematic Theology (Vol. 2), p. 32

"A freedom which is interested only in denying freedom must be denied. And it is not true that the recognition of the freedom of others limits my own freedom: to be free is not to have the power to do anything you like; it is to be able to surpass the given toward an open future; the existence of others as a freedom defines my situation and is even the condition of my own freedom. I am oppressed if I am thrown into prison, but not if I am kept from throwing my neighbor into prison."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1948, The Ethics Of Ambiguity, p. 91

"All power is in essence power to deny mortality."
     ~ Ernest Becker (1975), Escape from Evil, p. 81

"...convictions might be more dangerous enemies of the truth than lies."
     ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, 1894/1990, The Anti-Christ (R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.), p. 185

"All who have read a few old books have picked up the old tactics of considering every new idea a 'heresy' which must be rooted out."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1926/1961 ("The Classics and the Vernacular" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 246

"Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon absolute truth.... Through words and concepts we shall never reach beyond the wall of relations, to some sort of fabulous primal ground of things."
     ~ Nietzsche, 1873/1962, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, p. 83

"Our thesis is that symbols and myths are an expression of man's unique self-consciousness, his capacity to transcend the immediate concrete situation and see his life in terms of 'the possible,' and that this capacity is one aspect of his experiencing himself as a being having a world."
     ~ Rollo May, 1961, "The Meaning of the Oedipus Myth"
        In Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 1, p. 44

"Science, is the creation by humans of a particular paradigm and methodology for discovering truth and understanding reality. Hence it can never fully reflect the hidden face of humanity, its creator, in the same sense that a computer can never become fully human or know what it means to be human: however sophisticated, these machines will forever remain mere artifacts of humanity."
     ~ Stephen A. Diamond, 1996, Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic, p. 179

"Though science has given us many marvels, it has also spoiled many of our pleasant dreams."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1925/1961 ("Idle Thoughts at the End of Spring" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 142

"Awe is not a very comfortable standpoint for many people... Hence, all about us today, we see avoidance of awe-by burying ourselves in materialist science, for example or in absolutist religious positions; or by locking ourselves into systems, whether corporate, familial, or consumerist; or by stupefying ourselves with drugs."
     ~ Kirk Schneider, 2004, Rediscovery of Awe, p. xiii

"Good art wounds as well as delights. It must, because our defenses against the truth are wound so tightly around us. But as art chips away at our defenses, it also opens us to healing potentialities that transcend intellectual games and ego-preserving strategies."
     ~ Rollo May, 1985, My Quest for Beauty, p. 172

"This sign I give you: every people speaks its tongue of good and evil, which the neighbor does not understand. It has invented its own language of customs and rights."
     ~ Nietzsche, 1892/1966, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (W. Kaufmann, Trans.), p. 49

"Integrity is unity of the personality; it implies being brutally honest with ourselves about our intentionality. Since intentionality is inextricably bound up with the daimonic, this is never an easy, nor always pleasant pursuit. But being willing to admit our daimonic tendencies - to know them consciously and to wisely oversee them - brings with it the invaluable blessing of freedom, vigor, inner strength, and self-acceptance."
     ~ Stephen A. Diamond, 1996, Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic, p. 233.

"True, we must dare look things in the face before we dare think, speak, act, or assume responsibility. If we dare not even look, what else are we good for?"
     ~ Lu Xun, 1925/1961 ("On Looking Facts in the Face" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 198

"The world is changing from day to day; it is high time for our writers to take off their masks, look frankly, keenly, and boldly at life, and write about real flesh and blood. It is high time for a brand-new arena for literature, high time for some bold fighters to charge headlong into battle!"
     ~ Lu Xun, 1925/1961 ("On Looking Facts in the Face" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 203

"Sometimes I think it is my mission to bring faith to the faithless, and doubt to the faithful."
     ~ Paul Tillich as quoted by Rollo May, 1988, in Paulus: Tillich as Spiritual Teacher, p. 71

"The truth is that everyone is bored, and devotes himself to cultivating habits."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1948, The Plague (Trans. Stuart Gilbert), p. 4

"In those days it was possible for a Greek to flee from an over-abundant reality as though it were but the tricky scheming off the imagination-and to flee, not like Plato into the land of eternal ideas, into the workshop off the world-creator, feasting one's eyes on the unblemished unbreakable archetypes, but into the rigor mortis off the coldest emptiest concept off all, the concept of being."
     ~ Nietzsche, 1873/1962, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, pp.80-18

"A historical perspective can also help free us from the ever-present danger -- especially at danger in the social sciences -- of absolutizing a theory or method which is actually relative to the fact that we live at a given moment in time in the development of our particular culture."
     ~ Rollo May, 1979, Psychology and the Human Dilemma, p. 56

"But freedom is the possibility of a total and centered act of the personality, an act in which all the drives and influences which constitute the destiny of man are brought into the centered unity of a decision."
     ~ Paul Tillich, 1957, Systematic Theology (Vol. 2), p;. 42-43

"Let those who hanker after the past return to the past! Let those who want to leave the world leave the world! Let those who want to ascend to heaven do so! Let those whose souls want to leave their bodies expire quickly! The earth today should be inhabited by man with a firm hold on the present, a firm hold on the earth."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1925/1961 ("Stray Thoughts" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2) p. 159

"We might say that psychoanalysis revealed to us the complex penalties of denying the truth of man's condition, what we might call the costs of pretending not to be mad."
     ~ Ernest Becker, 1973, The Denial of Death, p. 29

"True fighters dare face the sorrows of humanity, and look unflinchingly at bloodshed. What sorrow and joy are theirs! But the Creator's common device for ordinary people is to let the passage of time wash away old traces leaving only pale-red bloodstains and a vague pain; and he lets men live on ignobly and amid these, to keep this quasi-human world going."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1926/1961 ("In Memory of Miss Liu Hezhen" in Lu Xun, Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 268

"...once I gave up the hunt for villains, I had little recourse but to take responsibility for my choices.... Needless to say, this is far less satisfying that nailing villains. It also turned out to be more healing in the end..."
     ~ Barbara Brown Taylor, 2006, Experiments with Truth, in Sojourners (Nov. 2006), p. 46

"Evil, in this system of ethics, is that which tears apart, shuts out the other person, raises barriers, sets people against each other."
     ~ Rollo May, 1985, My Quest for Beauty, p. 158

"When one has served in a war, one hardly knows what a dead man is, after a while. And since a dead man has no substance unless one has actually seen him dead, a hundred million corpses broadcast through history are no more than a puff of smoke in the imagination."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1948, The Plague (Trans. Stuart Gilbert), p. 35

"...men who have not known the horror of death are not likely to be awed by it."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1926/1961 ("Dangerous Ground" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 262

"Every war, every revolution, demands the sacrifice of a generation, of a collectivity, by those who undertake it."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1948, The Ethics Of Ambiguity, p. 99

"Like students going to school, the planes on their bombing missions fly over Beijing each morning. And each time I hear their engines attack the air I feel a certain slight tension, as if I were witnessing the invasion of Death, though this heightens my consciousness of the existence of Life."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1926/1959, The Awakening (In Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 365).

"The misfortune is that although everyone must come to [death], each experiences the adventure in solitude. We never left Maman during those last days... and yet we were profoundly separated from her."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1965, A Very Easy Death, p. 100

"The man of knowledge must not only love his enemies, he must also be able to hate his friends."
     ~ Nietzsche, 1892/1966, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (W. Kaufmann, Trans.), p. 78

"One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil."
     ~ Nietzsche, 1892/1966, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (W. Kaufmann, Trans.), p. 78

"Why should young people look for guides who hang out gided placards to advertise themselves? They would do better to look for friends, unite with them, and advance together towards some quarter where it seems possible to survive."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1925/1961 ("Teachers" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 165

"To grasp life and meaning, we assume constancy where it does not exist. We name experiences, emotions, and subjective states and assume that what is named is as enduring as its name. Human beings blessed and cursed with consciousness - especially consciousness of their own being - think in terms of names, words, symbols."
     ~ James F. T. Bugental, 1999, Psychotherapy Isn't What You Think, p. 170

"Symbols are specific acts or figures, while myths develop and elaborate these symbols into a story which contains characters and several episodes. The myth is thus more inclusive. But both symbol and myth have the same function psychologically; they are man's way of expressing the quintessence of his experience - his way of seeing his life, his self-image and his relations to the world of his fellow men and of nature - in a total figure which at the same moment carries the vital meaning of this experience."
     ~ Rollo May, 1961, "The Meaning of the Oedipus Myth"
        In Review of Existential Psychology & Psychiatry, Volume 1, p. 44

"A symbol always transcends the one who makes use of it and makes him say in reality more than he is aware of expressing."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1955, The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays, p. 124

"It is interesting to note how many of the great scientific discoveries begin as myths."
     ~ Rollo May, 1991, The Cry for Myth, p. 25

"The same sensitivity that opens artists to Being also makes them vulnerable to the dark powers of non-Being. It is no accident that many creative people--including Dante, Pascal, Goethe, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Beethoven, Rilke, Blake, and Van Gogh--struggled with depression, anxiety, and despair. They paid a heavy price to wrest their gifts from the clutches of non-Being. But this is what true artists do: they make their own frayed lives the cable for the surges of power generated in the creative force fields of Being and non-Being."
      ~ David N. Elkins, 1998, Beyond Religion, p. 124

"All modern philosophizing is political, policed by governments, churches, academics, custom, fashion, and human cowardice, all off which limit it to a fake learnedness."
     ~ Nietzsche, 1873/1962, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, pp. 37-38

"All that philosophers have handled for millennia has been conceptual mummies; nothing actual has ever escaped from their hands alive."
     ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, 1889/1990, Twilight of the Idols (R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.), p. 45

"What makes us most human is not whether we are or are not biologically driven and determined beings; but, rather, how we respond to this relative truth. The conscious choices we make in related to the dynamic, psychobiological forces of the daimonic define our humanity."
     ~ Stephen A. Diamond, 1996, Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic, p. 179

"Terrorism and the whole drug scene are vivid examples of the fact that what persons abhor most of all in life is the possibility that they will not matter."
     ~ Rollo May, 1985, My Quest for Beauty, p. 214.

"Finally, the oppressor has a good case for showing that respect for freedom is never without difficulty, and perhaps he may even assert that one can never respect all freedoms at the same time. But that simply means that man must accept the tension of the struggle, that his liberation must actively seek to perpetuate itself, without aiming at an impossible state of equilibrium and rest; this does not mean that he ought to prefer the sleep of slavery to this incessant conquest. Whatever the problem raised for him, the setbacks that he will have to assume, and the difficulties with which he will have to struggle, he must reject oppression at any cost."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1948, The Ethics Of Ambiguity, p. 96

"Like most human behavior, violence has meaning: it only seems 'senseless' or 'meaningless' to the extent we are unable--or unwilling--to decode it."
     ~ Stephen A. Diamond, 1996, Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic, p. 9

"...history has shown that the most terrible crimes against love have been committed in the name of fanatically defended doctrines."
     ~ Paul Tillich, 1957, The Dynamics of Faith, p. 113

"As long as there have been men and they have lived, they have all felt this tragic ambiguity of their condition, but as long as there have been philosophers and they have thought, most of them have tried to mask it."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1948, The Ethics Of Ambiguity, p. 7

"I mistrust all systematizers and avoid them. the will to a system is a lack of integrity."
     ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, 1889/1990, Twilight of the Idols, (R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.), p. 35

"Science requires an engagement with the world, a live encounter between the knower and the known."
     ~ Parker J. Palmer, 1998, The Courage to Teach, p. 54

"Indeed, there is nothing more arbitrary than intervening as a stranger in a destiny which is not ours..."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1948, The Ethics Of Ambiguity, p. 86

"But thus I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangman and the bloodhound look out of their faces. Mistrust all who talk much of their justice! Verily, their souls lack more than honey. And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had - power."
     ~ Nietzsche, 1892/1966, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (W. Kaufmann, Trans.), p. 100

"Man is not what he believes himself to be in his conscious decisions."
     ~ Paul Tillich, 1961, "Existentialism and Psychotherapy, in Review of Existential Psychology & Psychiatry, Volume 1, p. 13

"Obviously, all religions fall far short of their own ideals..."
     ~ Ernest Becker, 1973, The Denial of Death, p. 204

"...philosophical systems are wholly true for their founders only."
     ~ Nietzsche, 1873/1962, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, p. 23

"Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1948, The Plague (Trans. Stuart Gilbert), p. 34

"Science, Nietzsche had warned, is becoming a factory, and the result will be ethical nihilism."
     ~ Rollo May, 1958, "The Origins of the Existential Movement in Psychology" in Existence, p. 36

"If we possess our why of life we can put up with almost any how."
     ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, 1889/1990, Twilight of the Idols (Trans. R. J. Hollingdale), p. 33

"There is scarcely any passion without struggle."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1955, The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays, p. 73

"In my more rebellious days I tried to doubt the existence of the sacred, but the universe kept dancing and life kept writing poetry across my life."
     ~ David N. Elkins, 1998, Beyond Religion, p. 81

"Mass communication--wonder as it may be technologically and something to be appreciated and valued--presents us with a serious danger, the danger of conformism, due to the fact that we all view the same things at the same time in all the cities of the country."
     ~ Rollo May, 1975, The Courage to Create, p. 73

"Like great works, deep feelings always mean more than they are conscious of saying."
     ~ Albert Camus, 1955, The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays, p. 10

"A paradox arises: the only way to meaning in freedom is through boundaries. The only way that boundaries make any sense at all is through freedom."
     ~ Clark Moustakas, 1995, Being-In, Being-For, Being-With, p. 93

"There are cases where the slave does not know his servitude and where it is necessary to bring the seed of his liberation to him from the outside: his submission is not enough to justify the tyranny which is imposed upon him."
     ~ Simone de Beauvoir, 1948, The Ethics Of Ambiguity, p. 85

"Courage is not a virtue or value among other personal values like love or fidelity. It is the foundations that underlies and gives reality to all other virtue and personal values."     
     ~ Rollo May, 1975, The Courage to Create, p. 13

"It is true that we can see the therapist as a technician only if we have first viewed the patient as some sort of machine."
     ~ Viktor E. Frankl, 2000, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning, p. 26

"Now, it is my contention that the deneuroticization of humanity requires a rehumanization of psychotherapy."
     ~ Viktor E. Frankl, 2000, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning, p. 104

"I could not blot out hope, for hope belongs to the future."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1922/1959, Preface to A Call to Arms (in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 39)

"...suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning..."
     ~ Viktor E. Frankl, 1959/1984, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 117

"The ability to forget the past enables people to free themselves gradually from the pain they once suffered; but it also often makes them repeat the mistakes of their predecessors."
     ~ Lu Xun, 1923/1961, ("What Happens After Nora Leaves Home" in Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 2), p. 89

"These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus it is impossible to define the meaning in life in a general way."
     ~ Viktor E. Frankl, 1959/1984, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 85

 

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