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Such a man’s attitude will vary at different times…….[he may choose either way]….[But] If he has, say, the Christian ethics, then he may say it is absolutely clear: he has got to stick to her come what may. And then his problem is different. It is: how to make the best of this situation, what he should do in order to be a decent husband in these greatly altered circumstances, and so forth. The question ‘Should I leave her or not?’ is not a problem here. [p.22]


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Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)



Truth for me


What I really need is to be clear about what I am to do, not what I must know, except in the way knowledge must precede all action. It is a question of understanding my destiny, of seeing what the Deity really wants me to do; the thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die. And what use would it be if I were to discover a so-called objective truth, or if I worked my way through the philosopher’s systems and were able to call them all to account on request, point out inconsistencies in every single circle? And what use here would it be to be able to work out a theory of the state, and put all the pieces from so many places into one whole, construct a world which, again, I myself did not inhabit but merely held up for others to see? What use would it be to be able to propound the meaning of Christianity, to explain many separate facts, if it had no deeper meaning for me and for my life? Certainly I won’t deny that I still accept an imperative of knowledge, and that one can also be influenced by it, but then it must be taken up alive in me, and this is what I now see as the main point…..One must first learn to know oneself before knowing anything else. (Kierkegaard, Papers and Journals, Gilleleie, 1 August, 1835. Soren Kierkegaard’s Journals: A Selection, trans. Alastair Hannay, pp.32-33; London and New York: Penguin Books, 1996)



Friedrich Nietzsche (1900)


Independence of the soul

“Independence of the soul—that is at stake here! No sacrifice can then be too great: even one’s dearest friend one must be willing to sacrifice for it, though he be the most glorious human being, embellishment of the world, genius without peer…” ( Gay Science, 98)



A philosopher

292. A philosopher: that is a man who constantly experiences, sees, hears, suspects, hopes, and dreams extraordinary things; who is struck by his own thoughts as if they came from the outside, from above and below, as a species of events and lightning-flashes PECULIAR TO HIM; who is perhaps himself a storm pregnant with new lightnings; a portentous man, around whom there is always rumbling and mumbling and gaping and something uncanny going on. A philosopher: alas, a being who often runs away from himself, is often afraid of himself—but whose curiosity always makes him “come to himself” again. (Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil)

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