Existentialism Quotes to Illuminate Dark Times

Existentialism Quotes

Existentialism is a philosophical movement emphasizing individual existence and freedom. Originating in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it rejects predetermined meaning in life, asserting that individuals must create their own. Key figures include Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre. Themes such as anxiety, alienation, and the quest for meaning are central. Existentialists prioritize subjective experience and personal responsibility, confronting existential dilemmas like death and uncertainty. Their ideas have influenced philosophy, literature, psychology, and sociology. Works by Dostoevsky, Kafka, and Camus, as well as psychological theories by Frankl and May, reflect existentialist themes. Overall, existentialism encourages facing the human condition with courage and authenticity, embracing freedom and responsibility.

Existentialism Quotes

1. “If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life.”
— Charles Bukowski

2. “However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”
— Stanley Kubrick

3. “I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.”
— Jack Kerouac

4. “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

5. “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”
— Albert Camus

6. “Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

7. “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.”
— William Shakespeare

8. “Life might just be an absurd, even crude, chain of events and nothing more.”
— Haruki Murakami

9. “Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

10. “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. [It is a matter of choice, not chance.] Such is the first principle of existentialism.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

11. “There is scarcely any passion without struggle.”
— Albert Camus

12. “Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

13. “Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level.”
— Ernest Becker

14. “Let us do something, while we have the chance! … Let us make the most of it, before it is too late! Let us represent worthily for one the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us!”
— Samuel Beckett

15. “I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”
— Umberto Eco

16. “The crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.”
— Soren Kierkegaard

17. “Death is a continuation of my life without me.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

18. “Regarding life, the wisest men of all ages have judged alike: it is worthless.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

19. “But how could you live and have no story to tell?”
— Fyodor Dostoevsky

20. “I have crossed the seas, I have left cities behind me, and I have followed the source of rivers towards their source or plunged into forests, always making for other cities. I have had women, I have fought with men ; and I could never turn back any more than a record can spin in reverse. And all that was leading me where ? To this very moment.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

21. “What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself. If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

22. “Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?”
— Albert Camus

23. “If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life – and only then will I be free to become myself.”
— Martin Heidegger

24. “There are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely-or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands.”
— Oscar Wilde

25. “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

26. “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

27. “Nothingness haunts Being.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

28. “Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question– ‘Is this all?”
— Betty Friedan

29. “The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.”
— Carl Sagan

30. “What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose, to see what it really is that God wills that I shall do; the crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.”
— Soren Kierkegaard

31. “I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answers blank and got 100.”
— Woody Allen

32. “Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”
— Kurt Vonnegut

33. “I have an existential map. It has ‘You are here’ written all over it.”
— Steven Wright

34. “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

35. “Regardless of the staggering dimensions of the world about us, the density of our ignorance, the risks of catastrophes to come, and our individual weakness within the immense collectivity, the fact remains that we are absolutely free today if we choose to will our existence in its finiteness, a finiteness which is open on the infinite. And in fact, any man who has known real loves, real revolts, real desires, and real will knows quite well that he has no need of any outside guarantee to be sure of his goals; their certitude comes from his own drive.”
— Simone de Beauvoir

36. “I mistrust all systematizers and avoid them. the will to a system is a lack of integrity.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

37. “Don’t you feel the same way? When I cannot see myself, even though I touch myself, I wonder if I really exist.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

38. “Existentialism isn’t so atheistic that it wears itself out showing that God doesn’t exist. Rather, it declares that even if God did exist, that would change nothing.”
— Fyodor Dostoevsky

39. “There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”
— David Eagleman

40. “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 J. Schneider

41. “When we see life, we call it beautiful. When we see death, we call it ugly. But it is more beautiful still to see oneself living at great speed, right up to the moment of death.”
— Jean Genet

42. “One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

43. “Mystical explanations are thought to be deep; the truth is that they are not even shallow.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

44. “Which of us has not felt that the character we are reading in the printed page is more real than the person standing beside us?”
— Cornelia Funke

45. “No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

46. “One always dies too soon or too late. And yet, life is there, finished: the line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

47. “Existentialism is about being a saint without God; being your own hero, without all the sanction and support of religion or society.”
— Anita Brookner

48. “We start off with high hopes, then we bottle it. We realise that we’re all going to die, without really finding out the big answers. We develop all those long-winded ideas which just interpret the reality of our lives in different ways, without really extending our body of worthwhile knowledge, about the big things, the real things. Basically, we live a short disappointing life; and then we die. We fill up our lives with shite, things like careers and relationships to delude ourselves that it isn’t all totally pointless.”
— Irvine Welsh

49. “In life man commits himself and draws his own portrait, outside of which there is nothing. No doubt this thought may seem harsh to someone who has not made a success of his life. But on the other hand, it helps people to understand that reality alone counts, and that dreams, expectations and hopes only serve to define a man as a broken dream, aborted hopes, and futile expectations.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre

50. “Let’s say that life is this square of the sidewalk. We are born at this crack and we die at that crack. Now we find ourselves somewhere inside the square and in the process of walking outside of it. Suddenly, we realize our time in here is fleeting. Is our quick experience here pointless? Does anything we say or do in here really matter? Have we done anything important? Have we been happy? Have we made the most of these precious few footsteps?”
— Bill Watterson

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