82 Quotes About Existentialism You've Probably Never Read

82 Quotes about Existentialism
The theory of existentialism is easier to understand when we know what the scholars have to say about this phenomenon. That is why, this Quotabulary article has collaborated to get together some notable existentialist quotes for you.
Quotabulary Staff
Last Updated: Jun 7, 2017
Did You Know?
Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche were the first existentialist philosophers, though neither of them ever used the term "existential."
Kierkegaard proposed that an individual is responsible for his own life and gives meaning to it. Existentialism believed in individual existence, freedom, and choice. Though Kierkegaard placed the cornerstone of this movement, it was Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir who made it popular through their scholarly and fictional work. The movement prevailed in philosophy, literature, art, theology, and psychology.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, existentialism can be described as a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad.
After enduring two World Wars, existentialism did not believe in a society, but only in the sole existence of an individual. It concentrated on the isolation of an individual in an indifferent universe. Existentialists believed that human existence is unexplainable. Themes like boredom, alienation, freedom, absurd, dread, nothingness, commitment, etc., were prevalent in the existential movement.
Here are quotes about existentialism that will help you catch the mood of movement.
Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
― Samuel Beckett
I can't go on, I'll go on.
― Samuel Beckett, I Can't Go On, I'll Go On: A Samuel Beckett Reader
The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it.
― Anton Chekhov
Friedrich Nietzsche quote about convictions
No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.
― Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death
Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level.
― Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death
There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point... The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.
― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answers blank and got 100.
― Woody Allen
From the very beginning, existentialism defined itself as a philosophy of ambiguity.
― Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity
Existentialism does not offer to the reader the consolations of an abstract evasion: existentialism proposes no evasion. On the contrary, its ethics is experienced in the truth of life, and it then appears as the only proposition of salvation which one can address to men.
― Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity
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.
― Søren Kierkegaard
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.
― Søren Kierkegaard
In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the network's mind there are no limits.
― John C. Lilly, The Human Biocomputer
To assume that one's existential task is completed when the individual is brought into right relation with society, that is, when the individual has been socialized, is to absolutize society and confuse society with God.
― Merold Westphal, Kierkegaard's Critique of Reason and Society
Knowledge of that which concerns us infinitely is possible only in an attitude of infinite concern.
― Paul Tillich, The Courage To Be
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, Foucault's Pendulum
It's not always easy to distinguish between existentialism and a bad mood.
― Matthew Woodring Stover, Blade of Tyshalle
Today, however, we are having a hard time living because we are so bent on outwitting death.
― Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity
You are free and that is why you are lost.
― Franz Kafka
Carl Sagan quote about universe
The artist's job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.
― Woody Allen
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
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
Existentialist Quotes on Love
I know of only one duty, and that is to love.
― Albert Camus
It is necessary to fall in love... if only to provide an alibi for all the random despair you are going to feel anyway.
― Albert Camus
Quotes by Jean-Paul Sartre
We do not judge the people we love.
Life has no meaning a priori... It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose.
He was free, free in every way, free to behave like a fool or a machine, free to accept, free to refuse, free to equivocate; to marry, to give up the game, to drag this death weight about with him for years to come. He could do what he liked, no one had the right to advise him, there would be for him no Good or Evil unless he thought them into being.
There is no reality except in action.
― Existentialism Is a Humanism
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...
― Nausea
I am going to outlive myself. Eat, sleep, sleep, eat. Exist slowly, softly, like these trees, like a puddle of water, like the red bench in the streetcar.
― Nausea
I am. I am, I exist, I think, therefore I am; I am because I think, why do I think? I don't want to think any more, I am because I think that I don't want to be, I think that I . . . because . . . ugh!
― Nausea
Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
Sartre quote about life
We must act out passion before we can feel it.
Nothingness haunts being.
I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating.
Everything has been figured out, except how to live.
Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.
Existentialist Quotes by Albert Camus
Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable.
― The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
There is scarcely any passion without struggle.
― The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
I rebel; therefore I exist.
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.
― The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
Albert Camus quote about experience
Basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only absurdity, and more absurdity. And maybe that's what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.
Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.
Quotes from 'The Stranger (1942)' by Albert Camus
I may not have been sure about what really did interest me, but I was absolutely sure about what didn't.
I had only a little time left and I didn't want to waste it on God.
There is not love of life without despair about life.
If something is going to happen to me, I want to be there.
Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter.
Albert Camus quote about opening up
I felt the urge to reassure him that I was like everybody else, just like everybody else.
"But," I reminded myself, "it's common knowledge that life isn't worth living, anyhow."
After a while you could get used to anything.
Everything is true, and nothing is true!
One always has exaggerated ideas about what one doesn't know.
To stay or to go, it amounted to the same thing.
Still, obviously, one can't be sensible all the time.
Existentialist Quotes from 'The Metamorphosis (1915)' by Franz Kafka
When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams [...] "What's happened to me?" he thought. It was no dream.
I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.
Franz Kafka quote about reflection
He saw clearly that in bed he would never think things through to a rational conclusion. He remembered how even in the past he had often felt some kind of slight pain [...] which, when he got up, turned out to be purely imaginary.
He remained in this state of empty and peaceful reflection until the tower clock struck three in the morning. He still saw that outside the window everything was beginning to grow light. Then, without his consent, his head sank down to the floor, and from his nostrils streamed his last weak breath.
Quotes from 'The Catcher in the Rye (1951)' by J. D. Salinger
Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior.
I am always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.
Salinger quote about not telling anybody
It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to.
I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.
If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don't watch it, you start showing off. And then you're not as good any more.
I don't even know what I was running for-I guess I just felt like it.
Existentialist Quotes from Fight Club (1999)
This is your life, and it's ending one second at a time.
We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.
Fight Club quote about being free
When the fight was over, nothing was solved, but nothing mattered. We all felt saved.
Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place.
We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.