"At present, the comedy of existence has not yet ‘become conscious’ of itself; at present, we still live in the age of tragedy, in the age of moralities and religions."
— Friedrich Nietzsche - The Gay Science, Book I
"My vision is clear now. I feel that a vast emptiness extends inside me, and all around me - so that I almost find my self to be superfluous, unnecessary. Nothing attracts me. I’m tormented by a boredom that makes life intolerable. Don’t think me arrogant for saying this, but the demands of morality are too easy for me. I would eagerly do twice as much as they command. They only get their prestige from the attractiveness of sin, and it costs me almost no effort to resist that."
— Maria von Herbert, in a letter to Immanuel Kant
"The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities."
— Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
"Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness."
— Immanuel Kant
"The ethical as such is the universal; as the universal it is in turn the disclosed. The single individual, qualified as immediate, sensate, and physical, is the hidden. Thus his ethical task is to work himself out of his hiddenness and to become disclosed in the universal. Every time he desires to remain in the hidden, he trespasses and is immersed in spiritual trial from which he can emerge only by disclosing himself."
— Søren Kierkegaard
"Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of “world history,” but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature."
— Friedrich Nietzsche - On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense
"A self-objectifying animal thus has to bring something to his world in order to act in it. An animal whose behavior is governed by purely instinctual patterns of response needs only to act. But once an animal becomes self-conscious, straightforward action is no longer possible. The prescription for conduct free of anxiety is to choose the ‘right’ thing to do. And, as soon as one course of action becomes ‘right’ and another ‘wrong,’ life becomes moral and meaningful. Morality is merely a prescription for choice; and ‘meaning’ is born as the choice is carried into action."
— Ernest Becker, The Birth and Death of Meaning
"‘Two things fill me with constantly increasing admiration and awe, the longer and more earnestly I reflect on them; the starry heavens without and the moral law within.’"
— Written on the tombstone of Immanuel Kant
"Morality protected from nihilism those who turned out badly by granting everyone an infinite value, a metaphysical value, and placing them in an order which did not correspond to that of worldly power and hierarchy: it taught submissiveness, humility, etc. Provided that the belief in this morality collapses, those who turned out badly would no longer have their consolation – and they would perish."
— Friedrich Nietzsche - European Nihilism (1887)
"We know it well, the world in which we live is ungodly, immoral, ‘inhuman’…"
— Friedrich Nietzsche - The Gay Science V
"So let us give voice to this new demand: we need a critique of moral values, the value of these values should itself, for once, be examined — and so we need to know about the conditions and circumstances under which the values grew up, developed and changed (morality as result, as symptom, as mask, as tartuffery, as sickness, as misunderstanding; but also morality as cause, remedy, stimulant, inhibition, poison) since we have neither had this knowledge up till now nor ever even desired it."
— Friedrich Nietzsche - On the Genealogy of Morality
"I dealt especially with the value of the ‘unegoistic’, the instincts of pity, self-denial, self-sacrifice which Schopenhauer had for so long gilded, deified and transcendentalized until he was finally left with those ‘values as such’ on that basis of which he said ‘no’ to life and to himself as well…Precisely here I saw the great danger to mankind, its most sublime temptation and seduction — temptation to what? to nothingness? — precisely here I saw the beginning of the end, standstill, mankind looking back wearily, turning its will against life, and the onset of the final sickness becoming gently, sadly manifest: I understood the morality of pity…"
— Friedrich Nietzsche - On the Genealogy of Morality
"What did I care for the eternal “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not”? How different are lightning, storm and hail—free powers without ethics! How happy, how strong they are—pure will untrammeled by the muddling influence of the intellect!"
— Friedrich Nietzsche - Letter to Freiherr Karl Von Gersdorff, 1866
"If suicide be supposed a crime, it is only cowardice can impel us to it. If it be no crime, both prudence and courage should engage us to rid ourselves at once of existence when it becomes a burden. It is the only way that we can then be useful to society, by setting an example which, if imitated, would preserve every one his chance for happiness in life, and would effectually free him from all danger or misery."
— On Suicide, David Hume