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Why are humans driven mad by meaning? “What a strange urge, the human need for purpose,” writes Nate Anderson (author of In Emergency, Break Glass).
As Nietzsche wrote in Human, All Too Human,
In my interview with Nate Anderson (author of In Emergency, Break Glass), he explained, “For Nietzsche, ranking comfort too highly can dampen our desire to strive, to risk, and to create, these more difficult goals that matter to living a fully orbed human life.”
In the first section of The Gay Science (a book about how to live joyfully without metaphysical meaning), Nietzsche wrote: “Man has gradually become a visionary animal, who has to fulfill one more condition of existence than the other animals. Man must from time to time believe that he knows why he exists.”
Similarly, the philosopher Seneca insisted, “If one does not know which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” We are faltering, observed Nietzsche, but we must not let it make us afraid and perhaps surrender the new things we have gained. We cannot return to the old. We have burned our boats; all that remains is for us to be brave and let happen what may.
The notion of moving forward was a literal one for Nietzsche. He stressed that the best place to find our “why” is walking. “All great thoughts are conceived while walking,” insisted Nietzsche. In his book Ecce Homo, Nietzsche advised,
In a passage from one of his notebooks, published after his death, Nietzsche writes eloquently about this need for goals: If the “why” of one’s life is clear, then the “how” will take care of itself.
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