Miguel de Unamuno Quotes

Miguel_de_Unamuno_1925Miguel de Unamuno, was a Spanish philosopher and poet, most famous for his work Tragic Sense of Life. Here are a few of the many great passages from his work:

“We can only know and feel humanity in the one human being which we have at hand.”

“Happiness is a thing that is lived and felt, not a thing that is reasoned about or defined”

“Man dies of cold, not of darkness.”

“Unless a man aspires to the impossible, the possible that he achieves will be scarcely worth the trouble of achieving.”

“The greatest height of heroism to which an individual, like a people, can attain is to know how to face ridicule; better still, to know how to make oneself ridiculous and not to shrink from the ridicule.”

“Yes, yes, I see it all! – an enormous social activity, a mighty civilization, a profuseness of science, of art, of industry, of morality, and afterwards, when we have filled the world with industrial marvels, with great factories, with roads, museums, and libraries, we shall fall exhausted at the foot of it all, and it will subsist – for whom? Was man made for science or was science made for man?”

“Why do I wish to know whence I come and whither I go, whence comes and whither goes everything that environs me, and what is the meaning of it all? For I do not wish to die utterly, and I wish to know whether I am to die or not definitely. If I do not die, what is my destiny? and if I die, then nothing has any meaning for me. And there are three solutions: (a) I know that I shall die utterly, and then irremediable despair, or (b) I know that I shall not die utterly, and then resignation, or (c) I cannot know either one or the other, and then resignation in despair or despair in resignation, a desperate resignation or are resigned despair, and hence conflict.”

“And after all, what is madness and how can we distinguish it from reason, unless we place ourselves outside both the one and the other, which for us is impossible.”

“We need that others should believe in our superiority to them in order that we may believe in it ourselves, and upon their belief base our faith in our own persistence, or at least in the persistence of our fame. We are more grateful to him who congratulates us on the skill with which we defend a cause than we are to him who recognizes the truth or the goodness of the cause itself.

“…the longing for immortality, is it not perhaps the primal and fundamental condition of all reflective or human knowledge? And is it not therefore the true base, the real starting-point, of all philosophy, although philosophers, perverted by intellectualism, may not recognize it? For the present let us remain keenly suspecting that the longing not to die, the hunger for personal immortality, the effort whereby we tend to persist indefinitely in our own being, which is, according to Spinoza, our very essence, that this the affective basis of all knowledge is the personal inward starting-point of all human philosophy, wrought by a man and for all men… And this personal and affective starting point of all philosophy and all religion is the tragic sense of life.”

“The cure for suffering–which, as we have said, is the collision of consciousness with unconsciousness–is not to be submerged in unconsciousness, but to be raised to consciousness and to suffer more. The evil of suffering is cured by more suffering, by higher suffering. Do not take opium, but put salt and vinegar in the soul’s wound, for when you sleep and no longer feel the suffering, you are not. And to be, that is imperative. Do not then close your eyes to the agonizing Sphinx, but look her in the face and let her seize you in her mouth and crunch you with her hundred thousand poisonous teeth and swallow you. And when she has swallowed you, you will know the sweetness of the taste of suffering.”

“”Man is perishable. That may be; but let us perish resisting, and if it is nothingness that awaits us, do not let us so act that it shall be a just fate.” Change this sentence from its negative to the positive form – “And if it is nothingness that awaits us, let us so act that it shall be an unjust fate” – and you get the firmest basis of action for the man who cannot or will not be a dogmatist.”

Share: