…we are superstitiously convinced that the possible alone exists. But that is a prejudice which daily experience contradicts. This experience shows us that if one combines in a certain proportion oxygen with hydrogen, one obtains water - oxygen with nitrogen, air. Now this is something that is clearly impossible. Why should oxygen and hydrogen produce water? Why should they combine and give birth to a new product, or rather, why is not the result of their combination air? All this is perfectly arbitrary; all this is groundless and, consequently, impossible.
Men, says Spinoza, imagine that they do not constitute merely one of the elements or links of the chain which is called nature and pretend to form, in the bosom of nature, a kind of state within a state. Is not rather the contrary true? Would it not be more exact to say that men have the feeling of being only tiny, powerless wheels of an enormous machine, and that they have completely forgotten that the world was created for their sakes?
The believer goes forward, without looking to the right or to the left, without asking where he is going, without calculating. The scientist will not take a step without looking around him, without asking, and is afraid to budge from his place. He wishes to know beforehand where he will arrive. Which of these two methods leads us to “truth?” One can discuss this matter, but it is beyond doubt that he alone will be able to attain the promised land who, like Abraham, decides to go forward without knowing where he is going. And if philosophy wishes to attain the promised land (Kant himself, you will recall, said that metaphysics must reveal for man God, freedom and the immortality of the soul), it must adopt the method of Abraham and not that of Socrates and teach men at all events to go forward without calculating, without seeing anything beforehand, without even knowing where they are going.
The fact that some ideas, or some series of ideas, are materially unprofitable to mankind cannot serve as a justification for their rejection. Once an idea is there, the gates must be opened to it. For if you close the gates, the thought will force a way in, or, like the fly in the fable, will sneak through unawares. Ideas have no regard for our laws of honor or morality.
Kierkegaard’s voice has been and probably will always remain the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Existential philosophy, which is directed toward God, for Whom everything is possible, tells us that God does not coerce, that His truth attacks no one and is itself defended by nothing, that God Himself is free and created man as free as He is.
Lev Shestov, Kierkegaard and the Existential Philosophy
‘Trust not thyself, young dreamer.’ - However sincerely you may long for truth, whatever sufferings and horrors you may have surpassed, do not believe your own self, young dreamer. What you are looking for, you won’t find.
Artists and philosophers like to imagine the thinker with a stern face, a profound look which penetrates into the unseen, and a noble bearing—an eagle preparing for flight. Not at all. A thinking man is one who has lost his balance, in the vulgar, not in the tragic sense. Hands raking the air, feet flying, face scared and bewildered, he is a caricature of helplessness and pitiable perplexity.
For some reason men have imagined that love for oneself is more natural and comprehensible than love for another. Why? Love for others is only a little rarer, less widely diffused than love to oneself. But then hippopotami and rhinoceros, even in their own tropical regions, are less frequent than horses and mules. Does it follow that they are less natural and transcendental?