Friedrich Nietzsche? Viktor E. Frankl? Thomas Common? Anthony M. Ludovici? Walter Kaufmann? R. J. Hollingdale? Ilse Lasch?
Dear Quote Investigator: Life can be aggravating and even agonizing. Yet, a steady internal purpose helps to make difficulties endurable together with the thought that happiness and pleasure will someday return. Here is an apposite adage:
One who has a ‘why’ to live for can endure almost any ‘how’.
This notion has been attributed to philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: In 1889 Friedrich Nietzsche published “Götzen-Dämmerung; oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophirt” (“Twilight of the Idols, or, How to philosophize with a hammer”) which included a section called “Sprüche und Pfeile” (“Maxims and Arrows”). The following statement was included. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
Mit einem Ziele. — Hat man sein warum? des Lebens, so verträgt man sich fast mit jedem wie? — Der Mensch strebt nicht nach Glück; nur der Engländer thut das.
This statement has been translated into English in several different ways during the ensuing decades. Here is a rendering by Thomas Common which appeared in an 1896 edition of Nietzsche’s work: 2
When one has one’s wherefore of life, one gets along with almost every how.—Man does not strive after happiness; the Englishman only does so.
Viktor E. Frankl did employ a version of the adage, but he credited Nietzsche as discussed further below.
Here are additional selected citations.
- 1889 (catalog date), Title: Götzen-Dämmerung; oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophirt, Author: Friedrich Nietzsche, Edition: Zweite Auflage (Second Edition), Chapter: Sprüche und Pfeile (Proverbs and Arrows), Quote Page 2, Publisher: C.G. Naumann, Leipzig. (HathiTrust Full View) link ↩
- 1896, The Case of Wagner: Nietzsche Contra Wagner, The Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist by Friedrich Nietzsche, Translated by Thomas Common, Section: The Twilight of the Idols, Chapter: Apophthegms and Darts, Quote Page 100, H. Henry and Company, London. (HathiTrust Full View) link ↩