This quote is mistakenly attributed to German philologist, Latin and Greek scholar, and philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900), considered one of the most influential philosophers in modern intellectual history and Western philosophy. If you have googled the quotation, you realize how ubiquitous it is — it appears in hundreds of books, blogs, and merchandise (like posters) — mostly misattributed to Nietzsche. So much for fact-checking in the Google Era. Sure, it makes sense — Nietzsche certainly wrote about suffering. In fact, there is a passage that comes close; in On the Genealogy of Morals (1887) he wrote: “Man, the bravest animal and most prone to suffer, does not deny suffering as such: he wills it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering.” (p. 120, Cambridge edition, translated by Carol Diethe; p. 144, Penguin edition, translated by Michael Scarpitta).
But the actual source of that quotation is Victor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist who founded logo therapy. The quotation is from his profoundly insightful and bestselling work, Man’s Search for Meaning (1946), originally published as From Death-Camp to Existentialism (1959). In the 1946 edition, Frankl wrote: “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in suffering. If there is a meaning in life at all then there must be meaning in suffering. Suffering is an inevitable part of life — without suffering life cannot be complete.” (p. 106, translated by Ilse Lasch).
Imagine the conversation that Nietzsche and Frankl would have had if they had lived in similar times and met.
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