THE TRUTH THAT IS TRUE FOR ME
What I really need is to be clear about what I am to do, not what I must know, except in the way knowledge must precede all action. It is a question of understanding my destiny, of seeing what the Deity really wants me to do; the thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die. And what use would it be if I were to discover a so-called objective truth, or if I worked my way through the philosophers’ systems and were able to call them all to account on request, point out inconsistencies in every single circle? And what use here would it be to be able to work out a theory of the state, and put all the pieces from so many places into one whole, construct a world which, again, I myself did not inhabit but merely held up for others to see? What use would it be to be able to propound the meaning of Christianity, to explain many separate facts, if it had no deeper meaning for me and for my life? Certainly I won’t deny that I still accept an imperative of knowledge, and that one can also be influenced by it, but then it must be taken up alive in me, and this is what I now see as the main point … But to find that idea, or more properly to find myself, it is no use my plunging still further into the world … That’s what I lacked for leading a completely human life and not just a life of knowledge, to avoid basing my mind’s development on – yes, on something that people call objective – something which at any rate isn’t my own, and base it instead on something which is bound up with the deepest roots of my existence, through which I am as it were grown into the divine and cling fast to it even though the whole world falls apart. This, you see, is what I need, and This is what I strive for ... It is this inward action of man, this God-side of man, that matters, not a mass or information …. Vainly have I sought an anchorage, not just in the depths of knowledge, but in the bottomless sea at pleasure … What did I find? Not my ‘I’, for that is what I was trying in that way to find … One must first learn to know oneself before knowing anything else (gnothi seauton) … In association with the ordinary run of men I have had but little to win or to lose … My companions have with few exceptions exerted no marked influence on me … So I am standing once more at the point where I must begin in another way. I shall now try to look calmly at myself and begin to act inwardly; for only in this way will I be able … to call myself ‘I’ in a profounder sense … So let the die be cast – I am crossing the Rubicon. This road no doubt leads me into battle, but I will not give up.
(Papers and Journals, Gilleleie, 1 August, 1835)