— Sören Kierkegaard Danish philosopher and theologian, founder of Existentialism 1813 - 1855
Context: It is not uncommon to hear a man who has become confused about what he should do in a particular situation complain about the unique nature of the situation, thinking that he could easily act if the situation were a great event with only one either/or. This is a mistake and a hallucination of the understanding. There is no such situation. The presence of the crucial either/or depends upon the individual’s own impassioned desire directed toward acting decisively, upon the individual’s own intrinsic competence, and therefore a competent man covets an either/or in every situation because he does not want anything more. But as soon as the individual no longer has essential enthusiasm in his passion but is spoiled by letting his understanding frustrate him every time he is going to act, he never in his life discovers the disjunction. And even if his penetrating, resourceful understanding is adequate for managing an entire household, he still has not had an understanding of his life in advance or in the moment of action, and it cannot be understood afterwords, either, because the action essentially did not take place, and the coherence of his life, became a garrulous continuation or a continued garrulity, a participial or infinitive phrase in which the subject must be understood or, more correctly, cannot be located at all because, as the grammarians say, the meaning does not make it clear for the simple reason that it lacks meaning. The whole thing becomes a flux, a blend of a little resolution and a little situation, a little prudence and a little courage, a little probability and a little faith, a little action and a little incident. Anyone who has made the fraudulent trade of getting abnormally good sense by losing the capacity to will and the passion to act is very inclined to stiffen his spinelessness with various and sundry predeliberations that feel their way ahead and various and sundry postmortem reinterpretations of what happened. Compared to this, an action is a brief something and apparently a poor something, yet it is in fact a definite something. The other is more splendid, but for all that it is a splendid shabbiness.
Søren Kierkegaard, Two Ages: A Literary Review, 1846, Hong 1978/2009, pp. 67–68