Life before meaning

“We must love life before loving its meaning. We must love life, and some meaning may grow from that love. But “if love of life disappears, no meaning can console us.”

— From Dostoevsky (second hand, from Kathleen Dean Moore. Can’t find the original source, please let me know if you know it!)

Author: Caterina Fake

Literature, Art, Poetry, Homeschooling Mother. Founder & CEO, Findery. Co-founder, Flickr & Hunch.

6 thoughts on “Life before meaning”

  1. Intriguing! It appears to go back to this book on Camus, though maybe I missed earlier references — and possibly paraphrasing Camus paraphrasing Dostoevsky? This quote from a notebook of Camus’ makes it sound like the first half is Dostoevsky and “if love of life disappears, nothing can console us” may be Camus?

    It reminds me a bit of “a man with a ‘why’ can endure any ‘how'”, by Nietzsche, but I can see how that quote might be interpreted to be the opposite of this one, and still they seem to suggest the same feeling.


    1. From The Brothers Karamazov (
      “I understand too well, Ivan. One longs to love with one’s inside,
      with one’s stomach. You said that so well and I am awfully glad that
      you have such a longing for life,” cried Alyosha. “I think everyone
      should love life above everything in the world.”
      “Love life more than the meaning of it?”
      “Certainly, love it, regardless of logic as you say, it must be
      regardless of logic, and it’s only then one will understand the
      meaning of it. I have thought so a long time. Half your work is
      done, Ivan, you love life, now you’ve only to try to do the second
      half and you are saved.”


  2. Kathleen Dean Moore is wonderful, as is that thought. The quote appears in an interview from 2001 with Derrick Jensen which I’ve read many times and which used to appear here, but I’m just noticing it seems to have disappeared. On a whim, I’d saved a copy and I’m glad I did now. If you want to read the interview in its entirety:


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