The Ethical Task

Self-actualization is not merely a good to be desired, but rather a task, something human persons have been assigned to do and which they will be held responsible for achieving or failing to achieve.

Of course, not everyone is aware of this ethical task. (Kierkegaard) says that a great many people drift through life, “managing with custom and tradition” in their respective cities. Such people live their lives in a way similar to the way children who have not been taught table manners might get by at a fancy party: “Watch the other polite children and behave as they do.” Someone who lives life this way lacks… “authenticity” or “originality.” Such a person “would never do anything first and would never have any opinion unless he first knew that other had it.

C. Steven Evans, Kierkegaard: An Introduction