Title Image - Quotes by Author Soren Kierkegaard

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Wikipedia Summary for Soren Kierkegaard

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard ( SORR-ən KEER-kə-gard, also US: -⁠gor; Danish: [ˈsœːɐn ˈkʰiɐ̯kəˌkɒˀ]; 5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology, and the philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony, and parables. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a "single individual", giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. He was against literary critics who defined idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, and thought that Swedenborg, Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, Schlegel, and Hans Christian Andersen were all "understood" far too quickly by "scholars".

Kierkegaard's theological work focuses on Christian ethics, the institution of the Church, the differences between purely objective proofs of Christianity, the infinite qualitative distinction between man and God, and the individual's subjective relationship to the God-Man Jesus the Christ, which came through faith. Much of his work deals with Christian love. He was extremely critical of the practice of Christianity as a state religion, primarily that of the Church of Denmark. His psychological work explored the emotions and feelings of individuals when faced with life choices.

Kierkegaard's early work was written under the various pseudonyms to present distinctive viewpoints that interact in complex dialogue. He explored particularly complex problems from different viewpoints, each under a different pseudonym. He wrote many Upbuilding Discourses under his own name and dedicated them to the "single individual" who might want to discover the meaning of his works. Notably, he wrote: "Science and scholarship want to teach that becoming objective is the way. Christianity teaches that the way is to become subjective, to become a subject." While scientists can learn about the world by observation, Kierkegaard emphatically denied that observation alone could reveal the inner workings of the world of the spirit.

Some of Kierkegaard's key ideas include the concept of "subjective and objective truths", the knight of faith, the recollection and repetition dichotomy, angst, the infinite qualitative distinction, faith as a passion, and the three stages on life's way. Kierkegaard wrote in Danish and the reception of his work was initially limited to Scandinavia, but by the turn of the 20th century his writings were translated into French, German, and other major European languages. By the mid-20th century, his thought exerted a substantial influence on philosophy, theology, and Western culture.

In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant... My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known--no wonder, then, that I return the love.

--Søren Kierkegaard

What, then, is depression? It is hysteria of the spirit.

--Søren Kierkegaard

The dread of sin can sometimes in effect drive a person into sin through dread.

--Søren Kierkegaard

Many of us pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that we hurry past it.

--Søren Kierkegaard

He cannot become old, for he has never been young; he cannot become young, for he has already become old; in a way he cannot die, for he has never lived; in a way he cannot live, for he is already dead.

--Søren Kierkegaard

With every increase in the degree of consciousness, and in proportion to that increase, the intensity of despair increases: the more consciousness the more intense the despair.

--Søren Kierkegaard

Faith is a marvel, and yet no human being is excluded from it; for that in which all human life is united is passion, and faith is a passion.

--Søren Kierkegaard

That there may be some who need coercion, who if given free rein would riot in selfish pleasure like unbridled beasts, is no doubt true, but one should show precisely by the fact that one knows how to speak with fear and trembling that one is not of their number.

--Søren Kierkegaard

My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known; what wonder, then, that I love her in return.

--Søren Kierkegaard

Men think that it is impossible for a human being to love his enemies, for enemies are hardly able to endure the sight of one another. Well, then, shut your eyes -- and your enemy looks just like your neighbor.

--Søren Kierkegaard

When the discoveries of possibility are honestly administered, possibility will discover all finitudes but idealize them in the shape of infinity, in anxiety overwhelm the individual, until the individual again overcomes them in the anticipation of faith.

--Søren Kierkegaard

The reward of the good man is to be allowed to worship in truth.

--Søren Kierkegaard

The profundity of Christianity is that Christ is both our redeemer and our judge, not that one is our redeemer and another is our judge, for then we certainly come under judgement, but that the redeemer and the judge are the same.

--Søren Kierkegaard

To stand on one leg and prove God's existence is a very different thing from going on one's knees and thanking Him.

--Søren Kierkegaard

No one ever comes back from the dead., no one ever enters the world without weeping; no one is ever asked when he wishes to enter life, no one is ever asked when he wishes to leave.

--Søren Kierkegaard

I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it...but by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill.

--Søren Kierkegaard

The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard, nor read about, nor seen, but, if one will, are to be lived.

--Søren Kierkegaard

When one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world -- no matter how imperfect -- becomes rich and beautiful, it consists solely of opportunities for love.

--Søren Kierkegaard


When indeed does the temporal suffering oppress a man most terribly? Is it not when it seems to him that it has no significance, that it neither secures nor gains anything for him? Is it not when the suffering, as the impatient man expresses it, is without meaning or purpose?

--Søren Kierkegaard

Therefore do not deceive yourself! Of all deceivers fear most yourself!

--Søren Kierkegaard

What we call worldliness simply consists of such people who, if one may so express it, pawn themselves to the world.

--Søren Kierkegaard

Don't you know that a midnight hour comes when everyone has to take off his mask? Do you think life always lets itself be trifled with? Do you think you can sneak off a little before midnight to escape this?

--Søren Kierkegaard

For as the Good is only a single thing, so all ways lead to the Good, even the false ones: when the repentant one follows the same way back.

--Søren Kierkegaard


An adventure that every human being has to live through, learning to be anxious so as not to be ruined either by never having been in anxiety or by sinking into it. Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.

--Søren Kierkegaard

In infinite resignation there is peace and repose; anyone who wants it, who has not debased himself by--what is still worse than being too proud--belittling himself, can discipline himself into making this movement, which in its pain reconciles one to existence.

--Søren Kierkegaard

Every mental act is composed of doubt and belief,
but it is belief that is the positive, it is belief
that sustains thought and holds the world together.

--Søren Kierkegaard

My opinion is, of course, completely my own. I would not impose it on anyone else and decline any pressure to change it.

--Søren Kierkegaard

To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one's self…. And to venture in the highest is precisely to be conscious of one's self.

--Søren Kierkegaard

For he who loves God without faith reflects on himself, while the person who loves God in faith reflects on God.

--Søren Kierkegaard

The moment is not properly an atom of time but an atom of eternity. It is the first reflection of eternity in time, its first attempt, as it were, at stopping time.

--Søren Kierkegaard

The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have.

--Søren Kierkegaard

Leap of faith -- yes, but only after reflection.

--Søren Kierkegaard

The task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted.

--Søren Kierkegaard

Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.

--Søren Kierkegaard

To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one's self… And to venture in the highest is precisely to be conscious of one's self.

--Søren Kierkegaard

It has often been said that a reformation should begin with each man reforming himself.

--Søren Kierkegaard

No one may pride himself at being more than an individual, and no one despondently think that he is not an individual.

--Søren Kierkegaard

The truth is a trap: you cannot get it without it getting you; you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you.

--Søren Kierkegaard

I stick my finger into existence and it smells of nothing.

--Søren Kierkegaard

What labels me, negates me.

--Søren Kierkegaard

It is very important in life to know when your cue comes.

--Søren Kierkegaard

It is not the path which is the difficulty; rather, it is the difficulty which is the path.

--Søren Kierkegaard

There is a love, that blazes up and is forgotten; there is a love until death.

--Søren Kierkegaard

Christ has not only spoken to us by his life, but has also spoken for us by his death.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Beware false prophets come to you in wolf's clothing but inwardly are sheep.

--Soren Kierkegaard

On the secretly blushing cheek is reflected the glow of the heart.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Just as in the great moment of resignation one does not mediate but chooses, now the task is to gain proficiency in repeating the impassioned choice and, existing, to express it in existence.

--Soren Kierkegaard

The crowd, in fact, is composed of individuals; it must therefore be in every man's power to become what he is, an individual. From becoming an individual no one, no one at all, is excluded, except he who excludes himself by becoming a crowd.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Longer Version:

The crowd, in fact, is composed of individuals; it must therefore be in every man's power to become what he is, an individual. From becoming an individual no one, no one at all, is excluded, except he who excludes himself by becoming a crowd. To become a crowd, to collect a crowd about one, is on the contrary to affirm the distinctions of human life. The most well-meaning person who talks about these distinctions can easily offend an individual. But then it is not the crowd which possesses power, influence, repute, and mastery over men, but it is the invidious distinctions of human life which despotically ignore the single individual as the weak and impotent, which in a temporal and worldly interest ignore the eternal truth- the single individual.


The deepest form of despair is to choose to be another than himself.

--Soren Kierkegaard

The conclusions of passion are the only reliable ones.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Dread is a sympathetic antipathy and an antipathetic sympathy.

--Soren Kierkegaard

What our age lacks is not reflection, but passion.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Boredom is the root of all evil -- the despairing refusal to be oneself.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards.

--Soren Kierkegaard

The more one suffers, the more, I believe, has one a sense for the comic. It is only by the deepest suffering that one acquires true authority in the use of the comic, an authority which by one word transforms as by magic the reasonable creature one calls man into a caricature.

--Soren Kierkegaard

There is peace and rest and comfort in sorrow.

--Soren Kierkegaard

If the ethical -- that is, social morality- is the highest ... then no categories are needed other than the Greek philosophical categories.

--Soren Kierkegaard

To be a woman is something so strange, so confusing and so complicated that only a woman could put up with it.

--Soren Kierkegaard

In the deepest sense, the being in a state of sin is the sin, the particular sins are not the continuation of sin, they are expressions of its continuation.

--Soren Kierkegaard

The self-assured believer is a greater sinner in the eyes of God than the troubled disbeliever.

--Soren Kierkegaard

In the life of the individual when love awakens it is older than everything else, because when it exists it seems as if it has existed for a long time; it presupposes itself back into the distant past until all searching ends in the inexplicable origin.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Adversity not only draws people together, but brings forth that beautiful inward friendship.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Are you not aware that there comes a midnight hour when everyone must unmask.

--Soren Kierkegaard

In my great melancholy, I loved life, for I love my melancholy.

--Soren Kierkegaard

I go fishing for a thousand monsters in the depths of my own self.

--Soren Kierkegaard

There is a view of life which conceives that where the crowd is, there is also truth. There is another view of life which conceives that wherever there is a crowd, there is untruth.

--Soren Kierkegaard

It is a very curious thing about superstition. One would expect that the man who had once seen his morbid dreams were not fulfilled would abandon them for the future; but on the contrary they grow even stronger just as the love of gambling increases in a man who has once lost in a lottery.

--Soren Kierkegaard

The human race in the course of time has taken the liberty of softening and softening Christianity until at last we have contrived to make it exactly the opposite of what it is in the New Testament.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Boredom rests upon the nothingness that winds its way through existence; its giddiness, like that which comes from gazing down into an infinite abyss, is infinite.

--Soren Kierkegaard

A genius may perhaps be a century ahead of his age and hence stands there as a paradox, but in the end, the race will assimilate what was once a paradox, so it is no longer paradoxical.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Pleasure disappoints; possibility never.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Longer Version:

Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, who so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility.


It occurs to me that artists go forward by going backward, something which I have nothing against intrinsically when it is a reproduced retreat -- as is the case with the better artists.

--Soren Kierkegaard

It takes moral courage to grieve; it requires religious courage to rejoice.

--Soren Kierkegaard

The more a person limits himself, the more resourceful he becomes.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Most people live dejectedly in worldly joys or sorrows. They sit on the sidelines and do not join the dance.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Irony is a qualification of subjectivity.

--Soren Kierkegaard

My melancholy is the most faithful sweetheart I have had.

--Soren Kierkegaard

The thinker without a paradox is like a lover without a feeling: a paltry mediocrity.

--Soren Kierkegaard

It is intelligent to ask two questions: (1) Is it possible? (2) Can I do it?. But it is unintelligent to ask these questions: (1) Is it real? (2) Has my neighbor done it?

--Soren Kierkegaard

To venture causes anxiety.  Not to venture is to lose oneself.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Talent warms-up the given (as they say in cookery) and makes it apparent; genius brings something new. But our time lets talent pass for genius. They want to abolish the genius, deify the genius, and let talent forge ahead.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Irony limits, finitizes, and circumscribes and thereby yields truth, actuality, content; it disciplines and punishes and thereby yields balance and consistency.

--Soren Kierkegaard

A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that's just how the world will come to an end: to the general applause of wits who believe it's a joke.

--Soren Kierkegaard

The meaning lies in the appropriation.

--Soren Kierkegaard

You train yourself in the art of being mysterious to everyone. My dear friend! What if there were no one, who cared about guessing your riddle, what pleasure would you then take in it?

--Soren Kierkegaard

Doubt is thought's despair; despair is personality's doubt... Doubt and despair ... belong to completely different spheres; different sides of the soul are set in motion... Despair is an expression of the total personality, doubt only of thought.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Thus our own age is essentially one of understanding, and on the average, perhaps, more knowledgeable than any former generation, but it is without passion. Every one knows a great deal, we all know which way we ought to go and all the different ways we can go, but nobody is willing to move.

--Soren Kierkegaard

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