Quotes by Soren Kierkegaard
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Soren Kierkegaard. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
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.
Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.
The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.
There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.
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.
Hope is passion for what is possible.
I have only one confidant, and that is the silence of night.
The crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.
Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.
To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.
The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.
It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.
Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known; what wonder, then, that I love her in return.
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.
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.
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.
To stand on one leg and prove God's existence is a very different thing from going on one's knees and thanking Him.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
What we call worldliness simply consists of such people who, if one may so express it, pawn themselves to the world.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
My opinion is, of course, completely my own. I would not impose it on anyone else and decline any pressure to change it.
For he who loves God without faith reflects on himself, while the person who loves God in faith reflects on God.
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.
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.
No one may pride himself at being more than an individual, and no one despondently think that he is not an individual.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.
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.
If the ethical -- that is, social morality- is the highest ... then no categories are needed other than the Greek philosophical categories.
To be a woman is something so strange, so confusing and so complicated that only a woman could put up with it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pleasure disappoints; possibility never.
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.
Most people live dejectedly in worldly joys or sorrows. They sit on the sidelines and do not join the dance.
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?
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.
Irony limits, finitizes, and circumscribes and thereby yields truth, actuality, content; it disciplines and punishes and thereby yields balance and consistency.
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.
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?
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.
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.
In order to swim one takes off all one's clothes -- in order to aspire to the truth one must undress in a far more inward sense, divest oneself of all one's inward clothes, of thoughts, conceptions, selfishness etc., before one is sufficiently naked.
The presence of irony does not necessarily mean that the earnestness is excluded. Only assistant professors assume that.
Freedom's possibility is not the ability to choose the good or the evil. The possibility is to be able.
As the arrow, loosed from the bow by the hand of the practiced archer, does not rest till it has reached the mark, so men pass from God to God. He is the mark for which they have been created, and they do not rest till they find their rest in him.
When you read God's Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, It is talking to me, and about me.
How ironical that it is by means of speech that man can degrade himself below the level of dumb creation -- for a chatterbox is truly of a lower category than a dumb creature.
The paradox in Christian truth is invariably due to the fact that it is the truth that exists for God. The standard of measure and the end is superhuman; and there is only one relationship possible: faith.
With the daguerreotype, everyone will be able to have their portrait taken ... and at the same time everything is being done to make us all look exactly the same.
Deep within every man there lies the dread of being alone in the world, forgotten by God, overlooked among the tremendous household of millions and millions.
Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity ... is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men's lives.
Father in Heaven! When the thought of thee wakes in our hearts let it not awaken like a frightened bird that flies about in dismay, but like a child waking from its sleep with a heavenly smile.
I am convinced that God is love, this thought has for me a primitive lyrical validity. When it is present to me, I am unspeakably blissful, when it is absent, I long for it more vehemently than does the lover for his object.
In actuality, no one ever sank so deep that he could not sink deeper, and there may be one or many who sank deeper. So it is always possible to be happy and grateful that things are not worse!
Truth has always had many loud proclaimers, but the question is whether a person will in the deepest sense acknowledge the truth, allow it to permeate his whole being, accept all its consequences, and not have an emergency hiding place for himself and a Judas kiss for the consequence.
One should be an enigma not just to others but to oneself too. I study myself. When I'm tired of that I light a cigar to pass the time, and think: God only knows what the good Lord really meant with me, or what He meant to make of me.
Jurists say that a capital crime submerges all lesser crimes; and so it is with faith. Its absurdity makes all petty difficultiesvanish.
Human relations are like the irregular verbs in a number of languages where nearly all verbs are irregular.
The commandment is that you shall love, but when you understand life and yourself, then it is as if you should not need to be commanded, because to love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without this life you really do not live.
The minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion.
Death induces the sensual person to say: Let us eat and drink, because tomorrow we shall die -- but this is sensuality's cowardly lust for life, that contemptible order of things where one lives in order to eat and drink instead of eating and drinking in order to live.
The more one needs God the more perfect he is. To need God is nothing to be ashamed of but is perfection itself. It is the saddest thing in the world if a human being goes through life without discovering that he needs God!
It seems to be my destiny to discourse on truth, insofar as I discover it, in such a way that all possible authority is simultaneously demolished.
It is modest of the nightingale not to require anyone to listen to it; but it is also proud of the nightingale not to care whether any one listens to it or not.
One could construe the life of man as a great discourse in which the various people represent different parts of speech (the same might apply to states).
Where unclarity resides, there is temptation, and there it proves only too easily the stronger. Wherever there is ambiguity, wherever there is wavering, there is disobedience down at the bottom.
What looks like politics, and imagines itself to be political, will one day unmask itself as a religious movement.
In a mathematical proposition, for example, the objectivity is given, but therefore its truth is also an indifferent truth.
Irony is a disciplinarian feared only by those who do not know it, but cherished by those who do.
Irony is a disciplinarian feared only by those who do not know it, but cherished by those who do. He who does not understand irony and has no ear for its whispering lacks of what might called the absolute beginning of the personal life. He lacks what at moments is indispensable for the personal life, lacks both the regeneration and rejuvenation, the cleaning baptism of irony that redeems the soul from having its life in finitude though living boldly and energetically in finitude.
I have just now come from a party where I was its life and soul; witticisms streamed from my lips, everyone laughed and admired me, but I went away -- yes, the dash should be as long as the radius of the earth's orbit ---------------------- and wanted to shoot myself.
A good decision is our will to do everything we can within our power. It means to serve God with all we've got, be it little or much. Every person can do that.
There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys: they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked the sum out for themselves.
The more men believe an idea to be true the greater the likelihood that the idea is mistaken. Those who are right usually stand alone.
God has given each of us our marching order. Our purpose here on Earth is to find those orders and carry them out. Those orders acknowledge our special gifts.
About as genuine as tea made from a bit of paper which once lay in a drawer beside another piece of paper which had been used to wrap up a few tea leaves from which tea had already been made three times.
My tactics were, by God's aid, to employ every means to make it clear what the requirement of Christianity truly is.
I found I had less and less to say, until finally, I became silent, and began to listen. I discovered in the silence, the voice of God.
Your own tactic is to train yourself in the art of becoming enigmatic to everybody. My young friend, suppose there was no one who troubld himself to guess your riddle -- what joy, then, would you have in it?
Destroy your primitivity, and you will most probably get along well in the world, maybe achieve great success -- but Eternity will reject you. Follow up your primitivity, and you will be shipwrecked in temporality, but accepted by Eternity.
Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner; put yourself in his place so that you may understand ... what he learns and the way he understands it.
It is the normal state of the human heart to try to build its identity around something besides God.
Dread is a womanish debility in which freedom swoons. Psychologically speaking, the fall into sin always occurs in impotence. But dread is at the same time the most egotistic thing.
. .the larger the crowd, the more probable that that which it praises is folly, and the more improbable that it is truth; and the most improbable of all that it is any eternal truth.
If there were no eternal consciousness in a man, if at the bottom of everything there were only a wild ferment, a power that twisting in dark passions produced everything great or inconsequential; if an unfathomable, insatiable emptiness lay hid beneath everything, what would life be but despair?
It is a frightful satire and an epigram on the modern age that the only use it knows for solitude is to make it a punishment, a jail sentence.
I have only one friend, and that is echo. Why is it my friend? Because I love my sorrow, and echo does not take it away from me. I have only one confidant, and that is the silence of night. Why is it my confidant? Because it remains silent.
Learning to know anxiety is an adventure which every man has to affront if he would not go to perdition either by not having known anxiety or by sinking under it. He therefore who has leaned rightly to be in anxiety has learned the most important thing.
My soul always reverts to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. There at least one feels that it's human beings talking. There people hate, people love, people murder their enemy and curse his descendants through all generations, there people sin.
Irony is the cultivation of the spirit and therefore follows next after immediacy; then comes the ethicist, then the humourist, then the religious person.
However much one generation learns from another, it can never learn from its predecessor the genuinely human factor. In this respect every generation begins afresh. Thus no generation has learned from another how to love, no generation can begin other than at the beginning.
If I were a physician, and if I were allowed to prescribe just one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence. For even if the Word of God were proclaimed in the modern world, how could one hear it with so much noise? Therefore, create silence.
People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are the critics, blaming or praising him. What they don't know is that they are the actors on the stage; he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines.
The stone that was rolled before Christ's tomb might appropriately be called the philosopher's stone because its removal gave not only the pharisees but, now for 1800 years, the philosophers so much to think about.
Our age is essentially one of understanding and reflection, without passion, momentarily bursting into enthusiasm and shrewdly relapsing into repose.
Knowing God is the condition for the sanctification of a human being by God's assistance and according to His intention. Wherever God is, there He is always creating... He wants to create a new human being. To need God is to become new. And to know God is the crucial thing.
Because of its tremendous solemnity death is the light in which great passions, both good and bad, become transparent, no longer limited by outward appearances.
There is one thing that all Satan's cunning and all the snares of temptation cannot take by surprise -- an undivided will.
My scholarly expectation is then that I may succeed in becoming clever in philosophy in spite of my stupidity.
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