Kierkegaard Fear And Trembling Quotes

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If anyone on the verge of action should judge himself according to the outcome, he would never begin.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
...why bother remembering a past that cannot be made into a present?
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
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?
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Hope is a passion for the possible.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
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.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
For he who loves God without faith reflects on himself, while the person who loves God in faith reflects on God.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
When you were called, did you answer or did you not? Perhaps softly and in a whisper?
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
If anyone on the verge of action should judge himself according to the outcome, he would never begin. Even though the result may gladden the whole world, that cannot help the hero; for he knows the result only when the whole thing is over, and that is not how he became a hero, but by virtue of the fact that he began.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
For it is not what happens to me that makes me great, but it is what I do.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
No, not one shall be forgotten who was great in the world. But each was great in his own way, and each in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
He who loved himself became great in himself, and he who loved others became great through his devotion, but he who loved God became greater than all.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Faith is the highest passion in a man.
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 (Fear and Trembling)
Then faith's paradox is this: that the single individual is higher than the universal, that the single individual determines his relation to the universal through his relation to God, not his relation to God through his relation through the universal... Unless this is how it is, faith has no place in existence; and faith is then a temptation.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Faith is namely this paradox that the single individual is higher than the universal
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
A poet is not an apostle; he drives out devils only by the power of the devil.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling/Repetition)
Faith begins precisely where thinking leaves off
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
And to contend with the whole world is a comfort, but to contend with oneself dreadful.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
هر كس به قدر عظمت آن چه با آن زورآزمايى كرد بزرگى يافت: آن كس كه با جهان ستيز كرد با چيرگى بر جهان بزرگ شد؛ و آن كس كه با خويشتن نبرد كرد با چيرگى بر خويشتن بزرگ شد؛ امّا آن كس كه با خدا زورآزمايى كرد از همه بزرگ تر بود.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Theology sits rouged at the window and courts philosophy's favor, offering to sell her charms to it.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
The ethical expression for what Abraham did is that he meant to murder Isaac; the religious expression is that he meant to sacrifice Isaac—but precisely in this contradiction is the anxiety that can make a person sleepless, and yet without this anxiety Abraham is not who he is.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
No one shall be forgotten who was great in this world; but everyone was great in his own way, and everyone in proportion to the greatness of what he loved.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Only the lower natures forget themselves and become something new. Thus the butterfly has entirely forgotten that it was a caterpillar, perhaps it may in turn so entirely forget it was a butterfly that is becomes a fish.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
...for our times are not satisfied with faith and not even with the miracle of changing water into wine - they 'go right on,' changing wine into water.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
People unable to bear the martyrdom [...] unintelligently jump off the path, and choose instead, conveniently enough, the world’s admiration of their proficiency. The true knight of faith is a witness, never a teacher, and in this lies the deep humanity in him which is more worth than this foolish concern for others’ weal and woe which is honoured under the name of sympathy, but which is really nothing but vanity.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Just as a physician might say that there very likely is not one single living human being who is completely healthy, so anyone who really knows mankind might say that there is not one single living human being who does not despair a little, who does not secretly harbor an unrest, an inner strife, a disharmony, an anxiety about an unknown something or a something he does not even dare try to know, an anxiety about some possibility in existence or an anxiety about himself, so that, just as the physician speaks of going around with an illness in the body, he walks around with a sickness, carries around a sickness of the spirit that signals its presence at rare intervals in and through an anxiety he cannot explain.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death)
The self is essentially intangible and must be understood in terms of possibilities, dread, and decisions. When I behold my possibilities, I experience that dread which is "the dizziness of freedom," and my choice is made in fear and trembling.
Walter Kaufmann (Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre)
Man is the synthesis of the infinite and the finite, the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity, in short it is a synthesis. A synthesis is a relation between two factors. So regarded, man is not yet a self.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Great Shakespeare!, you who can say everything, everything, everything exactly as it is – and yet why was this torment one you never gave voice to? Was it perhaps that you kept it to yourself, like the beloved whose name one still cannot bear the world to mention? For a poet buys this power of words to utter all the grim secrets of others at the cost of a little secret he himself cannot utter.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
The slaves of paltriness, the frogs in life’s swamp, will naturally cry out, “Such a love is foolishness. The rich brewer’s widow is a match fully as good and respectable.” Let them croak.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
For the universal will constantly torture him and say, 'You ought to have talked. Where will you find the certainty that it was not after all a hidden pride which governed your resolution?
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
He follows his heart's desire, but having found what he sought he wanders round to everyone's door with his song and speech, so that all can admire the hero as he does, be proud of the hero as he is.
Søren Kierkegaard
I am courteous enough to assume that everyone in this so aesthetically voluptuous age, so potent and aroused that conception occurs as easily as with the partridge which, Aristotle says, needs only to hear the voice of the cock or its flight overhead - to assume that at the mere sound of the word 'concealment' everyone can easily shake a dozen romances and comedies from his sleeve.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Not merely in the realm of commerce but in the world of ideas as well our age is organizing a regular clearance sale. Everything is to be had at such a bargain that it is questionable whether in the end there is anybody who will want to bid.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
When the child must be weaned, the mother too is not without sorrow at the thought that she and the child are separated more and more, that the child which first lay under her heart and later reposed upon her breast will be so near to her no more.
Søren Kierkegaard
<...> tikėjimą turėti - pavydėtina dalia, net jei niekas apie tai nežinotų. (7-8)
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death)
Battle day and night against the guile of oblivion...
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Silence is the snare of the demon, and the more one keeps silent, the more terrifying the demon becomes.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Everything depends upon how one is placed.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
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; but I do not believe, this courage I lack. For me the love of God is, both in a direct and in an inverse sense, incommensurable with the whole of reality. I am not cowardly enough to whimper and complain, but neither am I deceitful enough to deny that faith is something much higher. I can well endure living in my way, I am joyful and content, but my joy is not that of faith, and in comparison with that it is unhappy.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
If this had not been the case with Abraham, then perhaps he might have loved God but not believed; for he who loves God without faith reflects upon himself, he who loves God believingly reflects upon God.
Søren Kierkegaard
For it is great to give up one's wish, but it is greater to hold it fast after having given it up, it is great to grasp the eternal, but it is greater to hold fast to the temporal after having given it up.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
for the existentialists, what generated anxiety was not the godlessness of the world, per se, but rather the freedom to choose between God and godlessness. Though freedom is something we actively seek, the freedom to choose generates anxiety. “When I behold my possibilities,” Kierkegaard wrote, “I experience that dread which is the dizziness of freedom, and my choice is made in fear and trembling.” Many people try to flee anxiety by fleeing choice. This helps explain the perverse-seeming appeal of authoritarian societies—the certainties of a rigid, choiceless society can be very reassuring—and why times of upheaval so often produce extremist leaders and movements: Hitler in Weimar Germany, Father Coughlin in Depression-era America, or Jean-Marie Le Pen in France and Vladimir Putin in Russia today. But running from anxiety, Kierkegaard believed, was a mistake because anxiety was a “school” that taught people to come to terms with the human condition.
Scott Stossel (My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind)
It is now my intention to draw out from the story of Abraham the dialectical consequences inherent in it, expressing them in the form of problemata , in order to see what a tremendous paradox faith is, a paradox which is capable of transforming a murder into a holy act well-pleasing to God, a paradox which gives Isaac back to Abraham, which no thought can master, because faith begins precisely there where thinking leaves off.
Søren Kierkegaard
Fools and young men prate about everything being possible for a man. That, however, is a great error. Spiritually speaking, everything is possible, but in the world of the finite there is much which is not possible.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
But we are curious about the result, just as we are curious about the way a book turns out. We do not want to know anything about the anxiety, the distress, the paradox. We carry on an esthetic flirtation with the result. It arrives just as unexpectedly but also just as effortlessly as a prize in a lottery, and when we have heard the result, we have built ourselves up.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
What every man can do is to make the movement of infinite resignation, and I for my part would not hesitate to pronounce everyone cowardly who wishes to make himself believe he can not do it. With faith it is a different matter. But what every man has not a right to do, is to make others believe that faith is something lowly, or that it is an easy thing, whereas it is the greatest and the hardest. People
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Now the story of Abraham has the remarkable property that it is always glorious, however poorly one may understand it; yet here again the proverb applies, that all depends upon whether one is willing to labor and be heavy laden. But they will not labor, and yet they would understand the story.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
It takes a purely human courage to renounce the whole temporal realm in order to gain eternity, but this I do gain and in all eternity can never renounce—it is a self-contradiction. But it takes a paradoxical and humble courage to grasp the whole temporal realm now by virtue of the absurd, and this is the courage of faith.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
But it was not to remain thus. Still once more Abraham was to be tried. He had fought with that cunning power which invents everything, with that alert enemy which never slumbers, with that old man who outlives all things–he had fought with Time and preserved his faith. Now all the terror of the strife was concentrated in one instant.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
That in which all human life is unified is passion, and faith is a passion.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
خوشبختانه چیزها آن‌طور که کشیش موعظه می‌کند اتفاق نمی‌افتند زیرا در زندگی لااقل معنایی وجود دارد اما در موعظۀ کشیش هیچ معنایی نیست.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
For faith is this paradox, that the particular is higher than the universal
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
But Abraham believed, therefore he was young; for he who always hopes for the best becomes old, and he who is always prepared for the worst grows old early, but he who believes preserves an eternal youth.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Only the lower natures forget themselves and become something new. For instance, the butterfly has entirely forgotten that it was a caterpillar; perhaps in turn it can forget that it was a butterfly so completely that it can become a fish. The
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling (Kierkegaard - Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy))
Thus to get the princess, to live with her joyfully and happily day in and day out (for it is also conceivable that the knight of resignation might get the princess, but that his soul had discerned the impossibility of their future happiness), thus to live joyfully and happily every instant by virtue of the absurd, every instant to see the sword hanging over the head of the beloved, and yet to find repose in the pain of resignation, but joy by virtue of the absurd—this is marvellous.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
The true knight of faith is always absolute isolation, the false knight is sectarian. This sectarianism is an attempt to leap away from the narrow path of the paradox and become a tragic hero at a cheap price. The tragic hero expresses the universal and sacrifices himself for it. The sectarian punchinello, instead of that, has a private theatre, i.e. several good friends and comrades who represent the universal just about as well as the beadles in The Golden Snuffbox represent justice. The knight of faith, on the contrary, is the paradox, is the individual, absolutely nothing but the individual, without connections or pretensions. This is the terrible thing which the sectarian manikin cannot endure. For instead of learning from this terror that he is not capable of performing the great deed and then plainly admitting it (an act which I cannot but approve, because it is what I do) the manikin thinks that by uniting with several other manikins he will be able to do it. But that is quite out of the question. In the world of spirit no swindling is tolerated.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
What astounds Kierkegaard is neither the obedience nor the reprieve, but the way in which Abraham and Isaac seem able to return to the way things were before. They have been forced to depart entirely from the realm of ordinary humanity and fatherly protection, yet somehow Abraham is still confident in the Love for his son. For Kierkegaard, the story shows that we must make this sort of impossible leap in order to continue in life after flaws have been revealed. As he wrote, Abraham 'resigned everything infinitely, ans then took back everything on the strength of the absurd.
Sarah Bakewell (At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails)
kai Dievas savo visagaliu apsisprendimu <...>, kuris yra tarsi jo meilė, nori būti lygus pačiam menkiausiam, tai nei smuklės šeimininkas, nei filosofijos profesorius lai neįsikala į galvą, kad jie tokie gudrūs vaikinai, kad gali ką nors pastebėti, jei Dievas pats nesuteikia sąlygos. (92-93)
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death)
If the generations of man passed through the world like a ship passing through the sea and the wind over the desert—a fruitless and a vain thing; if eternal oblivion were ever greedily watching for its prey and there existed no power strong enough to wrest it from its clutches—how empty were life then, and how dismal!
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
اما چگونه میتوان از اقربا نفرت داشت؟! وظیفه مطلق می تواند به انجام عملی منجر شود که اخلاق آن را منع کرده است، اما به هیچ وجه نمی تواند شهسوار ایمان را از دوست داشتن بازدارد. این آن چیزی است که ابراهیم نشان می دهد. لحظه ای که میخواهد اسحاق را قربانی کند به لسان اخلاق از او متنفر است. اما اگر به راستی از او متنفر باشد می تواند مطمئن باشد که خدا این قربانی را از او نخواسته است؛ در حقیقت قابیل و ابراهیم یکسان نیستند.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Yet Abraham believed, and believed for this life. Yea, if his faith had been only for a future life, he surely would have cast everything away in order to hasten out of this world to which he did not belong. But Abraham's faith was not of this sort, if there be such a faith; for really this is not faith but the furthest possibility of faith which has a presentiment of its object at the extremest limit of the horizon, yet is separated from it by a yawning abyss within which despair carries on its game. But Abraham believed precisely for this life, that he was to grow old in the land, honored by the people, blessed in his generation, remembered forever in Isaac, his dearest thing in life, whom he embraced with a love for which it would be a poor expression to say that he loyally fulfilled the father's duty of loving the son, as indeed is evinced in the words of the summons, "the son whom thou lovest.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Now we will let the knight of faith appear in the rôle just described. He makes exactly the same movements as the other knight, infinitely renounces claim to the love which is the content of his life, he is reconciled in pain; but then occurs the prodigy, he makes still another movement more wonderful than all, for he says, “I believe nevertheless that I shall get her, in virtue, that is, of the absurd, in virtue of the fact that with God all things are possible.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Philosophy cannot and should not give faith, but it should understand itself and know what it has to offer and take nothing away, and least of all should fool people out of something as if it were nothing. I am not unacquainted with the perplexities and dangers of life, I do not fear them, and I encounter them buoyantly. I am not unacquainted with the dreadful, my memory is a faithful wife, and my imagination is (as I myself am not) a diligent little maiden who all day sits quietly at her work, and in the evening knows how to chat to me about it so prettily that I must look at it, though not always, I must say, is it landscapes, or flowers, or pastoral idylls she paints.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
In any case one can never forbear to smile at such a despairer, who, humanly speaking, although he is in despair, is so very innocent. Commonly such a despairer is infinitely comic. Think of a self (and next to God there is nothing so eternal as a self), and then that this self gets the notion of asking whether it might not let itself become or be made into another…than itself. And yet such a despairer, whose only wish is this most crazy of all transformations, loves to think that this change might be accomplished as easily as changing a coat. For the immediate man does not recognize his self, he recognizes himself only by his dress, he recognizes (and here again appears the infinitely comic trait) he recognizes that he has a self only by externals.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death)
The merman does not want to seduce Agnes, although previously he had seduced many. He is no longer a merman, or, if one so will, he is a miserable merman who already has long been sitting on the floor of the sea and sorrowing. However, he knows (as the legend in fact teaches), that he can be delivered by the love of an innocent girl. But he has a bad conscience with respect to girls and does not dare to approach them. Then he sees Agnes. Already many a time when he was hidden in the reeds he had seen her walking on the shore. Her beauty, her quiet occupation with herself, fixes his attention upon her ; but only sadness prevails in his soul, no wild desire stirs in it. And so when the merman mingles his sighs with the soughing of the reeds she turns her ear thither, and then stands still and falls to dreaming, more charming than any woman and yet beautiful as a liberating angel which inspires the merman with confidence. The merman plucks up courage, he approaches Agnes, he wins her love, he hopes for his deliverance. But Agnes was no quiet maiden, she was fond of the roar of the sea, and the sad sighing beside the inland lake pleased her only because then she seethed more strongly within. She would be off and away, she would rush wildly out into the infinite with the merman whom she loved – so she incites the memman. She disdained his humility, now pride awakens. And the sea roars and the waves foam and the merman embraces Agnes and plunges with her into the deep. Never had he been so wild, never so full of desire, for he had hoped by this girl to find deliverance. He soon became tired of Agnes, yet no one ever found her corpse, for she became a mermaid who tempted men by her songs.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Whenever nowadays we hear the words ‘That’s to be judged by the outcome’ we know immediately with whom we have the honour of conversing. Those who speak thus are a populous tribe which, to give them a common name, I shall call the ‘lecturers’. They live in their thoughts, secure in life, they have a permanent position and sure prospects in a well-organized State; they are separated by centuries, even millennia, from the convulsions of existence; they have no fear that such things could happen again; what would the police and the newspapers say? Their lifework is to judge the great, to judge them according to the outcome. Such conduct in respect of greatness betrays a strange mixture of arrogance and pitifulness, arrogance because they feel called to pass judgement, pitifulness because they feel their lives unrelated in even the remotest manner to those of the great.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
For the outward world is subjected to the law of imperfection, and again and again the experience is repeated that he too who does not work gets the bread, and that he who sleeps gets it more abundantly than the man who works. In the outward world everything is made payable to the bearer, this world is in bondage to the law of indifference, and to him who has the ring, the spirit of the ring is obedient, whether he be Noureddin or Aladdin, and he who has the world's treasure, has it, however he got it. It is different in the world of spirit. Here an eternal divine order prevails, here it does not rain both upon the just and upon the unjust, here the sun does not shine both upon the good and upon the evil, here it holds good that only he who works gets the bread, only he who was in anguish finds repose, only he who descends into the underworld rescues the beloved, only he who draws the knife gets Isaac.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Someone who really respects himself and is concerned for his own soul is assured of the fact that a person living under his own supervision in the world at large lives in greater austerity and seclusion than a maiden in her lady's bower.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
What is certain is that to become of interest, for one's life to be interesting, has nothing to do with what you can turn your hand to but is a fateful privilege which, like every privilege in the world of spirit, can only be purchased in deep pain.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
What is it to be God's elect? It is to be denied in youth the wishes of youth, so as with great pains to get them fulfilled in old age.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
He writes because for him doing so is a luxury, the more agreeable and conspicuous the fewer who but and read what he writes.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
He writes because for him doing so is a luxury, the more agreeable and conspicuous the fewer who buy and read what he writes. (preface)
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
greatness of that with which he strove. For he who strove with the world became great by overcoming the world, and he who strove with himself became great by overcoming himself, but he who strove with God became greater than all.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Abraham was greater than all, great by reason of his power whose strength is impotence, great by reason of his wisdom whose secret is foolishness, great by reason of his hope whose form is madness, great by reason of the love which is hatred of oneself.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Writings of Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling; Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing; The Sickness Unto Death)
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 (Fear and Trembling)
Only in much fear and trembling is a human being able to speak with God, in much fear and trembling
Søren Kierkegaard (The Essential Kierkegaard)
Consequently, for us light-minded and unstable human beings there is sheer fear and trembling in this thought of God's changelessness
Søren Kierkegaard (The Essential Kierkegaard)
the fact that he offered his best. What they leave out of Abraham's history is dread; for to money I have no ethical obligation, but to the son the father has the highest and most sacred obligation. Dread, however, is a perilous thing for effeminate natures, hence they forget it, and in spite of that they want to talk about Abraham.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
No, not one shall be forgotten who was great in the world. But each was great in his own way, and each in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved. For he who loved himself became great by himself, and he who loved other men became great by his selfless devotion, but he who loved God became greater than all. Everyone shall be remembered, but each became great in proportion to his expectation. One became great by expecting the possible, another by expecting the eternal, but he who expected the impossible became greater than all.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
to him who has the ring, the spirit of the ring is obedient, whether he be Noureddin or Aladdin, and he who has the world's treasure, has it, however he got it.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
When man lost his faith in God and in reason, existentialists like Kierkegaard and Sartre believed, he found himself adrift in the universe and therefore adrift in anxiety. But for the existentialists, what generated anxiety was not the godlessness of the world, per se, but rather the freedom to choose between God and godlessness. Though freedom is something we actively seek, the freedom to choose generates anxiety. “When I behold my possibilities,” Kierkegaard wrote, “I experience that dread which is the dizziness of freedom, and my choice is made in fear and trembling.” Many
Scott Stossel (My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind)
When man lost his faith in God and in reason, existentialists like Kierkegaard and Sartre believed, he found himself adrift in the universe and therefore adrift in anxiety. But for the existentialists, what generated anxiety was not the godlessness of the world, per se, but rather the freedom to choose between God and godlessness. Though freedom is something we actively seek, the freedom to choose generates anxiety. “When I behold my possibilities,” Kierkegaard wrote, “I experience that dread which is the dizziness of freedom, and my choice is made in fear and trembling.” Many people try to flee anxiety by fleeing choice. This helps explain the perverse-seeming appeal of authoritarian societies—the certainties of a rigid, choiceless society can be very reassuring—and why times of upheaval so often produce extremist leaders and movements: Hitler in Weimar Germany, Father Coughlin in Depression-era America, or Jean-Marie Le Pen in France and Vladimir Putin in Russia today. But running from anxiety, Kierkegaard believed, was a mistake because anxiety was a “school” that taught people to come to terms with the human condition. §
Scott Stossel (My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind)
for he who loves God without faith reflects upon himself he who loves God believingly reflects upon God.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
There was one who was great in his strength, and one who was great in his wisdom, and one who was great in hope, and one who was great in love;
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
With his Don Juan Mozart enters the little immortal circle of those whose names, whose works, time will not forget, because eternity remembers them. And though it is a matter of indifference, when one has found entrance there, whether one stands highest or lowest, because in a certain sense all stand equally high, since all stand infinitely high, and though it is childish to dispute over the first and the last place here, as it is when children quarrel about the order assigned to them in the church at confirmation, I am still too much of a child, or rather I am like a young girl in love with Mozart, and I must have him in first place, cost what it may. And I will appeal to the parish clerk and to the priest and to the dean and to the bishop and to the whole consistory, and I will implore and adjure them to hear my prayer, and I will invoke the whole congregation on this matter, and if they refuse to hear me, if they refuse to grant my childish wish, I excommunicate myself, and renounce all fellowship with their modes of thought; and I will form a sect which not only gives Mozart first place, but which absolutely refuses to recognize any artist other than Mozart; and I shall beg Mozart to forgive me, because his music did not inspire me to great deeds, but turned me into a fool, who lost through him the little reason I had, and spent most of my time in quiet sadness humming what I do not understand, haunting like a specter day and night what I am not permitted to enter. Immortal Mozart! Thou, to whom I owe everything; to whom I owe the loss of my reason, the wonder that caused my soul to tremble, the fear that gripped my inmost being; thou, to whom I owe it that I did not pass through life without having been stirred by something. Thou, to whom I offer thanks that I did not die without having loved, even though my love became unhappy. Is it strange then that I should be more concerned for Mozart's glorification than for the happiest moment of my life, more jealous for his immortality than for my own existence? Aye, if he were taken away, if his name were erased from the memory of men, then would the last pillar be overthrown, which for me has kept everything from being hurled together into boundless chaos, into fearful nothningness.
Søren Kierkegaard
With his Don Juan Mozart enters the little immortal circle of those whose names, whose works, time will not forget, because eternity remembers them. And though it is a matter of indifference, when one has found entrance there, whether one stands highest or lowest, because in a certain sense all stand equally high, since all stand infinitely high, and though it is childish to dispute over the first and the last place here, as it is when children quarrel about the order assigned to them in the church at confirmation, I am still too much of a child, or rather I am like a young girl in love with Mozart, and I must have him in first place, cost what it may. And I will appeal to the parish clerk and to the priest and to the dean and to the bishop and to the whole consistory, and I will implore and adjure them to hear my prayer, and I will invoke the whole congregation on this matter, and if they refuse to hear me, if they refuse to grant my childish wish, I excommunicate myself, and renounce all fellowship with their modes of thought; and I will form a sect which not only gives Mozart first place, but which absolutely refuses to recognize any artist other than Mozart; and I shall beg Mozart to forgive me, because his music did not inspire me to great deeds, but turned me into a fool, who lost through him the little reason I had, and spent most of my time in quiet sadness humming what I do not understand, haunting like a specter day and night what I am not permitted to enter. Immortal Mozart! Thou, to whom I owe everything; to whom I owe the loss of my reason, the wonder that caused my soul to tremble, the fear that gripped my inmost being; thou, to whom I owe it that I did not pass through life without having been stirred by something. Thou, to whom I offer thanks that I did not die without having loved, even though my love became unhappy. Is it strange then that I should be more concerned for Mozart's glorification than for the happiest moment of my life, more jealous for his immortality than for my own existence? Aye, if he were taken away, if his name were erased from the memory of men, then would the last pillar be overthrown, which for me has kept everything from being hurled together into boundless chaos, into fearful nothingness.
Søren Kierkegaard
If there were no eternal consciousness in a man, if at the foundation of all there lay only a wildly seething power which writhing with obscure passions produced everything that is great and everything that is insignificant, if a bottomless void never satiated lay hidden beneath all–what then would life be but despair?
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
People do not know what they ought to say but only that they must say something.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
So soon as I talk I express the universal, and if I do not do so, no one can understand me.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
By my own strength I am able to give up the princess, and I shall not become a grumbler, but shall find joy and repose in my pain ; but by my own strength I am not able to get her again, for I am employing all my strength to be resigned. But by faith, says that marvellous knight, by faith I shall get her in virtue of the absurd.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Why then did Abraham do it ? For God’s sake, and (in complete identity with this) for his own sake. He did it for God’s sake because God required this proof of his faith ; for his own sake he did it in order that he might furnish the proof.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
From this, however, it does not follow that the ethical is to be abolished, but it acquires an entirely different expression, the paradoxical expression – that, for example, love to God may cause the knight of faith to give his love to his neighbor the opposite expression to that which, ethically speaking, is required by duty. If
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
This sectarianism is an attempt to leap away from the narrow path of the paradox and become a tragic hero at a cheap price. The tragic hero expresses the universal and sacrifices himself for it. The sectarian punchinello, instead of that, has a private theatre, i.e. several good friends and comrades who represent the universal
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
man who lives under his own supervision, alone in the whole world,
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
If he is not supposed to be that, then he is a hypocrite, and the higher he climbs on this path, the more dreadful a hypocrite he is.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
What is it to be God’s elect ? It is to be denied in youth the wishes of youth, so as with great pains to get them fulfilled in old age.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
The glorious memory to be preserved by the human race, the promise in Abraham’s seed – this was only a whim, a fleeting thought which the Lord had had, which Abraham should now obliterate. That glorious treasure which was just as old as faith in Abraham’s heart, many, many years older than Isaac, the fruit of Abraham’s life, sanctified by prayers, matured in conflict – the blessing upon Abraham’s lips, this fruit was now to be plucked prematurely and remain without significance.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
la fe […] es lo más grande que se pueda poseer; por eso al filosofía comete un fraude cuando nos ofrece otra cosa a cambio y habla despectivamente de la fe. La filosofía no puede ni debe darnos la fe, sino que debe comprenderse a sí misma, saber lo que está en grado de ofrecer, no ocultar nada y mucho menos birlarnos una cosa determinada, considerándola una nadería
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
La fe […] comienza con los movimientos del infinito, y sólo más tarde pasa a los de lo infinito.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
But a sad fatality hung over this young girl. She had been given to seven husbands, all of whom had perished in the bride-chamber.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
So the merman cannot belong to Agnes unless, after having made the infinite movement, the movement of repentance, he makes still one more movement by virtue of the absurd.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
That instant he dies – for one who does not understand that the whole power of the spirit is required for dying, and that the hero always dies before he dies, that man will not get so very far with his conception of life.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
To go beyond Hegel is a miracle, but to get beyond Abraham is the easiest thing of all. I for my part have devoted a good deal of time to the understanding of the Hegelian philosophy, I believe also that I understand it tolerably well, but when in spite of the trouble I have taken there are certain passages I cannot understand, I am foolhardy enough to think that he himself has not been quite clear. All
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
For when faith is eliminated by becoming null or nothing, then there only remains the crude fact that Abraham wanted to murder Isaac – which is easy enough for anyone to imitate who has not faith, the faith, that is to say, which makes it hard for him. 1
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
for he who loves God without faith reflects upon himself, he who loves God believingly reflects upon God. Upon
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Love for that princess became for him the expression for an eternal love, assumed a religious character, was transfigured into a love for the Eternal Being, which did to be sure deny him the fulfilment of his love, yet reconciled him again by the eternal consciousness of its validity in the form of eternity, which no reality can take from him.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
The two will preserve their love young and sound, she also will have triumphed over her pains, even though she does not, as it is said in the ballad, « lie every night beside her lord. » These two will to all eternity remain in agreement with one another, with a well-timed harmonia praestabilita, so that if ever the moment were to come, the moment which does not, however, concern them finitely (for then they would be growing older), if ever the moment were to come which offered to give love its expression in time, then they will be capable of beginning precisely at the point where they would have begun if originally they had been united. He
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
« I believe nevertheless that I shall get her, in virtue, that is, of the absurd, in virtue of the fact that with God all things are possible.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
This is quite as clear to the knight of faith, so the only thing that can save him is the absurd, and this he grasps by faith. So he recognizes the impossibility, and that very instant he believes the absurd ; for, if without recognizing the impossibility with all the passion of his soul and with all his heart, he should wish to imagine that he has faith, he deceives himself, and his testimony has no bearing, since he has not even reached the infinite resignation. Faith therefore is not an aesthetic emotion but something far higher, precisely because it has resignation as its presupposition ; it is not an immediate instinct of the heart, but is the paradox of life and existence.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
But still he must have recourse to the paradox. For when the individual by his guilt has gone outside the universal he can return to it only by virtue of having come as the individual into an absolute relationship with the absolute.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
For, humanly speaking, death is the last thing of all; and, humanly speaking, there is hope only so long as there is life. But Christianly understood death is by no means the last thing of all, hence it is only a little event within that which is all, an eternal life; and Christianly understood there is in death infinitely much more hope than merely humanly speaking there is when there not only is life but this life exhibits the fullest health and vigor.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Writings of Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling; Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing; The Sickness Unto Death)
By faith he was a stranger in the land of promise, and there was nothing to recall what was dear to him, but by its novelty everything tempted his soul to melancholy yearning — and yet he was God's elect, in whom the Lord was well pleased!
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
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 (Fear and Trembling)
It is supposed to be difficult to understand Hegel, but to understand Abraham is a trifle. To go beyond Hegel is a miracle, but to get beyond Abraham is the easiest thing of all. I for my part have devoted a good deal of time to the understanding of the Hegelian philosophy, I believe also that I understand it tolerably well, but when in spite of the trouble I have taken there are certain passages I cannot understand, I am foolhardy enough to think that he himself has not been quite clear. All this I do easily and naturally, my head does not suffer from it. But on the other hand when I have to think of Abraham, I am as though annihilated. I catch sight every moment of that enormous paradox which is the substance of Abraham's life, every moment I am repelled, and my thought in spite of all its passion cannot get a hairs-breadth further. I strain every muscle to get a view of it–that very instant I am paralyzed.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Suppose someone wanting to learn to dance said: 'For hundreds of years now one generation after another has been learning dance steps, it's high time I took advantage of this and began straight off with a set of quadrilles.' One would surely laugh a little at him: but in the world of spirit such an attitude is considered utterly plausible. What then is education? I had thought it was the curriculum the individual ran through in order to catch up with himself; and anyone who does not want to go through this curriculum will be little helped by being born into the most enlightened age.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
For it is not what happens to me that makes me great, but what I do, and there is surely no one who thinks that anyone became great by winning the big lottery prize.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
And isn't it true here too that those whom God blesses he damns in the same breath?
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Happy my lot in life if my desire coincides with my duty, and conversely; and most people's task in life is exactly to stay under their obligation, and by their enthusiasm to transform it into their wish.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
So long as the generation only worries about its task, which is the highest it can attain to, it cannot grow weary. That task is always enough for a human lifetime. When children on holiday get through all their games by noon and then ask impatiently, 'Can't anyone think of a new game?', does this show that they are more developed and advanced than children of the same or a previous generation who could make the games they already know last the whole day? Or does it not rather show that those children lack what I would call the good-natured seriousness that belongs to play?
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
For if one makes faith everything, that is, makes it what it is, then, according to my way of thinking, one may speak of it without danger in our age, which hardly extravagates in the matter of faith, and it is only by faith one attains likeness to Abraham, not by murder. If one makes love a transitory mood, a voluptuous emotion in a man, then one only lays pitfalls for the weak when one would talk about the exploits of love.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
In a locked drawer of Søren’s writing desk, Peter found not one will and testament, but two. Both letters came with firm instructions that they were to be opened only after Søren’s death. Both letters were addressed to Peter, yet neither had Peter as their subject. One letter was dated four years previous. It did not contain a single word of rapprochement, but instead read simply: “ ‘The unnamed person, whose name will one day be named’ to whom the entirety of my authorial activity is dedicated, is my former fiancée, Mrs Regine Schlegel.” The other undated letter, doubtlessly opened with fear and trembling, was similarly terse. It was a will, of sorts, which left all of Søren’s possessions to his former fiancée. If Regine refused to accept it for herself, then everything was to go to her so she could distribute it to the poor as she saw fit. “What I wish to express,” wrote Søren, “is that for me the engagement was and is just as binding as a marriage.
Stephen Backhouse (Kierkegaard: A Single Life)
he who loves God without faith reflects upon himself he who loves God believingly reflects upon God.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling: With linked Table of Contents)
Despairing narrowness consists in the lack of primitiveness, or of the fact one has deprived oneself of one’s primitiveness; it consists in having emasculated oneself, in a spiritual sense. For every man is primitively planned to be a self, appointed to become oneself; and while it is true that every self as such is angular, the logical consequence of this merely is that it has to be polished, not that it has to be ground smooth, not that for fear of men it has to give up entirely being itself, nor even that for fear of men it dare not be itself in its essential accidentality (which precisely is what should not be ground away), by which in fine it is itself. But while one sort of despair plunges wildly into the infinite and loses itself, a second sort permits itself as it were to be defrauded by “the others.” By seeing the multitude of men about it, by getting engaged in all sorts of worldly affairs, by becoming wise about how things go in this world, such a man forgets himself, forgets what his name is (in the divine understanding of it), does not dare to believe in himself, finds it too venturesome a thing to be himself, far easier and safer to be like the others, to become an imitation, a number, a cipher in the crowd.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Writings of Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling; Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing; The Sickness Unto Death)
A Panegyric upon Abraham
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
loved. For he who loved himself became great by himself, and he who loved other men became great by his selfless devotion, but he who loved God became greater than all.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling: With linked Table of Contents)
To strive against the whole world is a comfort, to strive with oneself is dreadful.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
In the old days they said, “What a pity things don’t go on in the world as the parson preaches” — perhaps the time is coming, especially with the help of philosophy, when they will say, “Fortunately things don’t go on as the parson preaches;
Søren Kierkegaard (The Writings of Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling; Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing; The Sickness Unto Death)
it is not worth while to remember that past which cannot become a present.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Writings of Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling; Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing; The Sickness Unto Death)
he was a cithara-player, not a man.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Writings of Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling; Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing; The Sickness Unto Death)
For Kierkegaard has an answer. Human existence is possible as existence not in despair, as existence not in tragedy—it is possible as existence in faith. The opposite of Sin—to use the traditional term for existence purely in society—is not virtue; it is faith. Faith is the belief that in God the impossible is possible, that in Him time and eternity are one, that both life and death are meaningful. In my favorite among Kierkegaard’s books, a little volume called Fear and Trembling[published in 1843], Kierkegaard raises the question: What is it that distinguishes Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, from ordinary murder? If the distinction would be that Abraham never intended to go through with the sacrifice but intended all the time only to make a show of his obedience to God, then Abraham indeed would not have been a murderer, but he would have been something more despicable: a fraud and a cheat. If he had not loved Isaac but had been indifferent, he would have been willing to be a murderer. But Abraham was a holy man, and God’s command was for him an absolute command to be executed without reservation. And we are told that he loved Isaac more than himself. But Abraham had faith. He believed that in God the impossible would become possible, that he could execute God’s order and yet retain Isaac. If you looked into this little volume on Fear and Trembling, you may have seen from the introduction of the translator that it deals symbolically with Kierkegaard’s innermost secret, his great and tragic love. When he talks of himself, then he talks of Abraham. But this meaning as a symbolic autobiography is only incidental. The true, the universal meaning is that human existence is possible, only possible, in faith. In faith, the individual becomes the universal, ceases to be isolated, becomes meaningful and absolute; hence in faith there is a true ethic. And in faith existence in society becomes meaningful too as existence in true charity. This faith is not what today so often is called a “mystical experience”—something that can apparently be induced by the proper breathing exercises, by fasting, by narcotic drugs or by prolonged exposure to Bach with closed eyes and closed ears. It is something
Peter F. Drucker (The Drucker Lectures : Essential Lessons on Management, Society and Economy)
Human existence is possible as existence not in despair, as existence not in tragedy—it is possible as existence in faith. The opposite of Sin—to use the traditional term for existence purely in society—is not virtue; it is faith. Faith is the belief that in God the impossible is possible, that in Him time and eternity are one, that both life and death are meaningful. In my favorite among Kierkegaard’s books, a little volume called Fear and Trembling[published in 1843],
Peter F. Drucker (The Drucker Lectures : Essential Lessons on Management, Society and Economy)
For with his little secret that he cannot divulge, the poet buys this power of the word to tell everybody else's dark secrets. A poet is not an apostle; he drives out devils only by the power of the devil.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Should one of them after having caught the greatness of Abraham's deed, but also the appallingness of it, venture out on the road, I would saddle my horse and ride along with him. At every stop before we came to the mountain in Moriah I would explain to him that he could still turn back, could rue the misunderstanding that he was called to be tried in a conflict of this nature, could confess that he lacked the courage, so that if God wanted Isaac God must take him himself.
Johannes de Silentio (Fear and Trembling: Dialectical Lyric)
am not unacquainted with the dreadful, my memory is a faithful wife, and my imagination is (as I myself am not) a diligent little maiden who all day sits quietly at her work, and in the evening knows how to chat to me about it so prettily that I must look at it, though not always, I must say, is it landscapes, or flowers, or pastoral idylls she paints. I have seen the dreadful before my own eyes, I do not flee from it timorously, but I know very well that, although I advance to meet it, my courage is not the courage of faith, nor anything comparable to it.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
he who will not pass through this curriculum is helped very little by the fact that he was born in the most enlightened age.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Whatever one generation learns from another, it can never learn from a predecessor the genuinely human factor. In this respect every generation begins afresh, has no task other than that of any previous generation, and comes no further, provided the latter didn't shirk its task and deceive itself. This authentically human factor is passion, in which the one generation also fully understands the other and understands itself. Thus no generation has learned from another how to love, no generation can begin other than at the beginning, the task of no later generation is shorter than its predecessor's, and if someone, unlike the previous generation, is unwilling to stay with love but wants to go further, then that is simply idle and foolish talk.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
for the paradox is that he as the individual puts himself in an absolute relation to the absolute.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Faith is precisely this paradox, that the individual as the particular is higher than the universal, is justified over against it, is not subordinate but superior–yet in such a way, be it observed, that it is the particular individual who, after he has been subordinated as the particular to the universal, now through the universal becomes the individual who as the particular is superior to the universal, for the fact that the individual as the particular stands in an absolute relation to the absolute.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Whenever the individual after he has entered the universal feels an impulse to assert himself as the particular, he is in temptation (Anfechtung), and he can labor himself out of this only by abandoning himself as the particular in the universal.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
if it stands fast that Abraham is the representative of faith, and that faith is normally expressed in him whose life is not merely the most paradoxical that can be thought but so paradoxical that it cannot be thought at all. He acts by virtue of the absurd, for it is precisely absurd that he as the particular is higher than the universal. This paradox cannot be mediated; for as soon as he begins to do this he has to admit that he was in temptation (Anfechtung), and if such was the case, he never gets to the point of sacrificing Isaac, or, if he has sacrificed Isaac, he must turn back repentantly to the universal. By virtue of the absurd he gets Isaac again. Abraham is therefore at no instant a tragic hero but something quite different, either a murderer or a believer. The middle term which saves the tragic hero, Abraham has not. Hence it is that I can understand the tragic hero but cannot understand Abraham, though in a certain crazy sense I admire him more than all other men.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
those who possess faith should take care to set up certain criteria so that one might distinguish the paradox from a temptation (Anfechtung).
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
The one knight of faith can render no aid to the other.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
Either the individual becomes a knight of faith by assuming the burden of the paradox, or he never becomes one.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)