Kierkegaard Quotes

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Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
Søren Kierkegaard
The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.
Søren Kierkegaard
People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
Søren Kierkegaard
Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin)
People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals of Kierkegaard)
Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.
Søren Kierkegaard
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.
Søren Kierkegaard
The most common form of despair is not being who you are.
Søren Kierkegaard
It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.
Søren Kierkegaard
What labels me, negates me.
Søren Kierkegaard
I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have.
Søren Kierkegaard
The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss - an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. - is sure to be noticed.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
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 (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.
Søren Kierkegaard (Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard)
What if everything in the world were a misunderstanding, what if laughter were really tears?
Søren Kierkegaard
To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.
Søren Kierkegaard
Once you label me you negate me.
Søren Kierkegaard
Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see
Søren Kierkegaard
The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals of 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
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 general applause from wits who believe it's a joke.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.
Søren Kierkegaard
God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals of Kierkegaard)
To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity.
Søren Kierkegaard
If anyone on the verge of action should judge himself according to the outcome, he would never begin.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
The proud person always wants to do the right thing, the great thing. But because he wants to do it in his own strength, he is fighting not with man, but with God.
Søren Kierkegaard
What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music.... And people flock around the poet and say: 'Sing again soon' - that is, 'May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or)
If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen but, if one will, are to be lived.
Søren Kierkegaard
Many of us pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that we hurry past it.
Søren Kierkegaard
It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.
Søren Kierkegaard
Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.
Søren Kierkegaard
It is perhaps the misfortune of my life that I am interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing; all my interests are not subordinated in one but stand on an equal footing.
Søren Kierkegaard
Boredom is the root of all evil - the despairing refusal to be oneself.
Søren Kierkegaard
It is impossible to exist without passion
Søren Kierkegaard
One must not think slightingly of the paradoxical…for the paradox is the source of the thinker’s passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity.
Søren Kierkegaard
There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.
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
How absurd men are! They never use the liberties they have, they demand those they do not have. They have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech.
Søren Kierkegaard
It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand...
Søren Kierkegaard
Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. 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, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.
Søren Kierkegaard
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. —SØREN KIERKEGAARD
Blake Crouch (Recursion)
The self-assured believer is a greater sinner in the eyes of God than the troubled disbeliever.
Søren Kierkegaard
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.
Søren Kierkegaard
I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.
Søren Kierkegaard
Leap of faith – yes, but only after reflection
Søren Kierkegaard
...why bother remembering a past that cannot be made into a present?
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
The thing is to understand myself: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. That is what I now recognize as the most important thing.
Søren Kierkegaard
Listen to the cry of a woman in labor at the hour of giving birth — look at the dying man’s struggle at his last extremity, and then tell me whether something that begins and ends thus could be intended for enjoyment.
Søren Kierkegaard
Happiness is the greatest hiding place for despair.
Søren Kierkegaard
On the secretly blushing cheek is reflected the glow of the heart
Søren Kierkegaard
Where am I? Who am I? How did I come to be here? What is this thing called the world? How did I come into the world? Why was I not consulted? And If I am compelled to take part in it, where is the director? I want to see him.
Søren Kierkegaard
Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion… while truth again reverts to a new minority.
Søren Kierkegaard
My sorrow is my castle.
Søren Kierkegaard
Take away paradox from the thinker and you have a professor.
Søren Kierkegaard
It is very important in life to know when your cue comes.
Søren Kierkegaard
I stick my finger into existence and it smells of nothing.
Søren Kierkegaard
A 'no' does not hide anything, but a 'yes' very easily becomes a deception.
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
Once you are born in this world you’re old enough to die.
Søren Kierkegaard
How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it and why was I not informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had been bought by a peddling shanghaier of human beings? How did I get involved in this big enterprise called actuality? Why should I be involved? Isn't it a matter of choice? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my complaint?
Søren Kierkegaard
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)
And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
My melancholy is the most faithful sweetheart I have had.
Søren Kierkegaard
Now, with God's help, I shall become myself.
Søren Kierkegaard
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.
Søren Kierkegaard (Entweder / Oder)
Therefore do not deceive yourself! Of all deceivers fear most yourself!
Søren Kierkegaard
If you want to be loathsome to God, just run with the herd.
Søren Kierkegaard
The task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted.
Søren Kierkegaard
My standpoint is armed neutrality.
Søren Kierkegaard
The only intelligent tactical response to life’s horror is to laugh defiantly at it
Søren Kierkegaard
The self is a relation which relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but that the relation relates itself to its own self.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I should reply, 'Create silence'.
Søren Kierkegaard
Idleness, we are accustomed to say, is the root of all evil. To prevent this evil, work is recommended.... Idleness as such is by no means a root of evil; on the contrary, it is truly a divine life, if one is not bored....
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite.
Søren Kierkegaard
to have faith is precisely to lose one's mind so as to win God.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known; what wonder, then, that I love her in return.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Adversity draws men together and produces beauty and harmony in life's relationships, just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers on the window-panes, which vanish with the warmth.
Søren Kierkegaard
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?
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
In my great melancholy, I loved life, for I love my melancholy.
Søren Kierkegaard
What is existence for but to be laughed at if men in their twenties have already attained the utmost?
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle.
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 (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
People understand me so little that they do not even understand when I complain of being misunderstood.
Søren Kierkegaard
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.
Søren Kierkegaard
What is youth? A dream. What is love? The dream's content.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
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 (Works of Love)
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)
To be lost in spiritlessness is the most terrible thing of all.
Søren Kierkegaard
.....love yourself.
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 (Fear and Trembling)
For love is exultant when it unites equals, but it is triumphant when it makes that which was unequal equal in love.
Søren Kierkegaard
Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.
Søren Kierkegaard
Don't forget to love yourself.
Søren Kierkegaard
Since my earliest childhood a barb of sorrow has lodged in my heart. As long as it stays I am ironic — if it is pulled out I shall die.
Søren Kierkegaard
دردها، اگر فرد را نشکنند، به او غرور می آموزند.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Seducer's Diary)
As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard noted, life can only be understood backwards—but it must be lived forwards.
Benjamin Graham (The Intelligent Investor)
Marginalia Sometimes the notes are ferocious, skirmishes against the author raging along the borders of every page in tiny black script. If I could just get my hands on you, Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien, they seem to say, I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head. Other comments are more offhand, dismissive - Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" - that kind of thing. I remember once looking up from my reading, my thumb as a bookmark, trying to imagine what the person must look like who wrote "Don't be a ninny" alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson. Students are more modest needing to leave only their splayed footprints along the shore of the page. One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's. Another notes the presence of "Irony" fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal. Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers, Hands cupped around their mouths. Absolutely," they shout to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin. Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!" Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points rain down along the sidelines. And if you have managed to graduate from college without ever having written "Man vs. Nature" in a margin, perhaps now is the time to take one step forward. We have all seized the white perimeter as our own and reached for a pen if only to show we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages; we pressed a thought into the wayside, planted an impression along the verge. Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria jotted along the borders of the Gospels brief asides about the pains of copying, a bird singing near their window, or the sunlight that illuminated their page- anonymous men catching a ride into the future on a vessel more lasting than themselves. And you have not read Joshua Reynolds, they say, until you have read him enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling. Yet the one I think of most often, the one that dangles from me like a locket, was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye I borrowed from the local library one slow, hot summer. I was just beginning high school then, reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room, and I cannot tell you how vastly my loneliness was deepened, how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed, when I found on one page A few greasy looking smears and next to them, written in soft pencil- by a beautiful girl, I could tell, whom I would never meet- Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love.
Billy Collins (Picnic, Lightning)
Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin)
This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think.
Søren Kierkegaard
وحشتناک ترین جنگ ها زمانی رخ نمی دهد که دو طرف دیدگاه هایی مخالف داشته باشند؛ وحشتناک ترین جنگ ها زمانی رخ می دهد که دو طرف یک چیز می گویند، ولی تفسیرشان از آن متفاوت است.
Søren Kierkegaard
What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose, to see what it really is that God wills that I shall do; 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.
Søren Kierkegaard
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.
Søren Kierkegaard
Only the person who is essentially capable of remaining silent is capable of speaking essentially.
Søren Kierkegaard
آیا مضحک تر از این مردم یافت می شود، که هیچ وقت از آزادی ای که دارند استفاده نمی کنند، اما آزادی ای که ندارند را می طلبند؟ آن ها آزادی اندیشه دارند، و آزادی بیان می طلبند. آزادی بیان می طلبند تا جبرانی باشد برای آزادی اندیشه ای که تقریباً هیچ وقت به کارش نمی برند.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
When you were called, did you answer or did you not? Perhaps softly and in a whisper?
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
My time I divide as follows: the one half I sleep; the other half I dream. I never dream when I sleep; that would be a shame, because to sleep is the height of genius.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Chronocanine Envy: Sadness experienced when one realized that, unlike one's dog, one cannot live only in the present tense. As Kierkegaard said, "Life must be lived forward.
Douglas Coupland
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)
People settle for a level of despair they can tolerate and call it happiness.
Søren Kierkegaard
Out of love for mankind, and out of despair at my embarrassing situation, seeing that I had accomplished nothing and was unable to make anything easier than it had already been made, and moved by a genuine interest in those who make everything easy, I conceived it as my task to create difficulties everywhere.
Søren Kierkegaard
Life can only be understood going backward, but must be lived going forward.
Søren Kierkegaard
Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living.
Søren 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?
Søren Kierkegaard
I would rather be a swineherd, understood by the swine, than a poet misunderstood by men.
Søren Kierkegaard
The truth is a snare: you cannot have it, without being caught. You cannot have the truth in such a way that you catch it, but only in such a way that it catches you.
Søren Kierkegaard
The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, gives up nothing, will not reconstruct his life, will not be what he admires, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires.
Søren Kierkegaard (Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard)
The matter is quite simple. The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.
Søren Kierkegaard (Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard)
Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good.
Søren Kierkegaard
من زمانم را این گونه قسمت کرده ام: نیمش را می خوابم، و در نیمه دیگر رؤیا می بینم. حیف است که آدم در خواب رؤیا ببیند.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
شایع ترین نوع نومیدی آن است که فرد نخواهد خودش باشد.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
The same sensitivity that opens artists to Being also makes them vulnerable to the dark powers of non-Being. It is no accident that many creative people--including Dante, Pascal, Goethe, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Beethoven, Rilke, Blake, and Van Gogh--struggled with depression, anxiety, and despair. They paid a heavy price to wrest their gifts from the clutches of non-Being. But this is what true artists do: they make their own frayed lives the cable for the surges of power generated in the creative force fields of Being and non-Being. (Beyond Religion, p. 124)
David N. Elkins
No one comes back from the dead, no one has entered the world without crying; no one is asked when he wishes to enter life, nor when he wishes to leave.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke.
Søren Kierkegaard
I begin with the principle that all men are bores. Surely no one will prove himself so great a bore as to contradict me in this.
Søren Kierkegaard
For it is not what happens to me that makes me great, but it is what I do.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
It doesn't matter what you read. What matters is you read. Whether it’s Tolstoy or Twilight, Kierkegaard or Betty and Veronica, keep reading, and don’t ever let somebody else—anybody—have a say about, or try to control, what you choose to learn from and/or escape into.
Trent Zelazny
The daily press is the evil principle of the modern world, and time will only serve to disclose this fact with greater and greater clearness. The capacity of the newspaper for degeneration is sophistically without limit, since it can always sink lower and lower in its choice of readers. At last it will stir up all those dregs of humanity which no state or government can control.
Søren Kierkegaard
Nothing is as heady as the wine of possibility
Søren Kierkegaard
Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing
Søren Kierkegaard
Only the noble of heart are called to difficulty.
Søren Kierkegaard
I'm so misunderstood that people misunderstand me even when I tell them I'm misunderstood.
Søren Kierkegaard
People hardly ever make use of the freedom which they have, for example, freedom of thought; instead they demand freedom of speech as compensation.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Living Thoughts Of Kierkegaard)
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)
Sleeping is the height of genius
Søren Kierkegaard
Silence is the demon's trap, and the more one is silenced, the more terrible the demon; but silence is also the divinity's mutual understanding with the single individual.
Søren Kierkegaard
You love the accidental. A smile from a pretty girl in an interesting situation, a stolen glance, that is what you are hunting for, that is a motif for your aimless fantasy. You who always pride yourself on being an observateur must, in return, put up with becoming an object of observation. Ah, you are a strange fellow, one moment a child, the next an old man; one moment you are thinking most earnestly about the most important scholarly problems, how you will devote your life to them, and the next you are a lovesick fool. But you are a long way from marriage.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Wise is the one who flavors the future with some salt from the past. Becoming dust is no threat to the phoenix born from the ash.
Curtis Tyrone Jones
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.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Present Age)
To grumble about the world and its unhappiness is always easier than to beat one's breast and groan over oneself.
Søren Kierkegaard (Works of Love)
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)
No, I won't leave the world--I'll enter a lunatic asylum and see if the profundity of insanity reveals to me the riddles of life. Idiot, why didn't I do that long ago, why has it taken me so long to understand what it means when the Indians honour the insane, step aside for them? Yes, a lunatic asylum--don't you think I may end up there?
Søren Kierkegaard
Do you not know that there comes a midnight hour when every one has to throw off his mask? Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked? Do you think you can slip away a little before midnight to avoid this?
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
Language has time as its element; all other media have space as their element.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
A man who as a physical being is always turned toward the outside, thinking that his happiness lies outside him, finally turns inward and discovers that the source is within him.
Søren Kierkegaard
For I have trained myself and am training myself always to be able to dance lightly in the service of thought
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 (Works of Love)
When I was young, I forgot how to laugh in the cave of Trophonius; when I was older, I opened my eyes and beheld reality, at which I began to laugh, and since then, I have not stopped laughing. I saw that the meaning of life was to secure a livelihood, and that its goal was to attain a high position; that love’s rich dream was marriage with an heiress; that friendship’s blessing was help in financial difficulties; that wisdom was what the majority assumed it to be; that enthusiasm consisted in making a speech; that it was courage to risk the loss of ten dollars; that kindness consisted in saying, “You are welcome,” at the dinner table; that piety consisted in going to communion once a year. This I saw, and I laughed.
Søren Kierkegaard
Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy — to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work. Therefore, whenever I see a fly settling, in the decisive moment, on the nose of such a person of affairs; or if he is spattered with mud from a carriage which drives past him in still greater haste; or the drawbridge opens up before him; or a tile falls down and knocks him dead, then I laugh heartily.
Søren Kierkegaard
Do you not know that there comes a midnight hour when every one has to throw off his mask? Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked? Do you think you can slip away a little before midnight in order to avoid this? Or are you not terrified by it? I have seen men in real life who so long deceived others that at last their true nature could not reveal itself;... In every man there is something which to a certain degree prevents him from becoming perfectly transparent to himself; and this may be the case in so high a degree, he may be so inexplicably woven into relationships of life which extend far beyond himself that he almost cannot reveal himself. But he who cannot reveal himself cannot love, and he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all.
Søren Kierkegaard
...even the richest personality is nothing before he has chosen himself, and on the other hand even what one might call the poorest personality is everything when he has chosen himself; for the great thing is not to be this or that but to be oneself, and this everyone can be if he wills it.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
For like a poisonous breath over the fields, like a mass of locusts over Egypt, so the swarm of excuses is a general plaque, a ruinous infection among men, that eats off the sprouts of the Eternal.
Søren 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.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Present Age)
To dare is to momentarily lose one’s footing. But not to dare is to lose one’s self.
Søren Kierkegaard
Faith is the highest passion in a man.
Søren Kierkegaard
With respect to love we speak continually about perfection and the perfect person. With respect to love Christianity also speaks continually about perfection and the perfect person. Alas, but we men talk about finding the perfect person in order to love him. Christianity speaks about being the perfect person who limitlessly loves the person he sees.
Søren Kierkegaard (Works of Love)
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.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
I opened my eyes and saw the real world, and I began to laugh, and i haven't stopped since.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
...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.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I have the courage, I believe, to doubt everything; I have the courage, I believe, to fight with everything; but I have not the courage to know anything; not the courage to possess, to own anything. Most people complain that the world is so prosaic, that life is not like romance, where opportunities are always so favorable. I complain that life is not like romance, where one had hard-hearted parents and nixies and trolls to fight, and enchanted princesses to free. What are all such enemies taken together, compared with the pale, bloodless, tenacious, nocturnal shapes with which I fight, and to whom I give life and substance?
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
You, who are so observant, will no doubt concede the generalization that people divide into two large classes, those who live mainly in hope and those who live mainly in recollection.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Seducer's Diary)
Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.
Søren Kierkegaard
I am so fed up and joyless that not only have I nothing to fill my soul, I cannot even conceive of anything that could possibly satisfy it - alas, not even the bliss of heaven.
Søren Kierkegaard
When I was very young and in the cave of Trophonius I forgot to laugh. Then, when I got older, when I opened my eyes and saw the real world, I began to laugh and I haven’t stopped since. I saw that the meaning of life was to get a livelihood, that the goal of life was to be a High Court judge, that the bright joy of love was to marry a well-off girl, that the blessing of friendship was to help each other out of a financial tight spot, that wisdom was what the majority said it was, that passion was to give a speech, that courage was to risk being fined 10 rix-dollars, that cordiality was to say ‘You’re welcome’ after a meal, and that the fear of God was to go to communion once a year. That’s what I saw. And I laughed.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
What is talkativeness? It is the result of doing away with the vital distinction between talking and keeping silent. Only some one who knows how to remain essentially silent can really talk--and act essentially. Silence is the essence of inwardness, of the inner life. Mere gossip anticipates real talk, and to express what is still in thought weakens action by forestalling it. But some one who can really talk, because he knows how to remain silent, will not talk about a variety of things but about one thing only, and he will know when to talk and when to remain silent. Where mere scope is concerned, talkativeness wins the day, it jabbers on incessantly about everything and nothing...In a passionate age great events (for they correspond to each other) give people something to talk about. And when the event is over, and silence follows, there is still something to remember and to think about while one remains silent. But talkativeness is afraid of the silence which reveals its emptiness.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Present Age)
If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast the objective uncertainty so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy thousand fathoms of water, still preserving my faith.
Søren Kierkegaard
Let other complain that the age is wicked; my complaint is that it is paltry; for it lacks passion. Men's thoughts are thin and flimsy like lace, they are themselves pitiable like the lacemakers. The thoughts of their hearts are too paltry to be sinful. For a worm it might be regarded as a sin to harbor such thoughts, but not for a being made in the image of God. Their lusts are dull and sluggish, their passions sleepy...This is the reason my soul always turns back to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. I feel that those who speak there are at least human beings: they hate, they love, they murder their enemies, and curse their descendants throughout all generations, they sin.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
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)
If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it; if you marry or do not marry, you will regret both; Laugh at the world’s follies, you will regret it, weep over them, you will also regret that; laugh at the world’s follies or weep over them, you will regret both; whether you laugh at the world’s follies or weep over them, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it, believe her not, you will also regret that; believe a woman or believe her not, you will regret both; whether you believe a woman or believe her not, you will regret both. Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will also regret that; hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the sum and substance of all philosophy.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
The same thing happened to me that, according to legend, happened to Parmeniscus, who in the Trophonean cave lost the ability to laugh but acquired it again on the island of Delos upon seeing a shapeless block that was said to be the image of the goddess Leto. When I was very young, I forgot in the Trophonean cave how to laugh; when I became an adult, when I opened my eyes and saw actuality, then I started to laugh and have never stopped laughing since that time. I saw that the meaning of life was to make a living, its goal to be- come a councilor, that the rich delight oflove was to acquire a well-to-do girl, that the blessedness of friendship was to help each other in financial difficulties, that wisdom was whatever the majority assumed it to be, that enthusiasm was to give a speech, that courage was to risk being fined ten dollars, that cordiality was to say "May it do you good" after a meal, that piety was to go to communion once a year. This I saw, and I laughed.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
A strange thing happened to me in my dream. I was rapt into the Seventh Heaven. There sat all the gods assembled. As a special dispensation I was granted the favor to have one wish. "Do you wish for youth," said Mercury, "or for beauty, or power, or a long life; or do you wish for the most beautiful woman, or any other of the many fine things we have in our treasure trove? Choose, but only one thing!" For a moment I was at a loss. Then I addressed the gods in this wise: "Most honorable contemporaries, I choose one thing — that I may always have the laughs on my side." Not one god made answer, but all began to laugh. From this I concluded that my wish had been granted and thought that the gods knew how to express themselves with good taste: for it would surely have been inappropriate to answer gravely: your wish has been granted.
Søren Kierkegaard
It requires courage not to surrender oneself to the ingenious or compassionate counsels of despair that would induce a man to eliminate himself from the ranks of the living; but it does not follow from this that every huckster who is fattened and nourished in self-confidence has more courage than the man who yielded to despair.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Concept of Irony: With Continual Reference to Socrates/Notes of Schelling's Berlin Lectures)
In a theater, it happened that a fire started offstage. The clown came out to tell the audience. They thought it was a joke and applauded. He told them again, and they became still more hilarious. This is the way, I suppose, that the world will be destroyed-amid the universal hilarity of wits and wags who think it is all a joke.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
And therefore, all of those for whom authentic transformation has deeply unseated their souls must, I believe, wrestle with the profound moral obligation to shout form the heart—perhaps quietly and gently, with tears of reluctance; perhaps with fierce fire and angry wisdom; perhaps with slow and careful analysis; perhaps by unshakable public example—but authentically always and absolutely carries a a demand and duty: you must speak out, to the best of your ability, and shake the spiritual tree, and shine your headlights into the eyes of the complacent. You must let that radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you. Alas, if you fail to do so, you are betraying your own authenticity. You are hiding your true estate. You don’t want to upset others because you don’t want to upset your self. You are acting in bad faith, the taste of a bad infinity. Because, you see, the alarming fact is that any realization of depth carries a terrible burden: those who are allowed to see are simultaneously saddled with the obligation to communicate that vision in no uncertain terms: that is the bargain. You were allowed to see the truth under the agreement that you would communicate it to others (that is the ultimate meaning of the bodhisattva vow). And therefore, if you have seen, you simply must speak out. Speak out with compassion, or speak out with angry wisdom, or speak out with skillful means, but speak out you must. And this is truly a terrible burden, a horrible burden, because in any case there is no room for timidity. The fact that you might be wrong is simply no excuse: You might be right in your communication, and you might be wrong, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter, as Kierkegaard so rudely reminded us, is that only by investing and speaking your vision with passion, can the truth, one way or another, finally penetrate the reluctance of the world. If you are right, or if you are wrong, it is only your passion that will force either to be discovered. It is your duty to promote that discovery—either way—and therefore it is your duty to speak your truth with whatever passion and courage you can find in your heart. You must shout, in whatever way you can.
Ken Wilber (One Taste)
As I stood alone and forsaken, and the power of the sea and the battle of the elements reminded me of my own nothingness, and on the other hand, the sure flight of the birds recalled the words spoken by Christ: Not a sparrow shall fall on the ground without your Father: then, all at once, I felt how great and how small I was; then did those two mighty forces, pride and humility, happily unite in friendship.
Søren Kierkegaard
When I get up in the morning, I go right back to bed again. I feel best in the evening the moment I put out the light and pull the feather-bed over my head. I sit up once more, look around the room with indescribable satisfaction, and then good night, down under the feather-bed.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Loving just one is too little; loving all is being superficial; knowing yourself and loving as many as possible, letting your soul hide all the powers of love in itself, so that each gets its particular nourishment while consciousness nevertheless embraces it all – that is enjoyment, that is living.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
There are blondes and blondes and it is almost a joke word nowadays. All blondes have their points, except perhaps the metallic ones who are as blond as a Zulu under the bleach and as to disposition as soft as a sidewalk. There is the small cute blonde who cheeps and twitters, and the big statuesque blonde who straight-arms you with an ice-blue glare. There is the blonde who gives you the up-from-under look and smells lovely and shimmers and hangs on your arm and is always very tired when you take her home. She makes that helpless gesture and has that goddamned headache and you would like to slug her except that you are glad you found out about the headache before you invested too much time and money and hope in her. Because the headache will always be there, a weapon that never wears out and is as deadly as the bravo’s rapier or Lucrezia’s poison vial. There is the soft and willing and alcoholic blonde who doesn’t care what she wears as long as it is mink or where she goes as long as it is the Starlight Roof and there is plenty of dry champagne. There is the small perky blonde who is a little pal and wants to pay her own way and is full of sunshine and common sense and knows judo from the ground up and can toss a truck driver over her shoulder without missing more than one sentence out of the editorial in the Saturday Review. There is the pale, pale blonde with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type. She is very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of nowhere and you can’t lay a finger on her because in the first place you don’t want to and in the second place she is reading The Waste Land or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studying Provençal. She adores music and when the New York Philharmonic is playing Hindemith she can tell you which one of the six bass viols came in a quarter of a beat too late. I hear Toscanini can also. That makes two of them. And lastly there is the gorgeous show piece who will outlast three kingpin racketeers and then marry a couple of millionaires at a million a head and end up with a pale rose villa at Cap Antibes, an Alfa-Romeo town car complete with pilot and co-pilot, and a stable of shopworn aristocrats, all of whom she will treat with the affectionate absent-mindedness of an elderly duke saying goodnight to his butler.
Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye (Philip Marlowe, #6))
I stick my finger in existence — it smells of nothing. Where am I? Who am I? How came I here? What is this thing called the world? What does this world mean? Who is it that has lured me into the world? Why was I not consulted, why not made acquainted with its manners and customs instead of throwing me into the ranks, as if I had been bought by a kidnapper, a dealer in souls? How did I obtain an interest in this big enterprise they call reality? Why should I have an interest in it? Is it not a voluntary concern? And if I am to be compelled to take part in it, where is the director? I should like to make a remark to him. Is there no director? Whither shall I turn with my complaint?
Søren Kierkegaard
شاعر کیست؟ انسانی اندوهگین که غم ژرفش را در قلب نهان می دارد، اما لب هایش چنان حالتی یافته اند که وقتی آه می کشد و ناله بر می آورد، از بین دو لب نغمه ای دلنشین به گوش می رسد. مردمی که در اطراف او جمع شده اند، می گویند: «باز هم بخوان،» که معنایش آن است که: «باشد که باز دردها روحت را شکنجه دهند، تا ما با نغمه ی ناله هایت به وجد آییم.»
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
It is quite true what Philosophy says: that Life must be understood backwards. But that makes one forget the other saying: that it must be lived—forwards. The more one ponders this, the more it comes to mean that life in the temporal existence never becomes quite intelligible, precisely because at no moment can I find complete quiet to take the backward- looking position.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Diary Of Soren Kierkegaard)
My life is absolutely meaningless. When I consider the different periods into which it falls, it seems like the word Schnur in the dictionary, which means in the first place a string, in the second, a daughter-in-law. The only thing lacking is that the word Schnur should mean in the third place a camel, in the fourth, a dust-brush.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
My application's not bought,' I am telling them, calling into the darkness of the red cave that opens out before closed eyes. 'I am not just a boy who plays tennis. I have an intricate history. Experiences and feelings. I'm complex. 'I read,' I say. 'I study and read. I bet I've read everything you've read. Don't think I haven't. I consume libraries. I wear out spines and ROM-drives. I do things like get in a taxi and say, "The library, and step on it." My instincts concerning syntax and mechanics are better than your own, I can tell, with due respect. But it transcends the mechanics. I'm not a machine. I feel and believe. I have opinions. Some of them are interesting. I could, if you'd let me, talk and talk. Let's talk about anything. I believe the influence of Kierkegaard on Camus is underestimated. I believe Dennis Gabor may very well have been the Antichrist. I believe Hobbes is just Rousseau in a dark mirror. I believe, with Hegel, that transcendence is absorption. I could interface you guys right under the table,' I say. 'I'm not just a creatus, manufactured, conditioned, bred for a function.' I open my eyes. 'Please don't think I don't care.
David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest)
For Kierkegaard, for Heidegger, for Sartre, the more profound the awareness, the more authentic the existence. They measure honesty and the essence of experience by the degree of awareness. But is our humanity really built on awareness? Doesn't awareness--that forced, extreme awareness--arise among us, not from us, as something created by effort, the mutual perfecting of ourselves in it, the confirming of something that one philosopher forces onto another? Isn't man, therefore, in his private reality, something childish and always beneath his own awareness? And doesn't he feel awareness to be, at the same time, something alien, imposed and unimportant? If this is how it is, this furtive childhood, this concealed degradation are ready to explode your systems sooner or later.
Witold Gombrowicz (Dziennik 1953-1956)
People try to persuade us that the objections against Christianity spring from doubt. That is a complete misunderstanding. The objections against Christianity spring from insubordination, the dislike of obedience, rebellion against all authority. As a result, people have hitherto been beating the air in their struggle against objections, because they have fought intellectually with doubt instead of fighting morally with rebellion.
Søren Kierkegaard
What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except in so far as a certain knowledge must precede every action. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. ... I certainly do not deny that I still recognize an imperative of knowledge and that through it one can work upon men, but it must be taken up into my life, and that is what I now recognize as the most important thing.
Søren Kierkegaard
Whether you are man or woman, rich or poor, dependent or free, happy or unhappy; whether you bore in your elevation the splendour of the crown or in humble obscurity only the toil and heat of the day; whether your name will be remembered for as long as the world lasts, and so will have been remembered as long as it lasted, or you are without a name and run namelessly with the numberless multitude; whether the glory that surrounded you surpassed all human description, or the severest and most ignominious human judgment was passed on you -- eternity asks you and every one of these millions of millions, just one thing: whether you have lived in despair or not, whether so in despair that you did not know that you were in despair, or in such a way that you bore this sickness concealed deep inside you as your gnawing secret, under your heart like the fruit of a sinful love, or in such a way that, a terror to others, you raged in despair. If then, if you have lived in despair, then whatever else you won or lost, for you everything is lost, eternity does not acknowledge you, it never knew you, or, still more dreadful, it knows you as you are known, it manacles you to yourself in despair!
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
And no Grand Inquisitor has in readiness such terrible tortures as has anxiety, and no spy knows how to attack more artfully the man he suspects, choosing the instant when he is weakest, nor knows how to lay traps where he will be caught and ensnared, as anxiety knows how, and no sharp-witted judge knows how to interrogate, to examine the accused as anxiety does, which never lets him escape, neither by diversion nor by noise, neither at work nor at play, neither by day nor at night.
Søren Kierkegaard
I once knew of a girl whose story forms the substance of the diary. Whether he has seduced others I do not know... we learn of his desire for something altogether arbitrary. With the help of his mental gifts he knew how to tempt a girl to draw her to him without caring to possess her in any stricter sense. I can imagine him able to bring a girl to the point where he was sure she would sacrifice all then he would leave without a word let a lone a declaration a promise. The unhappy girl would retain the consciousness of it with double bitterness because there was not the slightest thing she could appeal to. She could only be constantly tossed about in a terrible witches' dance at one moment reproaching herself forgiving him at another reproaching him and then since the relationship would only have been actual in a figurative sense she would constantly have to contend with the doubt that the whole thing might only have been an imagination.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Seducer's Diary)
We cannot repeat too often the great lesson of freudian psychology: that repression is normal self-protection and creative self-restriction-in a real sense, man's natural substitute for instinct. Rank has a perfect, key term for this natural human talent: he calls it "partialization" and very rightly sees that life is impossible without it. What we call the well-adjusted man has just this capacity to partialize the world for comfortable action. I have used the term "fetishization," which is exactly the same idea: the "normal" man bites off what he can chew and digest of life, and no more. In other words, men aren't built to be gods, to take in the whole world; they are built like other creatures, to take in the piece of ground in front of their noses. Gods can take in the whole of creation because they alone can make sense of it, know what it is all about and for. But as soon as a man lifts his nose from the ground and starts sniffing at eternal problems like life and death, the meaning of a rose or a star cluster-then he is in trouble. Most men spare themselves this trouble by keeping their minds on the small problems of their lives just as their society maps these problems out for them. These are what Kierkegaard called the "immediate" men and the "Philistines." They "tranquilize themselves with the trivial"- and so they can lead normal lives.
Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)
Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self, as well as creating in all the innumerable daily activities (and these are two phases of the same process) — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever. Now creating, actualizing one’s possibilities, always involves negative as well as positive aspects. It always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself, progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living. If one does not do this, one is refusing to grow, refusing to avail himself of his possibilities; one is shirking his responsibility to himself. Hence refusal to actualize one’s possibilities brings guilt toward one’s self. But creating also means destroying the status quo of one’s environment, breaking the old forms; it means producing something new and original in human relations as well as in cultural forms (e.g., the creativity of the artist). Thus every experience of creativity has its potentiality of aggression or denial toward other persons in one’s environment or established patterns within one’s self. To put the matter figuratively, in every experience of creativity something in the past is killed that something new in the present may be born. Hence, for Kierkegaard, guilt feeling is always a concomitant of anxiety: both are aspects of experiencing and actualizing possibility. The more creative the person, he held, the more anxiety and guilt are potentially present.
Rollo May (The Meaning of Anxiety)
A revolutionary age is an age of action; ours is the age of advertisement and publicity. Nothing ever happens but there is immediate publicity everywhere. In the present age a rebellion is, of all things, the most unthinkable. Such an expression of strength would seem ridiculous to the calculating intelligence of our times. On the other hand a political virtuoso might bring off a feat almost as remarkable. He might write a manifesto suggesting a general assembly at which people should decide upon a rebellion, and it would be so carefully worded that even the censor would let it pass. At the meeting itself he would be able to create the impression that his audience had rebelled, after which they would all go quietly home--having spent a very pleasant evening.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Present Age)
No! No one who was great in the world will be forgotten, but everyone was great in his own way, and everyone in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved. He who loved himself became great by virtue of himself, and he who loved other men became great by his devotedness, but he who loved God became the greatest of all. Everyone shall be remembered, but everyone became great in proportion to his expectancy. One became great by expecting the possible, another by expecting the eternal; but he who expected the impossible became the greatest of all. Everyone shall be remembered, but everyone was great wholly in proportion to the magnitude of that with which he struggled. For he who struggled with the world became great by conquering the world, and he who struggled with himself became great by conquering himself, but he who struggled with God became the greatest of all. Thus did they struggle in the world, man against man, one against thousands, but he who struggled with God was the greatest of all. Thus did they struggle on earth: there was one who conquered everything by his power, and there was one who conquered God by his powerlessness. There was one who relied upon himself and gained everything; there was one who in the security of his own strength sacrificed everything; but the one who believed God was the greatest of all. There was one who was great by virtue of his power, and one who was great by virtue of his hope, and one who was great by virtue of his love, but Abraham was the greatest of all, great by that power whose strength is powerlessness, great by that wisdom which is foolishness, great by that hope whose form is madness, great by the love that is hatred to oneself.
Søren Kierkegaard
If someone who wanted to learn to dance were to say: For centuries, one generation after the other has learned the positions, and it is high time that I take advantage of this and promptly begin with the quadrille--people would presumably laugh a little at him, but in the world of spirit this is very plausible. What, then, is education? I believed it is the course the individual goes through in order to catch up with himself, and the person who will not go through this course is not much helped by being born in the most enlightened age.
Søren Kierkegaard
To defend something is always to discredit it. Let a man have a warehouse full of gold, let him be willing to give away a ducat to every one of the poor - but let him also be stupid enough to begin this charitable undertaking of his with a defence in which he offers three good reasons in justification; and it will almost come to the point of people finding it doubtful whether indeed he is doing something good. But now for Christianity. Yes, the person who defends that has never believed in it. If he does believe, then the enthusiasm of faith is not a defence, no, it is the assault and the victory; a believer is a victor.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
A human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation's relating itself to itself in the relation; the self is not the relation but is the relation's relating itself to itself. A human being is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity, in short, a synthesis. A synthesis is a relation between two. Considered in this way a human being is still not a self.... In the relation between two, the relation is the third as a negative unity, and the two relate to the relation and in the relation to the relation; thus under the qualification of the psychical the relation between the psychical and the physical is a relation. If, however, the relation relates itself to itself, this relation is the positive third, and this is the self.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
I have never been joyful, and yet it has always seemed as if joy were my constant companion, as if the buoyant jinn of joy danced around me, invisible to others but not to me, whose eyes shone with delight. Then when I walk past people, happy-go-lucky as a god, and they envy me because of my good fortune, I laugh, for I despise people, and I take my revenge. I have never wished to do anyone an injustice, but I have always made it appear as if anyone who came close to me would be wronged and injured. Then when I hear others praised for their faithfulness, their integrity, I laugh, for I despise people, and I take my revenge. My heart has never been hardened toward anyone, but I have always made it appear, especially when I was touched most deeply, as if my heart were closed and alien to every feeling. Then when I hear others lauded for their good hearts, see them loved for their deep, rich feelings, then I laugh, for I despise people and take my revenge. When I see myself cursed, abhorred, hated for my coldness and heartlessness, then I laugh, then my rage is satisfied. The point is that if the good people could make me be actually in the wrong, make me actually do an injustice-well, then I would have lost.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)