28 Great Kierkegaard Quotes

28 Great Kierkegaard Quotes

by / Comments Off / 86 View / Dec 12, 2014

Soren Kierkegaard was a philosopher, poet, and social critic who is considered to be the very first existentialist philosopher. He focused his work on organized religion, morality, ethics, and philosophy of religion. He died on November 11, 1885 at the age of 42.

“A man’s personality is matured only when he appropriates the truth, whether it is spoken by Balaam’s ass or a sniggering wag or an apostle or an angel.”

“But the life of freedom requires a beginning, and here a beginning is a resolution, and the resolution has its work and its pain-thus the beginning has its difficulty.”

“Death cannot explain itself. The earnestness consists precisely in this, that the observer must explain it to himself.”

“Deep within every human being there still lives the anxiety over the possibility of being alone in the world, forgotten by God, overlooked among the millions and millions in this enormous

“Every human being can come to know everything about love, just as every human being can come to know that he, like every human being, is loved by God. Some find this thought adequate for
the longest life others find this thought so insignificant …”

“Every human being is tried this way in the active service of expectancy. Now comes the fulfillment and relieves him, but soon he is again placed on reconnaissance for expectancy; then he is
again relieved, but as long as there is any future for him, he has not yet finished his service. And while human life goes on this way in very diverse expectancy, expecting very different
things according to different times and occasions and in different frames of mind, all life is again one nightwatch of expectancy.”

“Fate, then, is the nothing of anxiety.”

“Freedom’s possibility is not the ability to choose the good or the evil. The possibility is to be able.”

“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.”

“Human relations are like the irregular verbs in a number of languages where nearly all verbs are irregular.”

“I have attacked no one as not being a Christian, I have condemned no one. ”

“I have never fought in such a way as to say: I am the true Christian, others are not Christians.”

“I must find a truth that is true for me.”

if someone notes that there is an individual outside the crowd who is really and truly afraid — not of the crowd, but of God, he is sure to be the target of some ridicule.”

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

“In order to learn true humility (I use this expression to describe the state of mind under discussion), it is good for a person to withdraw from the turmoil of the world (we see that Christ
withdrew when the people wanted to proclaim him king as well as when he had to walk the thorny path), for in life either the depressing or the elevating impression is too dominant for a true
balance to come about. Here, of course, individuality is very decisive.”

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

“Irony is a qualification of subjectivity.”

“Is it an excellence in your love that it can love only the extraordinary, the rare? If it were love’s merit to love the extraordinary, then God would be — if I dare say so — perplexed, for
to Him the extraordinary does not exist at all.The merit of being able to love only the extraordinary is therefore more like an accusation, not against the extraordinary nor against love,
but against the love which can love only the extraordinary. Perfection in the object is not perfection in the love. Erotic love is determined by the object; friendship is determined by the
object; only love of one’s neighbor is determined by love. Therefore genuine love is recognizable by this, that its object is without any of the more definite qualifications of difference,
which means that this love is recognizable only by love.”

“It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite.”

“It is human self-renunciation when a man denies himself and the world opens up to him. But it is Christian self-renunciation when he denies himself and, because the world precisely for this
shuts itself up to him, he must as one thrust out by the world seek God’s confidence. The double-danger lies precisely in meeting opposition there where he had expected to find support, and
he has to turn about twice; whereas the merely human self-resignation turns once.”

“It is quite true what philosophy says; that life must be understood backwards. But then one forgets the other principle: that it must be lived forwards. ”

“It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand, and what those things are. Human understanding has vulgarly occupied itself with
nothing but understanding, but if it would only take the trouble to understand itself at the same time it would simply have to posit the paradox.”

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

“It seems to be my destiny to discourse on truth, insofar as I discover it, in such a way that all possible authority is simultaneously demolished.”

“It will be easy for us once we receive the ball of yarn from Ariadne (love) and then go through all the mazes of the labyrinth (life) and kill the monster. But how many are there who plunge
into life (the labyrinth) without taking that precaution?”

“Job endured everything — until his friends came to comfort him, then he grew impatient.”

“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.”

“My focus should be on what I do in life, not knowing everything, excluding knowledge on what you do. The is key to find a purpose, whatever it truly is that God wills me to do; it’s crucial
to find a truth which is true to me, to find the idea which I am willing to live and die for.”

“My tactics were, by God’s aid, to employ every means to make it clear what the requirement of Christianity truly is.”

“Now just as the historical gives occasion for the contemporary to become a disciple, but only it must be noted through receiving the condition from the God himself, since otherwise we speak
Socratically, so the testimony of contemporaries gives occasion for each successor to become a disciple, but only it must be noted through receiving the condition from the God himself.”

“Oh, can I really believe the poet’s tales, that when one first sees the object of one’s love, one imagines one has seen her long ago, that all love like all knowledge is remembrance, that
love too has its prophecies in the individual.”

“Old age realizes the dreams of youth: look at Dean Swift; in his youth he built an asylum for the insane, in his old age he was himself an inmate.”

“Once you label me you negate me.”

“One could construe the life of man as a great discourse in which the various people represent different parts of speech (the same might apply to states). ”

“Out of love, God becomes man. He says: “See, here is what it is to be a human being.”

“Seek first God’s Kingdom, that is, become like the lilies and the birds, become perfectly silent — then shall the rest be added unto you.”

“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.”

“So it happens at times that a person believes that he has a world-view, but that there is yet one particular phenomenon that is of such a nature that it baffles the understanding, and that
he explains differently and attempts to ignore in order not to harbor the thought that this phenomenon might overthrow the whole view, or that his reflection does not possess enough courage
and resolution to penetrate the phenomenon with his world-view.”

“Spirit is the third, yet in such a way that one can speak of a synthesis only when the spirit is posited.”

“Take a book, the poorest one written, but read it with the passion that it is the only book you will read-ultimately you will read everything out of it, that is, as much as there was in
yourself, and you could never get more out of reading, even if you read the best of books.”

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.”

“The meaning lies in the appropriation.”

“The question is asked in ignorance, by one who does not even know what can have led him to ask it.”

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

“The tyrant dies and his rule is over; the martyr dies and his rule begins.”

“Then anxiety stirs. He is tortured day and night with the thought that he might possibly be a father, that somewhere in the world there could be a created being who owed his life to him. He
cannot share his secret with anyone; he does not even have any reliable knowledge of the fact.”

“Then I am able to pursue this one main idea and see how all the details serve to illuminate it.”

“There are a you and an I, and there is no mine and yours!”

“There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys; they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked out the sum for themselves.”

“This fact, that the opposite of sin is by no means virtue, has been overlooked. The latter is partly a pagan view, which is content with a merely human standard, and which for that very
reason does not know what sin is, that all sin is before God. No, the opposite of sin is faith.”

this is sensuality’s cowardly lust for life, that contemptible order of things where one lives in order to eat and drink instead of eating and drinking in order to live.”

“To be a teacher does not mean simply to affirm that such a thing is so, or to deliver a lecture, etc.”

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

“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 is asked of a man that he may be able to pray for his enemies? To pray for one’s enemies is the hardest thing of all. That is why it exasperates us so much in our present day

“Worldly wisdom thinks that love is a relationship between man and man. Christianity teaches that love is a relationship between: man-God-man, that is, that God is the middle term.”

“You wanted God’s ideas about what was best for you to coincide with your ideas, but you also wanted him to be the almighty Creator of heaven and earth so that he could properly fulfill your
wish. And yet, if he were to share your ideas, he would cease to be the almighty Father.”