“People’s remarks are so objective, so all inclusive, that it is a matter of complete indifference who expresses them, and where human speech is concerned, that is the same as acting ‘on principle.’”—Soren Kierkegaard The Present Age
“A passionate tumultuous age will overthrow everything, pull everything down; but a revolutionary age, that is at the same time reflective and passionless, transforms that expression of strength into a feat of dialectics: it leaves everything standing but cunningly empties it of significance.”—Soren Kierkegaard The Present Age
I love Kierkegaard and want to become more familiar with his ideas. The problem is that you need a lot of context to grasp these things. So if you can find quotes that work great out of context, that would be awesome.
Quotes that work out of context would very likely be too reductive due to the nature of Kierkegaard’s writings, but at the same time, I do think certain themes can be gathered based on what has been posted. There’s a book by Steven Evans called Kierkegaard: An Introduction that would be a good general overview of his works. It’s a fairly quick and straight forward read.
I will offer a few general concepts that Kierkegaard focuses on. 1. An emphasis on subjectivity rather than objectivity. 2. An emphasis on the individual. Kierkegaard is often thought of as one of the first existentialists. 3. A very rigorous approach to Christianity and Christian practice which he expresses brilliantly and polemically in his later texts in the last years of his life. (Practice in Christianity, Attack Upon Christendom).
Kierkegaard is one of the most complex thinkers of the 19th century, and his authorial style is unique and dynamic, but ultimately adds to the difficulty in interpreting his work.
“If a human being were a beast or an angel, he could not be in anxiety. Because he is a synthesis, he can be in anxiety; and the more profoundly he is in anxiety, the greater is the man…”—Viligus Haufniensis The Concept of Anxiety
“The moment signifies the present as that which as not past and no future, and precisely in this lies the imperfection of the sensuous life. The eternal also signifies the present as that which has no past and no future, and this is the perfection of the eternal.”—Viligus Haufniensis The Concept of Anxiety
“To want to give a logical explanation of the coming of sin into the world is a stupidity that can occur only to people who are comically worried about finding an explanation.”—Viligus Haufniensis The Concept of Anxiety
“Anxiety is neither a category of necessity nor a category of freedom; it is entangled freedom, where freedom is not free in itself but entangled, not by necessity, but in itself.”—Viligus Haufniensis The Concept of Anxiety
“A.S. [Arthur Schopenhauer] (Note: Oddly enough, I am called S.A. No doubt we ourselves are also inversely related) is undeniably a significant author; he has interested me a great deal and I have been surprised to find an author who, despite a total disagreement, touches me so.”—Soren Kierkegaard on Arthur Schopenhauer Papers and Journals 1854-55
“Yes, ‘Either/Or,’ that’s where the struggle must take place, and that is why my first words are ‘Either/Or.’ And I can say of myself, as it says in ‘Either/Or’: I am an enigmatic being upon whose brow is written ‘Either/Or.’”—Soren Kierkegaard Papers and Journals 1850-1853
“But one must not think ill of the paradox, for the paradox is the passion of thought, and the thinker without the paradox is like the lover without passion: a mediocre fellow.”—Johannes Climacus Philosophical Fragments (p. 37, Hong translation)
“And the situation of understanding — how terrifying, for it is indeed less terrifying to fall upon one’s face while the mountains tremble at the god’s voice than to sit with him as his equal, and yet the god’s concern is precisely to sit this way.”—Johannes Climacus Philosophical Fragments (p. 35, Hong translation)
“The unhappiness is the result not of the lovers’ being unable to have each other but of their being unable to understand each other.”—Johannes Climacus Philosophical Fragments (p. 25, Hong translation)
“To have an opinion is to me both too much and too little; it presupposes a security and well-being in existence akin to having a wife and children in this mortal life, something not granted to a person who has to be up about night and day and yet has no fixed income.”—Johannes Climacus Philosophical Fragments (p. 7, Hong translation)
“The words, ‘I know nothing except Christ and the crucifixion,’ said by an apostle cost him his life; said by a witness to the truth it brings persecution…said by a poet it becomes a success, said by a declaiming priest not only does he become a success, he is seriously honored as all but holy himself.”—Soren Kierkegaard Papers and Journals 1850-53
“The most dangerous situation for a child regarding the religious: The danger is not that the father or educator is a liberal, nor even that he is a hypocrite. No, the danger is that he is a pious and God-fearing man, that the child is sincerely and profoundly convinced of his, but notices a deep disquiet in his father’s soul, as though not even being God-fearing and pious could bring peace to his soul. The danger lies exactly in the fact that, in this situation, the child is given the opportunity to conclude in effect that God is not infinite love after all.”—Soren Kierkegaard Papers and Journals 1850-53
Hey everyone, SorenSays is up to 445 followers! Thanks for hanging around! Almost 500!
Let me know if there’s anything I can do to make it more appealing. I know there are dry spells…but I try my best to keep it daily. It is hard to keep up between school and two jobs. #excuses
I know there a number of his texts I have yet to quote from…I will remedy that as soon as I can. Most of the time, what I’m posting is what I’m reading at the time. Soren Kierkegaard was rather prolific.
“Calling oneself a Christian has become so much a condition for advancement in the world that, most likely, you couldn’t even get permission to earn a living by running a whorehouse without proving you are baptizes and are (i.e. call yourself) a Christian.”—Soren Kierkegaard Papers and Journals
“God’s word was spoken (communicated orally) by a single man and then later written down - nowadays any driveller gets his trash printed in tens of thousands of copies…Oh, what a satire on humanity that God’s word was put into the world in the way it was! And what a satire on humanity that the more message deteriorates, the more widely it is disseminated with the help of ever new inventions!”—Soren Kierkegaard Papers and Journals
“That is why nothing is learnt from history. The illustrious of bygone times stand there in their glory; even persecution and the like have their attraction. No closer understanding is conveyed.”—Soren Kierkegaard Papers and Journals
Once there was a man whose parents had inculcated in him a pious belief in Jesus Christ — as he grew older he understood it less and less. ‘For,’ he said, ‘this I understand, that he was willing to sacrifice his life for truth, and that if he did sacrifice his life it was for the truth What I cannot understand is that he who is love did not, out of love for men, prevent men from committing the greatest of all crimes, that of taking his life.’
The fact is, Christ is not love, least of all in the human sense; he is truth, truth absolutely; that is why not only could he defend their action but had to let men become guilty of his death: i.e. reveal truth to the uttermost degree (the contrary, being weakness, would have been no defense).
“'Good-bye, you wish of my youth, you friendly place where I had hoped to build and live with my wish!' The procession moves on — the guiding necessity silently in advance, duty behind, stern and earnest — not cruel, since duty never is that. Ah, see that road branching off to the side; it leads to the wish: 'Good-bye to you, my desired sphere of activity, where I had hoped to forget youth's denied wish in the fulfilled joy of work.' The procession moves on.”—Soren Kierkegaard Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits (p. 103, Hong translation)
“Alas, human sympathy often relates itself inversely to suffering, which becomes harder in the long run, and sympathy becomes weary in the long run; the suffering increases while the sympathy diminishes…when […] sympathy is at an end, it sometimes is changed into a kind of bitterness against the sufferer.”—Soren Kierkegaard Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits (p. 104, Hong translation)
“My being was transparent, like the depths of the sea, like the self-satisfied silence of the night, like the soliloquizing stillness of midday. Every mood rested in my soul with melodic resonance.”—Constantin Constantius Repetition (p. 173, Hong translation)
“He who will merely hope is cowardly; he who will merely recollect is voluptuous; he who wills repetition is a man, and the more emphatically he is able to realize it, the more profound a human being he is.”—Constantin Constantius Repetition (p. 132 Hong translation)
“When the Eleatics denied motion, Diogenes, as everyone knows, came forward as an opponent. He literally did come forward, because he did not say a word but merely paced back and forth a few times, thereby assuming he had sufficiently refuted them.”—The opening line of Repetition, a book published in 1843 under the pseudonym Constantin Constantius. This particular text is difficult to penetrate, even by Kierkegaardian standards.
“It takes a lot of naiveté to believe that it helps to shout and scream in the world, as if one’s fate would thereby be altered. Take what comes and avoid all complications.”—Either/Or I (p. 33 Hong translation)
“How dreadful boredom is - how dreadfully boring; I know no stronger expression, no truer one…I lie prostrate, inert; the only thing I see is emptiness, the only thing I live on is emptiness, the only thing I move in is emptiness. I do not even suffer pain.”—Either/Or I (p. 37 Hong translation)
“The miracle can demonstrate nothing, for if you do not believe him to be who he says he is, then you deny the miracle. The miracle can make aware — now you are in the tension, and it depends upon what you choose, offense or faith; it is your heart that must be disclosed.”—Anti-Climacus Practice in Christianity (p. 96 Hong translation)
“Christianity does indeed proclaim itself to be comfort, cure, and healing — that being so, people turn to it as they turn to a friend in need, thank it as they thank a helper, because by the help of it or by its help they believe they will be able to bear the suffering under which they sigh. And then — then the very opposite happens.”—Anti-Climacus Practice in Christianity (p. 114 Hong translation)
Even though my posts have been rather infrequent of late, I still want to let everyone know I’ll be headed to Ireland this week to celebrate my two year anniversary. Have a great week and thanks for following! Keep on reading!
“The fear of death and allure of suicide yield to a new standard - one we might, in frustration, describe as a higher sort of suicide. To remain healthy, the cured man ‘must at every moment destroy the possibility’ of despair. As a Christian, he [Anti-Climacus] has recognized literal suicide as a despairing ‘crime against God,’ and rejected it accordingly;’ but now he is required to annihilate continuously every defiant element of the self - in an unending effort ‘to die to the world.’”—
David D. Posen; University of Chicago.
Anti-Climacus and the Physician of Souls (an essay included in Soren Kierkegaard and the Word (s). Essays on Hermeneutics and Communication)
“The person who wills the good in truth must above all not be busy but must in quiet patience leave everything up to the good itself, what reward he is to have, what he is to accomplish. He does not dare to permit himself one mediating word, not one hint; he does not dare to ask for the slightest relief from the world.”—Soren Kierkegaard Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits (pg. 97. Hong translation)