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Quotes of the day: Kierkegaard

Published Sunday, May 05, 2013 @ 6:36 AM EDT
May 05 2013

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (May 5 1813 - November 11, 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology and philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables. He is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. (Click for a New York Times feature on the philosopher, whose 200th birthday is today.)


A man who cannot seduce men cannot save them either.

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.

Boredom is the root of all evil - the despairing refusal to be oneself.

But he who cannot reveal himself cannot love, and he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all.

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 household.

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

I must find a truth that is true for me.

If anyone on the verge of action should judge himself according to the outcome, he would never begin.

If I have ventured wrongly, very well, life then helps me with its penalty. But if I haven't ventured at all, who helps me then?

If I were a father and had a daughter who was seduced, I would not despair over her. But if I had a son who became a journalist and continued to remain one for five years, I would give him up.

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.

Irony is a qualification of subjectivity.

It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand.

It is very important in life to know when your cue comes.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

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

My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known- no wonder, then, that I return the love.

My sorrow is my castle.

Once you label me, you negate me.

One sticks one’s finger into the soil to tell by the smell in what land one is: I stick my finger in existence- it smells of nothing.

Only one deception is possible in the infinite sense, self- deception.

People commonly travel the world over to see rivers and mountains, new stars, garish birds, freak fish, grotesque breeds of human; they fall into an animal stupor that gapes at existence and they think they have seen something.

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.

People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.

Take away paradox from the thinker and you have a professor.

The dread of sin can sometimes in effect drive a person into sin through dread.

The initial expression of defiance is precisely despair over one's weakness.

The self-assured believer is a greater sinner in the eyes of God than the troubled disbeliever.

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.

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.

What really counts in life is that at some time you have seen something, felt something, which is so great, so matchless, that everything else is nothing by comparison, that even if you forgot everything, you would never forget this.

When a person grows older he often scrutinizes his thoughts and retards himself.

Which is more difficult, to awaken one who sleeps or to awaken one who, awake, dreams that he is awake?

Categories: Quotes of the day, Soren Kierkegaard


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