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The question of immortality is of its nature not a scholarly question. It is a question welling up from the interior which the subject must put to itself as it becomes conscious of itself.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, Concluding Unscientific Postscript

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


Boredom rests upon the nothingness that winds its way through existence; its giddiness, like that which comes from gazing down into an infinite abyss, is infinite.


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.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, journal, 1847

When one fears that somehow he will not be able to maintain an understanding grasp of something complex and extensive, he tries to find or to make for himself a brief summary of the whole--for the sake of a comprehensive view. Thus death is the briefest summary of life or life reduced to its briefest form. Therefore to those who in truth meditate on human life it has always been very important again and again to test with this brief summary what they have understood about life. For no thinker has power over life as does death, this mighty thinker who is able not only to think through every illusion but can think it analytically and as a whole, think it down to the bottom.


Death is not earnest in the same way the eternal is. To the earnestness of death belongs precisely that remarkable capacity for awakening, that resonance of a profound mockery which, detached from the thought of the eternal, is an empty and often brash jest, but together with the thought of the eternal is just what it should be, utterly different from the insipid solemness which least of all captures and holds a thought with tension like that of death.


Since boredom advances and boredom is the root of all evil, no wonder, then, that the world goes backwards, that evil spreads. This can be traced back to the very beginning of the world. The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, "Rotation of Crops," Either/Or

And then the spirit brings hope, hope in the strictest Christian sense, hope which is hoping against hope. For an immediate hope exists in every person; it may be more powerfully alive in one person than in another; but in death every hope of this kind dies and turns into hopelessness. Into this night of hopelessness (it is death that we are describing) comes the life-giving spirit and brings hope, the hope of eternity. It is against hope, for there was no longer any hope for that merely natural hope; this hope is therefore a hope contrary to hope.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, For Self-Examination

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

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, The Journals of Soren Kierkegaard

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

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, journal, 1844

The ethical is the universal, and as such it is again the divine. One has therefore a right to say that fundamentally every duty is a duty toward God; but if one cannot say more, then one affirms at the same time that properly I have no duty toward God. Duty becomes duty by being referred to God, but in duty itself I do not come into relation with God. Thus it is a duty to love one's neighbor, but in performing this duty I do not come into relation with God but with the neighbor whom I love. If I say then in this connection that it is my duty to love God, I am really uttering only a tautology, inasmuch as "God" is in this instance used in an entirely abstract sense as the divine, i.e. the universal, i.e. duty. So the whole existence of the human race is rounded off completely like a sphere, and the ethical is at once its limit and its content. God becomes an invisible vanishing point, a powerless thought, His power being only in the ethical which is the content of existence.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, Fear and Trembling

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.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, letter to Jette Kierkegaard, The Essential Kierkegaard

For when regret calls to a person it is always late.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits

Is there anyone who thinks that the resolution can come later when it is really needed? So it is not needed then, not on the wedding day, when the eternal pledge is entered into? But then, later? Can he mean that there was no thought of leaving one another, but of enjoying the first gladness of their union-and so united, of finding support in the resolution? Then when toil and trouble come, and need, be it physical or spiritual, stands at the door, then the time is there? Aye, indeed, the time is there-the time for the resolved individual to muster up his resolution; but not just the time to form a resolution. It is true that distress and failure may help a man to seek God in a resolution; but the question is whether the conception is always the right one, whether it is joyful, whether it does not have a certain wretchedness, a secret wish that it were not necessary, whether it may not be out of humor, envious, melancholy, and so no ennobling reflection of the trials of life. There is in the state a loan association to which the indigent may apply. The poor man is helped, but I wonder if that poor man has a pleasant conception of the loan-association. And so there may also be a marriage which first sought God when in difficulty, alas, sought Him as a loan-association; and everyone who first seeks God for the first time when in difficulties, always runs this danger. Is then such a late resolution, which even if it were a worthy one, was not without shame and not without great danger, bought at the last moment, is that more beautiful, and wiser than the resolution at the beginning of marriage?

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, Thoughts on Crucial Situations in Life

One must learn to know oneself before knowing anything else.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, journal, August 1, 1835

One understands only in proportion to becoming himself that which he understands.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, attributed, The Logic of Subjectivity

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.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, The Journals of 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.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

The godly grief of repentance and the concern of inwardness must above all not be confused with impatience. Experience teaches that to repent at once is not always even the right time to repent, because in this moment of haste, when the engaged thoughts and various passions are still busily in motion or at least tensed in the relaxation, repentance can so easily be mistaken about what really should be repented, can so easily confuse itself with the opposite: with momentary remorse, that is, with impatience; with a painful, tormentingly worldly grief, that is, with impatience. But impatience, however long it continues to rage, however darkened the mind becomes, never becomes repentance; its weeping, however convulsed with sobs, never becomes the weeping of repentance; its tears are as devoid of beneficent fruitfulness as clouds without ran, as a spasmodic shower. But if a person incurred some greater guilt but also improved and year by year steadily made progress in the good, it is certain that year after year, with greater inwardness-all in proportion to his progress in the greater inwardness-he will repent of that guilt from which he year after year distances himself in the temporal sense. It is indeed true that guilt must stand vividly before a person if he is truly to repent, but momentary repentance is very dubious and is not to be hoped for at all simply because it perhaps is not the deep inwardness of concern that sets forth the guilt so vividly, but only a momentary feeling. Then regret is selfish, sensuous, sensuously powerful in the moment, inflamed in expression, impatient in the most contradictory overstatements-and for this very reason it is not repentance.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits

The absurd is a category, the negative criterion, of the divine or of the relationship to the divine. When the believer has faith, the absurd is not the absurd -- faith transforms it, but in every weak moment it is again more or less absurd to him.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, Journals of Soren Kierkegaard

What wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility.


Pleasure disappoints, possibility never.


There is no special difficulty connected with being an idealist in the imagination; but to exist as an idealist is an extremely strenuous task, because existence itself constitutes a hindrance and an objection.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments

So we shall now consider: mercifulness, a work of love even if it can give nothing and is able to do nothing. We shall endeavor according to the capacities granted to us to make as clear as possible, as inviting as possible, to bring as close as possible to the poor person what comfort he has in being able to be merciful.


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.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, Selections from the writings of Kierkegaard

The moment of choice is for me very serious, less on account of the rigorous pondering of the alternatives, and of the multitude of thoughts that attack to each separate link, than because there is a danger afoot that at the next moment it may not be in my power to make the same choice, that something has already been lived that must be lived over again. For it is a delusion to think one can keep one's personality blank, or that one can in any real sense arrest and interrupt personal life. The personality already has interest in the choice before one chooses, and if one postpones the choice the personality makes the choice unconsciously, or it is made by the dark powers within it. Then when at last the choice is made, if, as I remarked earlier, one has not gone into complete dissolution, one discovers that there is something that must be done over again, that must be retracted, and that is often very difficult.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life


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