Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Søren Kierkegaard, fully Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

Danish Philosopher, Theologian, Poet, Social Critic and Religious Author interested in Human Psychology

"Admiration is a happy abandon of oneself, the desire of a claim me unhappy"

"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."

"Affliction is able to drown out every earthly voice... but the voice of eternity within a man it cannot drown."

"Alas! While the speculative honourable professor explains the entire existence has he in distraction forgotten his own name, that he is a man, purely and simply a man, not a fantastic 3"

"And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith."

"And when the hourglass has run out, the hourglass of temporality, when the noise of secular life has grown silent and its restless or ineffectual activism has come to an end, when everything around you is still, as it is in eternity, then eternity asks you and every individual in these millions and millions about only one thing: whether you have lived in despair or not."

"Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom"

"Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down into the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence, anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. Freedom succumbs to dizziness. Further than this, psychology cannot and will not go"

"Anyone who cannot do this is himself under a delusion if he thinks he is able to help someone else. In order truly to help someone else, I must understand more than he–but certainly first and foremost understand what he understands."

"At one time my only wish was to be a police official. It seemed to me to be an occupation for my sleepless intriguing mind. I had the idea that there, among criminals, were people to fight: clever, vigorous, crafty fellows. Later I realized that it was good that I did not become one, for most police cases involve misery and wretchedness -- not crimes and scandals."

"At the bottom of enmity between strangers lies indifference."

"Be that self which one truly is."

"Because of its tremendous solemnity death is the light in which great passions, both good and bad, become transparent, no longer limited by outward appearances."

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

"Bring a girl to see the total abandonment as the single task liberty"

"But all true helping begins with a humbling."

"But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads."

"By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more."

"Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question."

"Christendom has done away with Christianity without being quite aware of it"

"Concepts, like individuals, have their histories and are just as incapable of withstanding the ravages of time as are individuals. But in and through all this they retain a kind of homesickness for the scenes of their childhood."

"Death induces the sensual person to say: Let us eat and drink, because tomorrow we shall die – but 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."

"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. One keeps this anxiety at a distance by looking at the many round about who are related to him as kin and friends, but the anxiety is still there, nevertheless, and one hardly dares think of how he would feel if all this were taken away."

"Do not speak ill of the paradox, passion of thought: the thinker without paradox is like the lover without passion, a great mediocrity."

"Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day."

"Do you not know that there comes a midnight hour when everyone 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."

"Don't forget to love yourself."

"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and just be my friend."

"Doubt is thought's despair; despair is personality's doubt. . . . Doubt and despair . . . belong to completely different spheres; different sides of the soul are set in motion. . . . Despair is an expression of the total personality, doubt only of thought."

"Dread is a sympathetic antipathy and an antipathetic sympathy."

"Even he who is lost through passion has not lost so much as he who has lost passion, for the former had the possibility."

"Every woman has a seducer. Her happiness is only to meet him"

"Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are."

"Failure of any possible means that we need and has become banal"

"Faith is the highest passion of any man"

"Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good."

"Father in Heaven! When the thought of thee wakes in our hearts let it not awaken like a frightened bird that flies about in dismay, but like a child waking from its sleep with a heavenly smile."

"Fixed ideas are like a cramp in the foot - the best remedy against it is to tread on it."

"For God can only be found after everything that is in the way has been cleared away, every finitude and above all, the individual himself in his finitude and his disputatiousness in the face of God."

"For without risk there is no faith, and the greater the risk, the greater the faith."

"Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better."

"God created the world out of nothing, but the nothingness still shows through."

"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"

"God... is only father in the sense of father of all... When I hate some ne or deny that God is his father - it is not he who loses me, but me; for then I have no father."

"Had I to carve an inscription on my tombstone I would ask for none other than The Individual"

"He who despairs over an event is a coward, but he who holds hope for the human condition is a fool."

"Honor him, dear Symparanekromenoi, for his grey hair and his misfortune."

"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."

"How beautiful it is to be loving and interesting to know, this is not the same thing."

"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?"