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

"Many of us pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that we hurry past it."

"Marriage brings one into fatal connection with custom and tradition, and traditions and customs are like the wind and weather, altogether incalculable."

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

"Most people are subjective toward themselves and objective toward all others, frightfully objective sometimes — but the task is precisely to be objective toward oneself and subjective toward all others."

"Nature, the totality of created things, is the work of God. And yet God is not there; but within the individual man there is a potentiality (man is potentially spirit) which is awakened in inwardness to become a God-relationship, and then it becomes possible to see God everywhere."

"Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle"

"Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal."

"Not God, but you, the maker of the confession, get to know something by your act of confession. Much that you are able to keep hidden in the dark, you first get to know by your opening it to the knowledge of the all-knowing."

"Not just in commerce but in the world of ideas too our age is putting on a veritable clearance sale. Everything can be had so dirt cheap that one begins to wonder whether in the end anyone will want to make a bid."

"Nothing, nothing, nothing, no error, no crime is so absolutely repugnant to God as everything which is official; and why? because the official is so impersonal and therefore the deepest insult which can be offered to a personality."

"Nowadays not even a suicide kills himself in desperation. Before taking the step he deliberates so long and so carefully that he literally chokes with thought. It is even questionable whether he ought to be called a suicide, since it is really thought which takes his life. He does not die with deliberation but from deliberation."

"Of all tyrannies democracy is the most agonizing, the most inane, the absolute fall of everything great and elevated."

"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 can advise comfortably from a safe port."

"One must be very naïve to believe that it will do any good to cry out and shout in the world, as if that would change one’s fate. Better take things as they come, and make no fuss. When I was young and went into a restaurant, I would say to the waiter, A good cut, a very good cut, from the loin, and not too fat. Perhaps the waiter did not even hear me, to say nothing of paying any attention to my request, and still less was it likely that my voice should reach the kitchen and influence the cook, and even if it did, there was perhaps not a good cut on the entire roast. Now I never shout any more."

"One should not think slightly of the paradoxical; for the paradox is the source of the thinker's passion, and the thinker without paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity."

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

"Only when it is a duty to love, only then is love eternally and happily secured against despair."

"Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts."

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

"Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown."

"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."

"Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own."

"Philosophy always requires something more, requires the eternal, the true, in contrast to which even the fullest existence as such is but a happy moment."

"Philosophy is life's dry-nurse, who can take care of us -- but not suckle us."

"Pleasure disappoints, possibility never."

"Purity of heart is to will one thing."

"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."

"Sin is in itself separation from the good, but despair over sin is separation a second time."

"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."

"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."

"Socrates proved the immortality of the soul from the fact that sickness of the soul (sin) does not consume it as bodily sickness consumes the body."

"Spiritual superiority only sees the individual. But alas, ordinarily we human beings are sensual and, therefore, as soon as it is a gathering, the impression changes -- we see something abstract, the crowd, and we become different. But in the eyes of God, the infinite spirit, all the millions that have lived and now live do not make a crowd, He only sees each individual."

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

"That God lets himself be born and becomes a human being, is no idle whim, something that occurs to him so as to have something to do, perhaps to put a stop to the boredom that has brashly been said to be bound up with being God-it is not to have an adventure. No, the fact that God does this is the seriousness of existence. And the seriousness in this seriousness is, in turn, that each shall have an opinion about it."

"That is the road we all have to take - over the Bridge of Sighs into eternity."

"That which is truly human no generation learns from the one before it. No generation learns from another how to love. No generation has a shorter task assigned to it except insofar as the previous generation shirked its task and deluded itself."

"The aim of art, the aim of a life can only be to increase the sum of freedom and responsibility to be found in every man and in the world. It cannot, under any circumstances, be to reduce or suppress that freedom, even temporarily. No great work has ever been based on hatred and contempt. On the contrary, there is not a single true work of art that has not in the end added to the inner freedom of each person who has known and loved it."

"The difference between a man who faces death for the sake of an idea and an imitator who goes in search of martyrdom is that whilst the former expresses his idea most fully in death it is the strange feeling of bitterness which comes from failure that the latter really enjoys; the former rejoices in his victory, the latter in his suffering."

"The disproportion in my build is that my forelegs are too short. Like the kangaroo, I have very short forelegs, and tremendously long hind legs. Ordinarily I sit quite still; but if I move, the tremendous leap that follows strikes terror in all to whom I am bound by the tender ties of kinship and friendship."

"The enjoyment itself is not in the thing we enjoy, but the idea of ??it."

"The female nature is a drop in the form of resistance."

"The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays."

"The helper must first humble himself under the person he wants to help and thereby understand that to help is not to dominate but to serve, that to help is a not to be the most dominating but the most patient, that to help is a willingness for the time being to put up with being in the wrong and not understanding what the other understands."

"The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen but, if one will, are to be lived."

"The important thing is not to be the first lover of a woman, but the last."

"The more a man can forget, the greater the number of metamorphoses which his life can undergo, the more he can remember the more divine his life becomes."