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

"The more one thinks about it objectively, there is less."

"The most common form of despair is not being who you are."

"The most painful state of living is remembering the future."

"The most terrible fight is not when there is one opinion against another, the most terrible is when two men say the same thing -- and fight about the interpretation, and this interpretation involves a difference of quality."

"The paradox is really the pathos of intellectual life and just as only great souls are exposed to passions it is only the great thinker who is exposed to what I call paradoxes, which are nothing else than grandiose thoughts in embryo."

"The pleasure is disappointing, the possibilities, Never!"

"The present generation, wearied by its chimerical efforts, relapses into complete indolence. Its condition is that of a man who has only fallen asleep towards morning: first of all come great dreams, then a feeling of laziness, and finally a witty or clever excuse for remaining in bed."

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

"The shorter our allotted time is, the easier it perhaps is to decide to pray for one’s enemies."

"The truth can neither be communicated nor be received except as it were under God’s eyes, not without God’s help, not without God’s being involved as the middle term, He himself being the Truth."

"The truth is a snare: you cannot have it, without being caught. You cannot have the truth in such a way"

"The truth is a trap: you cannot get it without it getting you; you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you."

"The Two Ways: One is to suffer; the other is to become a professor of the fact that another suffered."

"The unhappy person is never present to themself because they always live in the past or the future."

"The unreflective person thinks and imagines that when he prays, the important thing, the thing he must concentrate upon, is that God should hear what he is praying for. And yet in the true, eternal sense it is just the reverse; the true relation in prayer is not when God hears what is prayed for, but when the person continues to pray until he is the one who hears, who hears what God wills."

"Then the Comforter comes with the explanation; then he makes everything new, strips the sufferer of his mourning apparel and gives him a new heart and an assured spirit. It may, however, take time."

"There are always reasons for murdering a man. But there is no justification for his existence."

"There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys: they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked the sum out for themselves."

"There are, as is known, insects that die in the moment of fertilization. So it is with all joy: life's highest, most splendid moment of enjoyment is accompanied by death."

"There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn."

"There is no remembrance more blessed, and nothing more blessed to remember, than suffering overcome in solidarity with God; this is the mystery of suffering."

"There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming."

"There is peace and rest and comfort in sorrow."

"There is too little to love one love … in the greatest possible number, which is now enjoying, this is living"

"There’s nothing more fragrant, more sparkling, more intoxicating than the infinity of possibilities"

"This is the secret in the entire art of helping."

"This is what is sad when one contemplates human life, that so many live out their lives in quiet lostness... they live, as it were, away from themselves and vanish like shadows. Their immortal souls are blown away, and they are not disquieted by the question of its immortality, because they are already disintegrated before they die."

"Thoughts invite us, more than words and deeds, to continue in sin, for thoughts can be concealed, while words and deeds cannot."

"To be a teacher does not mean simply to affirm that such a thing is so, or to deliver a lecture, etc. No, to be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner. Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner, put yourself in his place so that you may understand what he understands and the way he understands it."

"To be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner. I am not a teacher, only a fellow student."

"To be free from the truth is indeed to be excluded, and to be excluded by oneself is indeed to be bound."

"To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity"

"To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself."

"To defend something is always to discredit it. Let a man have a warehouse full of gold, let him be willing to give away a ducat to every one of the poor - but let him also be stupid enough to begin this charitable undertaking of his with a defence in which he offers three good reasons in justification; and it will almost come to the point of people finding it doubtful whether indeed he is doing something good. But now for Christianity. Yes, the person who defends that has never believed in it. If he does believe, then the enthusiasm of faith is not a defence, no, it is the assault and the victory; a believer is a victor."

"To have faith is precisely to lose one's mind so as to win God."

"To the frivolous, Christianity is certainly not glad tidings, for it wishes first of all to make them serious."

"To work for a living certainly cannot be the meaning of life, since it is indeed a contradiction that the continual production of the conditions is supposed to be the answer to the question of the meaning of that which is conditional upon their production."

"Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity."

"Trouble is the common denominator of living. It is the great equalizer."

"Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion -- and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion... while truth again reverts to a new minority."

"We lost more when we lost the passion when we got lost in his passion"

"We rarely confide in those who are better than we are."

"What does love loves? Infinity. What does love fear? Limits"

"What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music."

"What is a rebel? A man who says no."

"What kind of power is it that dares intrude between me and my bride, the bride I myself have chosen and who has chosen me? And this power would command her to be true to me; does she then need to be so commanded? And is she to be true to me only because a third party commands it, one whom she therefore loves more than me?"

"What our age lacks is not reflection, but passion."

"What the age needs is not a genius — it has had geniuses enough, but a martyr, who in order to teach men to obey would himself be obedient unto death. What the age needs is awakening. And therefore someday, not only my writings but my whole life, all the intriguing mystery of the machine will be studied and studied. I never forget how God helps me and it is therefore my last wish that everything may be to his honor."

"When a girl has given everything she has lost everything"

"When all combine in every way to make everything easier, people will want difficulty. I conceived it as my task to make difficulties everywhere."