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227 Inspiring Quotes by Soren Kierkegaard

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Soren Kierkegaard.

Wikipedia Summary for Soren Kierkegaard

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard ( SORR-ən KEER-kə-gard, also US: -⁠gor; Danish: [ˈsœːɐn ˈkʰiɐ̯kəˌkɒˀ]; 5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology, and the philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony, and parables. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a "single individual", giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. He was against literary critics who defined idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, and thought that Swedenborg, Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, Schlegel, and Hans Christian Andersen were all "understood" far too quickly by "scholars".

Kierkegaard's theological work focuses on Christian ethics, the institution of the Church, the differences between purely objective proofs of Christianity, the infinite qualitative distinction between man and God, and the individual's subjective relationship to the God-Man Jesus the Christ, which came through faith. Much of his work deals with Christian love. He was extremely critical of the practice of Christianity as a state religion, primarily that of the Church of Denmark. His psychological work explored the emotions and feelings of individuals when faced with life choices.

Kierkegaard's early work was written under the various pseudonyms to present distinctive viewpoints that interact in complex dialogue. He explored particularly complex problems from different viewpoints, each under a different pseudonym. He wrote many Upbuilding Discourses under his own name and dedicated them to the "single individual" who might want to discover the meaning of his works. Notably, he wrote: "Science and scholarship want to teach that becoming objective is the way. Christianity teaches that the way is to become subjective, to become a subject." While scientists can learn about the world by observation, Kierkegaard emphatically denied that observation alone could reveal the inner workings of the world of the spirit.

Some of Kierkegaard's key ideas include the concept of "subjective and objective truths", the knight of faith, the recollection and repetition dichotomy, angst, the infinite qualitative distinction, faith as a passion, and the three stages on life's way. Kierkegaard wrote in Danish and the reception of his work was initially limited to Scandinavia, but by the turn of the 20th century his writings were translated into French, German, and other major European languages. By the mid-20th century, his thought exerted a substantial influence on philosophy, theology, and Western culture.

silhouette photography of mountains

The thing that cowardice fears most is decision.

--Soren Kierkegaard

white wooden dock on white sand

Jurists say that a capital crime submerges all lesser crimes; and so it is with faith. Its absurdity makes all petty difficultiesvanish.

--Soren Kierkegaard

green mountain ]

Christ has not only spoken to us by his life, but has also spoken for us by his death.

--Soren Kierkegaard

white and blue floral textile

The thinker without a paradox is like a lover without a feeling: a paltry mediocrity.

--Soren Kierkegaard

silhouette of mountains during starry night

The more a person limits himself, the more resourceful he becomes.

--Soren Kierkegaard


purple and white light illustration

The paradox in Christian truth is invariably due to the fact that it is the truth that exists for God. The standard of measure and the end is superhuman; and there is only one relationship possible: faith.

--Soren Kierkegaard


black wooden louver door window

Take a chance and you may lose. Take not a chance and you have lost already.

--Soren Kierkegaard



aerial photo of foggy mountains

Beware false prophets come to you in wolf's clothing but inwardly are sheep.

--Soren Kierkegaard


shallow focus photography of snowflake

I have only one confidant, and that is the silence of night.

--Soren Kierkegaard

gray-scale photo of man and woman holding hands

Do it or don't do it -- you will regret both.

--Soren Kierkegaard

silhouette of mountain during sunset

In actuality, no one ever sank so deep that he could not sink deeper, and there may be one or many who sank deeper. So it is always possible to be happy and grateful that things are not worse!

--Soren Kierkegaard


landscape photography of trees

One should engage in all sorts of breadless arts.

--Soren Kierkegaard

mountains under white mist at daytime

The deepest form of despair is to choose to be another than himself.

--Soren Kierkegaard


Longer Version:

The crowd, in fact, is composed of individuals; it must therefore be in every man's power to become what he is, an individual. From becoming an individual no one, no one at all, is excluded, except he who excludes himself by becoming a crowd. To become a crowd, to collect a crowd about one, is on the contrary to affirm the distinctions of human life. The most well-meaning person who talks about these distinctions can easily offend an individual. But then it is not the crowd which possesses power, influence, repute, and mastery over men, but it is the invidious distinctions of human life which despotically ignore the single individual as the weak and impotent, which in a temporal and worldly interest ignore the eternal truth- the single individual.


three person looking stars and milky way

Irony is a disciplinarian feared only by those who do not know it, but cherished by those who do.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Longer Version:

Irony is a disciplinarian feared only by those who do not know it, but cherished by those who do. He who does not understand irony and has no ear for its whispering lacks of what might called the absolute beginning of the personal life. He lacks what at moments is indispensable for the personal life, lacks both the regeneration and rejuvenation, the cleaning baptism of irony that redeems the soul from having its life in finitude though living boldly and energetically in finitude.


rock formation above water

Dread is a sympathetic antipathy and an antipathetic sympathy.

--Soren Kierkegaard





silhouette of man and woman during sunset

Our age is essentially one of understanding and reflection, without passion, momentarily bursting into enthusiasm and shrewdly relapsing into repose.

--Soren Kierkegaard

silhouette photo of person holding flashlight under milk way

It takes moral courage to grieve; it requires religious courage to rejoice.

--Soren Kierkegaard

woman in black tank top

You train yourself in the art of being mysterious to everyone. My dear friend! What if there were no one, who cared about guessing your riddle, what pleasure would you then take in it?

--Soren Kierkegaard

pink and blue sky with moon

If the ethical -- that is, social morality- is the highest ... then no categories are needed other than the Greek philosophical categories.

--Soren Kierkegaard

sunset forest

The conclusions of passion are the only reliable ones.

--Soren Kierkegaard




silhouette photography of man sitting on rock

A good decision is our will to do everything we can within our power. It means to serve God with all we've got, be it little or much. Every person can do that.

--Soren Kierkegaard

orange room with open door

My scholarly expectation is then that I may succeed in becoming clever in philosophy in spite of my stupidity.

--Soren Kierkegaard


lightning strike at night

It is the normal state of the human heart to try to build its identity around something besides God.

--Soren Kierkegaard

woman doing yoga meditation on brown parquet flooring

What is existence for but to be laughed at if men in their twenties have already attained the utmost?

--Soren Kierkegaard


purple and white clouds during night time

What looks like politics, and imagines itself to be political, will one day unmask itself as a religious movement.

--Soren Kierkegaard

photo of gray moon

For like a poisonous breath over the fields, like a mass of locusts over Egypt, so the swarm of excuses is a general plaque, a ruinous infection among men, that eats off the sprouts of the Eternal.

--Soren Kierkegaard


blue and white abstract painting

I am so stupid that I cannot understand philosophy; the antithesis of this is that philosophy is so clever that it cannot comprehend my stupidity. These antitheses are mediated in a higher unity; in our common stupidity.

--Soren Kierkegaard

landscape photography of waves and clouds

Ulysses was not comely, but he was eloquent,
Yet he fired two goddesses of the sea with love.

--Soren Kierkegaard

white

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

--Soren Kierkegaard

pink flower

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

--Soren Kierkegaard

silhouette photo of person holding flashlight under milk way

A 'no' does not hide anything, but a 'yes' very easily becomes a deception.

--Soren Kierkegaard


silhouette of person jumping in mid air

During the first period of a man's life the greatest danger is not to take the risk.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Longer Version:

During the first period of our lives the greatest danger is not to take the risk. When once the risk has been taken, then the greatest danger is to risk too much. By not risking at first one turns aside and serves trivialities; in the second case, by risking too much, one turns aside to the fantastic and perhaps to presumption.



A white stripe pattern made up of concrete facade ribs

In a mathematical proposition, for example, the objectivity is given, but therefore its truth is also an indifferent truth.

--Soren Kierkegaard


photo of brown wood slab

Pleasure disappoints; possibility never.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Longer Version:

Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, who so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility.


low angle photo of starry night

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

--Soren Kierkegaard

brown rocky mountain under blue sky during daytime

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

--Soren Kierkegaard


black and gray textile in close up photography

It occurs to me that artists go forward by going backward, something which I have nothing against intrinsically when it is a reproduced retreat -- as is the case with the better artists.

--Soren Kierkegaard


brown wooden board

Your own tactic is to train yourself in the art of becoming enigmatic to everybody. My young friend, suppose there was no one who troubld himself to guess your riddle -- what joy, then, would you have in it?

--Soren Kierkegaard

four white balloons on white wall

Irony is the cultivation of the spirit and therefore follows next after immediacy; then comes the ethicist, then the humourist, then the religious person.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Arizona landscape donkey

The meaning lies in the appropriation.

--Soren Kierkegaard


jellyfish under water photo

The human race in the course of time has taken the liberty of softening and softening Christianity until at last we have contrived to make it exactly the opposite of what it is in the New Testament.

--Soren Kierkegaard

pink and white roses on white surface

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

--Soren Kierkegaard


red metal bridge over river

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

--Soren Kierkegaard

mountains under orange kies

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard




white and black soccer ball on grass field

All the shrewdness of 'man' seeks one thing: to be able to live without responsibility.

--Soren Kierkegaard

gray and white concrete floor

I divide my time as follows: half the time I sleep, the other half I dream. I never dream when I sleep, for that would be a pity, for sleeping is the highest accomplishment of genius.

--Soren Kierkegaard

silhouette of praying man

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard

red textile in close up photography

The presence of irony does not necessarily mean that the earnestness is excluded. Only assistant professors assume that.

--Soren Kierkegaard

grassland landscape

Repetition is the reality and the seriousness of life.

--Soren Kierkegaard


pink and white abstract painting

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard

man in Burton shirt facing ocean

One could construe the life of man as a great discourse in which the various people represent different parts of speech (the same might apply to states).

--Soren Kierkegaard

brown and white bird on tree branch

Who am I? How did I come into the world? Why was I not consulted?

--Soren Kierkegaard

full moon in the sky

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard

white ceramic pencil organizer on top of stack of books

There is peace and rest and comfort in sorrow.

--Soren Kierkegaard

green trees under white clouds

The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.

--Soren Kierkegaard

woman signing on white printer paper beside woman about to touch the documents

Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.

--Soren Kierkegaard



calm body of water and mountain

Take it and return it: the kiss of love.

--Soren Kierkegaard


backdrop solid

Deep within every man there lies the dread of being alone in the world, forgotten by God, overlooked among the tremendous household of millions and millions.

--Soren Kierkegaard


silhouette photo of mountain during night time

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard



yellow tulip flowers

The question is not "To be or not to be," it is what we should be until we are not.

--Soren Kierkegaard

selective focus photography of sunflower

Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards.

--Soren Kierkegaard

woman standing between sunflower field during daytime

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

forest near mountain alps

Happiness is the greatest hiding place for despair.

--Soren Kierkegaard

pink cherry blossom tree under blue sky during daytime

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Longer Version:

What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music.... And people flock around the poet and say: 'Sing again soon' -- that is, 'May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.


woman signing on white printer paper beside woman about to touch the documents

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard

body of water under blue sky with stars

In the deepest sense, the being in a state of sin is the sin, the particular sins are not the continuation of sin, they are expressions of its continuation.

--Soren Kierkegaard

white and yellow lily in bloom

I found I had less and less to say, until finally, I became silent, and began to listen. I discovered in the silence, the voice of God.

--Soren Kierkegaard



green trees on body of water during daytime

Most people live dejectedly in worldly joys or sorrows. They sit on the sidelines and do not join the dance.

--Soren Kierkegaard




red rope on three branch

May new sufferings torment your soul.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Dark purple to red to orange gradient

I am so fed up and joyless that not only have I nothing to fill my soul, I cannot even conceive of anything that could possibly satisfy it -- alas, not even the bliss of heaven.

--Soren Kierkegaard

white pampas grasses near body of water at daytime

It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.

--Soren Kierkegaard

person behind fog glass

Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner; put yourself in his place so that you may understand ... what he learns and the way he understands it.

--Soren Kierkegaard

red and white led lighted heart decor

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard

silhouette of mountains during starry night

I go fishing for a thousand monsters in the depths of my own self.

--Soren Kierkegaard

pink and white clouds

It is intelligent to ask two questions: (1) Is it possible? (2) Can I do it?. But it is unintelligent to ask these questions: (1) Is it real? (2) Has my neighbor done it?

--Soren Kierkegaard


sunset hgihway

A possibility is a hint from God. One must follow it.

--Soren Kierkegaard

brown butterfly perched on flower

On the secretly blushing cheek is reflected the glow of the heart.

--Soren Kierkegaard


red rose

What our age lacks is not reflection, but passion.

--Soren Kierkegaard


silhouette photography of mountains

One can advise comfortably from a safe port.

--Soren Kierkegaard

pink flowers in vase

My tactics were, by God's aid, to employ every means to make it clear what the requirement of Christianity truly is.

--Soren Kierkegaard


cloudy sky

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

--Soren Kierkegaard

shallow focus photography of brown parquet flooring

To venture causes anxiety.  Not to venture is to lose oneself.

--Soren Kierkegaard

snow covered pine trees

Just as in the great moment of resignation one does not mediate but chooses, now the task is to gain proficiency in repeating the impassioned choice and, existing, to express it in existence.

--Soren Kierkegaard

brown wooden hanging bridge surrounded by green trees during daytime

Human relations are like the irregular verbs in a number of languages where nearly all verbs are irregular.

--Soren Kierkegaard

selective focus photography of grey coin operated telescope

Hope is passion for what is possible.

--Soren Kierkegaard


view of mountaintops with clouds

There is a view of life which conceives that where the crowd is, there is also truth. There is another view of life which conceives that wherever there is a crowd, there is untruth.

--Soren Kierkegaard



landscape photography of waves and clouds

Most people believe that the Christian commandments are intentionally a little too severe.

--Soren Kierkegaard




Dark purple to red to orange gradient

How ironical that it is by means of speech that man can degrade himself below the level of dumb creation -- for a chatterbox is truly of a lower category than a dumb creature.

--Soren Kierkegaard

silhouette photography of man illustration

It seems to be my destiny to discourse on truth, insofar as I discover it, in such a way that all possible authority is simultaneously demolished.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Close-up of a white line on green grass in a soccer field

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

--Soren Kierkegaard





person standing on rock beside body of water between green trees

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

--Soren Kierkegaard

brown textile

A genius may perhaps be a century ahead of his age and hence stands there as a paradox, but in the end, the race will assimilate what was once a paradox, so it is no longer paradoxical.

--Soren Kierkegaard

plain background

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard


pink and white abstract painting

In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant. ... My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known -- no wonder, then, that I return the love.

--Soren Kierkegaard



green trees under white sky during daytime

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

--Soren Kierkegaard


pink rose flower

Dread is a womanish debility in which freedom swoons. Psychologically speaking, the fall into sin always occurs in impotence. But dread is at the same time the most egotistic thing.

--Soren Kierkegaard

man standing on cliff under white sky

With the daguerreotype, everyone will be able to have their portrait taken ... and at the same time everything is being done to make us all look exactly the same.

--Soren Kierkegaard

white petaled flowers beside gray wall

. .the larger the crowd, the more probable that that which it praises is folly, and the more improbable that it is truth; and the most improbable of all that it is any eternal truth.

--Soren Kierkegaard

brown, black, and white butterfly on purple petaled flower photo

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

--Soren Kierkegaard


trees at sunset

At the bottom of enmity between strangers lies indifference.

--Soren Kierkegaard

solid background

God has given each of us our "marching order." Our purpose here on Earth is to find those orders and carry them out. Those orders acknowledge our special gifts.

--Soren Kierkegaard

gray concrete road between green trees during daytime

The proud person always wants to do the right thing, the great thing. But because he wants to do it in his own strength, he is fighting not with man, but with God.

--Soren Kierkegaard

close-up photo of pink flower

Purity of heart is to will one thing.

--Soren Kierkegaard

blue wallpaper

All moral elevation consists first and foremost of being weaned from the momentary.

--Soren Kierkegaard

grass field under cloudy sky

My melancholy is the most faithful sweetheart I have had.

--Soren Kierkegaard




pink and blue painted wall

To be a woman is something so strange, so confusing and so complicated that only a woman could put up with it.

--Soren Kierkegaard

pink tulips in close up photography

The stone that was rolled before Christ's tomb might appropriately be called the philosopher's stone because its removal gave not only the pharisees but, now for 1800 years, the philosophers so much to think about.

--Soren Kierkegaard

pink and white roses on white surface

There is one thing that all Satan's cunning and all the snares of temptation cannot take by surprise -- an undivided will.

--Soren Kierkegaard

green trees on mountain during daytime

Irony limits, finitizes, and circumscribes and thereby yields truth, actuality, content; it disciplines and punishes and thereby yields balance and consistency.

--Soren Kierkegaard

elephants on green grass field during daytime

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

--Soren Kierkegaard

man and woman kissing

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

--Soren Kierkegaard

concert photos

No time of life is so beautiful as the early days of love, when with every meeting, every glance, one fetches something new home to rejoice over.

--Soren Kierkegaard

white and black soccer ball on grass field

Geniuses are like thunderstorms: they go against the wind, terrify people, clear the air.

--Soren Kierkegaard

yellow, orange, red, green, and blue abstract painting

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

--Soren Kierkegaard

forest trees photograph

Why I so much prefer autumn to spring is that in the autumn one looks at heaven -- in the spring at the earth.

--Soren Kierkegaard

blue flowers in tilt shift lens

When you read God's Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, "It is talking to me, and about me."

--Soren Kierkegaard

silhouette of flower during sunset

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard


close up photography of moon

Irony is a qualification of subjectivity.

--Soren Kierkegaard

selective focus photography of woman taking selfie

It is a frightful satire and an epigram on the modern age that the only use it knows for solitude is to make it a punishment, a jail sentence.

--Soren Kierkegaard

stars across the sky view at the desert

The minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion.

--Soren Kierkegaard

grayscale photography of mountain surrounded by trees

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

--Soren Kierkegaard

selective-focus photograph of gray bird on tree branch

In my great melancholy, I loved life, for I love my melancholy.

--Soren Kierkegaard


landscape photography of brown mountains

Where unclarity resides, there is temptation, and there it proves only too easily the stronger. Wherever there is ambiguity, wherever there is wavering, there is disobedience down at the bottom.

--Soren Kierkegaard



closeup photo of white petaled flowers

I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.

--Soren Kierkegaard





rainbow

Adversity not only draws people together, but brings forth that beautiful inward friendship.

--Soren Kierkegaard




painting of man walking down a road holding umbrella

Without risk, faith is an impossibility.

--Soren Kierkegaard




silhouette photography of man sitting on rock

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.

--Soren Kierkegaard


brown houses in front of hill under starry night

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

--Soren Kierkegaard




multicolored heart LED light on wall

The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.

--Soren Kierkegaard

white wall paint beside white wall

It is modest of the nightingale not to require anyone to listen to it; but it is also proud of the nightingale not to care whether any one listens to it or not.

--Soren Kierkegaard

brown textile in close up image

About as genuine as tea made from a bit of paper which once lay in a drawer beside another piece of paper which had been used to wrap up a few tea leaves from which tea had already been made three times.

--Soren Kierkegaard



close shot of yellow flowers

Genius, like a thunderstorm, comes up against the wind.

--Soren Kierkegaard

person holding white book

The more men believe an idea to be true the greater the likelihood that the idea is mistaken. Those who are right usually stand alone.

--Soren Kierkegaard

yellow sunflower field under blue sky during daytime

This is the miracle of life: that each person who heeds him or herself knows what no scientist can ever know: who he or she is.

--Soren Kierkegaard

cumulus clouds

Once you label me you negate me.

--Soren Kierkegaard

sunset

It seems essential, in relationships and all tasks, that we concentrate only on what is most significant and important.

--Soren Kierkegaard

woman standing on cliff

Are you not aware that there comes a midnight hour when everyone must unmask.

--Soren Kierkegaard

black, purple, and orange basketball court beside concrete buildings at daytime

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

--Soren Kierkegaard

person's hand holding round silver analog watch with black leather strap

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.

--Soren Kierkegaard




closeup photo of sunflower

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

--Soren Kierkegaard


person with flashlight near lighted green tree on mountain under starry night

Comparison is the most dangerous acquaintance love can make.

--Soren Kierkegaard

We wish you a perfect day!