Søren Kierkegaard quotations

Søren Kierkegaard

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

“I begin with the principle that all men are bores. Surely no one will prove himself so great a bore as to contradict me in this.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

“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.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

“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.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

“Above all do not forget your duty to love yourself.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

“The matter is quite simple. The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

“The truth shall set ye free, but first it shall make ye miserable.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

“My standpoint is armed neutrality.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

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

— Søren Kierkegaard

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

— Søren Kierkegaard

“A strange thing happened to me in my dream. I was rapt into the Seventh Heaven. There sat all the gods assembled. As a special dispensation I was granted the favor to have one wish. ‘Do you wish for youth,’ said Mercury, ‘or for beauty, or power, or a long life; or do you wish for the most beautiful woman, or any other of the many fine things we have in our treasure trove? Choose, but only one thing!’ For a moment I was at a loss. Then I addressed the gods in this wise:

Most honorable contemporaries, I choose one thing — that I may always have the laughs on my side.

Not one god made answer, but all began to laugh. From this I concluded that my wish had been granted and thought that the gods knew how to express themselves with good taste: for it would surely have been inappropriate to answer gravely: your wish has been granted.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

“No, I won't leave the world—I'll enter a lunatic asylum and see if the profundity of insanity reveals to me the riddles of life. Idiot, why didn't I do that long ago, why has it taken me so long to understand what it means when the Indians honour the insane, step aside for them? Yes, a lunatic asylum—don't you think I may end up there?”

— Søren Kierkegaard

“I have just come from a party where I was the life and soul. Witticisms flows from my lips. Everyone laughed and admired me - but I left, yes, that dash should be as long as the radii of the earth's orbit ——— and I wanted to shoot myself.”

— Søren Kierkegaard, journal entry [cited by Alastair Hannay in Kierkegaard: a biography

“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?”

— Søren Kierkegaard

“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 defense 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.”

— Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death)

C. S. Lewis said something similar:

“I envy you not having to think any more about Christian apologetics. My correspondents force the subject on me again and again. It is very wearing, and not v. good for one's own faith. A Christian doctrine never seems less real to me than when I have just (even if successfully) been defending it. It is particularly tormenting when those who were converted by my books begin to relapse and raise new difficulties.”

— C. S. Lewis to Mary Van Deusen, June 18, 1956, The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III, p. 762.

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