Soren Kierkegaard

  • Danish philosopher
  • Born May 5, 1813
  • Died November 11, 1855

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard ( SORR-ən KEER-kə-gard, also US: -⁠gor, Danish: [sɶːɐ̯n̩ ˈkʰiɐ̯kəkɒːˀ] (listen); 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.

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

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

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

Be that self which one truly is.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

Purity of heart is to will one thing.

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

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.

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.

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

Listen to the cry of a woman in labor at the hour of giving birth - look at the dying man's struggle at his last extremity, and then tell me whether something that begins and ends thus could be intended for enjoyment.

Love is all, it gives all, and it takes all.

Love is all, it gives all, and it takes all.

It was completely fruitless to quarrel with the world, whereas the quarrel with oneself was occasionally fruitful and always, she had to admit, interesting.

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

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.

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

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.

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.

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.

Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living.

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.

A man who as a physical being is always turned toward the outside, thinking that his happiness lies outside him, finally turns inward and discovers that the source is within him.

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

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

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

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.

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

At the bottom of enmity between strangers lies indifference.

One can advise comfortably from a safe port.

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

Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God.