The Most Significant Søren Kierkegaard Quotes

Last updated on May 4th, 2021

The Most Significant Søren Kierkegaard Quotes

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (born May 5, 1813, Copenhagen, Denmark – died November 11, 1855, Copenhagen, Denmark) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, and social critic who had an enormous influence on existentialism and Protestant theology.

Known as a critic of Hegel and Hegelianism, Kierkegaard wrote many critical texts on religion, morality, ethics, and psychology.

Some of his notable works include Either/Or (Enten-Eller, 1843), Fear and Trembling (Frygt og Bæven, 1843), Works of Love (Kjerlighedens Gjerninger, 1847), and The Sickness Unto Death (1849, Sygdommen til Døden).

Crossing the boundaries of philosophy, theology, psychology, and fiction, Kierkegaard’s works are still influential in contemporary thought.

Life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals Quotes)
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Life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.The Journals (May 17, 1843)

Life for me has become a bitter drink, and yet it must be taken in drops, slowly, counting. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or Quotes)
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Life for me has become a bitter drink, and yet it must be taken in drops, slowly, counting.Part I, Diapsalmata, Either/Or (1843)

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. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or Quotes)
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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.Part I, Rotation of Crops, Either/Or (1843)

Boredom rests upon the nothing that interlaces existence; its dizziness is infinite, like that which comes from looking down into a bottomless abyss. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or Quotes)
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Boredom rests upon the nothing that interlaces existence; its dizziness is infinite, like that which comes from looking down into a bottomless abyss.Part I, Rotation of Crops, Either/Or (1843)

The absurd is a category, the negative criterion, of the divine or of the relationship to the divine. When the believer has faith, the absurd is not the absurd - faith transforms it, but in every weak moment it is again more or less absurd to him. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals Quotes)
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The absurd is a category, the negative criterion, of the divine or of the relationship to the divine. When the believer has faith, the absurd is not the absurd – faith transforms it, but in every weak moment it is again more or less absurd to him.The Journals (1850)

How unreasonable people are! They never use the freedoms they have but demand those they do not have; they have freedom of thought - they demand freedom of speech. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or Quotes)
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How unreasonable people are! They never use the freedoms they have but demand those they do not have; they have freedom of thought – they demand freedom of speech.Part I, Diapsalmata, Either/Or (1843)

One must first learn to know oneself before knowing anything else. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals Quotes)
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One must first learn to know oneself before knowing anything else.The Journals (August 1, 1835) (Journal AA:12, 1835)

The greatest hazard of all, losing the self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss - an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. - is sure to be noticed. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness unto Death Quotes)
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The greatest hazard of all, losing the self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.The Sickness unto Death (1849)

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Concept of Anxiety Quotes)
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Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.Part II. Anxiety as Explaining Hereditary Sin Progressively, Chapter 2. Subjective Anxiety, The Concept of Anxiety (1844)

The prayer does not change God, but it changes the one who prays. - Søren Kierkegaard (Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits Quotes)
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The prayer does not change God, but it changes the one who prays.Part I. An Occasional Discourse, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits (1847)

Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further. - Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling Quotes)
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Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.Epilogue, Fear and Trembling (1843)

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. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals Quotes)
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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.The Journals (July 7, 1838)

It takes a lot of naivete to believe that it helps to shout and scream in the world, as if one's fate would thereby be altered. Take what comes and avoid all complications. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or Quotes)
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It takes a lot of naivete to believe that it helps to shout and scream in the world, as if one’s fate would thereby be altered. Take what comes and avoid all complications.Part I, Diapsalmata, Either/Or (1843)

Most people rush after pleasure so fast that they rush right past it. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or Quotes)
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Most people rush after pleasure so fast that they rush right past it.Part I, Diapsalmata, Either/or (1843)

The question of immortality is not a learned question; it is a question belonging to inwardness, which the subject by becoming subjective must ask himself. - Søren Kierkegaard (Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments Quotes)
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The question of immortality is not a learned question; it is a question belonging to inwardness, which the subject by becoming subjective must ask himself.Part II, Section II, Chapter I. Becoming Subjective, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments (1846)

I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations - one can do either this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: Do it or do not do it - you will regret both. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or Quotes)
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I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations – one can do either this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: Do it or do not do it – you will regret both.Part II, Either/Or (1843)

To be an idealist in imagination is not at all difficult, but to have to exist as an idealist is an extremely rigorous life-task, because existing is precisely the objection to it. - Søren Kierkegaard (Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments Quotes)
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To be an idealist in imagination is not at all difficult, but to have to exist as an idealist is an extremely rigorous life-task, because existing is precisely the objection to it.Part II, Section II, Chatper III. Actual Subjectivity, Ethical Subjectivity; the Subjective Thinker, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments (1846)

Take the paradox away from a thinker - and you have a professor. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals Quotes)
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Take the paradox away from a thinker – and you have a professor.The Journals (1849) (Journal NB12:67, 1849)

There is nothing of which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals Quotes)
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There is nothing of which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of.The Journals (1854-55) (Paper 485, 1854)

The tyrant dies and his rule is over; the martyr dies and his rule begins. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals Quotes)
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The tyrant dies and his rule is over; the martyr dies and his rule begins.The Journals (1848)

Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself. - Søren Kierkegaard (Philosophical Fragments Quotes)
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Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself.Chapter II. The God as Teacher and Savior: An Essay of the Imagination, Philosophical Fragments (1844)

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. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/or Quotes)
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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.Part I, Diapsalmata, Either/or (1843)

The truth is a snare: you cannot get it without being caught yourself; you cannot get the truth by catching it yourself but only by its catching you. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals Quotes)
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The truth is a snare: you cannot get it without being caught yourself; you cannot get the truth by catching it yourself but only by its catching you.The Journals (1854)

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. 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, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. - Søren Kierkegaard Quotes
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Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. 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, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.Letter to Henriette Kierkegaard (Letters, No. 150, 1847)

Pleasure disappoints; possibility does not. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/or Quotes)
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Pleasure disappoints; possibility does not.Part I, Diapsalmata, Either/Or (1843)

Freedom's possibility is not the ability to choose the good or the evil. The possibility is to be able. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Concept of Anxiety Quotes)
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Freedom’s possibility is not the ability to choose the good or the evil. The possibility is to be able.Chapter I. Anxiety as Hereditary Sin's Presupposition and as Clarifying Hereditary Sin Retrogressively in Terms of its Origin, The Concept of Anxiety (1844)

During the first period of a man's life the greatest danger is: not to take the risk. - Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals Quotes)
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During the first period of a man’s life the greatest danger is: not to take the risk.The Journals (1850)

Through marriage one falls into a very deadly continuity with custom, and custom is like the wind and weather, something completely indeterminable. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/or Quotes)
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Through marriage one falls into a very deadly continuity with custom, and custom is like the wind and weather, something completely indeterminable.Part I, Rotation of Crops, Either/or (1843)

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. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/or Quotes)
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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.Part I, Diapsalmata, Either/or (1843)

The question is asked in ignorance, by one who does not even know what can have led him to ask it. - Søren Kierkegaard (Philosophical Fragments Quotes)
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The question is asked in ignorance, by one who does not even know what can have led him to ask it.Propositio, Philosophical Fragments (1844)

A son is like a mirror in which the father sees himself, and for the son in turn the father is like a mirror in which he sees himself in the time to come. - Søren Kierkegaard (Stages on Life's Way Quotes)
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A son is like a mirror in which the father sees himself, and for the son in turn the father is like a mirror in which he sees himself in the time to come.

Take a book, the poorest one written, but read it with the passion that it is the only book you will read - ultimately you will read everything out of it, that is, as much as there was in yourself, and you could never get more out of reading, even if you read the best of books. - Søren Kierkegaard (Stages on Life's Way Quotes)
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Take a book, the poorest one written, but read it with the passion that it is the only book you will read – ultimately you will read everything out of it, that is, as much as there was in yourself, and you could never get more out of reading, even if you read the best of books.

Time passes, life is a stream, etc., so people say. That is not what I find: time stands still, and so do I. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/or Quotes)
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Time passes, life is a stream, etc., so people say. That is not what I find: time stands still, and so do I.Part I, Diapsalmata, Either/Or (1843)

In a theater, it happened that a fire started offstage. The clown came out to tell the audience. They thought it was a joke and applauded. He told them again, and they became still more hilarious. This is the way, I suppose, that the world will be destroyed-amid the universal hilarity of wits and wags who think it is all a joke. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/or Quotes)
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In a theater, it happened that a fire started offstage. The clown came out to tell the audience. They thought it was a joke and applauded. He told them again, and they became still more hilarious. This is the way, I suppose, that the world will be destroyed-amid the universal hilarity of wits and wags who think it is all a joke.Part I, Diapsalmata, Either/Or (1843)

To be able to forget always depends upon how one remembers, but how one remembers depends upon how one experiences actuality. - Søren Kierkegaard (Either/or Quotes)
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To be able to forget always depends upon how one remembers, but how one remembers depends upon how one experiences actuality.Part I, Crop Rotation, Either/Or (1843)

In case he who should act were to judge himself according to the result, he would never get to the point of beginning. - Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling Quotes)
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In case he who should act were to judge himself according to the result, he would never get to the point of beginning. (judging?, action??)Problem I, Fear and Trembling (1843)

No Source

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Trouble is the common denominator of living. It is the great equalizer.No source

2

Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.No source

Misattributed

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Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.No source (More info)

2

Once you label me you negate me.No source (More info)