Kierkegaard, Soren



1813-55, Danish philosopher and religious thinker.  Kierkegaard’s outwardly uneventful life in Copenhagen contrasted with his intensive inner examination of self and society, which resulted in many diversified and profound writings; their dominant theme is that “truth is subjectivity.” Kierkegaard argued that in religion the important thing is not truth as objective fact but rather the individual’s relationship to it.  Thus it is not enough to believe the Christian doctrine; one must also live it.



It is not the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand, and what those things are.  Human understanding has vulgarly occupied itself with nothing but understanding, but if would only take the trouble to understand itself at the same time it would simple have to posit the paradox.


In order to swim one takes off all one’s clothes- in order to aspire to the truth one must undress in a far more inward sense, divest oneself of all one’s inward clothes, of thoughts, conceptions, selfishness etc. before one is sufficiently naked.


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.


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.


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


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


Adversity draws men together and produces beauty and harmony in life’s relationships, just as the cold winter produces ice-flowers on the windowpanes, which vanish with the warmth.


The truth is a snare: you cannot have it, without being caught.  You cannot have the truth in such a way that you can catch it, but only in such a way that it catches you.


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 revert to a new minority.


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.


Soren Kierkegaard