Soren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

“It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.”

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

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

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

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

“The most common form of despair is not being who you are.”

“Once you label me you negate me.”

“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.”

“Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see”

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

“The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you’ll never have.”

“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.”

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”

“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”

“To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity.”

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

“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.”

“People understand me so poorly that they don’t even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.”

“Many of us pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that we hurry past it.”

“What if everything in the world were a misunderstanding, what if laughter were really tears?”

“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?”

“One must not think slightingly of the paradoxical…for the paradox is the source of the thinker’s passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity.”

“It is perhaps the misfortune of my life that I am interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing; all my interests are not subordinated in one but stand on an equal footing.”

“Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself.”

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

“To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self…. And to venture in the highest is precisely to be conscious of one’s self.”

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

“How absurd men are! They never use the liberties they have, they demand those they do not have. They have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech.”

“Leap of faith – yes, but only after reflection”

“It is impossible to exist without passion”

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

“Every mental act is composed of doubt and belief, but it is belief that is the positive, it is belief that sustains thought and holds the world together.”

“Where am I? Who am I?
How did I come to be here?
What is this thing called the world?
How did I come into the world?
Why was I not consulted?
And If I am compelled to take part in it, where is the director?
I want to see him.”

“I stick my finger into existence and it smells of nothing.”

“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 reverts to a new minority.”

“On the secretly blushing cheek is reflected the glow of the heart”

“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.”

“It is very important in life to know when your cue comes.”

“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.”

“It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand…”

“Don’t you know that a midnight hour comes when everyone has to take off his mask? Do you think life always lets itself be trifled with? Do you think you can sneak off a little before midnight to escape this?”

“The question of immortality is of its nature not a scholarly question. It is a question welling up from the interior which the subject must put to itself as it becomes conscious of itself.”

“My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known — no wonder, then, that I return the love.”

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