Soren Kierkegaard Quotes

65 of the Most Insightful Soren Kierkegaard quotes

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Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish author and theologian who is regarded as the first existentialist philosopher. He is known to have struggled throughout his life with depression, yet he has inspired countless others with his writings.

Soren Kierkegaard Quotes 

Here are 65 of his most timeless and insightful quotes.

    1. “Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.”
    2. “The minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion.”
    3. “One can advise comfortably from a safe port.”
    4. “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
    5. “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
    6. “The most common form of despair is not being who you are.”
    7. “The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you’ll never have.”
    8. “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.”
    9. “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
    10. “It is better to try something and fail than to try nothing and succeed. The result may be the same, but you won’t be. We always grow more through defeats than victories.”
    11. “Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own.”
    12. “The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s 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.”
    13. “At the bottom of enmity between strangers lies indifference.”
    14. “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.”
    15. “During the first period of a man’s life the greatest danger is not to take the risk.”
    16. “Not just in commerce but in the world of ideas too our age is putting on a veritable clearance sale. Everything can be had so dirt cheap that one begins to wonder whether in the end anyone will want to make a bid.”
    17. “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”
    18. “It is not the path which is the difficulty; rather, it is the difficulty which is the path.”
    19. “Confidence is the present tense of hope.”
    20. “There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.”
    21. “Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.”
    22. “A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.”
    23. “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.”
    24. “Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown.”
    25. “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!”
    26. “If anyone on the verge of action should judge himself according to the outcome, he would never begin.”
    27. “Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself.”
    28. “It is impossible to exist without passion.”
    29. “And this is the simple truth – that to live is to feel oneself lost. He who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce.”
    30. “People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are the critics, blaming or praising him. What they don’t know is that they are the actors on the stage; he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines.”
    31. “The self-assured believer is a greater sinner in the eyes of God than the troubled disbeliever.”
    32. “As my prayer became more attentive and inward, I had less and less to say. I finally became completely silent… This is how it is. To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking. Prayer involves becoming silent, and being silent, and waiting until God is heard.”
    33. “It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand…”
    34. “My melancholy is the most faithful sweetheart I have had.”
    35. “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.”
    36. “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.”
    37. “What is a poet? A poet is an unhappy being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and the cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music… and men crowd about the poet and say to him: “Sing for us soon again”; that is as much to say: May new sufferings torment your soul.”
    38. “What if everything in the world were a misunderstanding, what if laughter were really tears?”
    39. “Therefore do not deceive yourself! Of all deceivers fear most yourself!”
    40. “Wherever there is a crowd there is untruth.”
    41. “Are you not aware that there comes a midnight hour when everyone must unmask…”
    42. “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.”
    43. “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.”
    44. “Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.”
    45. “The truth is a snare: you cannot have it, without being caught. You cannot have the truth in such a way that you catch it, but only in such a way that it catches you.”
    46. “The task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted.”
    47. “It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite.”
    48. “The only intelligent tactical response to life’s horror is to laugh defiantly at it.”
    49. “I am convinced that God is love, this thought has for me a primitive lyrical validity. When it is present to me, I am unspeakably blissful, when it is absent, I long for it more vehemently than does the lover for his object.”
    50. “For love is exultant when it unites equals, but it is triumphant when it makes that which was unequal equal in love.”
    51. “With every increase in the degree of consciousness, and in proportion to that increase, the intensity of despair increases: the more consciousness the more intense the despair.”
    52. “Don’t forget to love yourself.”
    53. “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.”
    54. “When one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world — no matter how imperfect — becomes rich and beautiful, it consists solely of opportunities for love.”
    55. “Only the person who is essentially capable of remaining silent is capable of speaking essentially.”
    56. “Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living.”
    57. “It’s better to get lost in the passion than to lose the passion.”
    58. “Life can only be understood going backward, but must be lived going forward.”
    59. “Only the noble of heart are called to difficulty.”
    60. “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.”
    61. “Do not interrupt the flight of your soul; do not distress what is best in you; do not enfeeble your spirit with half wishes and half thoughts. Ask yourself and keep on asking until you find the answer, for one may have known something many times, acknowledged it; one may have willed something many times, attempted it – and yet, only the deep inner motion, only the heart’s indescribable emotion, only that will convince you that what you have acknowledged belongs to you, that no power can take it from you – for only the truth that builds up is truth for you.”
    62. “Men think that it is impossible for a human being to love his enemies, for enemies are hardly able to endure the sight of one another. Well, then, shut your eyes–and your enemy looks just like your neighbor.”
    63. “Oh, can I really believe the poet’s tales, that when one first sees the object of one’s love, one imagines one has seen her long ago, that all love like all knowledge is remembrance, that love too has its prophecies in the individual.”
    64. “To dare is to momentarily lose one’s footing. But not to dare is to lose one’s self.”
    65. “People settle for a level of despair they can tolerate and call it happiness.”

Think about these Kierkegaard Quotes this week

Soren Kierkegaard left us many things to consider. He also left us hope. His thoughtful critique of society, his understanding of melancholy, and his deep love for God and mankind inspire us still today to live life to the fullest. These quotes remind us that truth, faith, and love make us whole.


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