Soren Kierkegaard 1813-1855, by Craig Campbell

Soren Kierkegaard wrote books for philosophers as well as for the normal Christian reader or any individual interested enough to read his books. Here is a quote from his 1847 book, Works of Love.


Here are two short excerpts from a book he published in 1850.

Both these excerpts are in the public domain. Find them here: Selections from the writings of Soren Kierkegaard

It’s best to read primary sources for yourself. Here are some books written by Soren Kierkegaard. The rest of the pages of this website has some Kierkegaard quotes, some works by Kierkegaard researchers, and links to authors contemporary with Kierkegaard.

Getting the majority vote on one’s side and one’s God-relationship transformed into a speculative enterprise on the basis of probability and partnership and fellow shareholders is the first step toward becoming objective.

Soren Kierkegaard 1846 Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Hong p. 66

Journals and Papers of Soren Kierkegaard

I am amazed that (as far as I know) no one has ever treated the idea of a “master-thief,” an idea that certainly would lend itself very well to dramatic treatment. I would prefer to think of such a master-thief as someone who had lost his father early in life and now has only an old mother whom he loves dearly and she him.

I was born in 1813, in that bad fiscal year when so many other bad banknotes were put in circulation, and my life seems most comparable to one of them. There is a suggestion of greatness in me, but because of the bad conditions of the times I am not worth very much.



Objectivity stresses:     the one spoken to, for example, to God, to pray means to speak to God.

Subjectivity stresses:     what is said; one does not stand and talk with one of the other cellar-merchants even though God’s name is spoken.

(SK) Concept of Irony 1841

‘What strange people you are, Socrates and Protagoras.’

All descriptions of the Absolute come about as an antithesis of the nonabsolute; namely, the complete opposite of all that constitutes the nature of the latter is ascribed to the former. In short, the description is merely negative and never puts the Absolute itself before the soul.


They think of the philosopher as holding the ideal or subjective in one hand and the real or objective in the other and then have him strike the palms of his hands together so that one abrades the other. The product of this abrasion is the Absolute.

Philosophy and Religion by Friedrich Schelling 1804 translated by Klaus Ottmann, 2010 Spring Publication, Putnam, Conn. P. 11- 12

Hegel on the trinity

Johannes Climacus or de omnibus dubitandum est

As regards his reading, JC found himself in a curious dilemma. The modern philosophical works he knew did not satisfy him, but he had not the effrontery to put the blame for this on to the writings themselves. Outstanding works he did not venture to read. So he read less and less, and followed his inclination to muse in solitude.

Rotation of Crops (From Either/Or)

The rotation of crops is the vulgar, inartistic rotation and is based on an illusion. One is weary of living in the country and moves to the city; one is weary of one’s native land and goes abroad; one is weary of Europe and goes to .America etc.; one indulges in the fanatical hope of and endless journey from star to star.

Kierkegaard may have been referring to Comte’s Either/Or.

It is not, then, merely on the ground of speculative truth that Positivists would urge all those who are still halting between two opinions, to choose between the absolute and the relative, between the fruitless search for Causes and the solid study of Laws, between submission to arbitrary Wills and submission to demonstrable Necessities. It is for Feeling still more than for Reason to make the decision; for upon it depends the establishment of a higher form of social life.

(SK) Either-Or Volume 2 1843, Lowrie translation (and Ultimatum)

Ah! you are indeed a strange being, at one; moment a child, at another an old man, at one moment you are thinking with prodigious seriousness about the loftiest scientific problems, proposing to sacrifice your life to them, the next moment you are an amorous fool; From marriage, however, you are a long way off, and I hope that your good genius will keep you from getting into bad ways, for sometimes I sense in you a trace of wanting to play at being a little Zeus .

At one moment you are solely possessed by an enthusiasm for “the first.” You are so impregnated by the energetic concentration implied in this thought that it is the only thing you wish for.

Enten-Eller (Either/Or) has three central features to which we ought to attend. The first is the connection between its mode of presentation and its central thesis. It is a book in which Kierkegaard wears a number of masks and by their very number invents a new literary genre. Kierkegaard was not the first author to divide up the self, to allocate it among a series of masks, each of which acts out the masquerade of an independent self, and so to create a new literary genre in which the author is present as himself more directly and intimately than in any form of traditional drama and yet by his partitioning of his self denies his own presence. Diderot in Le Neveu de Rameau was the first master of this new, peculiarly modern genre. But we can see a partial ancestor of both Diderot and Kierkegaard in that argument between the sceptical self and the Christian self which Pascal had intended to conduct in the Pensees, an argument of which we possess only the dismembered fragments.
After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre 1981 p. 39-40

(SK) Ultimatum from Either/Or 1843 Lowrie translation

Doubt is again stirred up, concern is again aroused; so let us strive to set them at rest by meditating upon The Edification Implied In The Thought That As Against God We Are Always In The Wrong.

(SK) Edifying Discourses 1843-1855 Swenson

When the thunder clouds of affliction began to gather and to threaten with their terror, when the soul would fail from fear and anxious expectation, then I think, if we dare to speak thus, that Paul took out his measuring stick, measured with it, and lo, the affliction was brief and light. When the community went astray, when false doctrines and human instability drifted about it so that the way of truth became impassable, and there was no goal, then was heaven his goal.

(SK) Fear and Trembling 1843

By faith Abraham went out from the land of his fathers and became a sojourner in the land of promise. He left one thing behind, took one thing with him: he left his earthly understanding behind and took faith with him — otherwise he would not have wandered forth but would have thought this unreasonable.







(SK) Sermon at Trinitatis Church Feb. 24, 1844 Croxall translation

In the Church which was founded at Corinth, St. Paul had special difficulties of the kind I have mentioned. In that flourishing commercial city, which through its shipping and situation, maintained a vital connexion between East and West, numerous crowds of people flocked together from all quarters, different in speech and in culture. As they mingled with the inhabitants, they produced, by contacts and contrasts, new and ever new differences.

(SK) Philosophical Fragments 1844, Swenson translation 1936

If I were a Plato in sentimental enthusiasm, and if my heart beat as violently as Alcibiades’ or more violently than that of the Corybantic mystic while listening to the words of Socrates; if the passion of my admiration knew no rest until I had clasped the wondrous master in my arms — Socrates would but smile at me and say: “My friend, how deceitful a lover you are! You wish to idolize me on account of my wisdom, and then to take your place as the friend who best understands me, from whose admiring embrace I shall never be able to tear myself free — is it not true that you are a seducer?”

Chapter 2: The God as Teacher and Saviour: An Essay of the Imagination

(SK) The Concept of Dread (Anxiety) 1844 Lowrie

Revelation may have already conquered, shut-upness ventures to employ its last expedient and is cunning enough to transform revelation itself into a mystification, and shut-upness has won.

SK) Johannes Climacus 1842, 1844, 1846

His form must first and last be related to existence, and in this regard he must have at his disposal the poetic, the ethical, the dialectical, the religious. Compared with that of a poet, his form will be abbreviated; compared with that of an abstract dialectician, his form will be broad.

(SK) Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions (1845) Swenson Translation

Whoever says this stillness does not exist is only a noisemaker, for have you ever heard from one who came to an agreement with himself in stillness, that there is no stillness? You may indeed have heard pretentious words and vociferous speech and noisy bustle, all directed toward getting rid of this stillness, and instead of conscience and stillness and God’s voice of judgment in solitude, you may have got a natural echo from the crowd, a confused common outcry, a general opinion, which a man in cowardice fears to hold by himself alone.

(SK) Stages on Life’s Way 1845 (The Banquet)

How poor is language in comparison with that symphony of sounds unmeaning, yet how significant, whether of a battle or of a banquet, which even scenic representation cannot imitate and for which language has but a few words! How rich is language in the expression of the world of ideas, and how poor, when it is to describe reality!

(SK) Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments 1846 (excerpt) (link was removed

This quote from Bacon has been very influential.

if a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. in the true handling of knowledge men ought not to fall either on the one side into the vein of Velleius the Epicurean, nor, on the other side, into Socrates, his ironical doubting of all things; but to propound things sincerely with more or less asseveration, as they stand in a man’s own judgment proved more or less.
Francis Bacon,
The Advancement of Learning 1605

Kierkegaard may well be regarded as the prototype of such an attitude, grounded in the wholeness of human existence, and thus as the “father” of modern “existentialism.”     The Existentialist Revolt; by Kurt Frank Reinhardt 1952

Origen Celsus2

(SK) On the Dedication to “That Single Individual”

the daily press and anonymity make our age even more insane with help from “the public,” which is really an abstraction, which makes a claim to be the court of last resort in relation to “the truth”;

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Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits (1847) The first part was Purity of Heart.

(SK) Purity of Heart Is To Will One Thing (1847) Douglas Steere Translation

Have you made up your own mind that your occupation is your real calling so that you do not have to make explanation hinge on the result, maintaining that it was not your real calling if the results are not favorable, if your efforts do not succeed? Alas, such fickleness weakens a man immeasurably. Therefore persevere. By God’s help and by your own faithfulness something good will come from the unpromising beginning.

A useless and perhaps futile conflict goes on often enough in the world, when the poor person says to the wealthy person, “Sure, it’s easy for you – you are free from worry about making a living.” Would to God that the poor person would really understand how the Gospel is much more kindly disposed to him, is treating him equally and more lovingly. Truly, the Gospel does not let itself be deceived into taking sides with anyone against someone else, with someone who is wealthy against someone who is poor, or with someone who is poor against someone who is wealthy. Among individuals in the world, the conflict of disconnected comparison is frequently carried on about dependence and independence, about the happiness of being independent and the difficulty of being dependent. And yet, yet human language has not ever, and thought has not ever, invented a more beautiful symbol of independence than the poor bird of the air. And yet, yet no speech can be more curious than to say that it must be very bad and very heavy to be – light as the bird! To be dependent on one’s treasure – that is dependence and hard and heavy slavery; to be dependent on God, completely dependent – that is independence.

Søren Kierkegaard, 1847 Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 180-181

The Glory of our Common Humanity

In the petty disquiet of the comparisons, the worldly concern always seeks to lead a man away from the elevated calm of simple thoughts.

Works of Love 1847 Swenson translation 1949

The primitiveness of faith is related to the beginning of Christianity. Extravagant descriptions of heathendom, its errors, its characteristics, are by no means needed; the signs of the Christlike are contained in Christianity itself. Make an experiment; forget for a moment Christian love, consider what you know about the other love, recall what you read in the poets, what you yourself can discover, and then say whether it ever occurred to you to conceive this: Thou shalt love.

It is exactly as it was in the time of Socrates, according to the accusation brought against him: “Everyone understood how to instruct the young men; there was but one single individual who did not understand it – that was Socrates.” So in our time, “all” are the wise, there is only one single individual here and there who is a fool. So near is the world to having achieved perfection that now “all” are wise; if it were not for the individual cranks and fools the world would be absolutely perfect. Through all this God sits in heaven. No one longs to be away from the noise and clamor of the moment in order to find the stillness in which God dwells. While man admires man, and admires him – because he is just like everyone else, no one longs for the solitude wherein one worships God. No one distains this cheap intermission from aiming at the highest, by longing for the standard of the eternal! So important has the immediate itself become. It is for this reason that superficial disinterestedness is needed. Oh, that I might in truth present such a disinterested figure!

Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, Swenson translation 1946 P. 297 Princeton University Press

(SK) The Point of View of My Work as an Author 1848, Lowrie translation 1962

In ’48 the strands of the web of worldly wisdom broke. The shrill rasping note which announces chaos became audible ‘This was the year ’48, it stood for progress.’ Yes … if only a ‘government’ is consolidated. For that, perhaps, not a single new official is necessary, nor the discharge of any old one, but perhaps an inward transformation which would consolidate the state in the fear of God.

The fault from above was clearly this, that throughout the government, taken as a whole, from top to bottom, the strength relied upon was essentially worldly shrewdness, which essentially is nothing more than lack of strength. The fault from below was that they wanted to get rid of government, that is to say, of punishment. But the punishment fits the crime, and the punishment now is that the want most bitterly felt at this time is simply the want of a government.

Never as in our century was the race and the individual within it (the ruler and the ruled, the superior and the inferior, the teacher and the taught, &c.) so emancipated from all restraint (so to call it) due to the idea that there is something which unconditionally stands fast. Never has the race and the individual within it discovered so deeply that the race itself and every individual within it needs and craves to have something which unconditionally stands fast.

Never have ‘opinions’ (the most heterogeneous, in the most various fields) felt themselves, under ‘Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity’, so free, so unhampered, so fortunate, with the rule of go as you please which is expressed in the motto, ‘up to a certain point’. Never will the race and the individual within it discover so deeply that it and every individual within it needs and craves to have something which stands and shall stand unconditionally fast, craves for that which the loving Godhead in love discovered, namely, the unconditional; in the place of which man, who is shrewd to his own undoing, in admiration for himself, posited this admired maxim, ‘up to a certain point’,

Require the navigator to sail without ballast — he capsizes. Let me race, let each individual, make the experiment of doing without the unconditional-it is a whirlpool and remains such. In the meanwhile, for a longer or a shorter period, it may seem otherwise, it may seem like stability and security. But at bottom it is and remains a whirlpool. Even the greatest events and the most laborious lives are whirlpools, or they are like sewing without knotting the thread — until the end is once again made fast by the fact that the unconditional is brought to bear, or that the individual, however remotely, comes to relate himself to the unconditional.

To live in the unconditional, inhaling only the unconditional, is impossible to man; he perishes, like the fish forced to live in the air. But on the other hand, without relating himself to the unconditional, man cannot in the deepest sense be said to ‘live’. He gives up the ghost — that is, he may continue perhaps to live, but spiritlessly. To stick to my subject, the religious, I say that the race, or a considerable number of the individuals within the race, have outgrown the childish notion that another person can represent the unconditional for them and in their stead. Very well; but for all that, the unconditional does not cease to be necessary.

Rather it is the more necessary the more the individual outgrows childish dependence upon other men. Hence ‘the individual’ himself must relate himself to the unconditional. This is what I, in proportion to the talents granted to me, with the utmost expenditure of effort, and with many sacrifices, have consistently fought for, fighting against every tyranny, including that of the numerical. This effort of mine has been interpreted as hatred, as monstrous pride and arrogance — I believed and still believe that this is Christianity and love for one’s ‘neighbour’.

The Point Of View For My Work As An Author by Soren Kierkegaard Published 1962 p. 157-158

The Difference Between A Genius and an Apostle 1849

All thought breathes in immanence, whereas faith and the paradox are a qualitative sphere unto themselves.

Authority is the decisive quality. Or is there perhaps no difference, even within the relativity of human existence, and even though it disappears in immanence, between the king’s command and the word of a poet or a thinker?

In order to throw more light on the concept authority, so important for the sphere of the paradox-religious, I will elaborate the dialectic of authority.

The Sickness Unto Death 1849

That there is an infinite difference of quality between God and man is the possibility of offense which cannot be taken away. Out of love God becomes man; He says, “Look what it is to be a man”; but He adds, “O take heed, for at the same time I am God — blessed is he who shall not be offended in me. As man He assumes the lowly form of a servant. He expresses what it is to be a lowly man, to the intent that no one shall think himself excluded, or think that it is human prestige or prestige among men which brings one nearer to God. No, he is the lowly man. “Look hither,” He says, “and learn what it is to be a man; O but take heed, for at the same time I am God — blessed is he who shall not be offended in me.”

(SK) The Sickness Unto Death 1849, Lowrie 1941

(SK) Training in Christianity 1850, Lowrie translation 1944 (link removed)

And the philosopher might say. — ‘Such dreadful, or, rather, insane vanity. For an individual man to want to be God is something hitherto unheard of. Never before has there been seen such an example of pure subjectivity and sheer negation carried to the utmost excess. He has no doctrine, no system, no fundamental knowledge; it is merely by detached aphoristic utterances, some bits of sententious wisdom, constantly repeated with variations, that He succeeds in dazzling the masses, for whom also He performs signs and wonders, so that they, instead of learning something and receiving instruction, come to believe in Him, who continues in the most odious manner possible to force his subjectivity upon people.’

Preparation for a Christian Life (Practice in Christianity 1850)

Com hither!  The invitation stands at the parting of paths, where the road of sin turns away, to ender more deeply into sin.

Do not despair over every relapse which the God of patience has patience enough to pardon, and which a sinner should surely have patience enough to humble himself under.

Can one prove from history that Christ is God?

“History” stays faith “has nothing to do with Christ.”

He who invites is, then Jesus Christ in his abasement. “Blessed is he  whosoever shall not be offended in me”

(SK) For Self-Examination, Judge for Yourselves! and Three Discourses

My dear reader:  If it be possible, read aloud! If thou art willing to do that, let me thank thee for it; if thou wilt not only do that thyself but wilt also prompt others to do it, let me thank each one severally and thank thee again and again ! By reading aloud thou wilt receive the impression most strongly that thou hast to do here only with thyself, not with me, for I am without authority, and not with any other people at all, for that would be a distraction.  August 1851. S. K.

There are various philosophies of life which deal with the question of human dignity and human equality — Christianly, every man (the individual), absolutely every man, once again, absolutely every man is equally near to God. And how is he near and equally near? Loved by Him.

So there is equality, infinite equality between man and man. If there be any difference, O, this difference, if difference there be, is peaceableness itself, undisturbed it does not disturb the equality in the remotest degree. The difference is that one man bears in mind that he is loved, perhaps day in and day out, perhaps for seventy years day in and day out, perhaps having only one longing, the longing for eternity, impatient to lay hold of it and be off, he is busy with this blessed occupation of bearing in mind that he — ah, not for his virtue’s sake — is loved.

Another perhaps does not reflect upon the fact that he is loved, perhaps he is glad and thankful to be loved by his wife, by his children, by his friends, by his acquaintances, and does not reflect that he is loved by God; or perhaps he sighs at the thought that he is loved by nobody and does not reflect that he is loved by God.

‘Yet’, so might the first one say, ‘I am guiltless, I cannot help it if another overlooks or disdains the love which is lavished as richly upon him as upon me.’ In- finite divine love which makes no distinction! Ah — human ingratitude! — what if among us men there were likeness and equality in the sense that we are like one another, entirely alike, inasmuch as not one of us rightly reflects that he is loved.

  • Two Discourses at the Communion (Luke 7: 47. But to whom little is forgiven, the same LOVETH little)

To one unnamed whose name someday shall be named is dedicated along with this little work the whole of the authorship from the very beginning

  • The Unchangeableness of God

(SK) The Unchangeableness of God (excerpt) 1855

how terrifying that God is unchangeable, everlastingly, eternally, unchangeable!

(SK) Kierkegaard’s attack upon “Christendom,” 1854-185, Lowrie translation

The knavish trick of “Christendom” is to take the gift and say good-day to the obligation, to want to be heir to the gift, but without assuming the obligation, to want to make it appear that mankind is indeed the heir, whereas the truth is that only by performing the obligation is mankind, or rather (for precisely because it is an obligation, such an abstraction as mankind can only in an extremely figurative sense be called the heir) I would say that every single individual of mankind is the heir.

(SK) Selections from the writings of Kierkegaard  Hollander, 1923

Come hither all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  What enormous multiplicity, what an almost boundless  diversity, of people invited; for a man, a lowly man, may,  indeed, try to enumerate only a few of these diversities — but he who invites must invite all men, even if every one specially and individually. The invitation goes forth, then — along the highways and the byways, and along the loneliest paths; aye, goes forth where there is a path so lonely that one man only, and no one else, knows of it …

The Search for Being: Essays from Kierkegaard to Sartre on the Problem of Existence Translated and edited by Jean T. Wilde and William Kimmel 1962

This book has excerpts from various authors: Kierkegaard to Sartre (beginning with Shelling.

“The “choice” in Either/Or and the “leap of faith” in Fear and Trembling are not marks of despair but are a necessary step towards the “pregnant moment” in which decision fuses thought and existence.” The closest Kierkegaard comes to a systematic statement of his view of man is in his Concept of Dread in which he defines and develops the notion of Angst which becomes the most fundamental explanatory concept of human existence.”

The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche by H. L. Mencken 1913

Friedrich Nietzsche was a preacher’s son, brought up in the fear of the Lord. It is the ideal training for sham -smashers and freethinkers. Let a boy of alert, restless intelligence come to early manhood in an atmosphere of strong faith, wherein doubts are blasphemies and inquiry is a crime, and rebellion is certain to appear
with his beard.

Kierkegaard Selected and Introduced  by W.H. Auden 1955 (many quotes)

He is God, but chooses to become the individual man. This, as we have seen, is the profoundest incognito, or the most impenetrable unrecognizableness that is possible; for the contradiction between being God and being an individual man  is the greatest possible, the infinite qualitative contradiction. But this is His will, His free determination, therefore an almightily maintained incognito.

A Short Life of Kierkegaard, Lowrie 1944

This book is barely a quarter the size of the Kierkegaard which was published by the Oxford University Press in 1938.

both for his own importance and for the role he played in S.K.’s life, is J. L. Heiberg, playwright, professor in the university, editor of an important review, enough of a philosopher to unite with Martensen in making the philosophy of Hegel the vogue m Denmark, and above all the acknowledged literary arbiter of Copenhagen.

Kierkegaard’s Philosophy Of Religion by Reidar Thomte 1948

In the day of Soren Kierkegaard, Hegelianism was the ruling philosophy in Germany as well as in Denmark. Hegel views nature as a system of stages of which one necessarily rises out of the other, but not in such a way that one stage is caused by the other. He regards it as a faulty conception of other philosophies to look upon evolution as a process brought about by external forces or circumstances. It is the self-activity of the immanent idea which is the foundation of nature. Hence metamorphosis can only happen to the idea itself. All development therefore is a change in thought. A contemporary of Hegel, the German theologian Friederich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), emphasizes the element of feeling in religion.

A Kierkegaard Anthology 1962 Bretall

The selections in this book have been chosen, first, with a view to the only kind of reading which the editor of an anthology has any right to expect, but secondly, in the hope that possibly a few persons may read it through from beginning to end. So read, it gives a picture of Kierkegaard’s intellectual and spiritual development from the age of twenty-one (the date of the first passage from the Journals) until his death a little over twenty years later. This picture is traced by the hand of S. K. himself in the excerpts taken from his various works and arranged (with one or two exceptions) in chronological order.

The Significance of Suffering in Kierkegaard

Robert L. Faulkner 1965

Soren Kierkegaard holds a unique place as a father of modern thought for at least three separate disciplines. Although Kierkegaard would not have permitted himself to be called a theologian, contemporary theology must look back to him as one of its chief sources. It would be difficult to conceive of any of the existentialist theologians or even a Barth, a Brunner, or a Franz Kafka without the works of Kierkegaard.

As different as Jaspers, Heidegger, and especially Sartre may be from these theologians, they also have a debt to Kierkegaard as founder and source of the existentialist movement in philosophy.

Thirdly, the existentialist schools of psychotherapy are often referred to as being neo-Freudian. However, a careful study of some of these schools would indicate that they have not so much revised Freud as they have systematized and applied Kierkegaard.

I think many philosophers were influenced by Nicholas of Cusa’s 1453 book

The Vision of God                The Vision of God 1646 translation

And some philosophers were influenced by Jacob Boehme’s 1624  book

Conversation Between an Enlightened and an Unenlightened Soul

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz wrote out a good discussion of faith with reason in 1710


Truth and Fable, Two Bald-Heads, and The Learned Collegians by Jean Pierre Clalris de Florian who lived from 1755-1794, that great age that precipitated so much change. He liked to write fables. Moe can be found here. Florian’s Fables


Religious Education by Immanuel Kant 1803 tr 1908


The Enlightenment Statements

When cogito ergo sum came into Descartes’ head, he marked the day November 10, 1619 as a remarkable day: ‘The light of a wonderful discovery,’ he wrote in his diary, ‘flashed into my mind.’ Schelling relates the same thing of himself: in the year 1801 he ‘saw the light.’ And to Nietzsche when he roamed the mountains and the valleys of the Engadine there came a mighty change: he grasped the doctrine of eternal recurrence. One might name many philosophers, poets, artists, preachers, who like these three suddenly saw the light, and considered their vision the beginning of a new life. Descartes, Schelling, Nietzsche tell the story of their conversion ; and with us, Tolstoi and Dostoevsky tell of theirs ; in the less remote past, there are Mahomet and Paul the Apostle; in far antiquity the legend of Moses.

All these cases have no value as scientific material, whereas one fossil skeleton or a unique case of an unknown rare disease is a precious windfall to the scientist. In course of time, as experimental science, so-called, gained more and more power, the habit of hiding in oneself all that cannot be demonstrated ad oculos, has become more and more firmly rooted, until it is almost man’s second nature. Nowadays we ‘ naturally ‘ share but a small part of an experience with our friends, so that if Mahomet and Paul lived in our time, it would not enter their heads to tell their extraordinary stories.

Anton Tchekhov, and other essays, Shestov, Lev, 1866-1938 (1908, 1916)  p. 173-176


Reverend R. A. Holland

The Atom and the Void.—A Sphinx-Riddle for Materialism (1878)

We copy the following; passage from an address of Rev. Dr. R. A. Holland before the alumni of the St. Louis High School—June, 1878—the theme being “The Spirit of our Time,” or, as the Germans call it, the “Zeitgeist.”—Ed.

Then came Oedipus himself, our own Zeit-Geist, and, seizing the Sphinx by the ear, jerked her proud head to one side and hallooed boldly, “No airs with me. I have read thy riddle. The universe is dust—nothing but dust….

“Out and open, little atom,” says the Zeit-Geist, with a pat of his hand and a puff. “Out and open, big, bigger, biggest; a sail for heat, a sail for light, a sail for electricity; three sails for life, and now the jib, fore, main, mizzen, and spanker all a-flying, with the gods themselves at the ropes for a Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’ or the rhyme of the ‘Ancient Mariner.'”

And yet the ship does not go, because it has no sea. Were the atoms in contact, they would, as we have seen, no longer be atoms, but a solid mass incapable of motion—dry ground everywhere. But if they are apart they have spaces between them, and these spaces are voids, and voids are nothings. Now, nothings cannot transmit, cannot undulate, have points of the compass or degrees of distance. It was to fill up such an abyss of nothing between the sun and the earth that the Zeit-Geist poured into it a sea of billowing ether, for heat and light to drift across. But the ether turns out to be no sea, for it, too, is composed of atoms, separated by voids. ….

“Not so quick,” replies the Zeit-Geist with some thickness of tongue. “The fault is not in the atom, but in the void; atoms are facts, but voids are metaphysical. I hate metaphysics. Give me facts—facts like atoms which a man can take hold of and verify. Independent of the problem of creation, facts or things are the only truths. What one sees, hears, tastes, smells, handles—that alone is credible. Ideas are abstractions, spooks of a mental dark seance whose tin horns cannot impose on inductive philosophers like myself and Comte and Mill and Macaulay and Buckle and Thomas Gradgrind.

Albert Camus 1913-1960, The Myth of Sisyphus

Either we are not free and God the all-powerful is responsible for evil or we are free and responsible but God is not all powerful.    Absurd Freedom

What is perceptible in Leo Chestov will be perhaps even more so in Kierkegaard. To be sure, it is hard to outline clear propositions in so elusive a writer. But, despite apparently opposed writings, beyond the pseudonyms, the tricks, and the smiles, can be felt through-out that work, as it were, the presentiment (at the same time as the apprehension) of a truth which eventually bursts forth in the last works: Kierkegaard likewise takes the leap. His childhood having been so frightened by Christianity, he ultimately returns to its harshest aspect.

For him, too, antinomy and paradox become criteria of the religious. Thus, the very thing that led to despair of the meaning and depth of this life now gives it its truth and its clarity. Christianity is the scandal, and what Kierkegaard calls for quite plainly is the third sacrifice required by Ignatius Loyola, the one in which God most rejoices: “The sacrifice of the intellect .”

The Philosophy Of Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) 1957 p. 144-145

This break with the scientific claim took place in Kierkegaard. He blasted the concept of philosophy as a rigidly organized discipline as perhaps no one before him; but, in the final analysis, not against philosophy, but in its behalf. For philosophy experienced, in Kierkegaard, an equally unique enrichment. What Plato had accomplished for objective consciousness with the concept of the Idea, Kierkegaard did for subjectivity with his concept of Existent.

Against the decline of the inwardness, — once so characteristic of the Christian relationship to God and of Christianity’s concept of the human soul, but now disintegrating into psychological, sociological and metaphysical fragments, — he set his own ‘existential’ thinking. Although Kierkegaard still regarded it as Christian, this kind of thinking is actually a form of philosophizing and, as such, separable from Christianity.

Soren Kierkegaard saint

Father in Heaven! You have loved us first, help us never to forget that You are love so that this sure conviction might triumph in our hearts over the seduction of the world, over the inquietude of the soul, over the anxiety for the future, over the fright of the past, over the distress of the moment. But grant also that this conviction might discipline our souls so that our hearts might remain faithful and sincere in the love which we bear to all those whom You have commanded us to love as we love ourselves.

—Søren Kierkegaard, The Prayers of Kierkegaard

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Kierkegaard on Christianity  my other blog
The Age of Enlightenment

Self-accusation is the possibility of justification. The tax collector accused himself. There was no one else who accused him. It was not civic justice that seized him by the chest and said, “You are a criminal”: it was not the people whom he perhaps cheated who beat him on the breast and said, “You are a cheater” – but he beat his own breast and said, “God be merciful to me, a sinner. He accused himself, that he was a sinner before God.

Soren Kierkegaard, Three Discourses at Friday Communion November 14, 1849 Hong translation 1997 P. 132

vinet, kierkegaard, and martensen

From Ansgar to Kierkegaard 865-1855

The propagator of Christianity in Denmark was Ansgar (801-865). Others aided him, but he did so much alone as to entitle himself to the name of the Apostle of Scandinavia.

Alexander Vinet and Soren Kierkegaard by Martensen

As with Vinet, the contrast between individualism and socialism also with Kierkegaard goes back to a higher, — namely, the contrast between individualism and universalism.

How do I become a Christian?

I would very likely be unable to resist the temptation to write as soon as possible an exceedingly important book that speaks in the name of millions and millions and millions and billions.

The Vision by Lucian of Samosata 125-200 AD

Dear youth, I am Statuary—the art which you yesterday began to learn, and which has a natural and a family claim upon you. ‘And I, child, am Culture, Be governed by me, on the other hand, and your first reward shall be a view of the many wondrous deeds and doings of the men of old; you shall hear their words and know them all, what manner of men they were; and your soul, which is your very self, I will adorn with many fair adornments …

Epictetus 55-135 AD

WHAT PHILOSOPHY PROMISES.—When a man was consulting him how he should persuade his brother to cease being angry with him, Epictetus replied: Philosophy does not propose to secure for a man any external thing.

Peter Lombard 1096-1160 (Sentences: Book 4)

Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) once complained that there were as many commentaries on Peter Lombard’s “Sentences” as there were theologians. In the works of St. Augustine, we find the first attempt at a definition of sacrament. A sacrament is a “sacred sign,” or “signs, when they pertain to divine things, are called Sacraments.” (De Civitate Dei. X. c. 5.).

A sacrament bears a resemblance to the thing, of which it is a sign.

thoughts swenson

Elements of Natural Philosophy, by John Locke 1632-1704

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz on the Universal Spirit 1702

Immanuel Kant on Spirit-seers 1766

Anthropology by Immanuel Kant 1798

The Declaration of the Rights of Man 1789, 1791

On the Admission of Women to the Rights of Citizenship 1790

Johann Fichte’s Sun-Clear Statement 1801

Johann Fichte on Seyn and Daseyn 1806

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 1770-1831

Georg Hegel    The Contrite Consciousness 1807

Georg Hegel on      The Absolute Religion 1807


Goethe on the Bible 1832

Philosophy of Revelation, Schelling 1841

Orestes Augustus Brownson 1803-1876

August Comte: The Influence of Positivism upon Women 1848

sk kant, fichte, goethe, hegel

Logic and human reasoning are inadequate to comprehend truth, and in this emphasis Dostoevsky speaks entirely the language of Kierkegaard, of whom he had never heard. Christianity is a way of life, an existential condition. Again, like Kierkegaard, who affirmed that suffering is the climate in which man’s soul begins to breathe. Dostoevsky stresses the function of suffering as part of God’s revelation of truth to man.

Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Kafka by William Hubben 1952 McMillan p. 83

I have never definitely broken with Christianity nor renounced it. To attack it has never been my thought. No, from the time when there could be any question of the employment of my powers, I was firmly determined to employ them all to defend Christianity, or in any case to present it in its true form.

The Point of View for My Work as An Author, Soren Kierkegaard, translated by Walter Lowrie 1939, 1962 P. 77

Al of Kierkegaard's books
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard 5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855

University of Copenhagen 1830-1841
Thesis: On the Concept of Irony with constant Reference to Socrates. September 29, 1841 by Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard’s signed and pseudonymous writings

Either — Or.  A Fragment of Life. A and B February 20, 1843 (Two Volumes) Published by Victor Eremita
Two Upbuilding Discourses May 16, 1843 by Kierkegaard
Fear and Trembling  Dialectical Lyric October 16, 1843 by Johannes de Silentio
Repetition.  An Essay in experimenting Psychology  October 16, 1843 by Constantin Constantius
Three Upbuilding Discourses. October 16, 1843 by Kierkegaard
Four Upbuilding Discourses December 6, 1843 by Kierkegaard

Sermon at Trinitatis Church Feb. 24, 1844 by Kierkegaard

Two Upbuilding Discourses March 5, 1844 by Kierkegaard
Three Upbuilding Discourses June 8, 1844 by Kierkegaard
Philosophical Fragments  or A Fragment of Philosophy June 13, 1844 by Johannes Climacus
The Concept of Anxiety.  A simple psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin June 17, 1844 by Vigilius Haufniensis
Prefaces. Light reading for the different Classes at their Time and Leisure June 17, 1844 by Nicolas Notabene
Four Upbuilding Discourses August 31, 1844 by Kierkegaard

Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions April 29, 1845 by Kierkegaard
Stages on life’s way. Studies by various persons April 30, 1845 by Hilarius Bookbinder

Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments February 28, 1846 by Johannes Climacus
Two Ages: The Age of Revolution and the Present Age: A Literary Review March 30, 1846 by Kierkegaard

Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits March 13, 1847             (Purity of Heart is Part 1 of this book)
The Works of Love. Some Christian Reflections in the form of Discourses September 29, 1847 by Kierkegaard

Christian Discourses  April 26, 1848 by Kierkegaard
The Crisis and A Crisis in the Life of an Actress 4 parts July 24-27 1848 by Inter et inter

The Lilies of the Field and the Birds of the Air.  Three devotional Discourses  May 14, 1849 by Kierkegaard
Two Ethical-Religious  Minor Essays May 19, 1849 by H.H.
The Sickness unto Death. A Christian psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening. July 30, 1849 by Anti-Climacus
“The High Priest” — “The Tax Collector” — “The Woman Who Was a Sinner,”  three Discourses at the Communion on Fridays. November 13, 1849 by Kierkegaard

Practice in Christianity September 25, 1850 by Anti-Climacus
An Upbuilding Discourse  The Woman Who Was a Sinner. Luke 7:37ff December 20, 1850 by Kierkegaard

Two Discourses at the Communion on Fridays August 7, 1851 by Kierkegaard
About my Work as an Author August 7, 1851 by Kierkegaard
For Self-Examination Recommended to the Present Age. September 10, 1851 by Kierkegaard
Judge For Yourself! 1851, 1876 by Kierkegaard

Attack Upon Christianity, The Moment 1854-1855 by Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard and centurion

Kierkegaard’s view of the faith of the centurion

David Ferdinand Swenson, October 29,1876 – February 11,1940, is best known as the first of the translators of the works of Danish writer Soren Kierkegaard into the English Language. He was born in Kristinehamn, Sweden and moved to Minnesota with his parents in 1882, when he was 6 years old. He was educated in the public schools of Minneapolis and in 1894 entered the University of Minnesota. Upon graduation he was offered a position as assistant professor in the department of philosophy at that same university. By 1917 Swenson had progressed to the rank of full professor.

His interest in Kierkegaard began in 1901 when he was looking through the books in the city library and came across a thick book about the size of Kant’s ”Critique of Pure Reason” and decided to read it. The book was Soren Kierkegaard’s 1846 book ”Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments” in Danish.  Swenson enjoyed it so much that he  devoted the rest of his life to making Kierkegaard’s writings available to the English reading public. Most Kierkegaard scholars read Swenson’s translations before Howard V. and Edna H. Hong’s translated Kierkegaard again and started the Hong Kierkegaard Library.

Swenson taught a course on ”Great Thinkers of the Nineteenth Century” in 1914 and introduced Soren Kierkegaard to his audience. Later he contributed an article about Kierkegaard in 1916 to ”The Philosophical Review’‘ and a monograph about him for ‘‘Scandinavian Studies and Notes” in 1921.

Swenson’s translation of Kierkegaard’s ”Philosophical Fragments” in 1936 was reviewed by The International Journal of Ethics in 1937. The reviewer said Swenson “rendered the English-Speaking public a distinguished service” in translating the work.  Swenson’s translation of ”Either/Or” was reviewed in 1945 and his translation of ”Works of Love” was reviewed in 1947.

Swenson’s goal was to make the writings of Soren Kierkegaard known to the English reading public. He and his wife, Lillian Marvin Swenson, translated many of Kierkegaard’s works into English before David died in 1940.  Lillian continued David’s work with another Kierkegaard scholar, Walter Lowrie  until her death in 1961.















































2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. erikleo
    Dec 22, 2016 @ 14:25:47

    THere is a good MOOC coursera course with the title, Kierkegaard – Subjectivity and the Crisis of Modernity.

    Liked by 1 person


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J. Glenn Friesen

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