Category Archives: Soren Kierkegaard

An unlikely affair at the intersection of pop culture and philosophy

Thank you, Twitter and KimKierkegaardashian, for helping me laugh this morning:





That Moment When Biden Quotes Kierkegaard on Colbert

Stephen Colbert conducted an outstanding interview with Veep Joe Biden last night — moving, heartbreaking, deep, and even theological. Some of the Twitter reactions:






Soren Kierkegaard on the birth of Christ

“The birth of Christ is an event not only on earth but also in heaven. Our justification is likewise an event not only on earth but also in heaven.” — Soren Kierkegaard, quoted in the Provocations anthology

Paradoxes for Better Living, 7

English: Sketch of Søren Kierkegaard. Based on...

“Paradox is the intellectual life’s authentic pathos, and just as only great souls are prone to passions, so only great thinkers are prone to what I call paradoxes, which are nothing but grand thoughts still wanting completion.”  — Soren Kierkegaard, in his Journals

Paradoxes for Better Living, 6

Soren Kierkegaard studying“Perhaps someone…inclined to fix his attention upon the outstanding individual who suffered at the hands of the public, may be of the opinion that such an ordeal is a great misfortune. I cannot at all agree with such an opinion, for anyone who really wishes to be helped to attain the highest is in fact benefited by undergoing such a misfortune, and must rather desire it, even though people may be led to revolt.” — Soren Kierkegaard, in The Present Age

On Soren Kierkegaard’s 200th birthday, a few quotations from his works

Soren Kierkegaard studying“If you wish to be and remain enthusiastic, then draw the silk curtains of facetiousness, and so hide your enthusiasm.” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“No, an illusion can never be destroyed directly, and only by indirect means can it be radically removed…. That is, one must approach from behind the person who is under an illusion.” — Soren Kierkegaard, The Point of View for My Work as an Author

“The reason I far prefer the autumn to the spring is because in the autumn one looks up to heaven — in spring at the earth.” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“Most men think, talk, and write as they sleep, eat, and drink, without ever raising the question of their relation to the idea; this only happens among the very few and then that decisive moment has in the very highest degree either the power to compel (genius), or it paralyzes the individual with anxiety (irony).” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“Mysticism has not the patience to wait for God’s revelation.” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“Socrates proved the immortality of the soul from the fact that sickness of the soul (which may be called sin) does not consume the soul, as sickness of the body consumes the body.” — Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

“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.” — Soren Kierkegaard, Either / Or

“People hardly ever make use of the freedom they have, that is, freedom of thought, and instead demand free speech as a compensation.” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“Luther, you have a huge responsibility, for when I look more closely, I see more and more clearly that you toppled the Pope only to enthrone ‘the public.’” — Soren Kierkegaard, in his journals

“Other people may complain that the present age is wicked. I complain that it is wretched, because it lacks passion. People’s souls are thin and flimsy like lace; and they are spiritual lacemakers. The thoughts of their hearts are too paltry to be regarded as sinful. A worm might be looked upon as sinful to think in such a way; but for people made in the image of God, ‘sinful’ is too big a word. Their desires are drab and sluggish, their passion lethargic. They are like shopkeepers, doing their duty, but clipping little pieces of gold from the coins they take. They think that, even if the Lord is careful in keeping his accounts, they can cheat him a little. Away with them! This is why my soul constantly turns back to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. The characters are real human beings: they hate and love, they murder their enemies, they curse their descendants, they sin.” — Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Learn more about Soren Kierkegaard at the late D. Anthony Storm’s thorough commentary site.

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Who are you? Are you a self? (Descartes v. Kierkegaard)

Updated Dec. 19.

“In understanding the self as an achievement, something I must become, Kierkegaard has already distinguished his view from the sort of conception of the self associated with the French philosopher Rene’ Descartes. Descartes saw the self as a unified ego, a consciousness that was necessarily transparent to itself. What Descartes sees as the essence of the self, Kierkegaard views as the goal. Before selfhood proper begins, the pre-self is a complicated mixture of sometimes conflicting desires and tendencies. This is made possible by what we might term the self’s ‘natural dissociation.’ That is, I am not clearly aware of every aspect of myself.” — C. Stephen Evans, Soren Kierkegaard’s Christian Psychology: Insight for Counseling & Pastoral Care (1990)

Furthermore, think about what Michael Polanyi says in The Tacit Dimension: “We can know more than we can tell.”

To be able to do something does not necessarily mean we know how to explain our ability to do it; to know something does not necessarily mean that we know how we know it.

As someone else has noted in relation to Polanyi’s work, I might be able to take a bicycle around a corner. I might not be able to explain all the physics and mechanics of the process.

This seems to indicate that part of ourselves is not fully integrated with another part of ourselves. This makes Kierkegaard, in the sense mentioned above, seem closer to reality than Descrates. We probably aren’t fully available and transparent to ourselves, and becoming fully available and transparent to ourselves, a noble goal, probably takes time.

That being said, being able to do something does not require you to be able to explain all of how you do it. One could suggest that the ability to do something, without having to give an Enlightenment rationalist’s account of the process, would be a good thing. That might have been the direction of Heidegger.

Also see Our Intellectual Positions and Our Hearts.

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