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Prefaces, written by Søren Kierkegaard, was published on the same date that The Concept of Anxiety was published, June 17, 1844. Both books deal with the new idea of mediation. First Kierkegaard's wife mediated his writing, then Heiberg mediated his book Either/Or and finally Hegel was introducing mediation into the world. In The Concept of Anxiety his consciousness of sin is mediated by Adam's first sin. Prefaces is made up of eight separate prefaces because Nicolas Notabene, the pseudonymous author, is married and his wife doesn't want him to be a writer so he agrees to just write prefaces.


Primary source: Prefaces, Light Reading For People in Various Estates According to Time and Opportunity, by Nicolaus Notabene, by Soren Kierkegaard, June 17, 1844, Edited and Translated by Todd W. Nichol, 1997, Princeton University Press

  • In the scholarly world much is made of classifying literature and assigning the writing of each individual author to its proper place in the age and the writing of the age and in that of the human race. Yet no one thinks about what might be gained if one or another literary type could be trained to read only prologues, but to do it so thoroughly that he would begin with the earliest times and advance through all the centuries down to our own day. Prologues are characterized by the accidental, like dialects, idioms, colloquialisms; they are dominated by fashion in a way entirely different from the way works are-they change like clothing.
    • Prefaces p. 1
  • By paying attention to the opinion of the visible reading public and of the usual reviewers, one falls into the most fatuous confusion.
    • Prefaces p. 17
  • For the cultured it is truly too little to have to deal with an individual human being, even though that human being is himself. He does not want to be disturbed when he is to be built up, does not want to be reminded of all the trifles, of individuals, of himself, because to forget all this is precisely the upbuilding. The life of the congregation, the grand definition of the system, the purely human-all of which he does not tempt the individual to think about himself or want to finish something, but builds him up only by his thinking it over-are the subject for consideration in the present work. It is again this totality toward which it strives. The cultured person thus seeks the congregation, to call to mind a word of the poet to whom the present devotional work is so very much indebted and whom I do myself the honor of naming as the authority and as the chosen bard of the cultured, the pondering Professor Heiberg.
    • Prefaces, Nichol, 1997 p. 31-33
  • Each being is assigned only to himself, and the one who takes care to remain here has a solid foundation to walk on that will not shame him. If he then deliberates with himself about what he will, how far he wills, if by virtue of this deliberation he begins slowly and silently, his earnestness will not be put to shame. If, on the other hand, it pleases a man to wax serious in thought of what he will do for others, this demonstrates that basically he is a fool whose life is and remains a jest despite looks and gestures and powerful eloquence and careful theatrical postures, the existence of which means nothing except insofar as with the assistance of irony there can be a little amusement out of it.
    • Prefaces, Nichol, 1997 p. 42-43
  • does not philosophy teach that if the infinite is thought outside the finite, then both become finitudes? Is it not repeated again and again: truth is the criterion of itself and of the false? Then if philosophy excludes something it renders itself finite. In order to prevent this, it must be willing to explain itself more specifically with regard to my obtuseness and what constitutes it.
    • Prefaces, Nichol, 1997 p. 58
  • when the philosopher becomes blessed through his philosophy, this is an accidental blessedness. There is, then, something higher than philosophy. It is higher in that it includes me and similar bunglers. If this is so, then the question is: will philosophy continue to be called the absolute? But if it is not the absolute, then it must be able to state its boundary. If I wanted to be a poet, the esthetician would certainly instruct me about which capacities are required for that. I would then perceive that I am not a poet and would accept my fate. If, on the other hand, poetry wanted to claim to be the absolute, then it would not dare to exclude me, because the absolute cannot be anything that is not common to all.
    • Prefaces, Todd W. Nichol, 1997, p. 59-60

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