Talk:Søren Kierkegaard

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"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." is often (mis)attributed to Megadeth's singer Dave Mustaine, as this phrase appears frequently in the chorus of the song "Losing My Senses" on the album "The World Needs a Hero." ~ —This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) . 22:32, 19 September 2004‎

Quote from Kierkegaard Wikipedia article[edit]

In the lead paragraph in the Kierkegaard wikipedia article, there is a quote, "the task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted". This quote comes from a book that I don't have access to, so I'm reluctant to add it here without verification. Could anyone check this out and add it if necessary? (I would sign this comment, but it seems that my WP account cannot be used here :/ ) ~ —This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .

The quote you mentioned is accessible online through Google Book Search in Soren Kierkegaard's Journals and Papers Vol. 1 A-E (1967), edited and translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, p. 303. It is now on the page. You are welcome to create an account here as well as at WIkipedia. Wikimedia accounts have not yet been converted into a single log-in system. ~ Kalki 18:52, 21 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Widely attributed quote[edit]

Is there any truth that "People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought, which they avoid" or similar variants can be attributed to Kierkegaard? It is widely attributed to him. ~ 06:05, 2 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It appears in the beginning of Either/Or, but the translation I read had it in a much longer form... besides Kierkegaard was known for slight misquotation. ~ —This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .
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.
~ Either/Or Part I, Swenson Translation p. 19 ~ 11614soup (talk) 02:33, 4 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use." ― Søren Kierkegaard
With slightly different wording, brought up again: Wikiquote:Reference_desk#Søren_Kierkegaard_quote? ~ JasonCarswell (talk) 04:55, 4 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Signed v. pseudonymous[edit]

Kierkegaard requested that the articles he wrote pseudonymously be attributed to his pseudonyms, not directly to him, as the views expressed therein are not necessarily his. I would recommend, accordingly, either that this be noted parenthetically next to each quote, or, better yet, that the page as a whole be sectionalized into "Signed" and "Pseudonymous" quotations (with perhaps a third section for unpublished writings, since these may belong to either, or neither, category). -Silence 20:51, 11 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm just back from a brief excursion and don't have time to do much here right now — but I would recommend that his writings and quotes remain arranged chronologically, but any pseudonyms he used noted with the quote or the sections for the works he issued under these names. ~ Kalki 21:55, 11 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Søren Kierkegaard. --Antiquary 20:07, 14 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.
    • Variant: Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.

It is part of a larger quotation, and was made by Dr Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan:

"Religion is not a movement stretching out to grasp something, external, tangible and good, and to pos- sess it. It is a form of being, not having, a mode of life. Spiritual life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced. It is new birth into enlightenment."

It can be found (along with the complete context) in the book "Genius - in Their Own Words: The Intellectual Journeys of Seven Great 20th Century Thinkers." by David Ramsay Steele - editor. Publisher: Open Court. Place of Publication: Chicago. Publication Year: 2002. Page Number: 159.

  • Man is not conscious of guilt because he sins, but sins because he is conscious of guilt.
  • Responsibility is the choice of freedom and that is no contradiction.
  • The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly one you can never have.
    • Variant: The most painful state of being is remembering the future, especially one which you know will never come.
  • Then comes affliction to awaken the dreamer.
  • Trouble is the common denominator of living. It is the great equalizer.
  • Was it not your bliss that you could never love as much as you have been loved?
  • 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.”

Merging Kierkegaard's Upbuilding Discourses of 1843[edit]

My goal was to present a few quotes from Kierkegaards Upbuilding Discourses. He wrote 18 upbuilding discourses altogether, 9 were published in 1843 and 9 were published in 1844. The first 9 discourses are over 170 pages long and the discourses of 1844 are over 220 pages long. I wanted them to have a section on wikiquote just for the discourses of 1843 and then another page for the discourses of 1844, just as Either/Or and Sickness Unto Death have their own pages for quotes. User talk:11614soup 11614soup 22:08, 9 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In the mean time you have added a lot of quotes from those Upbuilding Discourses. Most of them are now moved into six separate articles:
However some of the quotes from the other Upbuilding Discourses are still in this article. Your initial idea to add them in one page on "the discourses of 1843 and then another page for the discourses of 1844" might been even a better solution? -- Mdd (talk) 00:11, 24 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I don't really want to try and debate this, but I was blown away when I opened this article...; it's way too long to be a fitting Wikiquote "article" or "page" on significant, terse, and meaningful quotes.... - it should be a book. While I know there are many complex statements Kierkegaard made, and there are obviously some who would fight me viciously, I believe the article needs to be cut way down....

Thank you for your time and consideration, Peace and Passion ("I'm listening....") 08:56, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And the article's a mess... There are repeated sections... There are even a few books that have big quotes from nearly every page!!
Peace and Passion ("I'm listening....") 08:56, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is currently our 17th longest article on the whole site. If you feel you can do some sensitive pruning, it would be most welcome.--Collingwood (talk) 13:00, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Action taken[edit]

Today regarding this matter the following actions are taken (see also page history}:

  1. 15:01, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (340,422 bytes) (-42,774)‎ . . (Parts from Either/Or moved to the talk page, which could/should be integrated into Either/Or article)
  2. 15:13, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (300,301 bytes) (-40,121)‎ . . (About 42 quotes from Concluding Unscientific Postscript removed, which should be integrated into the separate article. Quotes still available in history of the article)
  3. 15:19, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (260,252 bytes) (-40,049)‎ . . (About 40 quotes from Stages on Life's Way removed, which should be integrated into the separate article. Quotes still available in history of the article)
  4. 17:32, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (230,340 bytes) (-29,912)‎ . . (→‎Upbuilding Discourses (1843): Section moved to Two Upbuilding Discourses, 1843)
  5. 18:02, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (230,865 bytes) (+525)‎ . . (Some rearrangement(s))
  6. 18:16, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (164,075 bytes) (-66,790)‎ . . (Three other books in the Upbuilding Discourses series moved to separate articles)
  7. 18:18, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (164,130 bytes) (+55)‎ . . (Some rearrangement(s))
  8. 18:24, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (158,761 bytes) (-5,369)‎ . . (Removed five quotes from the Upbuilding Discourses series 1843-44 which could/should be moved into the (new) separate articles)
  9. 18:28, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (154,527 bytes) (-4,234)‎ . . (Removed 7 quotes from the book Prefaces, which could/should be moved into this separate sub-articles
  10. 19:23, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (154,528 bytes) (+1)‎ . . (Some rearrangement(s) - Adding Journals of Søren Kierkegaard together)
  11. 19:35, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (154,619 bytes) (+91)‎ . . (→‎The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard: some rearrangements)
  12. 19:36, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ m . . (154,596 bytes) (-23)‎ . . (Some rearrangement(s))
  13. 23:15, 23 May 2014‎ Mdd (Talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (109,355 bytes) (-45,241)‎ . . (→‎Quotations about Kierkegaard: Moved section to User:11614soup/Quotations about Kierkegaard - Added back 18:20, 30 August 2010, see talk page)

In plain English as a start [1] about 37 quotes from Either/Or have been removed (see here, because when there is a separate article we only keep none to 3 or 5 of the most important quotes in the article. At first those quotes were moved to the talk page here, but are later this evening removed because of possible copyvio problems at the Either/Or article, see Talk:Either/Or. For similar reasons quotes have been removed from three sources that also have a subarticle ([2], [3], [8])

Secondly the quotes from the Upbuilding Discourses series (1843-44) have been moved to 6 separate (sub)articles. And eventually the "Quotations about Kierkegaard" section (action [12]) have been moved, see #Quotations about Kierkegaard. -- Mdd (talk) 23:46, 23 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quotations about Kierkegaard[edit]

The "Quotations about Kierkegaard" here has grown into unprecedented size, and has been temporarily moved to User:11614soup/Quotations about Kierkegaard, and for now the 18:20, 30 August 2010 version of this section is added back, because this section is impossible to clean by an outsider. It seems like a good idea to first create some understand about what could be used from that work in this article. -- Mdd (talk) 23:25, 23 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for all your help with these quotations Mdd - I was wondering how much I could put on here.[edit]

The quotes were unorganized and I thought about changing them but have left them sit. I will leave it be as you remove quotes that are in the wrong place and see how it looks after all your pruning. It's better to read Kierkegaard's books than just quotes anyway. It seems he was against endless quotes anyway. I appreciate your help. --11614soup (talk) 00:29, 24 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks 11614soup, it is indeed not that easy to determine, how much one can put in. There are limits to the length of the quote, and the % of the total content which may be used; and there are some (unwritten) regulations, and there is the (rather diverse) common practise. But I guess you also realize this is just one constraint, and it is not a goal to offer as much quotes as possible. This is more inline with giving all different people interested a well organized introduction of his work.
As to the copy-vio constraints, this has to be upholded, some more action has been taken at the Either/Or article, which is explained on it's talk page. In the days to come I might look into the other sub-articles some more.
Now it is clear I started reorganizing this article into one logical structure, and into (small) chapters. The main focus has been on offering an accessible introduction for people to get acquainted with the philosophers work. Now I might take one more step in reorganizing this article, and will be back. -- Mdd (talk) 23:07, 25 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ok, the article is now rearranged in one chronological meta-structure. At the moment there are several options:
  • There are seven empty sections about the books with sub-articles. These sections can be removed or some of the more important quotes can be added back here (about 3 to 7 (shorter) quotes)
  • It can be considered to split more sections into sub-articles
  • A (more strict) selection of quotes about Kierkegaard, temporary stored here can be added back. Longer whole article could be moved to wikisource.
  • Images available can be relocated
  • The source info of the individual quotes can be improved, for example the data at the quotes from the Journals of Søren Kierkegaard are inconclusive.
-- Mdd (talk) 23:46, 25 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  • One understands only in proportion to becoming himself that which he understands.
    • Papers, V B 40, cited in Louis Pojman, The Logic of Subjectivity, p. 61
  • But precisely this is the misfortune, and has been the misfortune, in Christendom that Christ is neither the one nor the other — neither the one he was when living on earth, nor he who will return in glory, but rather one about whom we have learned to know something in an inadmissible way from history — that he was somebody or other of great account. In an inadmissible and unlawful way we have learned to know him; whereas to believe in him is the only permissible mode of approach.
    • Preparation for a Christian Life
  • The Moral: As soon as it has come to the point that the crowd is to judge what is truth, it will not be long before decisions are made with fists.
    • Writing Sampler, Nichol p. 90

The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard, Undated[edit]

  • It also occurs again later in the life of Christ, that he was tempted in loneliness-while the apostles sleep. The same thing happens to us at those times when it seems as if all to whom we might have turned are sleeping too soundly and immovably to be roused by our cares. Then it is necessary to find a higher comfort.
    • Journals and Papers II A 294
  • The art in all communication is to come as close as possible to actuality, to contemporaries in the role of readers, and yet at the same time to have the distance of a point of view, the reassuring, infinite distance of ideality from them. Papers VII B 325
  • Lord Jesus Christ, there is so much that will keep us back and draw us to itself. Everyone has something, and all of us much. But thou art eternally the most strong. Draw us then the more strongly to thee. We call thee our Deliverer, because thou didst come to the world to deliver us from all the bonds, the unworthy worries, which we put upon ourselves, and to break the heavy chains of our sins. We call thee Savior, that so thou mayest save us, and deliver us from all these things. For this was God’s will, which thou didst fulfill and make possible, even our sanctification. To this end thou didst descent to earth’s lowly meadows; and for this didst thou ascent up on high, in order to draw us unto thee.
    • Journals and Papers VIII A 372
  • Christianly the emphasis does not fall so much upon to what extent or how far a person succeeds in meeting or fulfilling the requirement, if he actually is striving, as it is upon his getting an impression of the requirement in all its infinitude so that he rightly learns to be humbled and to rely upon grace. To pare down the requirement in order to fulfill it better (as if this were earnestness, that now it can all the more easily appear that one is earnest about wanting to fulfill the requirement)—to this Christianity in its deepest essence is opposed. No, infinite humiliation and grace, and then a striving born of gratitude—this is Christianity.
    • Journals and Papers X3 A 734
  • The task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted.
    • Soren Kierkegaard's Journals and Papers Vol. 1 A-E (1967), edited and translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, p. 303
  • What our age needs is an honest earnestness which affectionately preserves the tasks, which does not alarm people into wanting to rush pellmell into the highest but keeps the tasks young and beautiful and lovely to look at and beckoning to all and yet for all that difficult and inspiring to the noble, for the noble nature is inspired only by what is difficult. My listener, how did I dare to be so impolite as to doubt that I shall succeed in inspiring you — for I have the difficulties all ready.
    • Soren Kierkegaard's Journals and Papers Vol. 1 A-E (1967), edited and translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, p. 303


Hi, On the Internet, I see many people attributing the quote "The truth shall set you free, but first it shall make you miserable" to Kierkegaard. However, I cannot figure out where this comes from and whether this really is a quote by him. If anyone can figure it out, that'd be a big help.