Søren Kierkegaard

Philosopher, Author

1813 – 1855


Who was Søren Kierkegaard?

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology and philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables. He is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.

Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a "single individual", giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking, and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. He was a fierce critic of idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, such as Emanuel Swedenborg, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Hans Christian Andersen, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel, as well as Danish pastors Jacob Peter Mynster and Hans Lassen Martensen and Danish poet Johan Ludvig Heiberg.

His theological work focuses on Christian ethics, on the institution of the Church, and on the differences between purely objective proofs of Christianity and the individual's subjective relationship to Jesus Christ, the God-Man, which came through faith. Much of his work deals with the art of Christian love. He was extremely critical of the practice of Christianity as a state religion, primarily that of the Church of Denmark. His psychological work explored the emotions and feelings of individuals when faced with life choices.

Famous Quotes:

  • Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.
  • Boredom is the root of all evil--the despairing refusal to be oneself.
  • It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.
  • Philosophy always requires something more, requires the eternal, the true, in contrast to which even the fullest existence as such is but a happy moment.
  • Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God.
  • Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.
  • Purity of heart is to will one thing.
  • Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.
  • I divide my time as follows: half the time I sleep, the other half I dream. I never dream when I sleep, for that would be a pity, for sleeping is the highest accomplishment of genius.
  • Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.

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May 5, 1813
Also known as
  • Soren Kierkegaard
  • Sören Kierkegaard
  • Søren Aabye Kierkegaard
  • Christianity
  • Danes
  • Denmark
  • University of Copenhagen
Lived in
  • Copenhagen
  • Berlin
Nov 11, 1855
Frederiks Hospital
Resting place
Assistens Cemetery

on July 23, 2013


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