124+ Best Soren Kierkegaard Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. Profoundly inspirational Soren Kierkegaard quotes will challenge the way you think, change the way you live and transform your whole life.

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Famous Soren Kierkegaard Quotes

A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to the general applause of wits who believe it’s a joke. – Soren Kierkegaard

Father in Heaven! When the thought of thee wakes in our hearts let it not awaken like a frightened bird that flies about in dismay, but like a child waking from its sleep with a heavenly smile. – Soren Kierkegaard

Christianity demands the crucifixion of the intellect. – Soren Kierkegaard

A human being is a spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation’s relating itself to itself in the relation. – Soren Kierkegaard

Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity … is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men’s lives. – Soren Kierkegaard

Do it or don’t do it – you will regret both. – Soren Kierkegaard

And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith. – Soren Kierkegaard

Listen to the cry of a woman in labor at the hour of giving birth – look at the dying man’s struggle at his last extremity, and then tell me whether something that begins and ends thus could be intended for enjoyment. – Soren Kierkegaard

Hope is a passion for the possible. – Soren Kierkegaard

The larger the crowd, the more probable that that which it praises is folly, and the more improbable that it is truth; and the most improbable of all that it is any eternal truth. – Soren Kierkegaard

Christendom has done away with Christianity without being quite aware of it. – Soren Kierkegaard

How could it occur to anyone to demonstrate that God exists unless one has already allowed Himself to ignore Him? A king’s existence is demonstrated by way of subjection and submissiveness. Do you want to try and demonstrate that the king exists? Will you do so by offering a string of proofs, a series of arguments? No. If you are serious, you will demonstrate the king’s existence by your submission, by the way you live. And so it is with demonstrating God’s existence. It is accomplished not by proofs but by worship. Any other way is but a thinker’s pious bungling. – Soren Kierkegaard

The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins. – Soren Kierkegaard

It is more blessed to give than to receive, but then it is also more blessed to be able to do without than to have to have. – Soren Kierkegaard

All the shrewdness of ‘man’ seeks one thing: to be able to live without responsibility. – Soren Kierkegaard

It was not to save a nation that Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac, nor to appease angry gods… Then why does Abraham do it? For God’s sake… He does it for the sake of God because God demands proof of his faith… He was not justified by being virtuous, but by being an individual submitted to God in faith. – Soren Kierkegaard

You live life looking forward, you understand life looking backward. – Soren Kierkegaard

It is not where we breathe, but where we Love, that we live. – Soren Kierkegaard

A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized prayer is listening. – Soren Kierkegaard

If you want to be loathsome to God, just run with the herd. – Soren Kierkegaard

What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music. – Soren Kierkegaard

I believe that there is a longing in my soul that searches the whole world. – Soren Kierkegaard

Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself. – Soren Kierkegaard

Wherever there is a crowd there is untruth. – Soren Kierkegaard

If you think you understand, it isn’t God. – Soren Kierkegaard

Pain reconciles one to existence. Infinite resignation is that shirt in the old fable. The thread is spun with tears, bleached by tears, the shirt sewn in tears, but then it also gives better protection than iron. The secret in life is that everyone must sew it for himself. – Soren Kierkegaard

The person who surrenders absolutely to God, with no reservations, is absolutely safe. From this safe hiding-place he can see the devil , but the devil cannot see him. – Soren Kierkegaard

Love is all, it gives all, and it takes all. – Soren Kierkegaard

A genius may perhaps be a century ahead of his age and hence stands there as a paradox, but in the end, the race will assimilate what was once a paradox, so it is no longer paradoxical. – Soren Kierkegaard

People generally think that it is the world, the environment, external relationships, which stand in one’s way, in the way of ones’ good fortune… and at bottom it is always man himself that stands in his own way. – Soren Kierkegaard

It is better to try something and fail than to try nothing and succeed. The result may be the same, but you won’t be. We always grow more through defeats than victories. – Soren Kierkegaard

Seek first God’s Kingdom, that is, become like the lilies and the birds, become perfectly silent – then shall the rest be added unto you. – Soren Kierkegaard

It is tragic-comic to see that all this knowledge and understanding exercises no power at all over men’s lives, that their lives do not express in the remotest way what they have understood, but rather the opposite. – Soren Kierkegaard

A possibility is a hint from God. One must follow it. – Soren Kierkegaard

It is easy to see, though it scarcely needs to be pointed out, since it is involved in the fact that Reason is set aside, that faith is not a form of knowledge; for all knowledge is either a knowledge of the eternal, excluding the temporal and historical as indifferent, or it is pure historical knowledge. No knowledge can have for its object the absurdity that the eternal is the historical. – Soren Kierkegaard

The truth is lived before it is understood. It must be fought for, tested, and appropriated. Truth is the way… Anyone will easily understand it if he just gives himself to it. – Soren Kierkegaard

Truth is not something you can appropriate easily and quickly. You certainly cannot sleep or dream yourself to the truth. No, you must be tried, do battle, and suffer if you are to acquire the truth for yourself. It is a sheer illusion to think that in relation to the truth there is an abridgement, a short cut that dispenses with the necessity for struggling for it. – Soren Kierkegaard

To stand on one leg and prove God’s existence is a very different thing from going on one’s knees and thanking him. – Soren Kierkegaard

The unhappy person is never present to themself because they always live in the past or the future. – Soren Kierkegaard

It is not the path which is the difficulty; rather, it is the difficulty which is the path. – Soren Kierkegaard

The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, gives up nothing, will not reconstruct his life, will not be what he admires, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires. – Soren Kierkegaard

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. – Soren Kierkegaard

My standpoint is armed neutrality. – Soren Kierkegaard

It is modest of the nightingale not to require anyone to listen to it; but it is also proud of the nightingale not to care whether any one listens to it or not. – Soren Kierkegaard

The truth is a trap: you cannot get it without it getting you; you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you. – Soren Kierkegaard

Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living. – Soren Kierkegaard

The wisdom of the years is confusing. Only the wisdom of eternity is edifying. – Soren Kierkegaard

If anyone on the verge of action should judge himself according to the outcome, he would never begin. – Soren Kierkegaard

Why I so much prefer autumn to spring is that in the autumn one looks at heaven–in the spring at the earth. – Soren Kierkegaard

People settle for a level of despair they can tolerate and call it happiness. – Soren Kierkegaard

During the first period of a man’s life the greatest danger is not to take the risk. – Soren Kierkegaard

Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts. – Soren Kierkegaard

And this is the simple truth – that to live is to feel oneself lost. He who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce. – Soren Kierkegaard

Take a chance and you may lose. Take not a chance and you have lost already. – Soren Kierkegaard

No one is so terribly deceived as he who does not himself suspect it. – Soren Kierkegaard

When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, It is talking to me, and about me. – Soren Kierkegaard

God creates everything out of nothing. And everything which God is to use, he first reduces to nothing – Soren Kierkegaard

Knowledge of the truth I may perhaps have attained to; happiness certainly not. What shall I do? Accomplish something in the world, men tell me. Shall I then publish my grief to the world, contribute one more proof for the wretchedness and misery of existence, perhaps discover a new flaw in human life, hitherto unnoticed? I might then reap the rare reward of becoming famous, like the man who discovered the spots on Jupiter. I prefer, however, to keep silent. – Soren Kierkegaard

Had I to carve an inscription on my tombstone I would ask for none other than The Individual. – Soren Kierkegaard

Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further. – Soren Kierkegaard

The more one needs God the more perfect he is. To need God is nothing to be ashamed of but is perfection itself. It is the saddest thing in the world if a human being goes through life without discovering that he needs God! – Soren Kierkegaard

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right. – Soren Kierkegaard

Love believes all things and yet is never deceived. – Soren Kierkegaard

When you say ‘Yes’ or promise something, you can very easily deceive yourself and others also, as if you had already done what you promised. It is easy to think that by making a promise you have at least done part of what you promised to do, as if the promise itself were something of value. Not at all! In fact, when you do not do what you promise, it is a long way back to the truth. – Soren Kierkegaard

Dread is a womanish debility in which freedom swoons. Psychologically speaking, the fall into sin always occurs in impotence. But dread is at the same time the most egotistic thing. – Soren Kierkegaard

I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations – one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it – you will regret both. – Soren Kierkegaard

Old age realizes the dreams of youth: look at Dean Swift; in his youth he built an asylum for the insane, in his old age he was himself an inmate. – Soren Kierkegaard

To be a woman is something so strange, so confusing and so complicated that only a woman could put up with it. – Soren Kierkegaard

People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are the critics, blaming or praising him. What they don’t know is that they are the actors on the stage; he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines. – Soren Kierkegaard

The thing is to understand myself: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. That is what I now recognize as the most important thing. – Soren Kierkegaard

It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey. – Soren Kierkegaard

However much one generation learns from another, it can never learn from its predecessor the genuinely human factor. In this respect every generation begins afresh. Thus no generation has learned from another how to love, no generation can begin other than at the beginning. – Soren Kierkegaard

The greatest thing each person can do is to give himself to God utterly and unconditionally – weaknesses, fears, and all. For God loves obedience more than good intentions or second-best offerings, which are all too often made under the guise of weakness. – Soren Kierkegaard

The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays. – Soren Kierkegaard

You wanted God’s ideas about what was best for you to coincide with your ideas, but you also wanted him to be the almighty Creator of heaven and earth so that he could properly fulfill your wish. And yet, if he were to share your ideas, he would cease to be the almighty Father. – Soren Kierkegaard

And when the hourglass has run out, the hourglass of temporality, when the noise of secular life has grown silent and its restless or ineffectual activism has come to an end, when everything around you is still, as it is in eternity, then eternity asks you and every individual in these millions and millions about only one thing: whether you have lived in despair or not. – Soren Kierkegaard

to have faith is precisely to lose one’s mind so as to win God. – Soren Kierkegaard

Death is not earnest in the same way the eternal is. To the earnestness of death belongs precisely that remarkable capacity for awakening, that resonance of a profound mockery which, detached from the thought of the eternal, is an empty and often brash jest, but together with the thought of the eternal is just what it should be, utterly different from the insipid solemness which least of all captures and holds a thought with tension like that of death. – Soren Kierkegaard

Geniuses are like thunderstorms: they go against the wind, terrify people, clear the air. – Soren Kierkegaard

Christ has not only spoken to us by his life but has also spoken for us by his death. – Soren Kierkegaard

There is nothing everyone is so afraid of as being told how vastly much he is capable of. You are capable of – do you want to know? – you are capable of living in poverty; you are capable of standing almost any kind of maltreatment, abuse, etc. But you do not wish to know about it, isn’t that so? You would be furious with him who told you so, and only call that person your friend who bolsters you in saying: ‘No, this I cannot bear, this is beyond my strength, etc. – Soren Kierkegaard

The door to happiness opens outward. – Soren Kierkegaard

Christ was crucified because he would have nothing to do with the crowd (even though he addressed himself to all). He did not want to form a party, an interest group, a mass movement, but wanted to be what he was, the truth, which is related to the single individual. Therefore everyone who will genuinely serve the truth is by that very fact a martyr. To win a crowd is no art; for that only untruth is needed, nonsense, and a little knowledge of human passions. But no witness to the truth dares to get involved with the crowd. – Soren Kierkegaard

The deepest form of despair is to choose to be another than himself. – Soren Kierkegaard

Teach me, 0 God, not to torture myself, not to make a martyr out of myself through stifling reflection, but rather teach me to breathe deeply in faith. – Soren Kierkegaard

The highest of all is not to understand the highest but to act upon it. – Soren Kierkegaard

The truly simple way of presenting Christianity is to do it. – Soren Kierkegaard

In the eyes of God, the infinite spirit, all the millions that have lived and now live do not make a crowd. He only sees each individual – Soren Kierkegaard

The spiritual differs from the religious in being able to endure isolation. The rank of a spiritual person is proportionate to his strength for enduring isolation, whereas we religious people are constantly in need of ‘the others,’ the herd. We religious folks die, or despair, if we are not reassured by being in the assembly, of the same opinion as the congregation, and so on. But the Christianity of the New Testament is precisely related to the isolation of the spiritual man. – Soren Kierkegaard

Deep within every man there lies the dread of being alone in the world, forgotten by God, overlooked among the tremendous household of millions and millions. – Soren Kierkegaard

Once you label me you negate me. – Soren Kierkegaard

It takes moral courage to grieve; it requires religious courage to rejoice. – Soren Kierkegaard

A man who as a physical being is always turned toward the outside, thinking that his happiness lies outside him, finally turns inward and discovers that the source is within him. – Soren Kierkegaard

In the end, therefore, money will be the one thing people will desire, which is moreover only representative, an abstraction. Nowadays a young man hardly envies anyone his gifts, his art, the love of a beautiful girl, or his fame; he only envies him his money. Give me money, he will say, and I am saved…He would die with nothing to reproach himself with, and under the impression that if only he had had the money he might really have lived and might even have achieved something great. – Soren Kierkegaard

The best news the World has ever heard came from a graveyard – Christ is risen! – Soren Kierkegaard

Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts. – Soren Kierkegaard

To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity. – Soren Kierkegaard

I’m so misunderstood that people misunderstand me even when I tell them I’m misunderstood. – Soren Kierkegaard

The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. – Soren Kierkegaard

I found I had less and less to say, until finally, I became silent, and began to listen. I discovered in the silence, the voice of God – Soren Kierkegaard

Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards. – Soren Kierkegaard

There is peace and rest and comfort in sorrow – Soren Kierkegaard

The minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion. – Soren Kierkegaard

A good decision is our will to do everything we can within our power. It means to serve God with all we’ve got, be it little or much. Every person can do that. – Soren Kierkegaard

A man may perform astonishing feats and comprehend a vast amount of knowledge, and yet have no understanding of himself. But suffering directs a man to look within. If it succeeds, then there, within him, is the beginning of his learning. – Soren Kierkegaard

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. – Soren Kierkegaard

The difference between a man who faces death for the sake of an idea and an imitator who goes in search of martyrdom is that whilst the former expresses his idea most fully in death it is the strange feeling of bitterness which comes from failure that the latter really enjoys; the former rejoices in his victory, the latter in his suffering. – Soren Kierkegaard

Men are not on such intimate terms with the sublime that they really can believe in it – Soren Kierkegaard

Not just in commerce but in the world of ideas too our age is putting on a veritable clearance sale. Everything can be had so dirt cheap that one begins to wonder whether in the end anyone will want to make a bid. – Soren Kierkegaard

Man is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation which relates itself to itself. – Soren Kierkegaard

Prayer is a silent surrendering of everything to God. – Soren Kierkegaard

We live as if we were unaware of our impending destruction – Soren Kierkegaard

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. – Soren Kierkegaard

There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming. – Soren Kierkegaard

To defend something is always to discredit it. Let a man have a warehouse full of gold, let him be willing to give away a ducat to every one of the poor – but let him also be stupid enough to begin this charitable undertaking of his with a defense in which he offers three good reasons in justification; and it will almost come to the point of people finding it doubtful whether indeed he is doing something good. But now for Christianity. Yes, the person who defends that has never believed in it. – Soren Kierkegaard

The most common form of despair is not being who you are. – Soren Kierkegaard

God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners. – Soren Kierkegaard

The ever increasing intensity of despair depends upon the degree of consciousness or is proportionate to this increase: the greater the degree of consciousness, the more intensive the despair. This is everywhere apparent, most clearly in despair at its maximum and minimum. The devil’s despair is the most intensive despair, for the devil is sheer spirit and hence unqualified consciousness and transparency; there is no obscurity in the devil that could serve as a mitigating excuse. Therefore, his despair is the most absolute defiance. . . . – Soren Kierkegaard

Let others mock at you, oppose you, when you are under the influence of any passion; do not be in the least offended with those who mock at or oppose you, for they do you good; crucify your self-love and acknowledge the wrong, the error of your heart. But have the deepest pity for those who mock at words and works of faith and piety, of righteousness; for those who oppose the good which you are doing… God preserve you – getting exasperated at them. – Soren Kierkegaard

With respect to love we speak continually about perfection and the perfect person. With respect to love Christianity also speaks continually about perfection and the perfect person. Alas, but we men talk about finding the perfect person in order to love him. Christianity speaks about being the perfect person who limitlessly loves the person he sees. – Soren Kierkegaard

I have just now come from a party where I was its life and soul; witticisms streamed from my lips, everyone laughed and admired me, but I went away – yes, the dash should be as long as the radius of the earth’s orbit and wanted to shoot myself. – Soren Kierkegaard

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. – Soren Kierkegaard

The daily press is the evil principle of the modern world, and time will only serve to disclose this fact with greater and greater clearness. The capacity of the newspaper for degeneration is sophistically without limit, since it can always sink lower and lower in its choice of readers. At last it will stir up all those dregs of humanity which no state or government can control. – Soren Kierkegaard

For love is exultant when it unites equals, but it is triumphant when it makes that which was unequal equal in love. – Soren Kierkegaard

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