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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Søren Kierkegaard and subjective reality


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Niels Christian Kierkegard


Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a influential philosopher commonly regarded as the first existentialist. Kierkegaard is well known for his analysis of life, individuality and religion. Philosopher Jerry Fodor says,


"[Kierkegaard is] a master and way out of the league that the rest of us play in." (London Review of Books, 2004)


Philosopher Colin Wilson says,


"If we think of Kierkegaard, of Nietzsche, of Hölderlin, we see them standing alone, outside of history. They are spotlighted by their intensity, and the background is all darkness. They intersect history, but are not a part of it. There is something anti-history about such men; they are not subject to time, accident and death, but their intensity is a protest against it." (Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs, 1964)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Kierkegaard.


Freedom of the spirit


"Above all do not forget your duty to love yourself; do not permit the fact that you have been set apart from life in a way, been prevented from participating actively in it, and that you are superflous in the obtruse eyes of a busy world, above all, do not permit this to deprive you of your idea of yourself..." (Letter to Kierkegaard's cousin Hans Peter, 1848)


"As soon as the actuality of freedom and of spirit is posited, anxiety is canceled." (Concept of Anxiety, 1844)


Love and attention


"Oh, can I really believe the poet's tales, that when one first sees the object of one's love, one imagines one has seen her long ago, that all love like all knowledge is remembrance, that love too has its prophecies in the individual." (On Regine Olsen, 1939)


"Father in heaven, when the thought of thee awakens in our soul, let it not waken as an agitated bird which flutters confusedly about, but as a child waking from sleep with a celestial smile." (The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard, 1847)


"Take a book, the poorest one written, but read it with the passion that it is the only book you will read-ultimately you will read everything out of it, that is, as much as there was in yourself, and you could never get more out of reading, even if you read the best of books." (Stages on Life's Way, 1845)


"But in the heart of nature, where a person, free from life's often nauseating air, breathes more freely, here the soul opens willingly to every noble impression. Here one comes out as nature's master, but he also feels that something higher is manifested in nature, something he must bow down before; he feels a need to surrender to this power that rules it all." (The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard, 1835)




"In vain do individual great men seek to mint new concepts and to set them in circulation - it is pointless. They are used for only a moment, and not by many, either, and they merely contribute to making the confusion even worse..." (The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard, 1835)


Blind mainstream


"The truth is always in the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because as a rule the minority is made up of those who actually have an opinion, while the strength of the majority is illusory, formed of that crowd which has no opinion..." (The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard, 1850)


"Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it." (Either / Or, 1843)


"Let others complain that the age is wicked; my complaint is that it is paltry; for it lacks passion. Men’s thoughts are thin and flimsy like lace..." (Either / Or, 1843)