Do not say a little in many words, but a great deal in few!
1813 - 1855
A heavy melancholy hung over Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s (1813-1855) life that is said to have been inherited from his gloomy and guilt-ridden father. They believed a curse hung over the family because his now successful father had cursed God when he was a young, poor shepherd. Out of Kierkegaard’s six siblings, only one other besides himself survived past the age of 34, which seemed to offer proof of God’s punishment.
If he inherited his father’s guilt, he inherited his wealth as well and that enabled Kierkegaard to live as a freelance writer. Initially, Kierkegaard entered the University of Copenhagen to study theology but switched to philosophy. His primary interest was asking how life ought to be lived, particularly as a Christian, and he said that his writing was on the whole religious.
His first work of importance, Either/Or, considered two spheres of existence that man chooses to live within, either the aesthetic or the ethical. Later, in Fear and Trembling, he offers a third sphere, namely, the religious. In his works, philosophers have identified the beginnings of existentialism and have considered Kierkegaard the father of that movement.
Colliding often with the Church of Denmark, Kierkegaard felt that Christianity had been lost in Christendom and needed to be reintroduced (Training in Christianity). Before his death in 1855, he had written numerous short pieces attacking the church as counterfeit. Kierkegaard never married, but a broken engagement haunted him for life. He dedicated all of his works to his beloved, Regine Olsen.
The ethical expression for what Abraham did is that he meant to murder Isaac; the religious expression is that he meant to sacrifice Isaac — but precisely in this contradiction is the anxiety that can make a person sleepless, and yet without this anxiety Abraham is not who he is.
If there were no eternal consciousness in a man, if at the foundation of all there lay only a wildly seething power which writhing with obscure passions produced everything that is great and everything that is insignificant, if a bottomless void never satiated lay hidden beneath all – what then would life be but despair?
What we call worldliness simply consists of such people who, if one may so express it, pawn themselves to the world.
Genius never desires what does not exist.
With the daguerreotype everyone will be able to have their portrait taken — formerly it was only the prominent — and at the same time everything is being done to make us all look exactly the same, so we shall only need one portrait.
It is comic that a mentally disordered man picks up any piece of granite and carries it around because he thinks it is money, and in the same way it is comic that Don Juan has 1,003 mistresses, for the number simply indicates that they have no value. Therefore, one should stay within one’s means in the use of the word “love”.
Because of the a priori element in intention, good intentions are so tempting – compared with a successive unfolding in time – and have so often in them some narcotic which develops an inner gaze instead of a resilience that begets energy.
Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.
If this had not been the case with Abraham, then perhaps he might have loved God but not believed; for he who loves God without faith reflects upon himself, he who loves God believingly reflects upon God.