Søren Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.
He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology, and the philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables.
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.
Kierkegaard is considered by some modern theologians to be the „Father of Existentialism“. Because of his influence and in spite of it, others only consider either Martin Heidegger or Jean-Paul Sartre to be the actual „Father of Existentialism“.
Kierkegaard had a profound influence on psychology. He is widely regarded as the founder of Christian psychology and of existential psychology and therapy. Existentialist (often called „humanistic“) psychologists and therapists include Viktor Frankl, Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers, and Rollo May.
Kierkegaard predicted his posthumous fame, and foresaw that his work would become the subject of intense study and research.
It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.
The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.
People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.
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.
The most common form of despair is not being who you are.
The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.
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.
Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.
To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.
What labels me, negates me.
In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant… My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known — no wonder, then, that I return the love.
Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see.
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.
What if everything in the world were a misunderstanding, what if laughter were really tears?
The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.
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.
Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself.
I stick my finger into existence and it smells of nothing.
Every mental act is composed of doubt and belief,
but it is belief that is the positive, it is belief
that sustains thought and holds the world together.