Soren Kierkegaard’s Journals


The Diary of Soren Kierkegaard

p.44 Oct 25, 1841 – “for nothing, after all, is as infinite as love.”

p.47 III: K as a Writer

§60 [1847] Something about my Punctuation – “My whole structure as a dialectician with an unusual sense of the rhetorical…” .. “..I make distinctions in my punctuation. In a scientific paper I use my punctuation differently from the way I use it in rhetorical writing. This probably already will be quite enough for most people, who only acknowledge one grammar.” (p.48) ..

in rhetorical use “ becomes more evolved.” = involves rhythm

p.49  “Abstract, grammatical punctuation in no wise suffices when it comes to the Rhetorical, particularly if this is spiced with a dash of the Ironical, the Epigrammatic, the Subtle, and what, in the sense of the idea, would be the Malicious, etc.”

p.50  §63 [5 November, 1846]  “For me to become a minister would present a great difficulty..”

p.51 “..I aspire to be as little as possible; that is precisely the core of my melancholy.”

§69 [1846] (p.57)  “Without daring to plead any revelations or things of that nature, i have conceived of myself as intent upon standing up for the ordinary – in a bungled and demoralized age – and making it lovable and accessible to all those of my fellow-creatures who are capable of realizing it, but who are led astray by the times and who chase after the un-common, the (p.58) Extra-Ordinary.”

p.60-61 on method of writing [note to copy pp.60-62]

p.65 §74 [1849] “..priests, professors of philosophy and poets now occupy the position as servants of the truth – which I imagine is quite advantageous to them – though less so to truth.”  [shades of Rosenzweig]


IV The Corsair 

1 Contemporary Literature 

§76 [1844] “In our day and age book-writing has become so poor, and people write about manners which they have never (p.67) given any real thought, let alone experienced.  I therefore have decided to read only the writings of men who have been executed or have risked their lives in some way.”

[contrast with quote of Emerson cited by Cavell (in This New Yet..) that he reads only what survives reviewers and public opinion]

§78 [1844?]  “I beg to be spared any and every critical review, for I loathe a literary critic as much as an ambulant barber-journeyman who runs after me with his shaving bowl, which he uses for all the beards of all his clients, and then dabs my face all over with his wet fingers.”

p.68 [on Schopenhauer]  “..his way of expressing himself is sometimes so closely related to my own that perhaps..”

p.70  §84 [1844]  vs Grundtrig

p.71  “..this ‘Nordic-beer’ giant.”

p.72  vs Grundtrig


2.  Goldschmidt

§89 [1845]  “above all, do not tell me that I shall never die.  Perish the thought!  Such a life penalty is unheard of!”

“I become so weary of life merely by reading it.  What a cruel distinction that no one shall be moved by my lament when it is sounded effeminately like this: It will be the death of me, I shall take my death over it – and everyone then laughs saying: he cannot die. (p.75)  Oh!  suffer thyself to be moved by pity, put a halt to they grace, cruel grace, and kill me like all the rest.”

Victor Eremita 

[ see: notes – copy p.209 – especially re ‘everyday’]

§91 [1846]  “Only a woman, as a member of the weaker sex…” 

p.77  §92 [1846]  “No matter how significant or insignificant my life as a writer is, this much is certain: I am the only Danish writer who, by dint of my dialetcical relation, is in the precise position that it can suit his idea that all kinds of lies, distortions, calamities and calumnies come to the fore to disturb the reader and thus impel him to think for himself, independently, and prevent the direct relation.”

p.79  §94  [1847]  “Men are not wicked, but led astray; the thing is to call their attention to it.”

p.84 [copy: on irony & melancholy]


Philosophy and Science 

1 Contemporary Philosophy 

§98 [1842] shades of Rosenzweig again]

p.89  §99  [1844]  on Hegel as comical [copy to p.92]

p.92  Hegel as professor of philosophy, not a thinker = comic

totality – ethics of the individual

p.95  §114  [1846]  vs physical sciences as ‘bad infinity’

p.96 §116  [1846]  “ ought piously and humbly to give up curiosity,.. and, instead, worship God and maintain relations with him only through the ethical.” 

p.97 skepticism – language [copy pp.96-103]

scepticism – individual. Truth infinite.

p.106 copy: Socrates: individual, crowd

p.109 §133 [1851] Order of Precedence in Ethics: “Ethics start out with this demand to every human being, and no nonsense about it: you must become perfected; if you are not, it will at once be counted against you.. No, when it comes to the Ethical you can only speak by self-accusation.”    [shades of Levinas]

p.111 §135 [1848] “..necessity of preaching against Christianity.”

§137 [1847] on “second power of dialectics. (p.112) It is one thing to be a keen thinker in books, another to reduplicate dialectically one’s thinking in his own existence.”  [being your own mythology, your own gospels]

“Only the ethical thinker, by acting, can safeguard himself against communicating illusions.”

p.113 §139 [1847] “..a man of Ethics must essentially be persecuted, or else he would be ethically mediocre. An ethical man relates to the universally human (ie to each and every human being and in equal degree – there is no distinction) and his relationship to human existence is that of demand.”   ….   “An ethical man must not let people admire him, but through him – they must be urged toward the Ethical.” …. “An ethical man must constantly maintain, and inculcate in others that every human being is as capable [of ethical conduct] as he. So there we have a different relationship.”

p.116 §140 [1847] “When all the other shops must close on Sundays, why should the parsons be allowed to keep theirs open?” [vs the Church]

p.120 on irony [copy pp.120-123-125-127]

Socrates – individuals.

p.124 §155 Socrates talking about the infinite

§157 [1850] Socrates [a version of the wager]

p.129 §163 Irony: “Socrates doubted that a person was a human being at birth; it doesn’t come so easy, and neither does the knowledge of what it means to be a human being, for it was the ideality of man that occupied Socrates…”

p.130 §166 [1848] “In my melancholy I still loved the world…”

p.135 §170 [1848] “..God is Love..” (p.136) “..indeed it is infinite love that he cares for a sparrow, but that he let himself be born and died for the sake of sinners (and a sinner is even less than a sparrow): oh, infinite love!”

pp.136-137 [copy – ethics of infinite respect]

p.139 §174 [1849] “..God is love, His wisdom infinite, and His (p.140) possibilities infinite..”

p.142 §176 [1849] “..Now The Sickness unto Death will be published, but pseudonymously with me as editor.  I call it ‘for edification’; that is higher than my category, the writer-category ‘edifying.’ …. “There is something else that is lower (the Esthetic) which is pseudonymous, because my personality does not correspond to it. The pseudonym I use is: Johannes Anticlimacus, in contrast to Climacus who proclaimed himself non-Christian; Anticlimacus is at the opposite pole, he being a Christian to an extraordinary degree – if only I myself could manage quite simply to become a Christian!”

p.143 §177 [1849] “When I started out as author of Either/Or I believe I had a far deeper impression of Christianity’s ‘awful terror’ then any prelate in the land. I felt fear and trembling as maybe none other. Not that it (p.144) prompted me to give up Christianity.” ….. ….. (p.145) “..besides I am a human being myself, and I too love, humanly speaking, to be happy here below.” … “ pseudonymous state is also due to my being a penitent.”


§178 [1852] “..the Highest, after all, is not to be comprehend the Highest, but to do it.”

p.148 §179 [1854] “..the lecturers will still make a profit out of me, teach about me, maybe adding a comment like this: ‘the peculiar thing about this is that it cannot be taught.’”

181 [1849] “They have changed Christianity and have made it too much of a consolation and forgotten that it is a demand upon man. Woe unto the lax preachers! As a result it will be that much harder for him who must preach Christianity anew.”

p.150 [copy: dialectician]

p.155 §190 [1848] (On Forgiveness of Sin) “..the child and the youth are essentially in the category of the ‘psyche’, neither more nor less.”

p.157 §191 [1847] “..Christ is not love, least of all in the human meaning; He is Truth, Absolute Truth;.. He had to reveal truth to the uttermost degree…”

§192 [1843] remains that Christ is a paradox: was a definite, separate man.. and he was the son of God. But spoke in conformity with mode of thinking of a definite rear. If he hadn’t.. would be a disservice to his contemporaries, only they would sense the paradox…

§193 [1847] “Kant’s theory on radical Evil has just one fault: he does not quite establish that the Inexplicable is a (p.158) category, that the Paradox is a category. That is actually what it is all about….   Here lies the fault…: when human science refuses to acknowledge that there is something it cannot understand or, still more precisely, something it clearly understands that it cannot understand, then all is confusion.”

[copy. Cavell; Paradox; the logical category of the paradox]

§194 [1851] “..Lying is a science, Truth a paradox.”

p.160 §197 [1854] “primitivity, spirit, means staking your life and putting the kingdom of God first, first, first.”

§198 [1854] “primitivity means honesty and fairness toward others.  Anyone who has persevered in living up to his primitivity he has a reliable knowledge of existence, may be rated an able seaman on life’s ocean, has something to vouch for.”

p.162 §199 “For primitivity – having to be primitive, alone with God without being preceded by others to whom one can open and to whom one can refer for corroboration – in something people accept most reluctantly.”

§200 St Stephen’s Day [copy] – on angels / sainthood

p.165 §201 on difference between a pathetic [feeling] or dialectic transition

for conviction, reason never enough: needs passion.. feeling

[a more-than-merely-reason]

..conviction = personality.. “..reasons are relegated to a lower plane. This again is the direct opposite of all modern objectivity.”

[the personal ; shades of Rosenzweig]

on the notion of the infinite

p.167 “If a man fumbles awkwardly with an axe and then assures me by all that is sacred that he is a cabinet maker, I counter quite confidently: No, if a man handles an ax like that he cannot possibly be a cabinet-maker, notwithstanding his heated assurances to the contrary.” [words & deeds]



VII: Christendom

1 Luther and Protestantism

§206 on category of subjectivity – ‘for you’ “with which Either/Or ends..”

p.171 §211 [1854] “..the human way is always recognisable by matters being made easier; and that is called progress.”

p.172 §212 “Altogether what Christianity has always lacked is a diagnostician for its ailments, and then a dialectician.”

§213 Protestantism is not an advance in Christianity – most marked concession to the Numerical

p.174-176 [copy: on Hegel the ‘professor’

p.185 §226 [1848] “preaching in the churches is on the verge of becoming paganism..”

“In the pagan era the theatre stood for divine worship.”

“In the Christian era the churches have become regular theatres. How so?”

§227 [1848] “the difficult part is that a man must choose, make his own choice.”

[vs God’s will]

p.189 §232 [1849] “Christianity tends in everything toward realization, to being made a practical reality, the only medium to which it is truly related.”

“It must constantly be assumed that there are some who have not got it, or are lagging behind: then work must be undertaken for their sakes. But Christianity should never be communicated in the medium of tranquillity…”

p.192 [copy – vs preaching in Churches]



VIII The Catastrophe

p.197 §236 [1855] “..if it is true that the present state of affairs is so sunk in wretchedness and so demoralized that it is fully conscious of it all being a lie…” ..(p.198).. “Everything is a lie, worship of God is blaspheming, to take part in it, a crime…”

pp.199-201 [copy: hate of self and love of God]

pp.202-204 [copy: God is love]