Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Soren Kierkegaard - Compilation

This is a fantastic set of Kierkegaard quotes. I had to get stoned and read them. Some good ones:


"Most people are really only sample copies. Of them it may be said: They derive benefit out of living, but the world has no benefit out of their having lived."

"If one would describe the confusion of the modern age, I know of no more descriptive word than: it is dishonest. Young people, even children, are aware of how fraudulent everything is and how everything depends on clinging to their generation, following the inconstant demands of the age. Thus the life of each generation hisses and fizzes uninterruptedly. Although everything is a whirlwind, a signal-shot is heard, the ringing of the bells, signifying to the individual that now, this very second, hurry, throw everything away – reflection, quiet meditation, reassuring thoughts of the eternal – because if you come too late you will not get to go along on the generation’s next whirling expedition, which is just pulling out – and then, then, how terrible!

Ah, yes, how terrible! Everything, absolutely everything is calculated to nourish this confusion, the unholy taste of this wild hunt. The means of communication become more and more excellent, but the communications become more and more hurried and more and more confusing. And if anyone dares, either in the name of originality or of God, to resist it – woe unto him! Just as the individual is seized by the whirlwind of impatience to be understood immediately, so this generation domineeringly craves to understand the individual at once."

"True individuality is measured by this: how long or how far one can endure being alone without the understanding of others. The person who can endure being alone is poles apart from the social mixer. He is miles apart from the man-pleaser, the one who manages successfully with everyone – he who possesses no sharp edges. God never uses such people. The true individual, anyone who is going to be directly involved with God, will not and cannot avoid the human bite. He will be thoroughly misunderstood. God is no friend of cosy human gathering."


"In order to swim you must take off all your clothes. In order to aspire to the truth you must undress in a far more inward sense, divest yourself of all your inward clothes, of thoughts, conceptions, selfishness. Only then are you sufficiently naked."

"Whereas objective thinking is indifferent to the thinking subject and his existence, the subjective thinker is essentially interested in his own thinking, is existing in it. Whereas objective thinking invests everything in the result and assists all humankind to cheat by copying and reeling off the results and answers, subjective thinking invests everything in the process of becoming and omits the result. The subjective thinker is continually in the process of becoming. The objective thinker has already arrived."

Since Descartes, sceptics don’t dare express anything definite with regards to knowledge. Yet they dare to act, and in this respect are satisfied with probability. What an enormous contradiction! As if it were not far more dreadful to do something about which one is doubtful (thereby incurring responsibility) than to assert an idea. Or is it because the ethical is in itself certain? But then there is something that doubt cannot reach!

"No one can be the truth; only the God-man is the truth. Then comes the next: the ones whose lives express what they proclaim. These are witnesses to the truth. Then come those who disclose what truth is and what it demands but admit that their lives do not express it, but to that extent still are striving. There it ends.

Now comes the sophistry. First of all come those who teach the truth but do not live it. Then come those who even alter the truth, its requirement, cut it down, make omissions – in order that their lives can correspond to the requirement. These are the real deceivers."

"All existence-issues are passionate. To think about them so as to leave out passion is not to think about them at all. It is to forget the point that one indeed is oneself an existing person. To exist is an art. The subjective thinker is aesthetic enough for his life to have aesthetic content, ethical enough to regulate it, passionate enough in thinking to master it."

"Let us be honest about it. We are more afraid of the truth than of death."


Anonymous said...

I can't help but recall an aphorism from Nietzsche... It was something along the lines of... the worst kinds of readers are those that proceed like plundering soldiers through a work, raping and pillaging what conforms to their desires and soiling the rest.

Best way I can describe you, and the format of many of your blog posts.

undergroundman said...

"The worst readers are those who behave like plundering troops: they take away a few things they can use, dirty and confound the remainder, and revile the whole."
- Nietzsche, Human All Too Human

Here's a complementing quote:

"When I picture a perfect reader, I always picture a monster of courage and curiosity, also something supple, cunning, cautious, a born adventurer and discoverer."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

If you're still angry that I insulted Saul Bellow, get over it. If you like him, that's your prerogative, but his writing style rings hollow. I don't have time to read pseudointellectual crap, nor do I have an obligation to read it. Time is a scarce resource. If I were to spend my time researching deeply into everything which claimed to have some truth, then I would find most of my time wasted.

The ironic thing is that Nietzsche arguably fell more into the former category then the latter - he picked selectively from Kant, Hume, and all the others in order to attack them, and hardly read at all during his most creative periods. He knew what books to pick and what to ignore. The best way to do that is to survey books - people who believe that simply because they have started a book that they then have to finish it are confusing sunk and marginal costs.

The nice thing about Nietzsche is that he honestly knows that he hardly knows anything - he is just professing a certain perspective. He urges his readers to take on different perspectives and reject him if they wish.

"You say you believe in Zarathustra? But what matters Zarathustra! You are my believers: but what matters all believers!

You had not yet sought yourselves: then you found me. So do all believers; thus all belief matters so little.

Now I bid you lose me and find yourselves; and only when you have all denied me will I return to you."

By the way, if you do think something of his is actually valuable (i.e., it has unconventional insight or emotional depth) then let me know, and I'd be glad to look at it. In Mr. Sammler's Planet the guy spends at least ten words a page referencing intellectuals and personalities for no real reason in order to show that he's familiar with their names - a bad sign.