The Essential Kierkegaard

The Essential Kierkegaard

Howard V. Hong
Edna H. Hong
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 544
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    The Essential Kierkegaard
    Book Description:

    This is the most comprehensive anthology of Søren Kierkegaard's works ever assembled in English. Drawn from the volumes of Princeton's authoritativeKierkegaard's Writingsseries by editors Howard and Edna Hong, the selections represent every major aspect of Kierkegaard's extraordinary career. They reveal the powerful mix of philosophy, psychology, theology, and literary criticism that made Kierkegaard one of the most compelling writers of the nineteenth century and a shaping force in the twentieth. With an introduction to Kierkegaard's writings as a whole and explanatory notes for each selection, this is the essential one-volume guide to a thinker who changed the course of modern intellectual history.

    The anthology begins with Kierkegaard's early journal entries and traces the development of his work chronologically to the finalThe Changelessness of God. The book presents generous selections from all of Kierkegaard's landmark works, includingEither/Or, Fear and Trembling, Works of Love, andThe Sickness unto Death, and draws new attention to a host of such lesser-known writings asThree Discourses on Imagined OccasionsandThe Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air. The selections are carefully chosen to reflect the unique character of Kierkegaard's work, with its shifting pseudonyms, its complex dialogues, and its potent combination of irony, satire, sermon, polemic, humor, and fiction. We see the esthetic, ethical, and ethical-religious ways of life initially presented as dialogue in two parallel series of pseudonymous and signed works and later in the "second authorship" as direct address. And we see the themes that bind the whole together, in particular Kierkegaard's overarching concern with, in his own words, "What it means to exist; . . . what it means to be a human being."

    Together, the selections provide the best available introduction to Kierkegaard's writings and show more completely than any other book why his work, in all its creativity, variety, and power, continues to speak so directly today to so many readers around the world.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4719-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)

    Kierkegaard’s principal pseudonymous author, Johannes Climacus, declared that his task was “to make difficulties everywhere,”¹ and in commenting on the structure ofStages on Life’s Wayhe said, “Thus it is left to the reader to put it all together by himself, if he so pleases, but nothing is done for a reader’s comfort.”²

    The difficulties for a reader of Kierkegaard’s writings are due in part to the multiplicity of pseudonymous writers who present their own views in a complex dialogue. Avoiding a conclusive system, Kierkegaard lets each pseudonymous writer have his voice. “My role is the joint role of...

  4. Early Journal Entries
    (pp. 3-12)
    S. Kierkegaard

    YOU KNOW how inspiring I once found it to listen to you and how enthusiastic I was about your description of your stay in Brazil, although not so much on account of the mass of detailed observations with which you have enriched yourself and your scholarly field as on account of the impression your first journey into that wondrous nature made upon you: your paradisiacal happiness and joy. Something like this is bound to find a sympathetic response in any person who has the least feeling and warmth, even though he seeks his satisfaction, his occupation, in an entirely different...

  5. From the Papers of One Still Living
    (pp. 13-19)
    S. Kierkegaard

    WHEN we now say that Andersen totally lacks a life-view, this statement is as much substantiated by the preceding as this latter is substantiated by the statement itself verified in its truth. For a life-view is more than a quintessence or a sum of propositions maintained in its abstract neutrality; it is more than experience [Erfaring], which as such is always fragmentary. It is, namely, the transubstantiation of experience; it is an unshakable certainty in oneself won from all experience [Empirie], whether this has oriented itself only in all worldly relationships (a purely human standpoint, Stoicism, for example), by which...

  6. The Concept of Irony, with Continual Reference to Socrates
    (pp. 20-36)
    S. Kierkegaard

    If Plato’s view of Socrates were to be expressed in a few words, it could be said that he provides him with the idea. Where the empirical ends, Socrates begins; his function is to lead speculation out of finite qualifications, to lose sight of finitude and steer out upon the Oceanus where ideal striving and ideal infinity recognize no alien considerations but are themselves their infinite goal. Thus, just as the lower sense perception turns pale before this higher knowledge—indeed, becomes a delusion, a deception by comparison—just so every consideration of a finite goal becomes a disparagement, a...

  7. Either/Or, A Fragment of Life, I
    (pp. 37-65)
    S. Kierkegaard

    What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music. It is with him as with the poor wretches in Phalaris’s bronze bull, who were slowly tortured over a slow fire; their screams could not reach the tyrant’s ears to terrify him; to him they sounded like sweet music. And people crowd around the poet and say to him, “Sing again soon”—in other words, may new sufferings torture your soul, and may your lips continue to...

  8. Either/Or, A Fragment of Life, II
    (pp. 66-83)
    S. Kierkegaard

    My Friend,

    The lines on which your eye falls first were written last. My intention with them is to attempt once again to compress into the form of a letter the extended exploration that is hereby transmitted to you. These lines correspond to the last lines and together form an envelope, and thus in an external way they evince what the internal evidence will in many ways convince you of—that it is a letter you are reading. This thought—that it was a letter I wrote to you—I have been unwilling to give up, partly because my time...

  9. Four Upbuilding Discourses
    (pp. 84-92)
    S. Kierkegaard

    Although this little book (which is called “discourses,” not sermons, because its author does not have authority topreach, “upbuilding” discourses, not discourses for upbuilding, because the speaker by no means claims to be ateacher) is once again going out into the world, it is even less fearful of drawing any impeding attention to itself than it was the first time it started on the journey; it hopes rather that because of the repetition the passersby will scarcely notice it, or if at all only to let it shift for itself. Just as a messenger now and then goes...

  10. Fear and Trembling
    (pp. 93-101)
    S. Kierkegaard

    Not only in the business world but also in the world of ideas, our age stagesein wirklicher Ausverkauf[a real sale]. Everything can be had at such a bargain price that it becomes a question whether there is finally anyone who will make a bid. Every speculative monitor who conscientiously signals the important trends in modern philosophy, every assistant professor, tutor, and student, every rural outsider and tenant incumbent in philosophy is unwilling to stop with doubting everything but goes further. Perhaps it would be premature and untimely to ask them where they really are going, but in all...

  11. Repetition
    (pp. 102-115)
    S. Kierkegaard

    When the Eleatics denied motion, Diogenes, as everyone knows, came forward as an opponent. He literally did come forward, because he did not say a word but merely paced back and forth a few times, thereby assuming that he had sufficiently refuted them. When I was occupied for some time, at least on occasion, with the question of repetition—whether or not it is possible, what importance it has, whether something gains or loses in being repeated—I suddenly had the thought: You can, after all, take a trip to Berlin; you have been there once before, and now you...

  12. Philosophical Fragments, or a Fragment of Philosophy
    (pp. 116-125)
    S. Kierkegaard

    Can the truth be learned? With this question we shall begin. It was a Socratic question or became that by way of the Socratic question whether virtue can be taught—for virtue in turn was defined as insight (seeProtagoras, Gorgias, Meno, Euthydemus). Insofar as the truth is to be learned, it of course must be assumed not to be—consequently, because it is to be learned, it is sought. Here we encounter the difficulty that Socrates calls attention to in theMeno(80, near the end) as a “pugnacious proposition”: a person cannot possibly seek what he knows, and,...

  13. Johannes Climacus, or De omnibus dubitandum est
    (pp. 126-137)
    S. Kierkegaard

    Some years ago in the city of H . . . . . there lived a young student by the name of Johannes Climacus, who had no desire whatsoever to become prominent in the world, inasmuch as, on the contrary, he enjoyed living a quiet, secluded life. Those who knew him somewhat intimately tried to explain his inclosed nature, which shunned all close contacts with people, by supposing that he was either melancholy or in love. In a certain sense, those who supposed the latter were not incorrect, although they erred if they assumed that a girl was the object...

  14. The Concept of Anxiety
    (pp. 138-155)
    S. Kierkegaard

    Innocence is ignorance. In innocence, man is not qualified as spirit but is psychically qualified in immediate unity with his natural condition. The spirit in man is dreaming. This view is in full accord with that of the Bible, which by denying that man in his innocence has knowledge of the difference between good and evil denounces all the phantasmagoria of Catholic meritoriousness.

    In this state there is peace and repose, but there is simultaneously something else that is not contention and strife, for there is indeed nothing against which to strive. What, then, is it? Nothing. But what effect...

  15. Prefaces
    (pp. 156-163)
    S. Kierkegaard

    THE PREFACE has received its deathblow in recent scholarship. Looked at from its point of view, an older author easily becomes a pitiful figure over whom one does not know whether to laugh or to cry, because his halting manner in getting to the point makes him comic, and his naïveté, as if there were anyone who cared about him, makes him pathetic. Nowadays a situation like this cannot be repeated, because when one begins the book with the subject and the system with nothing there apparently is nothing left over to say in a prologue. This state of affairs...

  16. Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions
    (pp. 164-169)
    S. Kierkegaard

    Then all is over!—And when the person stepped up to the grave first because he was the next of kin, and when after the brief moment of the speech he was the last one at the grave, alas, because he was the next of kin—then all is over. If he remained out there, he still would not learn what the deceased is doing, because the deceased is a quiet man; if in his trouble he called out his name, if in his grief he sat listening, he still would learn nothing, because in the grave there is quiet,...

  17. Stages on Life’s Way
    (pp. 170-186)
    S. Kierkegaard

    What a splendid occupation to prepare a secret for oneself, how seductive to enjoy it, and yet at times how precarious to have enjoyed it, how easy for it to miscarry for one. In other words, if someone believes that a secret is transferable as a matter of course, that it can belong to the bearer, he is mistaken, for the [riddle] “Out of the eater comes something to eat”⁶⁸ is valid here; but if anyone thinks that the only difficulty entailed in enjoying it is not to betray it, he is also mistaken, for one also takes on the...

  18. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments
    (pp. 187-246)
    S. Kierkegaard

    IT is now about four years since the idea came to me of wanting to try my hand as an author. I remember it very clearly. It was on a Sunday; yes, correct, it was a Sunday afternoon. As usual, I was sitting outside the café in Frederiksberg Gardens, that wonderful garden which for the child was the enchanted land where the king lived with the queen, that lovely garden which for the youth was a pleasant diversion in the happy gaiety of the populace, that friendly garden which for the adult is so cozy in its wistful elevation above...

  19. “The Activity of a Traveling Esthetician and How He Still Happened to Pay for the Dinner”
    (pp. 247-251)
    S. Kierkegaard

    ALTHOUGH New Year’s Day callers are extending more and more the time for their courtesy calls, which properly were limited to New Year’s Day, these calls still are more or less limited to a period of eight days. It is quite otherwise with our enterprising and venturesome man of letters, Mr. P. L. Møller, playing the role of the New Year’s well-wisher. Long in advance, he begins going around paying courtesy calls and gathering charitable donations to his splendid New Year’s gift (Gœa); yes, he even travels out in the country. If he does not collect anything or just a...

  20. Two Ages: The Age of Revolution and The Present Age. A Literary Review
    (pp. 252-268)
    S. Kierkegaard

    Again the task here, as I see it, in critical service to the novel, is to advance in a more general observation the specific elements that the author has depicted with literary skill.

    The present age is essentially asensible, reflecting126age, devoid of passion, flaring up in superficial, short-lived enthusiasm and prudentially relaxing in indolence.

    In contrast to the age of revolution, which took action, the present age is an age of publicity, the age of miscellaneous announcements: nothing happens but still there is instant publicity. An insurrection in this day and age is utterly unimaginable; such a manifestation...

  21. Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits
    (pp. 269-276)
    S. Kierkegaard

    Although this little book (it can be called an occasional discourse, yet without having the occasion that makes the speaker and makes him anauthorityor the occasion that makes the reader and makes him alearner) in the situation ofactualityis like a fancy, a dream in the daytime, yet it is not without confidence and not without hope of fulfillment. It seeks that single individual, to whom it gives itself wholly, by whom it wishes to be received as if it had arisen in his own heart, that single individual whom I with joy and gratitude call...

  22. Works of Love
    (pp. 277-311)
    S. Kierkegaard

    These Christian deliberations, which are the fruit of much deliberation, will be understood slowly but then also easily, whereas they will surely become very difficult if someone by hasty and curious reading makes them very difficult for himself.That single individualwho first deliberates with himself whether or not he will read, if he then chooses to read, will lovingly deliberate whether the difficulty and the ease, when placed thoughtfully together on the scale, relate properly to each other so that what is essentially Christian is not presented with a false weight by making the difficulty or by making the...

  23. Christian Discourses
    (pp. 312-332)
    S. Kierkegaard

    This care the bird does not have. Sparrows [Spurve162] are divided into grey sparrows and yellow—or, if you please, gold sparrows, but this distinction, this classification “lowly/eminent” does not exist for them or for any one of them. The other birds do indeed follow the bird that flies at the head of the flock or to the right; there is the distinction first and last, to the right and the left. But the distinction lowly/eminent does not exist; in their bold wheeling flight when the flock is soaring lovely and free in aerial formations, first and last, right and...

  24. The Lily in the Field and the Bird of the Air
    (pp. 333-338)
    S. Kierkegaard

    FROM the lily and the bird as teachers, let us learn

    silence, or learn to be silent.

    Surely it is speech that distinguishes humanity above the animal and then, if you like, far above the lily. But because the ability to speak is an advantage, it does not follow that the ability to be silent would not be an art or would be an inferior art. On the contrary, because the human being is able to speak, the ability to be silent is an art, and a great art precisely because this advantage of his so easily tempts him. But...

  25. Two Ethical-Religious Essays
    (pp. 339-349)
    S. Kierkegaard

    As a genius, Paul cannot stand comparison with either Plato or Shakespeare; as an author of beautiful metaphors, he ranks rather low; as a stylist, he is a totally unknown name—and as a tapestry maker, well, I must say that I do not know how high he can rank in this regard. See, it is always best to turn obtuse earnestness into a jest, and then comes the earnestness, the earnestness—that Paul is an apostle. And as an apostle he again has no affinity, none whatever, with either Plato or Shakespeare or stylists or tapestry makers; they all...

  26. The Sickness unto Death
    (pp. 350-372)
    S. Kierkegaard

    A human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self.199But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation’s relating itself to itself in the relation; the self is not the relation but is the relation’s relating itself to itself. A human being is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity, in short, a synthesis. A synthesis is a relation between two. Considered in this way, a human being is still not a self.

    In the...

  27. Practice in Christianity
    (pp. 373-384)
    S. Kierkegaard

    In this book, originating in the year 1848, the requirement for being a Christian is forced up by the pseudonymous author to a supreme ideality.

    Yet the requirement should indeed be stated, presented, and heard. From the Christian point of view, there ought to be no scaling down of the requirement, nor suppression of it—instead of a personal admission and confession.

    The requirement should be heard—and I understand what is said as spoken to me alone—so that I might learn not only to resort togracebut to resort to it in relation to the use of...

  28. Two Discourses at the Communion on Fridays
    (pp. 385-392)
    S. Kierkegaard

    An authorship that began withEither/Orand advanced step by step seeks here its decisive place of rest, at the foot of the altar, where the author, personally most aware of his own imperfection and guilt, certainly does not call himself a truth-witness but only a singular kind of poet and thinker who,without authority, has had nothing new to bring but “has wanted once again to read through, if possible in a more inward way, the original text of individual human existence-relationships, the old familiar text handed down from the fathers”—(see my postscript toConcluding Postscript215).

    Turned this...

  29. For Self-Examination [First series]
    (pp. 393-403)
    S. Kierkegaard

    There is a saying that often comes to my mind, a saying by a man to whom I cannot in a Christian sense be said to owe anything—indeed, he was a pagan—but to whom I nevertheless feel personally very indebted, and who also lived in circumstances that in my opinion quite correspond to our situation today: I mean that simple wise man of antiquity.²²¹ It is told of him that when he was accused before the people an orator came to him and handed him a carefully composed defense speech, with the request that he use it. The...

  30. Judge for Yourself! For Self-Examination, Second series
    (pp. 404-410)
    S. Kierkegaard

    But there is an even higher godly understanding that we learn from the bird: that again it is indeed God who works, God who sows and reaps when man sows and reaps. Think of little Ludvig! He has now become an adult and therefore very well understands the true situation—that it was his mother who pushed the stroller. Thus he has another joy from this childhood recollection: remembering his mother’s love that could think of something like that to delight her child. But now he is an adult; now he actually can do it himself. Now he is perhaps...

  31. The Book on Adler
    (pp. 411-423)
    S. Kierkegaard

    THE essentially Christianhasno history, because the essentially Christian is this paradox, that God once came into existence in time. This is the offense, but also the point of departure; whether it is eighteen hundred years ago or yesterday, one can equally well be contemporary with it. Just as the North Star never changes its position and therefore has no history, so this paradox stands unmoved and unaltered; and if Christianity existed for ten thousand years, one would not in the decisive sense get any further away from it than the contemporaries were. The distance is not to be...

  32. Fædrelandet Articles and The Moment
    (pp. 424-448)
    S. Kierkegaard

    In the address Prof. Martensen241“delivered the fifth Sunday after Epiphany, the Sunday before Bishop Dr. Mynster’s funeral,” a memorial address, as it perhaps can in a way also be called, since it calls to mind Prof. Martensen for the vacant bishopric—in this address Bishop Mynster is represented as a truth-witness, as one of the authentic truth-witnesses; the expressions used are as strong and decisive as possible. With the late bishop’s figure, his life and career, and the outcome of his life before our eyes, we are exhorted to “imitate the faith of the true guides, of the authentic...

  33. On My Work as an Author and The Point of View for My Work as an Author
    (pp. 449-481)
    S. Kierkegaard

    WHEN A country is little, the proportions in every relationship in the little land naturally are small. So, too, in literary matters; the royalties and everything else involved will be only insignificant. To be an author—unless one is a poet, and in addition a dramatist, or one who writes textbooks or in some other way is an author in connection with a public office—is about the poorest paid, the least secure, and just about the most thankless job there is. If there is some individual who has the capability of being an author and if he is also...

  34. The Changelessness of God
    (pp. 482-492)
    S. Kierkegaard

    You Changeless One, whom nothing changes! You who are changeless in love, who just for our own good do not let yourself change—would that we also might will our own well-being, let ourselves be brought up, in unconditional obedience, by your changelessness to find rest and to rest in your changelessness! You are not like a human being. If he is to maintain a mere measure of changelessness, he must not have too much that can move him and must not let himself be moved too much. But everything moves you, and in infinite love. Even what we human...

    (pp. 493-494)
  36. NOTES
    (pp. 495-504)
    (pp. 505-506)
  38. INDEX
    (pp. 507-524)