= SAK Journals: IV A HOME     Library     CONTENTS: Journals & Papers of Søren Kierkegaard
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IV A   -   IV B   -   IV C




"Inter accidentia sola, non autem inter formas substantiales individuorum ejusdem speciei, plus et minus reperitur."

See Cartesius, De methodo, p. 1.


For the most part Descartes has embodied his system in the first six meditations. So it is not always necessary to write systems. I want to publish "Philosophical Deliberations" in pamphlets, and into them I can put all my interim reflections. It perhaps would not be so bad to write in Latin.


The same thing has happened in the world of the sciences as in the world of commerce. First one traded in kind, then money was invented; today in the sciences all transactions are in paper money, which nobody cares about except the professors.



If one modernized it a little, it could very well be used as a motif for a tragedy — the story which is told in Aristotle's Politics, Book V, 4, about the origin of the political disturbances in Delphi arising out of a marriage-match affair. The bridegroom, for whom the auguries prophesy misfortune originating in his marriage, suddenly changes his plan when he comes to fetch the bride. The family, regarding this as ridicule, is insulted, and in order to take revenge they plant a sacred vessel from the temple among his kitchen utensils, and he is condemned as a temple-thief.


Gregorius Rimini, general of the Augustinian order, accepted the dogma of the damnation of infants and therefore received the nickname of Tortor infantum.

See Leibniz, Theodicee, 1, para. 92.


A Jesuit, Johan Davidius, has written a book, Veridicus Christianus, which is a kind of bibliomancy; once can open it up and be seized by the sudden and unexpected and thereby become a Christian.

See Leibniz, Theodicee, 1, 101.


A satirical book against the Gomarists, Fur praedestinatus, has been published. See See Leibniz, Theodicee, para. 167.


What kind of novel is the book Leibniz mentions in his Theodicee, para. 173, under the title: Mademoiselle de Scudery? As a matter of fact, Hoffmann's well-known story has the same title.


Cantantur haec, laudantur haec,
Dicuntur, audiuntur.
Scribuntur haec, leguntur haec.
Et lecta negliguntur.


In section 4 of the fifth chapter of King's book, De origine mundi[mali] there are unquestionably a good many paragraphs which from an ethical point of view would be really useful.


The lines found in Philostratus the Elder's Hero-tales could be a little epigram on the relation between paganism and Christianity: on wild trees the bloosoms are fragrant; on cultivated trees, the fruits.



See the last words of the preface to Longus, Pastoralia.


Abelard lends himself superbly to dramatic treatment. In Bossuet's Geschichte, VI, pp. 315 ff., I have underlined several hints concerning his life. The situations would be extremely interesting; Heloise not only had fallen in love with Abelard but was philosophically infatuated with him, proud of his renown, jealous of his philosophical distinction.


The more superior one person is to another whom he loves, the more he will feel tempted (humanly speaking) to draw the other up to himself, but (divinely speaking) the more he will feel moved to come down to him. This is the dialectic of love. Strange that people have not seen this in Christianity but always speak of Christ's becoming man as compassion or necessity.


If I should ever be accused of something, I would petition His Majesty the favor of promptly receiving the most extreme (relative to the incident) sentence, even if it were execution, and that it be carried out immediately. I would make the petition for the following reasons: (1) because the trial costs money, (2) it costs time, and I have no time to wait for men to decide what is just, which is a matter of indifference to me, anyway, if I can just get it over with, (3) because all the talk about justice is drivel, and one may just as well have himself be executed outside the law and without being sentenced as by the verdict of three courts.


Quod vero (perdix) supervolante masculo, vel audita solum voce ejus, vel etiam solo halitu oris concepto concipiat, Aristoteles refert.

Hieronymi Cardini, De rerum varietate, p. 375.


Philosophical terminology and its usage simply degenerate to the ridiculous. I wonder what someone would say if I were to speak of an earthquake in the old terminology.

"Inter terrae miracula est motus ejus, de quo alias dictum est. Quatuor ejus differentiae, ab effectu. Chasmatichus, Brasmatichus, Clitimachus, Micematichus."

Everyone would understand the difference but not the terminology.

See Hieronymous Cardanus, De rerum varietate, p. 57.


It is most interesting that Pythagoras supposed that εν is both περιττóν and αρτιον — it is, as it were, the being [Væren] which is both being and nonbeing — that is, motion.


My Opinion of "Either-Or"

There was a young man as favorably endowed as an Alcibiades. He lost his way in the world. In his need he looked about for a Socrates but found none among his contemporaries. Then he requested the gods to change him into one. But now — he who had been so proud of being an Alcibiades was so humiliated and humbled by the gods' favor that, just when he received what he could be proud of, he felt inferior to all.


Even if I proved nothing else by writing Either-Or, I proved that in Danish literature a book can be written without needing the warm jacket of sympathy, without needing the incentive of anticipation, that one can work even though the stream is against him, that one can work hard without seeming to, that one can privately concentrate while practically every bungling student dares look upon him as a loafer. Even if the book itself were devoid of meaning, the making of it would still be the pithiest epigram I have written over the maundering philosophic age in which I live.


When I was very young, I could not understand how one went about writing a book. Now I understand it very well, but now I do not see how anyone would want to do it.


All infinite knowledge is negative ("always to be in the wrong" is also an infinite relation), and yet the negative is higher than the positive.* Thus Pythagoras also taught that the even number is imperfect, the uneven number perfect.

*The Pythagoreans also regarded the finite as higher and more perfect than the infinite. See Tennemann, I, p. 115.

In margin: As a rule the Pythagoreans did not regard as perfect that from which something arises, but that which arises from something. See Tennemann, I, p. 119.


It is a dreadful thing if a person's consciousness from childhood on has been under a pressure which all the resilience of the soul and all the energy of freedom cannot remove. Sorrow in life can certainly oppress the consciousness, but if the sorrow comes for the first time in later years it does not have time to become essentially formative; it remains a historical element, not something which encompasses, as it were, the consciousness itself. One who has such pressure from childhood is like a child who is plucked from his mother's womb with forceps and always has a reminder of the mother's pain. Such a pressure cannot be removed, but one does not therefore need to despair, for it can be borne with humility. It is undeniably one of the most difficult tasks, for it is very difficult to include it within the category of guilt. There was a time when, for fear of becoming proud of my sufferings, I formulated the thesis that basically everyone suffers equally. Yet this, after all, is a kind of Stoicism, which by abstraction annuls the more concrete conception of providence. Pontoppidan says in his Explanation that particular persons are tried in unusual sufferings, but at some time this will benefit their souls. This is far more beautiful.


If they say that what I say is the same as what all the others say, I have no objection if they mean the same as what Leucippus meant when he declared that a tragedy and a light comedy have the same letters, except that the order is different.

See Tennemann, Gesch. d. Ph., I, p. 264, bottom.


If anyone wants to call my fragment of wisdom Sophistic, I must point out that it lacks at least one characteristic according to both Plato's and Aristotle's definitions: that one makes money by it.

See Tennemann's Gesch. d. Ph., I, p. 355, note 6 b.


I will say to myself what Socrates says to Theaetetus:

See Ast, II, p. 22.



Once in his early youth a man allowed himself to be so far carried away in an overwrought irresponsible state as to visit a prostitute. It is all forgotten. Now he wants to get married. Then anxiety stirs. He is tortured day and night with the thought that he might possibly be a father, that somewhere in the world there could be a created being who owed his life to him. He cannot share his secret with anyone; he does not even have any reliable knowledge of the fact. — For this reason the incident must have involved a prostitute and taken place in the wantonness of youth; had it been a little infatuation or an actual seduction, it would be hard to imagine that he could know nothing about it, but now this very ignorance is the basis of his agitated torment. On the other hand, precisely because of the rashness of the whole affair, his misgivings do not really start until he actually falls in love.


..... a kiss which was something more than a peck.



A man for a long time has gone around hiding a secret becomes mentally deranged. At this point one would imagine that his secret would have to come out, but despite his derangement his soul still sticks to its hideout, and those around him become even more convinced that the false story he told to deceive them is the truth. He is healed of his insanity, knows everything that has gone on, and thereby perceives that nothing has been betrayed. Was this gratifying to him or not; he might wish to have disposed of his secret in his madness; it seems as if there were a fate which forced him to remain in his secret and would not let him get away from it. Or was it for the best, was there a guardian spirit who helped him keep his secret.


Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot, qui l'admire.



When I am not reus voti, nothing happens for me. Because of it I passed my theological examination, because of it I wrote my dissertation, because of it I was all through with Either/Or in eleven months. If anyone were to find the actual incentive..... Good Lord, they no doubt are thinking, such a big book as that must certainly have a very profound incentive ..... and yet it is exclusively concerned with my private life — and the purpose — well, if this were discovered, I would be declared stark raving mad. I perhaps would be excused for personally regarding it as an interesting piece of work, but for me to look upon it as a good deed, that for me this is the most appealing aspect of the whole thing. .....


But where is the boundary between worldly wisdom and religiousness. Mynster's preaching is far from being wholly religious at all times. He gives consolation by saying that everything will perhaps turn out all right again, that better days are coming, etc., which after all is not even a genuinely religious consolation; one shrinks from going out into the current — one tries to wade as long as possible. As long as this is not definitely decided, there always remains a doubt about the importance of actuality in one's whole train of thought.


That woman who was worshipped during the French Revolution as "the goddess of reason" would be a good subject for a drama. It is well-known that she died sometime later in the most pitiable state in a hospital.


Theodorus Atheos said: He gave his teaching with his right hand, but his listeners received it with their left.

See Tennemann, Ges. d. Phil., II, p. 124, note 39.



Let us assume (something neither the Old Testament nor the Koran reports) that Isaac knew the purpose of the journey he was going to make with his father to Mt. Moriah, that he was going to be sacrificed — if the present age had a poet, he would be able to relate what these two men talked about along the way.*

* In margin:

One could also have Abraham's previous life be not devoid of guilt and have him secretly ruminate on the thought that this was God's punishment, perhaps even have him get the melancholy thought that he must ask God's help to make the punishment as severe as possible.

I imagine that Abraham first of all looked at him with all his fatherly love, and his crushed heart and venerable countenance made what he said more urgent; he admonished Isaac to bear his fate patiently, he vaguely led him to understand that as a father he was suffering even more because of it. — But it does not help. I imagine that then Abraham turned away from him for a moment and when he turned back to him again he was unrecognizable to Isaac — his eyes were wild, his expression chilling, his venerable locks bristled like furies upon his head. He grabbed Isaac by the chest, drew his knife, and said: "You thought I was going to do this because of God, but you are wrong, I am an idolator, and this passion has again stirred in my soul — I want to murder you, this is my desire; I am worse than a cannibal. Despair, you foolish boy who fancied that I was your father, I am your murderer, and this is my desire." And Isaac fell on his knees and cried to heaven: "Merciful God, have mercy on me." But then Abraham whispered softly to himself: "So must it be, for it is better that he believes I am a monster, that he curses me and the fact that I was his father, and still better, that he prays to God — than that he should know that it was God who imposed the test, for then he would lose his mind and perhaps curse God."

— But where indeed are the contemporary poets, who have intimations of such conflicts? And yet Abraham's conduct was genuinely poetic, noble, more noble than anything I have read in tragedies. — When the child is to be weaned, the mother blackens her breast, but her eyes rest just as lovingly on the child. The child believes that it is the breast which has changed, but the mother is unchanged. And why does she blacken her breast? Because, she says, it would be a shame for the breast to appear attractive when the child must not have it. — This collision is easily resolved, for the breast is only a part of the mother herself. Fortunate is he who has never experienced more dreadful collisions, who did not need to blacken himself, who did not need to journey to hell to find out what the devil looks like so that he could make himself look like him and in this way possibly save another human being, at least in that person's God-relationship. This would be Abraham's collision.

— He who has explained this riddle has explained my life.

But who of my contemporaries has understood this?


The nature of my love-relationship is very singular. The usual procedure for theological students is to begin by being teachers, that is, minor spiritual advisers to their chosen ones, and end by becoming lovers and married men. I began by being a lover and ended being a spiritual adviser. If worst comes to worst, my conduct is still far better and I have not debased the holy in the service of my love; I submit myself to the religious just as much as I seek to get another to submit.


There is a place out in Gribs-Skov which is called the Nook of Eight Paths. The name is very appealing to me.


It is very curious. I had decided to change that little preface to the "Two Sermons," because it seemed to me to harbor a certain spiritual eroticism, and because it is extraordinarily hard to devote myself so irenically that the polemical contrast is not clearly present. I hurry to the printer. What happens. The printer asks for that preface. I did laugh at him a little, but secretly I thought: He may in fact be "the single individual." Rejoicing in the thought I at first decided to have only two copies printed and to present one to the typesetter. There was really something very beautiful about his movement. A typesetter — who one would surely think would become as weary of a manuscript as an author.


After my death no one will find in my papers the slightest information (this is my consolation) about what really has filled my life; no one will find the inscription in my innermost being that interprets everything and that often turns into events of prodigious importance to me that which the world would call bagatelles and which I regard as insignificant if I remove the secret note that interprets them.


It seems to be my destiny to discourse on truth, insofar as I discover it, in such a way that all possible authority is simultaneously demolished. Since I am incompetent and extremely undependable in men's eyes, I speak the truth and thereby place them in the contradiction from which they can be extricated only by appropriating the truth themselves. A man's personality is matured only when he appropriates the truth, whether it is spoken by Balaam's ass or a sniggering wag or an apostle or an angel.


Little by little, being an author has become the most contemptible profession of all. Usually one has to come forward like the gardener's apprentice in the vignette in Addresseavisen, hat in hand, bowing and groveling, recommending oneself with good references. How stupid: the one who writes should understand what he is writing better than the one who reads; otherwise he should not write. —

Or one has to become a clever shyster who knows how to lead the public by the nose. — That I will not do, I will not, I will not, no, no, the devil take it all. I write as I want to, and here the matter rests — the rest can do as they wish, refrain from buying, reading, reviewing, etc. —


It is remarkable how rigorously, in a certain sense, I am being educated. Now and then I am placed down in the dark hole; I creep around there in agony and pain, see nothing, no way out. Then suddenly there stirs in my soul a thought so vivid that it seems as if I had never had it before, even though it is not unfamiliar to me, but previously I had been married to it, so to speak, only with the left hand and now I am married to it with the right. Now when it has established itself in me, i am cared for a bit, I am taken by the arms, and I, who had been scrunched together like a grasshopper, now grow up again, as sound, thriving, happy, warm, and lithe as a newly born infant. Then I must give my word, as it were, that I will follow this thought to the uttermost; I pledge my life and now I am buckled in the harness. I cannot pause and my powers hold out. Then I finish, and now it all starts over again.

Addition to previous: When I have God's disfavor, I am more miserable than a wobbly calf; when he nods approval to me, I am prouder than the whole world.


I know very well that right now I have the best brains among the younger generation, but I also know that tomorrow this can be taken away from me — yes, even before I dot this with a period. When someone else discovers that he has a good head he believes himself to be taken care of for a lifetime. I do not believe this. I cannot build upon the finite in this sense.


I sit and listen to the sounds in my inner being, the happy intimations of music, the deep earnestness of the organ. To synthetize them is a task not for a composer but for a man who int he absence of larger demands upon life restricts himself to the simple task of wanting to understand himself. — To mediate is no art when one has no elements within himself.


It is unbelievable what naïveté is to be found even in a full-fledged author like Heiberg, what frivolous nonsense with regard to the category of time, what conventional drama talk, for example in De Danske i Paris, act I, scene 12. The major briefly relates the story of his life. He ends by saying that people in Copenhagen will open their eyes when they see him, whom they have always been pleased to call a confirmed bachelor, return with a wife and daughter seventeen years old. Consequently he has been married for eighteen years, and no one has suspected it. He has had no moments of anxiety, no suffering, no fearful presentiments, etc., or he has had them but no one has managed to penetrate him. It is really a shame that the man has not become more than a major, and that just recently; he ought to be a lieutenant-colonel at least. My dear major, my dear professor, I would like to know a little bit about this dexterous feat, that I would like, and in return I present you with the whole vaudeville as a gift — just a few pages [would be enough], for he who is occupied with what is important does not need so many scenes. Even if I were paid 100 rix-dollars, even if I were declared a genius, I would never have written such rubbish in earnest.* The major talks nonsense (at Heiberg's request) in all seriousness, quite as if he could be Holberg's Ulysses, who is also the man for the times.

In margin: * To write this way is what I call letting the pen gossip on paper.


At vespers on Easter Sunday in Frue Kirke (during Mynster's sermon) she nodded to me. I do not know if it was pleadingly or forgivingly, but in any case very affectionately. I had sat down in a place apart, but she discovered it. Would to God she had not done so. Now a year and a half of suffering and all the enormous pains I took are wasted; she does not believe that I was a deceiver, she has faith in me. What ordeals now lie ahead of her. The next will be that I am a hypocrite. The higher we go the more dreadful it is. That a man of my inwardness, of my religiousness, could act in such a way. And yet I can no longer live solely for her, cannot expose myself to the contempt of men in order to lose my honor — that I have done. Shall I in sheer madness go ahead and become a villain just to get her to believe it — ah, what help is that. She will still believe that I was not that before.

Every Monday morning between nine and ten she met me. I made no effort to have it happen. She knows the street I usually walk, I know the way she

[A page torn from the journal]

I have done everything in order that she may not suspect that she perhaps bears a little bit of the guilt herself. A young girl should, after all, have calmness and humility. Instead, it was she who was proud; it was I who had to teacher humility by humbling myself. Then she took my depression wrong; she believed that I was so meek and humble because she was such a matchless girl. Then she took a stand against me. God forgive it — she awakened my pride. That is my sin. I ran her aground — she deserved it, that is my honest opinion — but not what happened later. Then it was that I became depressed; the more passionately she clung to me, the more responsible I felt. It would never have been so difficult if that conflict had not taken place. Then the bond broke.


Berlin, May 10, 1843

The day after my arrival I was in very bad shape, on the point of collapse.

In Stralsund I almost went mad hearing above me a young girl playing the piano, among other pieces Weber's last waltz. The last time I was in Berlin it was the first piece I heard in the Thiergarten, played on a harp by a blind man.

It seems as if everything existed merely to bring back memories. My pharmacist, who was a confirmed bachelor, has married. With reference to that, he offered several explanations: one lives only once, one must have one person who understands him. How much there is to that, especially when said without any pretension, hit home to me.

My room in the Hotel Saxon looks out upon the water where the boats are. Good Lord, how it reminds me of the past. — In the background I have the church, and the sound of its bells when it gives the time penetrates my bones and marrow.


The only person with whom I have ever had obscene talk is the old China-captain I converse with in Mini's Cafe and who thinks I am forty years old. But our conversation is rather more humorous. When he begins to tell me how in Manila everyone has a tart or about the fun he has had with tarts (it is his pet expression) in London, whom one treats with a glass of grog, "for they are so fond of it" — the situation is humorous enough, an old China-captain (seventy-four years old) talking with me in that way about such things. But he certainly was not particularly involved himself, for there is still a purity in him which testifies for him; as a consequence what he says is more humorous than obscene.


May 17

If I had had faith, I would have stayed with Regine. Thanks to God, I now see that. I have been on the point of losing my mind these days. Humanly speaking, I was fair to her; perhaps I should never have become engaged, but from that moment I treated her honestly. In an esthetic and chivalrous sense, I have loved her far more than she has loved me, for otherwise she would neither have treated me proudly nor unnerved me later with her pleas. I have just begun a story entitled "Guilty — Not Guilty"; of course it would come to contain things that could amaze the world, for I have personally experienced more poetry in the last year and a half [is contained in] all novels put together, but I cannot and will not do it, for my relationship to her must not become poetically diffused; it has a completely different reality [Realitet]. She has not become a kind of theatrical princess;* so, if possible, she will become my wife. Lord God, that was my only wish, and yet I had to deny myself that. Humanly speaking, in dong that I was perfectly right and acted most nobly toward her by not letting her suspect my agony. In a purely esthetic sense I was generous. I dare congratulate myself for doing what few in my place would do, for if I had not thought so much of her welfare, I could have taken her, since she herself pleaded that I do it (which she surely should not have done; it was a false weapon), since her father asked me to do it; I could have done a kindness to her and fulfilled my own wish, and then if in time she had become weary, I could have castigated her by showing that she herself had insisted on it. That I did not do. God is my witness that it was my only wish; God is my witness how I have kept watch over myself lest any memory of her be effaced. I do not believe that I have spoken to any young girl since that time. I thought that every rascal who happened to be engaged regarded me as a second-rate person, a villain. I have done my age a service, for in truth it was certainly [here some illegible words].

In margin:* How would anyone have suspected that such a young girl could go about nursing such ideas. Then, too, it was a very immature and merely vain idea, as the future showed; for if the constituents had actually been present, then the manner in which I broke the engagement would have been absolutely decisive. Such things must give a kind of elasticity. But so my girl was — first coy and beside herself with pride and arrogance, then cowardly.

[A page torn from the journal.]

it would surely have happened. But with respect to marriage it is not true here that everything is sold in the condition "as is" when the hammer falls; here it is a matter of a little honesty about the past. Here again my chivalry is obvious. If I had not honored her higher than myself as my future wife, if I had not been prouder of her honor than of my own, then I would have remained silent and fulfilled her wish and mine — I would have married her — there are so many marriages which conceal little stories. That I did not want, then she would have become my concubine; I would rather have murdered her. — But if I were to have explained myself, I would have had to initiate her into terrible things, my relationship to my father, his melancholy, the eternal night brooding within me, my going astray, my lusts and debauchery, which, however, in the eyes of God are perhaps not so glaring; for it was, after all, anxiety which brought me to go astray, and where was I to seek a safe stronghold when I knew or suspected that the only man I had admired for his strength was tottering.

May 17, 1843


Faith hopes for this life also, but, note well, by virtue of the absurd, not by virtue of human understanding; otherwise it is only common sense, not faith.



I am going to try to get rid of the gloomy thoughts and black moods that still live in me by writing something which will be called:

A Leper's Self-observation.

In margin:

It will be a scene between two lepers — the one is compassionate and does not wish to be seen lest he disquiet people; the other wants to revenge himself by horrifying people. The one has brothers and has discovered only recently that they are in the same situation, that the whole family had incurred leprosy.


I have thought of adapting [the legend of] Agnes and the Merman from an angle that has not occurred to any poet. The Merman is a seducer, but when he has won Agnes' love he is so moved by it that he wants to belong to her entirely. — But this, you see, he cannot do, since he must initiate her into his whole tragic existence, that he is a monster at certain times, etc., that the Church cannot give its blessing to them. He despairs and in his despair plunges to the bottom of the sea and remains there, but Agnes imagines that he only wanted to deceive her.

But this is poetry, not that wretched, miserable trash in which everything revolves around ridiculousness and nonsense.

Such a complication can be resolved only by the religious (which has its name because it resolves all witchcraft); if the Merman could believe, his faith perhaps could transform him into a human being.


I must get at my Antigone again. The task is a psychological development and motivation of the presentiment of guilt. With that in mind I have been thinking of Solomon and David, of the relation of Solomon's youth to David, for no doubt Solomon's good sense (dominant in him) and his sensuality are the result of David's greatness. He had had earlier intimations of David's deep agitation without realising what guilt might rest upon him, and yet he had seen this profoundly God-fearing man give such an ethical expression to his repentance, but it would have been a quite different matter if David had been a mystic. These ideas, these presentiments, smother energies (except in the form of imagination), evoke reflection, and this combination of imagination and reflection, where the factor of the will is lacking, is sensuality proper.



"But what is the flattering voice of fame
to a sign from a maiden's breast."
Shack Staffeldt



Reminiscences of My Life
Formerly Emperor, Recently an Ox
Nicolaus Notabene



Was Tarquinius Superbus in seinem Garten mit den Mohnköpchen sprach, verstand der Sohn, aber nicht der Bote.

See Hamann, III, p. 190 mid.


periissem nisi periissem.


The motto for "Fear and Trembling" should have started with "Write" — "For whom" — "Write for the dead, for those you love in some past" — "Will they read me?" — "No!"


In Shakespeare's Ende gut [.....]


I have half a mind to write a counter-piece to "The Seducer's Diary." It would be a feminine figure: "The Courtesan's Diary." It would be worth the trouble to depict such a character.


The sequel to "The Seducer's Diary" must be in a piquant vein, his relation to a young married woman.


Literature should not be a nursing home for cripples but a playground for healthy, happy, thriving, smiling, well-developed children of verve, finely formed, whole, satisfied beings, each one of whom is the very image of his mother and has his father's vitality — not the abortions of weak desires, not the refuse of afterbirth.


Pages from the Notebook of a Street Commissioner

Under this title I would like to describe particular districts of the city that have a certain poetic atmosphere about them, such as Kultorvet (this is the marketplace with the most atmosphere), street scenes, a gutter plank, etc., fishing boats. What splendid contrasts — at one moment have his thoughts sweep that boundless view over the water at Knippelsbro, the next become immersed in contemplation of God and flounder in a tank. Characters would constantly be thrown in — love stories, maidservants, etc. It is remarkable what a healthy sense of humor is often to be found in maidservants, especially when they are criticising the frippery of elegant ladies.

— At present I am making an effort to get every child I meet to smile.


..... her. If she but knew all my sufferings during the past year. She should never have discovered anything. But then my whole outlook is immediately changed. In the marriage ceremony I must take an oath — therefore I do not dare conceal anything. On the other hand there are things I cannot tell her. The fact that the divine enters into marriage is my ruin. If I do not let myself marry her, I offend her. If an unethical relationship can be justifiable — then I begin tomorrow. She has asked me, and for me that is enough. She can depend on me absolutely, but it is an unhappy existence. I am dancing upon a volcano and must let her dance along with me as long as it can last. This is why it is more humble of me to remain silent. That it humbles me I know all too well.


He could turn out to be a fine dramatic character: a man with a profound sense of humor who has established himself as a fashion designer and exerted all his influence and financial resources in making women ridiculous, meanwhile being as insinuating as possible in relation to them, charming them with his flattery and conversation, not because he wanted any favors (he was much too intellectual for that) but in order to get them to dress as ridiculously as possible and thus satisfy his contempt for women, and especially when a fine lady like that found a man who was just as much a fool. — In order to chastise him it could be dramatically planned so that everybody actually considered his malevolently introduced styles to be in excellent taste so that he was the only one who laughed, and yet with perfect right. — Then he fell in love with a girl. He wants to make an exception of her, cannot bear to see her wear the ridiculous clothes he himself has made fashionable in order to prostitute the sex. But he cannot convince her and has to bear the sight of his beloved dressed just like the others.


He gets the women to want to indicate in their dress the group differences that distinguish their husbands; this wins their husbands' approval and thus all are prostituted.

In margin:
For example, he designs a new costume for women to wear to church in order to prostitute them there also.

In margin:
Lines: what is everything in life but fashion — piety is a fashion as well as love and hoop skirts and rings in the noses of savages — I am different from the others only in that I have realized it and come to the aid of that sublime genius in every way until I roar with laughter at the most ridiculous of all animals — man. But there comes the Baroness von der Vüe; she probably will buy herself a new fool's costume.

In margin:
I do not cheat my customers. I always use the best fabrics, pure gold, genuine Brussels lace. My only joy is to spoil everything in the cutting and making something tasteless out of it, for I scorn gold and silver and genuine shawls as profoundly as I scorn the women who swaddle themselves therein.


Under the title: Slices of Ordinary Life (or perhaps: Crisscrossings), I would make a somber sketch of life as it is at certain hours of the day in Copenhagen. Nine o'clock: the children going to school; ten o'clock: the maidservants; one o'clock, the fashionable world. As a rule, life at these different times has different colors, just as does the water where different schools of fish are to be found — it should start out with a lyric about my dear capital city and place of residence, Copenhagen.


There is something curious about my little secretary, Mr. Christensen. I wager that he is the one who in various ways is scribbling pamphlets and things in the newspapers, for I often hear the echo of my own ideas, not in the way I am accustomed to writing them but in the way I casually toss them out orally. And I who was so kind to him, paid him well, conversed with him for hours, for which I also paid for the simple reason that he should not feel mortified and humiliated because his poverty made it necessary for him to be a copyist, I made him an initiate into the whole affair, cast a veil of mystery over the whole thing, made the time as pleasant as possible in every way. — The little article in Portefeuillen a few days before Either/Or was published is certainly by him. It really was not very nice of him. After all, he could have confided in me and told me that he hankered to be an author, but his authorship does not have a good conscience. He no doubt notices that I have changed a little toward him, although I was just as polite and considerate as before. On the other hand I have stopped his inquisitive snooping around my room; he must be kept at arm's length; I hate all plagiarizing pirates.


My notes about Regine are oddly reversed, for what is first in time is always jotted down last, simply because what happened first made such a decisive impact on me that I did not need to be afraid of forgetting it. For example, I still have not recorded some of the most important things, that she herself declared many times that if I could only convince her that I was a deceiver she would be reconciled to everything. Incidentally, when I think of it, this remark was once again a display of her overweening pride, as if she had such an ethical nature; therefore not much importance should be attached to it. Life, in fact, is not so simple. I showed the girl the confidence of believing all the impressive things she let me know about herself and I act on the strength of that — and then it all turns out to be the worst for her. Here one sees how disastrous it is when a girl has had no religious upbringing. When I consider that it was some time before my reading of Mynster's sermons to her once a week made any impression on her. It is odd that a girl can think of herself so highly, odd that her having (qua single individual) favored me with her love or, more correctly, becoming engaged, should shake me up in this way. If it were a matter of differentiating characteristics, I am sure I could measure up to her.


It is not easy to have both the Old and the New Testament, for the O.T. contains altogether different categories. What, indeed, would the N.T. say about a faith which believes that it is going to be well off in the world, in temporality, instead of giving this up in order to grasp the eternal. Hence the instability of clerical discourse, depending on whether it shows forth the Old or New Testament.


I could perhaps reproduce in a novel called "The Mysterious Family" the tragedy of my childhood, the terrifying, secret elucidation of the religious which a fearful presentiment gave me, which my imagination hammered out, and my offense at the religious. At the outset it should be thoroughly patriarchal and idyllic, so that no one would have any inkling before the words appeared and gave a terrifying explanation of everything.


A mentally deranged person who went around scanning all children, for he believed that he had once made a girl pregnant but did not know what had become of her and now had but one concern — to find the child. No one could understand the indescribable concern with which he would look at a child.


There are men who measure out their speech just as deliberately and abstractly as a relative's clock measured the time. It no doubt thought something like this: How unreasonable to strike twelve times at one time and the next time only once. Therefore it spaced equally long intervals between each stroke; when it was twelve o'clock it struck once and thereafter once every quarter hour, and it was three o'clock before it had finished striking twelve o'clock.



A person with a sense of humor meets a girl who had once asserted that she would die if he left her; when he meets her now she is engaged. He greets her and says: May I thank you for the kindness you have shown me. Perhaps you will allow me to show my appreciation (he takes from his vest pocket two marks and eight shillings and hands it to her). She is speechless with indignation but continues to stand there and tries to intimidate him with her glance. He continues: It is nothing — just a trifle to help with the trousseau, and the day you hold the wedding and first crown your kindness, I promise by all that is holy, for God's sake and your eternal salvation, to send you another two marks and eight shillings.


Instead of the plot in Repetition I could imagine something like this. A young man with imagination and a lot more, but who hitherto has been otherwise occupied, falls in love with a young girl — to use an experienced coquette here is not very interesting except from another angle. This young girl presumably is pure and innocent but very imaginative in an erotic way. He comes with his simple ideas. She develops him. Just when she is really delighted with him, it becomes apparent that he cannot remain with her. A prodigious desire for multiplicity is awakened and she must be set aside. In a way she herself had made a seducer of him, a seducer with the limitation that he can never seduce her. Incidentally, it could be very interesting to have him sometime later, at the peak of his powers, improved by experience, proceed to seduce her as well, "because he owed her so much."



A genius equipped with all possible capacities, with power to dominate all existence and to make men obey him, discovers in his consciousness one little sticking point, one bit of lunacy. He becomes so indignant over it that he decides to kill himself, for to him this one little point makes him a serving spirit, a human being. Moreover, this little point is not any externality (for example, being lame, one-eyed, ugly, etc.; such things would not concern him) but has an element of spirit and thus would seem capable of being removed in freedom — therefore it goads him.


This is an example I can use. In volume 7, Steffens reminisces about a mayer named Benda, a generally talented and energetic man who wore a wig. As soon as he took it off, everything became muddled and confused for him. — The thralldom of being bound to a wig. Not merely that like some others he caught a little cold, but that he became insane. See pp. 215 and 216.


The law of delicacy by which an author is permitted to use what he has himself experienced is that he never says the truth but keeps the truth for himself and only lets it emerge in different ways.


Heiberg remarked in his outcry over Either/Or that it was really hard to tell whether some of the observations in it were profound or not. Professor Heiberg and his consorts have the great advantage that what they say is known in advance to be profound. This is partly due to the fact that not a single primitive thought is to be found in them, or at least rarely. What they know they borrow from Hegel, and Hegel is indeed profound — ergo, what Professor Heiberg says is also profound. In this way every theological student who limits his sermon to nothing but quotations from the Bible becomes the most profound of all, for the Bible certainly is the most profound book of all.


I reject all reviews, for to me a reviewer is just as loathsome as a street barber's assistant who comes running with his shaving water, which is used for all customers, and fumbles about my face with his clammy fingers.


The Banquet,
instead, perhaps: In vino veritas
or: Evening
(The basic mood will be different from the mood of the title.)
The narrator goes to the Nook of Eight Paths seeking solitude. There he meets a friend, "although he had rather expected to find a frightened bird." He tells him all about the banquet. The contrast of the deep silence of the forest makes the story about the night of pandemonium better, more fantastic.

The talk on Eros.

The characters: Johannes with the nickname The Seducer, Victor Eremita, recollection's unhappy lover, Constantin Constantius, and "a young man". The last, a very young man, gives a talk in which he proves that erotic love, physical desire, is the most ludicrous of all (its frightful consequences — getting children, plus the fact that a person deceives himself in this lust and merely serves existence). He uses an essay by Henr. Cornel. Agrippa, De nobilitate et praecellentia foeminei sexus (which I have). By using its naïvetè a comic and humorous effect is assured.

The condition is that each one is to base his talk on a definite and personal experience of love. — The young man, however, declares that he cannot provide anything like that since he has always been smart enough to stay clear of it. "One can make a fool of himself by joining up with a girl who by nature is always a silly flirt." If one is to have anything to do with them, he must only seduce!

The banquet begins with a situation. They are assembled in a festively illuminated hall where dinner music (from Don Juan) is being played; they themselves are dressed to the hilt and each one has a personal waiter. While the dinner music is being played, Victor Eremita rises and proposes that they sing the ditty:

My Brimming Glass and the Lusty Sound of Song.

This has an immediate effect upon the gentlemen present, who readily perceive the humor in the singing of a drinking song by such a company of dinner guests, so thoroughly out of keeping with the drinking song period.


The writing of books in our day becomes very deplorable, and people write about things they have never thought about, much less experienced. I have therefore decided to read the writings of men who have been executed or in some way have been in danger.


Albertus Magnus ......


Mathaeus Parisiensis .....


"Denn wovon man frühzeitig als Kind sehr viel weiss, davon ist man sicher, später hin und im Alter nichts zu wissen, und der Mann der Gründlichkeit wird zuletzt höchstens der Sophiste seines Jugendwahns."

See Kants vermischte Schriften, v. Tieftrunk, II, p. 253.

"Welcher Philosoph hat nicht einmal, zwischen den Betheurungen eines vernünftigen und festüberredeten Augenzeugen, und der innern Gegenwehr eines unüberwindlichen Zweifels, die einfaältigste Figur gemacht, die man sich vorstellen kan?"

Same book, p. 250.


I must use Abelard sometime. He must be completely modernized. The conflicts in his soul must not be between the authority of the Pope and Church and what he himself knows, but between his own sympathies, which are inclined to uphold the established — and then Heloise.

See p. 13 in this book [i.e., IV A 31].


Constantin Constantius' journey to Berlin is not something accidental. He generates in particular the mood for the Posse and here approaches the extreme point of the humorous.


The Seducer's Diary
No. 2
An Essay on the Demonic
Johannes Mephistopheles

N.B. It is what the age wants, to get dizzy over the abominable and then fancy itself to be superior. They will not get that from me.


I am indebted to what Victor Eremita has published, and I can only lament that this author has not pursued the excellent ideas at his disposal but instead has become an upbuilding writer.

The scene is in the house of Cordelia, who is married to Edward; — in her house there is a young girl who is the object; the fact that it is in Cordelia's house is a subtle refinement.

He heightens his pleasure by constantly clinging to the thought that this will be his last adventure and by parceling it out, as it were, into the enjoyment. Moreover, he heightens the enjoyment by reproducing, from everything erotic in the particular situation, a compendious memory of the girl who went to ruin on this side of the idea of femininity; he heightens the enjoyment by reproducing all of his own life, and in this way the psychological presuppositions of his soul come to light.

He gets to know a courtesan and establishes a psychological union with her to explore the relation between the seduction which originates with a man and that which originates with a woman — eventually he decides to throw her over.


He runs into a Don Juan with the same girl. This throws light on the method, but he knows how to put Don Juan to good use in his plan.


It could be amusing to have a play begin in this way (the scene is in a man's living room out in the country, and he is talking with his neighbor):

"Yes, my friend and neighbor, it is just as I said, our relationship remains unchanged even if I have become a Councillor."


What is this life, where the only certainty is the only thing one cannot with any certainty learn anything about: death; for when I am, death is not, and when death is, I am not.


Interjectional Comments
The Review of Fear and Trembling in Scharling
and Engelstoft's Journal
Johannes de Silentio

As soon as I had read this review I said to myself: This is it. I said: This author is the man; he explains everything, explains all problems, and does not waste time on a provisional understanding of them. May I therefore take the occasion to wish this author every possible good fortune and success: joy in Denmark, honor to the author, satisfaction with the journal.

Joh. d. s.

February 24, 1844


What is this life, where the only certainty is the only thing one cannot with any certainty learn anything about: death; for, when I am, death is not, and when death is, I am not.


I would like to write a piece which would be called: Life Put to the Test. It must be very imaginative. A hypochrondriacal anxiety together with an egotistic self-indulgence could here take shape in all sorts of forms in such a way that the piece would annul itself, because all the forces which had withdrawn from one another in this way finally find themselves captured in an actuality which they themselves had hypothetically posited, but which now, as a result of the power actuality always has, would give birth to an actuality which they had not suspected at all.

For example, a hypothetically contracted marriage, in which the children would make a dash in the calculations.

A hypothetical civil service appointment which involved one in actuality.

A hypothetical state that got into a lot of trouble with actuality.


Ritter and Preller have included a good selection of quotations from Plato in their history of Greek philosophy. They are noted in my copy.


Probably no one suspects that Either/Or has a plan from the first word to the last, since the preface makes a joke of it and does not say a word about the speculative.


Some think that Either/Or is a collection of loose papers I had lying in my desk. Bravo! — As a matter of fact, it was the reverse. The only thing this work lacks is a narrative, which I did begin but omitted, just as Aladdin left a window incomplete. It was to be called "Unhappy Love." It was to form a contrast to the Seducer. The hero in the story acted in exactly the same way as the Seducer, but behind it was melancholy. He was not unhappy because he could not get the girl he loved. Such heroes are beneath me. He had capacities comparable to the Seducer's; he was certain of capturing her. He won her. As long as the conflict went on, he detected nothing; then she surrendered, he was loved with all the enthusiasm a young girl has — then he became unhappy, went into a depression, pulled back; he could struggle with the whole world but not with himself. His love made him indescribably happy at the moment; as soon as he thought of time, he despaired.


The first διáψαλμα is really the task of the entire work, which is not resolved until the last words of the sermon. An enormous dissonance is assumed, and then it says: Explain it. A total break with actuality is assumed, which does not have its base in futility but in mental depression and its predominance over actuality.

The last διáψ. tells us how a life such as this has found its satisfactory expression in laughter. He pays his debt to actuality by means of laughter, and now everything takes place within this contradiction. His enthusiasm is too intense, his sympathy too deep, his love too burning, his heart too warm to be able to express himself in any other way than by contradiction. Thus A himself would never have come to a decision to publish his papers.


I resist in vain. My foot slips. My life nevertheless remains a poet-existence. Can anything worse be imagined? I am predestined; fate laughs at me when it suddenly shows me how everything I do to resist becomes a factor in such an existence.


If I had not decided when publishing Either/Or not to use any old material, I would have found in going through my papers some excellent aphorisms I could have used. Today I found a little scrap of paper with the following written on it: "I am so tired that I feel that I need an eternity to rest, so depressed that I feel that I need an eternity to forget my troubles; I wish that I could sleep so long that I wake up an old man and then lie down again to sleep the eternal sleep."

March 15, 1843


[For the title "The immediate erotic stages," etc.] What Homer says is true of music: IV-A-222. Iliad, II. 486. One hears it, but he does not know it, does not understand it.

See Longinus in my edition, p. xxxvi., note.


An actual love affair could not be used in the first part, for it always affects a man so profoundly that he enters into the ethical. What I could use was a variety of erotic moods. These I was able to link to Mozart's Don Juan. Essentially they belong in the world of fantasy and find their satisfaction in music. In such cases a girl is much too little, precisely because she is infinitely much more.


In a review in Forposten I see that it is quite properly pointed out that this narrative is not called a seducer's diary but the seducer's, suggesting that the method really is of prime importance, not the portrayal of either Johannes or Cordelia.


P. 336, "that it is every man's duty to become revealed" actually says the opposite of what the whole first part says, as the lines just quoted do in fact say. The esthetic is always hidden: if it expresses itself at all, it is exploitive. Therefore it would have been wrong to have A express his interior nature directly or, indeed, even in B's papers. In A's papers there are intimations of his interior being; in B's papers we see the exterior with which he is accustomed to deceive people — that is why A can come up with the statement about what would be the most derisive remark about existence (p. 334).

The aim of the sermon is not to lull, not to win a metaphysical position, but to motivate to action. That I can in fact do at every moment.

Healing and reconciliation take place essentially by means of compassion. It is a blessing for a man that there is something that he cannot, despite his freedom, will. He cannot will to destroy all existence. Arid morality would merely teach man that he is incapable, would mock his impotence; the upbuilding lies in seeing that one cannot will it.

The second part begins with marriage, because it is the most profound form of the revelation of life. It is ingenious to have Jupiter and Juno called adultus and adulta, τελειος, τελεια, in connection with tracing marriage back to them. —


Autopathetic and sympathetic doubt are identical.


"To choose oneself" is no eudaimonism, as one will readily perceive. It is quite remarkable that even Chrysippus sought to elevate eudaimonia as the highest aim by showing that the basic drive in everything is to preserve and maintain itself in the original condition, and pleasure and happiness appear insofar as it succeeds.

See Tennemann, Ges. d. Ph., IV, pp. 318-19.





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