HOME     Library     CONTENTS: Journals & Papers of Søren Kierkegaard
I   -   II  -   III  -   IV  -   V  -   VI  -   VII  -   VIII  -   IX  -   X  -   XI    


V A   -   V B   -   V C




When one is a child and has no toys, one is well provided for, because then imagination takes over. I still remember with amazement my childhood top, the only toy I had — what acquaintance was as interesting as this one? Yet it did not belong wholly to me. It had, so to say, its official duties as an actual top, and only then in its leisure did it become my diversion. In our day there are complaints that an official holds too many offices, but this one encompassed all.


I was born in 1813, in that bad fiscal year when so many other bad banknotes were put in circulation, and my life seems most comparable to one of them. There is a suggestion of greatness in me, but because of the bad conditions of the times I am not worth very much.

A banknote like that sometimes becomes a family's misfortune.


If Christianity could become naturalised in the world, then every child need not be baptised, since the child who is born of Christian parents would already be a Christian by birth. The consciousness of sin is and continues to be the conditio sine qua non for all Christianity, and if one could somehow be released from this, he could not be a Christian. And this is the very proof of Christianity's being the highest religion, that none other has given such a profound and lofty expression of man's significance — that he is a sinner.   It is this consciousness which paganism lacks.



Even Plato assumes that the genuinely perfect condition of man means no sex distinction (and how strange this is for people like Feuerbach who are so occupied with affirming sex-differentiation, regarding which they would do best to appeal to paganism). He assumes that originally there was only the masculine (and when there is no thought of femininity, sex-distinction is undifferentiated), but through degeneration and corruption the feminine appeared. He assumes that base and cowardly men became women in death, but he still gives them hope of being elevated again to masculinity. He thinks that in the perfect life the masculine, as originally, will be the only sex, that is, that sex-distinction is a matter of indifference. So it is in Plato, and this, the idea of the state notwithstanding, was the culmination of his philosophy. How much more so, then, the Christian view.


Basically the situation is such that if a person does not first use all the power given him against himself, thereby destroying himself, he is either a dolt or a coward in spite of all his courage. The power which is given to a man (in possibility) is altogether dialectical, and the only true expression for a true understanding of himself in possibility is precisely that he has the power to destroy himself, because even though he be stronger than the entire world, he nevertheless is not stronger than himself. Once this has been learned, then we can make sufficient room for religiousness and then also for Christianity, for the most radical expression of this powerlessness is sin. For this reason only is Christianity the absolute religion, because it conceives of men as sinners, for no other distinction can in this way recognize man in his difference from God.


Reason minimizes everything that imagination and feeling hit upon. This is entirely right for reason, but feeling and imagination do the same thing to reason with the same right. Or do feeling and imagination not belong as essentially to man as reason, or will reason perhaps first undertake to prove that it is the highest, and whom does it want to persuade — itself? Of course, it need not do this. Imagination, feeling? These it cannot. Therefore it is just as arbitrary to exalt reason exclusively as it is to exalt feeling and imagination exclusively. Herein lies the truth in taking reason captive, in abandoning reason to come to the truth; for reason is just as selfish and deceptive as feeling and imagination.


Next time I will call myself Petrus Ramus and for a motto use the historical report that he was censured, dass er gegen die Observants mit der Philosophie Beredsamkeit verbinde.

(See Jacobi, Smtl. W., IV, part 1, the preface.)


The task is not, as human stupidity believes it is: to justify Christianity to men, but rather to justify oneself to Christianity.



Wonder is the natural point of departure for the fear of God. As long as wonder is entirely unreflective, it is also abandoned and can blunder into the most preposterous notions. If Christianity did not regard paganism as a sin, if the divine were not so holy to a person that he could not be tempted to want to make the ridiculous misuse and misapprehension of it a subject for comic treatment, it would indeed have happened long ago. Nevertheless, the fact that it has not happened perhaps indicates how stupid the despisers of religion generally are, indicates that they have not spirit enough to understand their task. When the pagan German went into the great forest, when the rays of the sun fell illusively on a tree trunk so that it appeared to be an enormous man, or when the soft light of the moon spiritualized, as it were, such a form — he believed that this was the God. Here was sufficient material for an esthetic conception of the comic in the romantic environment — and now the comic notion that this is the God. If the same person went a little further into the forest and saw an even larger tree which aroused his wonder in a similar manner — then this would be the God.

As soon as reflection enters in, wonder is purified. But now comes reason's enormous error, equally as stupid as superstition, that reflection should eliminate wonder. No! It takes away only that which was the person's own invention, of which superstition still was unaware — but then one stands precisely at the proper point of decision, at the point where absolute wonder corresponds to the truly divine, which reason has not found. Here for the first time faith begins.


It is really comical (a task for irony) to say that a king has "introduced&qot; Christianity into his kingdom, just as one introduces improved sheep breeding. Christianity is precisely the one thing that cannot be introduced.



I have half a mind to write some "wedding discourses" in the same style as my upbuilding discourses, treating the relationship of the parties concerned from a purely poetic point of view.


This Is the Scale

The immediate. To immediacy all probabilities are simply folly (like falling in love — when Desdemona falls in love with Othello). Most people now live somewhat reflectively and therefore do nothing in pure immediacy but dabble in immediacy and reflection. — When reflection is completely exhausted, then faith begins. Here again it is just as foolish to come with probabilities or arguments, because in order to arrive at faith all such temporary devices must be exhausted. Everything which reflection can hit upon, faith has already thought through.



Some people may be disturbed by my sketch of an observer in The Concept of Anxiety. It does, however, belong there and is like a watermark in the work. After all, I always have a poetic relationship to my works, and therefore I am pseudonymous. At the same time as the book develops some theme, the corresponding individuality is delineated. For example, Vigilius Haufniensis delineates several but I have also made a sketch of him in the book.


Perhaps my upbuilding discourses could be made even more specific: Upbuilding Discourses for Kings and Queens — for Beggars — etc. —


In a section about Periander in Fenelon's Lebensbeschreibungen und Lehr-Satze, Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1748, I read something which I had never read before and which is extremely interesting and poetic.

The passage is from pp. 80 bottom — 87 bottom.


I have been so indolent these days that I have not cared about anything, and the only thing I have wanted to do while groaning in my melancholy was to sit on a steed with "a lady in view who stands on the balcony of the castle and waves with her veil." My idea was that the castle should be in a forest but situated so that the balcony was visible from a distance; there would be a meadow in front of the woods, a clover field separated by a little ditch, and I would ride over the meadow — and the lovely lady at the castle would be so indistinct that she could almost be confused with the veil. This would take place in the afternoon when the soft blending of the sun — or in late evening when the sky communes with the sea. Then, breaking this connection, to cut through the water and see her standing on the coast waving her shawl, but in such a way that she and the shawl could be mistaken for phantoms of evening mist.


Where feelings are involved, my experience has been like that of the Englishman who had financial troubles; even though he had a hundred pound note, there was no one around who could change it.


How impatient I am basically is best seen from the fact that I am appalled by the state of pregnancy, simply because it has to last for nine months and all one's will power, all one's feelings, the most extreme efforts — avail nothing.


If anyone wanted to challenge the truth of the theory that our age is an age of movement, then let him consider that Pastor Grundtvig is alive, a man who is far superior to Archimedes and does not even need or dream of needing a fixed point n order to move heaven and earth — no, he does it without a foothold. He needs so little — or more correctly, he literally needs nothing — to produce this tremendous effect, and since it is a familiar fact that he is able to become furious over nothing, it is easy to see not only that the age is one of movement but that it is terribly harrowing to be a contemporary of this Ale-Norse warrior.


Now I am going to write occasional discourses instead of upbuilding discourses, wedding addresses and communion addresses or funeral addresses.


These days I suffer very much from a mute disquietude of thought. I am enveloped in an anxiety; I cannot even say what it is that I cannot understand. Like Nebuchadnezzar, I must ask not only for an explanation of the dream but that someone tell me what it was I dreamed.


N.B. God can appear to man only in the miracle, i.e., as soon as he sees God he sees a miracle. But on his own it is not possible for him to see the miracle, since the miracle is in his own annihilation. [In margin: N.B.] The Jews expressed this figuratively by saying that to see God is death. It is more accurate to say that to see God or to see the miracle is by virtue of the absurd, for understanding must step aside.



Much of the content of "In vino veritas" will no doubt seem to be terribly sensuous; already I hear an outcry, and yet what is this compared to Goethe, for example, Philine in Wilhelm Meister.


At Esrom

The sun in the foreground, the clouds gather over Gribs-Skov (toward Nøddeboe). The clouds creep down toward Esrom, the trees bow to them (with the wind). The whole scene looks like an army, like a nation in migration, flanked by light cavalry, the clouds.


The Seducer's talk is like what is called shower clouds.


In connection with what I read in Rötscher about the accent on the ethical, it occurs to me that in my personal life I, too, used it properly, as both a poet and a speaker, inasmuch as I said with reference to my relation to Regine and breaking the engagement and her certain death: She chooses the shriek, I the pain. Now I can say that she did choose the shriek and I did choose the pain.


I would like to apply to Professor David the words of Baggesen: Everything eventually has an ending, even the dress coat Mr. N. had reversed three times: even Jesper Morten's sermon at vespers last night eventually ended.


Lines by an Individual

"As a girl my wife taught me to write short sentences, for at times she sat with me and promised me a kiss at the end of each sentence. Then when I had learned to write short sentences, for which my critic recommended me, I was married, and then my wife taught me that writing books was not worth the trouble."

In margin: Originally intended for the Judge in "The Wrong and the Right."


In the old days cloth must have been such good quality that the nap grew out again on the reverse side. That was why a dress coat could be reversed twice (my father had this done with his fine woolen dress coat) and not until then was it both reversed and scraped.


The stupidity of Grundtvig (who has now gone completely into vaudeville, toward which he has always had a leaning, for example, his featherbrained desire to be a prophet and seer without any intuition of how such a figure must be tempered in accordance with all the crises of Christianity) is that he always wants to have spiritual security. This accounts for his insipid outspokenness and wittiness á la Lars Mathiesen. Luckily he selected the words: "Ladies and Gentlemen," strongly reminiscent of of Dyrehavsbakken. Just like his wittiness are the Ohs! and Ahs! and Eees! of the barenecks, a bodyguard of interjections, the only class of people Grundtvig has won for himself. — He hopes to produce a great effect by talking, yes, particularly in the vein of the vague. But he perhaps could also produce an effect by standing on his head. Eventually the proof of a doctrine's truth will be to sweat, knit one's brows, thump one's head, smile confidently, visibly swoon under the power of the spirit, etc. It is something like Helveg's jumping up and down in the pulpit to the honor of Christianity, probably wanting to prove its truth by the fact that he could leap a foot into the air.

In margin:

It seems just as ridiculous as for a Hercules of a pastor to take gladiator positions when he prays in order to demonstrate by the rippling muscles of his arms how fervently he is praying etc. It is not muscles that are needed in order to pray and to pray fervently — nor is this the kind of trembling that is of the spirit and inwardness.


The difference between the actor's art and the art of actuality.

The actor should seem to be moved, although he is calm (if he is actually disturbed, this is a mistake). In the realm of actuality one should seem to be calm, although he is moved (if one is not actually moved, this is a mistake, and it is easy enough to be calm).


N.B. I must once again put out a little polemical piece like the Prefaces by Nicolaus Notabene. I am thinking it could be done under the title: Models, or Experiments in Various Kinds of Writing. [In margin: N.B.] The particular types will be parodied. This is so the irony will also appear to better advantage.


The journal will be divided as follows:

1. Examinatio

How does a new quality emerge through a continuous quantitative determination?

2. Contemplatio

de omnibus d.

3. Exaedificatio

concerning the expectation of faith


The question to Prof. Martensen regarding the Aristotelian doctrine of virtue.



Second Number

1. Examinatio

to what extent is being a category — a quality.

2. Contemplatio

P. Møller poetically diffused.

3. Exaedificatio

  1. on the upbuilding in always thanking God.
  2. on the advantage of studying the sources.

their significance for the personality.


Question to Prof. Heiberg, what is poetry.
The hidden (a young girl has said it.)
Weisse, something similar at the beginning of part one.


The Concept of Anxiety
loquere ut videam te

Examples of the consequences of the relationship of generation

Högne (in the Scandinavian tales by Rafn)
Robert le diable (Schwab, Geschichten und Sagen)
Merlin (Fr. Schlegel, Samtl. W.).
The addiction to liquor transmitted from parents to children.

Addiction to stealing
Unnatural vices
Insanity which appears at a certain age.

Addition: Some Shakespearean characters.

Addition: Cenci by P. B. Shelley

Addition: Here will be used the plan found in No. 5 of the original notebooks about anxiety and in the journal, p. 62 [i.e., IV A 121].

Addition: For p. 64 [i.e., IV A 128].

The prostitute who, without having been seduced, made up her mind when she was a girl to be a prostitute because that is what her sisters were.

Addition: She was called Frels. (Police-inspector Götzher.)

Addition: A father-son relationship in which the son secretly discovers everything at the bottom of it all and yet does not dare let on. The father is an important man, devout and strong; only once in a drunken condition did he let fall some words that intimated the worst. The son does not find out any more and does not dare ask the father or any other man.



"In vino veritas" is not going well. I am constantly rewriting parts of it, but it does not satisfy me. On the whole I feel that I have given far too much thought to the matter and thereby have gotten into an unproductive mood. I cannot write it here in the city; so I must take a journey. But perhaps it is hardly worth finishing. The idea of the comic as the erotic is hinted at in The Concept of Anxiety. The fashion designer is a very good figure, but the problem is whether by writing such things I am not deferring more important writing. In any case it must be written in a hurry. If such a moment does not come, I will not do it. At present the productivity has miscarried and makes me constantly write more than I want to write. August 27, 1844


The purpose of the five speakers in "In vino veritas," all of whom are Karikaturen des Heilegsten, is to illuminate women essentially but nevertheless falsely. The Young Man understands women solely from the point of view of sex; Constantin Constantius considers the psychic aspect: faithlessness — that is, of frivolousness; Victor Eremita conceives of the female sex psychically as sex, her significance for the male, i.e., that there is none; the fashion designer considers the sensate aspect, outside the essentially erotic, of the vanity which is more pronounced in a woman's relationship to women, for as an author has said, women do not adorn themselves for men but for each other; Johannes the Seducer considers the purely sensate factor with respect to the erotic.


It is three years now since I got the notion to try my hand at being an author. I remember it quite clearly, it was a Sunday; no, wait a minute — yes, that is positively right, it was a Sunday afternoon; I sat as usual in the cafè in Frederiksberg Gardens and smoked my cigar. When I went out for no reason at all and with no destination in mind, the path, as usual, led me out here where it seems so good to be, so cozy, where my mood is pitched to a certain melancholy elevation over the world and what is of the world, where even the envied glory of the throne is — as indeed it is out here: a queen's memorial to her deceased lord. For the native Copenhagener, Frederiksberg Gardens is likely to be tinged with melancholy since the old king's death; and his successor, by not taking up residence in the summer palace here, has permitted his subjects to feel the loss of their king in the beautiful way, just as a good subject misses one departed, for a surly grump never rightly appreciates anyone living or worthily misses anyone departed. — But what compensates for childhood's unforgettable impression that the king is the king and that Frederik VI is the king, that an appellativium in this case is a proprium and a proprium an appellativium. What other age in life is able to adorn the picture of the king to the point of being a superhuman as does the childlike innocence which still has not experienced a change of kings, which knows nothing in concreto! Devoid of all envy, with no intimation of the pain of being king, uncritical of reputed good or weak qualities, whether he is a good or a wise king, every child has in the king an almost inescapable figure and without having read the royal constitution he involuntarily does what it asks: thinks as affectionately as possible of His Majesty the King. Such a king, of course, lives in an ivory-towered castle with balconies — and so Frederik VI sailed here on Sundays, and he himself was the pilot — and the towers and the swans and the reproduction in actuality of what the child knew from Nürnberg prints, assisted by his own imagination, and the king and the queen, who sailed in a boat, and the swans sailed behind them. And how true this reproduction is. For what the powerful cannot persuade the man of, the child with his cunning is able to persuade him of, and what the adult with all his might is unable to torment out of actuality, the child gets from it richly and in superabundance.

Yes, Frederik VI on Sunday in Frederiksberg Gardens, and he piloted himself and the rowers and the swans as well — it is over, only the fragrance of flowers at the entrance, only the memory remains — and even the best subject is still not such a subject as a child is, and the best subject has a concept of the pains of being king and that to be a king is nothing to desire, but the child sees the king as the one and only happy one, but alas, it is a misunderstanding — for it was the child who was the one and only happy one.

Now the king lives here no more; boisterous life is left behind; the child did not go to the hilarity of Vesterbro, no, he went to Frederiksberg. The contrast makes it quieter. On coming out there one finds the place uncrowded; even at the fountain there is no crush of people. But the joyful mood, despite its inwardness and beauty, is like the worship of a tolerated sect; the leaf-canopied garden and the darkling water make it a sanctuary for a pair of lovers who know life's passion, and for a lonely unhappy man who consorts with melancholy thoughts. My eyes rested at times on the pair of lovers looking for a remote spot in the gardens down a narrow path in order to get away from the noise and find themselves, and at times I discovered the opposite, the more distant sailors, as it were, who from far away sought the crowd in order to lose themselves in the crowd.

But over there at the cafè there is a small group. When one has withdrawn within the fortress of the cafè, he feels at a distance from the happy communal life, and this distance manifests a heterogeneity which is perceived with mixed feelings, composed partly of nobility which wants to transcend the separation and partly of a melancholy longing (which wants to yield to the separation), for the wholesome contentment of common life which must avail itself of the moment and dressed up in Sunday clothes must make the most of the holiday moment.



83, facing the courtyard





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