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




... We shall not be so arrogant as to do everything on a grand scale. We shall speak of a single individual human life in the way it can be lived out here on earth. What holds true of the history of the race holds true of such a person. If one can see God in history, one can see him also in the life of the individual; to think that one can do the former and not the latter is to delude himself by yielding to the historical, to the brutish imbecility which in the observation of nature sees God by being taught that Sirius is 180,000 millions of miles away from the earth. The materialistic man is astounded by this, and when a person has nothing substantial to say it si best to speak of the whole, of the totality, etc. If every single man is not an individual, himself and the race, simply by being human, then everything is lost and it is not worth the trouble to hear about the great world-historical events or the absolute method. But the world wants to be deceived. Now it goes without saying that it is a swindle to get all world history instead of one's own insignificant person — one does not gain in the trade. Yet people are deceived, deceived insofar as they do not come to understand what is made evident by supposing that they have understood the whole world without this....


What has happened has happened and cannot be undone — only to this extent is the past unchanged, but this change is not a change into necessity, which would indeed be a contradiction, since what was not previously necessary would become necessary (i.e., everything necessary presupposed as necessary); it never becomes necessary, since only that can become necessary which was necessary, but consequently was necessary before it became necessary. Therefore, the necessary cannot come into existence [blive til], for this is the same proposition that nothing by its coming into existence [tilbliven] or in its coming into existence can become the necessary.

What has happened has happened as it has happened, but could it therefore not have happened otherwise?

In what sense is there change in that which comes into existence; that is, what is the nature of the change of coming into existence; for all other change presupposes the existence [at det...er til] of that which changes, even when the change consists in ceasing to exist [at være til]. That which comes into existence [det tilblivende] certainly does not do this by becoming greater or lesser or, if it consists of parts, by way of some change taking place in these, in their relationship, and thereby in the whole, etc.; for if the subject of coming into existence does not itself remain unchanged in the change of coming into existence, it is not this subject of coming into existence which comes into existence but something else, whereby the question is only postponed and is not answered. The subject of coming into existence remains unchanged, therefore, or only suffers or takes upon itself the change of coming into existence, but what is this? Thus if my plan, for example, is changed in coming into existence [in being fulfilled or carried out], it is then no longer my plan and it is another plan which comes into existence, but if it comes into existence unchanged, then it is my plan which comes into existence; this constitutes the unchanged, but coming into existence is also a change. This change is not from being to being [ikke at være til at være]. But this non-being from which it is changed must also be a kind of being [en Art af Væren], because otherwise we could not say that the subject of coming into existence remains unchanged in coming into existence. But such a being which is nevertheless a non-being we certainly could call possibility, and the being into which the subject of coming into existence goes by coming into existence is actuality [Virkeligheden]. Therefore the change of coming into existence is the change of actuality. In coming into existence the possible becomes the actual. But could it not also become the necessary? Not at all, and therefore we still maintain that coming into existence is a change, but that the necessary cannot be changed, that it is always related to itself in the same way. Therefore everything which can come into existence shows in this very way that it is not the necessary. The necessary* is by no means a change in being, as is actuality in relationship to possibility, where the essence continues essentially unchanged. But if the possible by becoming the actual did become the necessary, its essence would become changed, and thus one can understand that it cannot become the necessary, for if it became the necessary, it would no longer be itself.

* Obliquely in margin: Necessity is the unity of possibility and actuality.

The necessary is therefore not a qualification of being, and one says, even though he expresses himself somewhat differently, one says not that it is necessary but that the necessary is; one does not say that because it is, it is the necessary, but that since it is necessary, therefore it is.*

*In margin: Nothing ever comes into existence by necessity, and if, for example, the world must have come into existence by necessity, it would never have come into existence. (This has significance for creation — repentance in ethics.)


..... has taken and is taking only an inland journey from his own consciousness to the presupposition of original sin in his own consciousness. .....


Here again one sees a proof that this enquiry [The Concept of Dread] is not guilty of any Pelagian soft-headedness, which does not have the power to spin the individuals into the web of the race but lets each individual stick out like the loose end of a thread; but one perceives also that in another sense it protects against the race concept, lest this deprive individuals of power and confuse both individual and race. If by Adam's sin (Concept of Dread, Romans 5:12) the sinfulness of the race is posited in the same sense that a species of water birds has webfeet, the concept individual is abrogated and to this extent also the concept human race; for the concept separates itself from the concept animal in precisely this way. Protest is made [sic]


To suppose that anxiety is an imperfection merely betrays a straitlaced cowardice, since, to the contrary, the greatness of anxiety is the very prophet of the miracle of perfection, and inability to become anxious is a sign of one's being either an animal or an angel, which according to the teaching of scriptures, is less than perfect than being a human being. The additional sensuousness which a woman has is therefore in itself of no consequence and viewed under the orientation of the idea is the expression of perfection, since viewed under the idea it is always regarded as overcome and absorbed in freedom.


In a way it has always seemed remarkable to me that the story of Eve has been completely opposed to all later analogy, for the expression "to seduce" used for her generally refers in ordinary language to the man, and the other related expressions all point to the woman as weaker (easier to infatuate, lure to bed, etc).* This, however, is easy to explain, for in Genesis it is a third power that seduced the woman, whereas in ordinary language the reference is always only to the relationship between man and woman and thus it must be the man who seduces the woman.

*Note. If anyone has any psychological interest in observations related to this, I refer him to "The Seducer's Diary" in Either/Or. If he looks at it closely, he will see that this is something quite different from a novel, that it has completely different categories up its sleeve, and, if one knows how to use it, it can serve as a preliminary study for a very serious and not merely superficial research. The Seducer's secret is simply that he knows that woman is anxiety.


If men had pursued further the ancient idea that man is a synthesis of soul and body, which is constituted by spirit, men would long since have thought more precisely with regard to sin and original sin, its origin and its consequence. Though it can be said that the spirit takes lodging in a defiled body*, and this is the most extreme expression one can employ, yet it does not follow that the spirit itself is defiled, unless this defilement is again a consequence of that relationship. But even here there is the likeness and unlikeness to Adam, together with the more detailed consideration of the possibility of freedom in the individual.

*In margin: Is this not found in Ecclesiastes or in the Psalms?


It is quite possible to show that a very precise and correct usage of language links anxiety and the future together. Of course, generally language usage is not particularly scrupulous, presumably because speculation has gradually acquired a language of its own which is not spoken by people other than philosophers. At the same time the art is to be able to use the same words which everyone else uses. Then one can appropriately show his authority as thinker through the clarity of thought in his use of language. The word anxiety [Angst] has until now been territory open for the taking; we shall attempt to prescribe to it a definite meaning or, better, to affirm it in its definite meaning.

As a new expression, anxiety is to designate basically the discrimen (ambiguity) of soft subjectivity.

Thus far one easily sees that the future and the possible correspond to it. But when one speaks of being anxious about the past, it seems to conflict with my usage, for the ambiguity of subjectivity has no past. If I now bear in mind that subjectivity is never complete once and for all and that to this extent a recurrence of this ambiguity could be spoken of, it would still not support me if it is really defensible to say: anxiety about the past. But if we now inquire more precisely in what sense we can speak of anxiety about the past, then everything will become clear.


As far as I am concerned, I am safeguarded in this respect by my own experience in another direction; for although I have never been accustomed to making little summaries in order to carry all my scholarly learning in my head, although I always read widely and then turn this over to my memory, although I can be totally engrossed in my own production, and although together with all this I am doing seventeen other things and talk every day with about fifty people of all ages, I swear, nevertheless, that I am able to relate what each person with whom I have spoken said the last time, next-to-last-time, not to mention someone who is the object of particular attention — his remarks, his emotions are immediately vivid to me as soon as I see him, even though it is a long time since I saw him.


Continuation of the Preface

All of us have a little psychological insight, some powers of observation, but when this science or art manifests itself in its interminable amplitude when it abandons minor transactions on the streets and in dwellings in order to scurry after its favourite: the person closed up within himself — then men grow weary.


My interest is not to be a poet but to make out the meaning of the religious. That it will not be thought that the religious is for striplings* and stupid people — that is my aim in this story.

In margin: * and unshaven.


Hitherto, the imperfection in the tragic is that it had to be about great men and great events historically certain. Disbelief in the idea — therefore hitherto the comic has had a higher ideality. We are more inclined to believe that a man is ridiculous than that he is great (see notes on esthetics in tall cupboard nearest the door).

Likewise with the religious prototypes. One who in this connection does not understand ab posse ad esse valet consequentia does not at all understand ab esse ad posse valet consequentia either, but imagines that he does. Only ideality is the true norm; actuality and historical accuracy are nonsense as a norm.


He [is] essentially* closed up within himself — she could not be that even if she wanted to (why not? A woman cannot express dialectical reduplication, just as she cannot express many consonants preceding one vowel but only the vowels).

*The significance of the portions entered the fifth of each month.


What his self-inclosing reserve contains he never says.

Let us simply assume that his melancholy has no content at all. He who is melancholy can name many cares which hold him in bondage, but the one which binds him he is unable to name. Or let it be guilt. Or mental instability.


To need God is man's highest perfection.


Among those born of women none is greater; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

If man did not have absolute need of God he could not

  • know himself — self-knowledge.
  • be immortal


Man's highest achievement is to let God be able to help him.


To the typesetter. The entire book is to be printed in the same types used in 1843 for Two Upbuilding Discourses and with the same number of lines per page.





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