Unappreciated and scorned in his day, Kierkegaard’s works eventually became a dynamic force in contemporary intellectual life. Widely regarded as one of the founders of present-day existentialism, he insisted that man must find meaning within himself and for himself.
Kierkegaard declared that Christianity necessarily entailed constant anxiety, suffering, and the rejection of all complacency. He was savagely critical of the churchmen of his age, maintaining that they were perverting the true spirit of Christianity.
While capable of idealizing women, especially innocent maidens, Kierkegaard found marital union frightening, repugnant and an obstacle to salvation. Possibly reacting to his father’s sexual excesses, he scandalized Danish society by the brutal suddenness with which he broke off his engagement with a fourteen-year-old girl despite her desperate entreaties. Like his great German predecessor, Arthur Schopenhauer, he lived out his remaining years in solitude, avoiding all contact with women. Having spent his inheritance and himself, Kierkegaard collapsed on the streets of Copenhagen and died a solitary death at the age of 42.
The man who
feels no impulse toward the study of women may, as far as I am concerned, be
what he will; one thing he certainly is not, he is no aesthetician.
God created Eve, He let a deep sleep fall over Adam; for woman is the dream of
awakens first at the touch of love; before that time she is a dream.
what category must she (woman) be conceived? Under being for another. . . . Woman shares this category with
nature and, in general , with
is . . . substance; man is reflection.
Woman . . . is a flower, as the poets like to
say, and even the spiritual in her is present in a vegetative manner. She is
wholly subject to nature, and hence only aesthetically free. In a deeper sense
she first becomes free by her relation to man, and when man courts her
properly, there can be no question of a choice.
be a woman is something so strange, so mixed, so complex, that no predicate
expresses it, and the many predicates one might use contradict one another so
sharply that only a woman can endure it, and, still worse, can enjoy it.
my part, if I were a woman, I had rather be a woman in the orient where I would
be a slave, for to be a slave, neither more nor less, is at any rate something
definite, in comparison with being . . . nothing whatever.
is essentially woman’s due, and the fact that she accepts it instinctively may
be explained as an instance of nature’s tender care for the weak, for those who
have had a hard deal, to whom an illusion gives more than adequate
Woman’s significance is wholly negative, as compared with that her positive significance is nil, indeed it is even pernicious. This is the truth which existence has hidden from her, while it consoles her with a vain conceit which surpasses everything that can enter into any man’s brain and with fatherly care has so arranged it all that language unites with everything else to confirm her in the conceit. -- Stages on Life’s Way
is and ever will be the ruin of a man, as soon as he contracts a permanent
relation with her.
woman’s love is nothing but dissimulation and weakness.
man can never be so cruel as a woman. Consult mythologies, fables, folktakes,
and you will find this view confirmed. If a natural principle is to be
described, whose mercilessness knows no limits, it will always be a feminine
had better be prompt .
. . to regard
woman as a jest. The entertainment is peerless.
more gifted a woman is, the more amusing.
faith in women is intrinsic to a poet. With all due respect, I say that I am a