Philosophical Fragments

by Sören Kierkegaard

Sören Kierkegaard is one of the towering Christian existential thinkers of the mid-nineteenth century. While his literary style was experimental, his writings call for Christian morality; a defense of faith and religion. Among his many books are Training in Christianity, Sickness Unto Death, and Fear and Trembling.

Originally published by Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey in 1936. Translated by David F. Swenson, translation revised by Howard V. Hong. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) One of Kierkegaard’s most important works (published in English in 1936) in which he is principally concerned with the problem of how the Christian revelation, appearing in history, may be appropriated. He uses the pseudonym “Johannes Climacus.”


  • Preface

    Kierkegaard, writing under the pseudonym Johannes Climacus, explains his inadequacy in this task and the lack of his writing fitting the philosophical movements of his day.

  • Chapter 1: A Project of Thought

    If a human being is originally able to understand the Truth, he thinks that God exists in and with his own existence. But if he is in error he must comprehend this fact in his thinking, and recollection will not be able to help him further than to think that, whether he is to advance beyond this point, the Moment must decide.

  • Chapter 2: The God as Teacher and Saviour: An Essay of the Imagination

    The cause of all suffering is love, precisely because God is not jealous for himself, but desires in love to be the equal of the humblest. It is only in love that the unequal can be made equal, and it is only in equality or unity that an understanding of God can be achieved.

  • Chapter 3: The Absolute Paradox: A Metaphysical Crotchet

    One should not think slightingly of the paradoxical, for the paradox is the source of the thinker’s passion A thinker without paradox is like a lover without feeling — a paltry mediocrity.

  • Chapter 4: The Case of the Contemporary Disciple

    God’s presence is not accidental in relation to his teaching, but is essential to it. God’s presence in human form, in the humble form of a servant, is itself the teaching. Such a forerunner may then serve to arouse the learner’s attention, though nothing more.

  • Interlude

    Is the past more necessary than the future? Or, when the possible becomes actual, is it thereby made more necessary than it was?

  • Chapter 5: The Disciple at Second Hand

    Consequences founded on a paradox are built over a yawning chasm, and their total content, which can be transmitted to the individual only with the express understanding that they rest upon a paradox, are not to be appropriated as a settled estate, for their entire value trembles in the balance.