U.S. Intellectual History Blog

A Quote for Tuesday

“In one of the Psalms it is said of the rich man that he heaps up treasures with great toil ‘and knoweth not who shall inherit them.’ So I shall leave behind me, intellectually speaking, a capital by no means insignificant–and alas, I know full well who will be my heir. It is that figure so exceedingly distasteful to me, he that till now has inherited all that is best and will continue to do so: the Docent, the Professor.

Yet this is also a necessary part of my suffering–to know this and then go calmly on with my endeavor, which brings me toil and trouble and the profit of which, in one sense, the Professor will inherit. ‘In one sense’–for in another sense I take it with me.

Note. And even if the ‘Professor’ should chance to read this, it will not give him pause, will not cause his conscience to smite him; no, this too will be made the subject of a lecture. And again this observation, if the Professor should chance to read it, will not give him pause; no, this too will be made the subject of a lecture. For longer even than the tapeworm which recently was extracted from a woman . . . even longer is the Professor, and the man in whom the Professor is lodged cannot be rid of this by any human power, only God can do it, if the man himself is willing.”

Soren Kierkegaard, “A Sad Reflection,” in The Journals (1850-1854), A Kierkegaard Anthology, ed. Robert Bretall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1946), 432.