Det er ganske sandt, hvad Philosophien siger, at Livet maa forstaaes baglaends. Men derover glemmer man den anden Saetning, at det maa leves forlaends. Hvilken Saetning, jo meer den gjennemtaenkes, netop ender med, at Livet i Timeligheden aldrig ret bliver forstaaeligt, netop fordi jeg intet Øieblik kan faae fuldelig Ro til at indtage Stillingen: baglaends.
("It is really true what philosophy tells us, that life must be understood backwards. But with this, one forgets the second proposition, that it must be lived forwards. A proposition which, the more it is subjected to careful thought, the more it ends up concluding precisely that life at any given moment cannot really ever be fully understood; exactly because there is no single moment where time stops completely in order for me to take position [to do this]: going backwards." Often shortened to "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards"---in Danish, Livet skal forstaas baglaens, men leves forlaens.)

        ---Søren Kierkegaard

Søren Kierkegaard, Journalen JJ:167 (1843), Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter, Søren Kierkegaard Research Center, Copenhagen, 1997--, volume 18, page 306. Thanks to Karsten Kynde, Søren Kierkegaard Forskningscenteret, for the Danish text of the quotation and directions to its location in print. The English translation of the long quote is my own. The Danish short form is due to Julia Watkin.

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