I'm reading Either/Or and I'm progressing quite well with the book. I'm supplementing it with some external resources where needed, but for the most part I'm doing well without those, by the way, I'm reading Hong's translation, that not only is unabridged but brings a handful of very useful footnotes where needed (unlike Alastair Hannay's translation).

However, it's been quite a few times already that I see Kierkegaard using the words "Recollection" and "Repetition", and I also have the impression he makes some differentiation between what he thinks to be "Recollection" - whose definition I don't know, even though from context it can be inferred it has something to do with the act of remembering - and "Remembering".

I also looked for it on google and I didn't find any article that shed light on these doubts. There still are a bunch of articles on Repetition, but they didn't quite clarify my doubts either.


  • 2
    Short answer is that these terms are intentional echoes of the usage you find in Plato and intentionally ironic attacks on their recurrence in Hegel.
    – virmaior
    Nov 9, 2017 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


Repetition is a key concept for Kierkegaard, and he often uses it to depict a (generally vain) attempt to recapture an previous experience, typically one of aesthetic transcendence. As far as I know, Kierkegaard uses "remember" just in an ordinary sense, it's something you used to know that you can call back to mind, and he does superficially seem to use "recollection" in this same, ordinary way.

But recollection is a philosophical term with origins (as virmaior mentioned) in the work of Plato (see this article), who described it in the Meno as a recovery of knowledge from before your own birth, a reaching back to the fundamental source of all knowledge.

It seems likely that Kierkegaard, who was fond of elliptical arguments, is using both repetition and recollection as ways of talking about a mystical Christian version of Plato's experience, where what you are trying to recover or repeat is not actually the aesthetic experience itself, but the moment of transcendence it offered, and the way it opened a pathway towards a direct apprehension of a higher reality. But that's not made explicit, to get there there you need to read between the lines.

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