There are handbooks on everything, and generally speaking education will soon will consist of knowing letter-perfect a larger or smaller compendium of observations from such books, and one will excel in proportion to his skill in pulling out the particular one, just as a typesetter picks out letters.
So the present age is basically sensible, perhaps knows more on the average than any previous generation, but it is devoid of passion. Everyone is well informed, we all know everything, every course to take and the alternative courses, but no one is willing to take it. If one person eventually were to surmount his own reflection and act, a thousand reflections from outside would immediately create opposition to him, because only a proposal to consider the matter further is received with rising enthusiasm, and a proposal for action is met with indolence. Some in their snobbish self-satisfaction would consider the enthusiasm of those who act as ridiculous; others would be envious because he was the one who began it when they knew just as well as he what should be done–but still did not do it. Others would use the fact that there was one person who actually acted as an occasion for distributing an abundance of critical observations and turning over a stock of arguments on how he could have acted far more sensibly. Others would get busy conjecturing the outcome, and if possible, influencing the enterprise in the directions of their own hypotheses.
There is a mutual inquisitiveness; everyone is experienced in indecisiveness and evasions and waits for someone to come along who wills something–so that they may place bets on him.
It’s hard to believe this is Kierkegaard writing in 1846. Whose present age is this really?