Kierkegaard and Aristophanes on the Suspension of Irony

Idealistic Studies 39 (1-3):125-136 (2009)
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In The Concept of Irony, Kierkegaard aims to show the inadequacy of an ironic standpoint not through a generalized dialectical account of its failure onits own terms but through an empirical examination of the actual life of Socrates. Crucial to his methodology, I argue, is his use of the term “suspend” (svæve).Socratic irony is not overcome, superseded, or annulled, but rather “suspended” in its incomplete connection to its community. In both his depiction of Socratesas hanging in a basket and his deification of insubstantial clouds, Aristophanes provides a model for Kierkegaard’s conception of suspension. By bringing Socrates into direct engagement with the Clouds, Aristophanes shows Kierkegaard not just the tendency of Socratic irony to suspend itself, but a way of approaching irony that does not reduce it to a moment of a greater totality.



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Christopher Lauer
University of Hawai'i at Hilo

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