Relationality and difference
Kierkegaard on irony and longing
Keywords:Socratic irony, Christian Eros, difference, dialogue, existential becoming
Søren Kierkegaard's work The Concept of Irony is an ambivalent and subtle analysis of irony with special reference to Socrates. Kierkegaard demonstrates how irony paradoxically makes its own method into an object of irony, a process culminating in a transgression of dialectics resulting in pure negativity. Moreover, irony is only a tool whereby the philosopher approximates the Absolute through indirect communication and explores the limits of language by contrasting it with music. The ultimate goal of this speculative, rhetorical procedure is to open up the aesthetic dimension to the ethicoreligious dimension. This involves an emancipation of subjectivity entailing the subject's serious confrontation with existence as an ethically disposed interest, interesse, where the individual is in constant dialogue with her/himself. The dialogue in the individual self is propelled by longing, which may be conceived as an intensified mental force containing an erotic and religious core and manifesting the everpresent, immanent difference between self and other. That difference is emblematic of a psychological, moral and epistemological problematic indicating indeterminacy and relationality, the pivots of individual becoming.
Kierkegaard, S. The Concept of Irony. Trans. Lee M. Capel. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965.
———. Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Trans. David F. Swenson and Walter Lowrie. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1941.
———. Either-Or. Trans. David F. Swenson and Lilian Marvin Swenson. New York: Anchor Books, 1959.
———. The Point of View of My Work as an Author. Trans. and ed. Walter Lowrie. London: Oxford University Press, 1939.
Smyth, J. V. A Question of Eros: Irony in Sterne, Kierkegaard, and Barthes. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 1986.
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