A Discussion Of Socratic Irony

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As we can see, Kierkegaard traces a parallel between Socrates’ ironic practice and a picture. Furthermore, the effect of his rejoinders is likened to that of an image suddenly popping up while we stare at this picture. In order to get at Kierkegaard’s point, we have to consider that this passage is contained inside a discussion of Xenophon’s portrait of Socrates. In fact, the whole passage is meant those aspects of Socratic irony which Xenophon missed. In this regard, Kierkegaard writes that what he dislikes in Xenophon’s treatment of Socrates is his failure to portray the two essential elements of Socratic irony. The first one is ‘situation’, the second one are his ‘rejoinders’ . A bit below, Kierkegaard adds that ‘[…] Socratic questioning is clearly […] analogous to the negative in Hegel, except that the negative, according to Hegel is a necessary element in thought itself, is a determinant ad intra [inwardly]; in Plato [and therefore in Socrates] , the negative is made graphical and placed outside the object in the inquiring individual’ . This two ways of conceiving the negative give way to two modes of leading philosophical inquiry. In the first case, ‘[…] one can ask with the intention of receiving an answer containing the desired fullness, and hence the more one asks, the deeper and more significant becomes the answer; or [in the second case,] one can ask without any interest in the answer except to suck out the apparent content by means of the question and thereby
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