Irony and Kierkegaard: Analytical Essay

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As we know, in his early work on The Concept of Irony, Sren Kierkegaard examined the subject of irony in depth. Many of the issues raised in this work, such as defining the subject of cognition and subjective self-knowledge, will be addressed in Kierkegaard's following works. References to George W. F. Hegel's thesis also distinguishes this early work.

Kierkegaard contrasts irony as an 'attitude' and 'pure' irony as a 'thought object.'

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Pure irony, according to Kierkegaard, is similar to romantic irony in that it is encased in subjectivity, offered only to the subject-ironist, and only regarded in its execution.

Irony as a 'position,' on the other hand, is irony understood as a specific position taken in action.

This kind of irony is more akin to Socratic irony and the ironic attitude in general, i.e. the consistent attitude taken and exhibited externally (“position,” Socratic attitude as irony). This separation corresponds to the distinction between theoretical, introspective irony and practical irony, i.e. sequential, performative, and 'dramatic' irony.

Irony, according to Kierkegaard, is a process of 'splitting into parts' the object of cognition, perception, logical judgement, and subjective and private opinion. Why does Kierkegaard place such a high emphasis on this varied approach to the object of cognition that is provided by irony?

The immanent cosmos of the mundane, according to Kierkegaard, is a particular whole subjected to humanity's actions and volition - their imperfect state, partial knowledge, and erroneous choices that lead to individual errors in existence, which are often equated to trial and examination.

Because of the individual character of existence, as well as the separate essence of each of us, we always refer to our own subjective reality and individual rationales despite our cognition and self-cognition being incomplete and deceptive.

It should be noted that the work The Concept of Irony was inspired not only by Immanuel Kant's theses, but also by Hegel's discussions in The Phenomenology of Spirit, in which Hegel contrasted the phenomenality of the subject and their mental representations – ( the substantiality of being and objective things.

Kierkegaard begins with many of Hegel's assumptions and theses in his early work: from his notion of the order of the flow of events, which is determining, to distinguishing between the substance of a thing and a phenomenon and the phenomenality of the subject, who is given as a phenomenon to itself

Irony, according to Kierkegaard, is a fragmented reference to a particular segment of reality, beginning and ending with the phenomenal - the mental representation of this fragment of the world. It's worth noting that Kierkegaard makes a clear distinction between romantic and Socratic irony. Socratic irony is morally defined as being linked with the elenctic technique, whereas Romantic irony is associated with the subject's constant aesthetic attitude toward oneself and the world.

It is also important to note that irony and an ironic attitude allow us to encounter the subject's existence in its phenomenality and the object of cognition's existence in its phenomenality, rather than the complete existence of being. The phenomena is not regarded as one that fully reveals existence, but rather as one that reveals existence only in “openness”, as Martin Heidegger put it.

The phenomena would be epistemologically (after Kant) described in its positivity owing to cognitive accessibility, whereas existence would be marked in its negativity due to a lack of cognitive access to existence in Kierkegaard's early writings.

Thus, a phenomena appears to be positive, yet its presence is thought to be unreachable. The phenomena, on the other hand, is just a complement to existence in the ontological order, and existence is an absolute positive in its apparent completeness. Kierkegaard would argue in his later writings, such as Philosophical Fragments and the Concluding Unscientific Postscript to ‘Philosophical Fragments,' that this completeness of being - the transcendence of our entire real being – is de facto not given to us intellectually.

Johannes Climacus, the pseudonymous author of Philosophical Crumbs and its Concluding Unscientific Postscript, calls himself a 'humorist.' The role of irony and humour borders, between the aesthetic, ethical, and religious existence-spheres is discussed in this work.

Irony and humour are 'incognitos' for ethical and religious living, and they play important roles in ethical and religious development. The most famous Soren Kierkegaardian mockery,

at the cost of Hegelianism, is found in the Postscript.

Kierkegaard alters and extends the account of irony he provides in his thesis in the Postscript.

Certain aspects of Kierkegaard's initial stance are illuminated by Climacus' positions. Climacus further emphasises and expands on the developmental significance of irony in assisting people in recognising their distinctive moral agency, which, in his opinion, prepares them for ethical living.

Furthermore, Climacus develops an intriguing explanation of irony as an incognito for ethical emotion, which widens the role of irony in ethical living when it is mastered. He also tries to explain his argument that irony is a necessary component of a happy existence, but that it is only available to smart and thoughtful people.

He also tries to explain that his argument that irony is a key part in a successful existence but appears to be limited to thoughtful and clever people does not create an issue of moral luck.

In comparison to Kierkegaard's account in his previous thesis, some of Climacus' ideas are a step backwards. Climacus' pure ironists, for example, appear to be less ironic than Kierkegaard's, who are marked by their relentless negativity.

Through their withering critical attitude, which seizes on incongruity, Kierkegaard's ironists ladder their way to liberation from societal roles and inherited languages. Climacus' ironists, on the other hand, get at their position by clinging to an 'ethical infinite need' that overcomes and relativizes all purely social sources of normativity.

Irony comes to them in an unusually top-down manner. Furthermore, Climacus' ethical perspective is quite strict. He relegates certain types of people who appear to be ethical to a pre-ethical life.

In his thesis, Kierkegaard offers a more Hegelian explanation of ethical existence that is both more organic and generous.

Climacus' Philosophical Fragments, according to renowned historian Niels Thulstrup in the 1950s, 'cannot be regarded a really pseudonymous work' since 'one will discover barely any discrepancy between this work and [Kierkegaard's] other private and public ideas and works.'

The fact that Climacus defines himself as a comedian, however, has tremendous interpretative implications, according to more literarily oriented interpreters. The humorist's unusual attitude must be taken into consideration while assessing the meaning of the text; Climacus' remarks cannot be understood as if they were Kierkegaard's.

The persona of Climacus, for example, was handled by Louis Mackey as part of Kierkegaard's larger aim of undermining fixed, univocal interpretations; Climacus' digressions and switches in voice and genre actively fight against any straightforward philosophical or theological reading.

Roger Poole agreed that the fractures and supplements in Climacus' writings undermine meaning to the point that any statement may be identified as Kierkegaard's.

Maybe nothing Climacus says should be construed as expressing a significant philosophical argument or religious claim.

Michael Weston, who used a different perspective that stressed textual indeterminacy less, saw Climacus' comedy as a technique used to undermine the presumptions of impersonal abstraction from life's first-person ethical issues

Michael Strawser, in a similar vein, saw Climacus' work as an ironic subversion of objective certainties that leads to true enlightenment for the reader provided the reader takes interpretative responsibility for reading Climacus in that way.

Other critics see a self-contradiction in Climacus' work that makes it impossible to attribute what he says to Kierkegaard.

The ethical and religious are in 'continuous contact' with one another, which is significant since both demand an individual's enthusiasm and inwardness to be focused on precepts that are distinct of them. As a result, Climacus usually refers of these domains as the 'ethically-religious.'

The pseudonym Johannes Climacus reflects Kierkegaard's subjective approach to knowing, despite the fact that this Climacus is not a believer. The ladder isn't supposed to depict the ascension to God, but rather an ascending sequence of logical plateaus, where the logician, as portrayed by Descartes and Hegel in particular, moves from one premise to the next. In spiritual issues, Johannes rejects this technique, believing it absurd to reach the Absolute in any way other than via trust. He's interested in subjective knowledge and leaps of faith.

Despite the fact that Johannes is not a Christian, he guides the reader to a place where he may make a decision. Subjective beings cannot appropriate objective knowledge, which is the stated purpose of rational thinkers. As a result, Kierkegaard was interested in information that might entice the soul to seek God. However, Johannes argues that he is not a Christian since he has not yet come to know God. The arduous journey to God has been replaced by a highly emotional and subjective approach to truth, in which the believer finds himself before Christ by virtue of the absurd.

To grasp the true meaning of irony, one must start with the actual, existential expression of the spirit of irony, rather than an abstract study of essences. As a result, Socrates demonstrates what irony is inasmuch as he takes the ironic viewpoint and employs irony in his interpersonal connections, as defined by Kierkegaard.

Socratic irony, according to Kierkegaard, is a sign or symptom of the birth of personal existence, of subjectivity. Hegel has been followed here – to a degree. Irony, according to Hegel, is the most severe type of subjectivity.

According to Socratic irony, Socrates possessed an 'Idea of the Good', despite the fact that the individual's relationship to the Good is arbitrarily decided. In other words, the subject is seen as the deciding and determining ‘principle ' of what is excellent.

What is merely a 'negative moment' for Hegel becomes an amorphous realisation of the value of the subject, of the person, for Kierkegaard. He refuses to let the sarcastic viewpoint be ‘absorbed' into a rationalistic framework that only recognises the negative aspects of irony and dismisses its importance in the growth of the individual thinker. Kierkegaard is hesitant to have the nihilistic viewpoint regarded carelessly as a simple negative phase in the process of a spiritual dialogue since he lived through it and believes it represented a turning point in his own personal and philosophical growth.

To be sure, the ironic perspective must be conquered, transcended; but, it must also be 'stated' and 'analysed' in order to show how it may be overcome.

According to Kierkegaard, the central feature of Socrates' existence was irony. The ironic viewpoint is pessimistic because it contradicts men's traditional faith in common sense or reason. Many of the bad outcomes of the Platonic debates, we are informed, may be attributed to irony's annihilating impact.

Irony has the ability to make the person to whom it is addressed feel self-conscious. It brings an apparently abstract topic down to a human level, implying that there is a world of truth beyond what is commonly acknowledged. One of Socrates' goals (in employing irony) was to jolt mankind out of their moral and intellectual stupor. Irony is employed to liberate mankind from the sway of broad or abstract concepts that appear to communicate knowledge but actually conceal ignorance.

An assertion of the actual subject, the individual who refuses to submit to conventional opinion, who doubts ostensible ‘knowledge,' who refuses to be explained away by a speculative dialectic, is what the ironic viewpoint entails. Socrates, an ironist, says that the vast majority of man's knowledge is only the presumption of knowing. Socrates' queries have a negative effect, which is intended. Socrates appeared to assume that destroying comfortable assurance would lead to self-conscious contemplation, to a knowledge of what they don't know, to what they aren't.A philosophical self-consciousness, a philosophical anthropology, is served by irony. Kierkegaard's sarcasm helped to' mask' his personal devotion to Christianity. If Socrates wondered how he might become a man, Kierkegaard wondered how he could become a Christian.

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