Kierkegaard and the Art of Irony

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Humanity Books, 2001 - Philosophy - 142 pages
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The tendency of many scholars to interpret Kierkegaard's works as a unified system of "indirect communication" that obliquely hints at an underlying ontology or a set of ethical principles is fundamentally misguided, says philosopher Roy Martinez. Kierkegaard's discourse is essentially rhetorical and irony is the chief strategy of his rhetoric. Kierkegaard's use of irony assumes a very special role, according to Martinez, for it becomes emblematic of Kierkegaard's unique view of faith. Through this rhetorical posture Kierkegaard succeeds in simultaneously holding back from the "cosmic march" of events while still remaining fully engaged in the urgent demands of life. Irony thus becomes the poetic medium par excellence.

Martinez focuses on Kierkegaard's use of pseudonyms, the chief expression of his ironical art. The role of pseudonymity is considered in connection with Kierkegaard's critique of Augustine's concept of faith, the Socratic concern with self-knowledge, Judge Wilhelm as a caricature of Socrates, Kierkegaard's place in the hermeneutic project, his notion of "inward deepening," and the ethical reality of other persons in relation to the single individual. Martinez also explores the self-referential character of the pseudonymous author of Fear and Trembling, Johannes de Silentio.

Martinez's close reading of Kierkegaard's texts in the original Danish makes this work an exemplary study for students and scholars alike.

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Kierkegaards Critique of Augustines Concept of Faith
An Exercise in Kierkegaardian Aporetics

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About the author (2001)

Roy Martinez (Atlanta, GA) is professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Spelman College, and the editor of The Very Idea of Radical Hermeneutics.

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