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Søren KierkegaardSubjectivity, Irony, & the Crisis of Modernity$
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Jon Stewart

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747703

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747703.001.0001

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The Life and Work of Kierkegaard as a “Socratic Task”

The Life and Work of Kierkegaard as a “Socratic Task”

(p.6) 1 The Life and Work of Kierkegaard as a “Socratic Task”
Søren Kierkegaard

Jon Stewart

Oxford University Press

In this first chapter, the basic premise of the book is presented, namely, the idea that Kierkegaard used Socrates as his model. The chapter begins with an account of Kierkegaard’s early life and family background. It then turns to The Concept of Irony and tries to understand its structure and strategy. Since Kierkegaard sees himself as fulfilling a Socratic task, it is important to gain some insight into the thoughts of Socrates to determine exactly what this means. So this chapter looks briefly at Plato’s dialogues, the Euthyphro and the Apology, which Kierkegaard studied carefully. In these works some of the key elements of Socrates’ philosophy are portrayed, specifically, his irony, his ability to reduce his dialogue partner to aporia or being at a loss, his relation to the Sophists, his self-understanding as the gadfly of Athens, his daimon or personal spirit, and finally, his art of midwifery or “maieutics.”

Keywords:   Kierkegaard, Socrates, aporia, gadfly of Athens, daimon, maieutics

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