Towards redefining Socratic irony

Warren, L. (2013)

Please cite as follows: Warren, L. 2013. Towards redefining Socratic irony. Akroterion, 58:1-17, doi:10.7445/58-0-144.

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The nature and function of Socratic irony has been much disputed in contemporary scholarship, and there is no source which offers a satisfactory account of Socratic irony. In this article I firstly argue that Socrates’ disavowals of knowledge cannot be taken literally. I then argue that Socrates also has some physical habits, in particular an attitude of superiority and the appropriation of Spartan dress, which can be interpreted as ironic within their historical context, in other words that Socrates’ physical actions also suggest irony. In conclusion I argue that Socratic irony has interlinked political and pedagogic functions, and I offer suggestions for the redefinition of the concept of Socratic irony which allows for these insights.

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