On the Concept of Irony with Continual Reference to Socrates

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The cover page to Søren Kierkegaard's university thesis.

On the Concept of Irony with Continual Reference to Socrates (Danish: Om Begrebet Ironi med stadigt Hensyn til Socrates) is Søren Kierkegaard's university thesis paper that he submitted in 1841. This thesis is the culmination of three years of extensive study on Socrates, as seen from the view point of Xenophon, Aristophanes, and Plato.[1]

His thesis dealt with irony, and in particular, Socratic irony. In Part One, Kierkegaard regards Aristophanes' portrayal of Socrates, in Aristophanes' The Clouds to be the most accurate representation of the man. Whereas Xenophon and Plato portrayed Socrates seriously, Kierkegaard felt that Aristophanes best understood the intricacies of Socratic irony.

In the shorter Part Two of the dissertation, Kierkegaard compares Socratic irony with contemporary interpretations of irony. Here he offers analysis of major 19th century writers and philosophers including Fichte, Schlegel, and Hegel. The book also contains his notes on Schelling's Berlin Lectures of 1841.


  1. "Reflections on Kierkegaard's Socrates" by H. Sarf, Journal of the History of Ideas, 1983.

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