The Concept of Irony – A Constructive Position?

I am still trying to outline the contours of SK’s initial approach to the Socratic method.  In relation to Christianity SK views Platonism as a negative to Christianity’s positive.

On the one hand, in Christianity that which is to be died to is understood in its positivity as sin, as  a realm that all too convincingly proclaims its validity to everyone who languishes under its laws; on the other hand, that which is to be born and is to arise is understood just as positively.  In the intellectual dying to [Platonism], that which is to be died to is something indifferent; that which is to grow during this dying to is something abstract. . . . The one says that we should refrain from unwholesome food, control desire, and then good health will come; the other says that we are to stop eating and drinking, and then one can have the hope of gradually becoming nothing.  Thus we see that the Greek is more of a rigorist than the Christian, but therefore this view is also untrue. (76-77)

I have mixed feelings about this basic distinction.  On the one hand it lends itself towards instrumentalizing Christianity.  But on the other hand it demands that Christianity remain articulated and engaged in the level of materiality.  I cannot imagine this will be SK’s unqualified word on the matter but I thought I would throw it up to keep a point of orientation.

As I read along a little further I wonder if irony in the Platonic (or Socratic) context informs that space in which the necessity and the nothingness of death are affirmed.  Kierkegaard writes,

In my view, that well-known epitaph by Wessel, “At last he could not be bothered to live,” contains irony’s perception of death.

And then he continues,

But he who dies because he cannot be bothered to live certainly would not wish for a new life either, since that would indeed be a contradiction.  Obviously the languor that desires death in this sense is a snobbish sickness found only in the highest social circles and in its perfectly unalloyed state is just as great as the enthusiasm that sees in death the transfiguration of life.  Ordinary human life moves drowsily and vaguely between these two poles.  Irony is healthiness insofar as it rescues the soul from the snares of relativity; it is a sickness insofar as it cannot bear the absolute except in the form of nothing, but this sickness is an endemic disease that only a few individuals catch and from which fewer recover (77-78). [emphasis mine]


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