Irony in the Work of Philosophy

Irony in the Work of Philosophy

Irony in the Work of Philosophy

Irony in the Work of Philosophy

Synopsis

In an era that proclaims itself postironic, the question and problem of irony are of more interest than ever. In this compelling inquiry, Claire Colebrook first takes up all the major figures in post-Cartesian philosophy on the subject of irony: Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche. She similarly examines the modern thinkers in the Anglo-Saxon tradition: Rorty, Searle, and de Man. She then engages in an analysis of the Continental canon and the ironic dimension that marks contemporary philosophy.

Beyond the question of irony, Colebrook treats the presence of irony in the history of philosophy and those points of overlap between nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and philosophy. Ultimately, she extends what has belonged primarily to the domain of literature into a world of concepts.

Excerpt

El(ev)ation

Aristotle opens his Metaphysics—which will insist on the knowledge of first principles—with the specific capacity and desire of human vision. There is a desire to see, for its own sake, regardless of any use or end. At the same time, this desire to see or wonder of seeing also allows the human soul to think beyond sensible knowledge to those principles that are not given to the senses. The human eye is at one and the same time captured by this world and prompted to think beyond it. It is this capacity to see beyond one's point of view that opens the possibility not only of philosophy and speculation but also of dissimulation, deception, and error. Seeing this present and evident world is bound up with a view toward what is not given. The human eye is ironic, capable of viewing this world from an unworldly perspective. Thetradition of irony is a tradition that interrogates the essentially bifurcated . . .

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