The statements of the Memorabilia respecting the trial and death of Socrates agree generally with Plato; but they have lost the flavour of Socratic irony
in the narrative of Xenophon.
Many scholars find Socratic irony
so obvious in the Euthydemus that they do not bother to cite any textual support when they claim that Socrates does not sincerely mean something he says, for example, when he praises Euthydemus and his brother.
Knox, however, does not discuss the interrogative aspect of either Socratic irony
(even though questioning is routinely associated with it) or of medieval and Renaissance ironia.
In the "Socratic Irony
" section, the first paragraph alone cites Socrates, Plato, Aristophanes, Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian.
A large part of this fascination is because of the enigma surrounding this literary-historical character (1), and which finds its embodiment in the Socratic Problem, the Socratic Method and Socratic irony
. The latter has experienced a revival in the work of Gregory Vlastos, whose book Socrates: Ironist and moral philosopher (1991) raised several questions on the nature and function of Socratic irony
Kierkegaard calls this liberating form of irony socratic irony
. Socrates used irony to topple the immediate actuality of his time, which to him had lost its validity.
The root meaning of the word, of course, is 'lover of wisdom,' and Poliziano is actually asking whether those who were teaching Aristotle in the Florentine university were really questioning, looking for new evidence, and asking themselves 'why?' By framing the argument within fables, he is challenging his readers to search for wisdom in untraditional ways, and by proceeding as he did, he placed himself within the tradition of Socratic irony
. In the end, Poliziano argues that the only way actually to attain wisdom is through philology, because only the philologist could examine all the evidence, be unimprisoned by disciplinary shackles, and pass dispassionate judgement on life's problems.
Central to this atopia is the enigma of 'Socratic irony
' from the Greek word eironeia invoked by both Thrasymachus in Republic and Alcibiades in Symposium.
When Socrates says he knows nothing, this is one of the classic examples of Socratic irony
. In terms of operational knowledge, it may very well be true.
By bringing Socrates, Plato, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche together as she does, Kofman is encouraging us to ask not only if Socratic irony
is feminine but also if philosophy is too.
For example, in The Concept of Irony Kierkegaard challenges Hegel's account of Socrates, which sees Socratic irony
as a necessary moment in the historical advance toward absolute knowledge, but as a moment that needs to be sublated because Socrates ultimately fails to articulate the absolute.
In 2 Cor 10-13 Paul presents himself as a virtuous broker of Christ's authority--a clement authority--and uses Socratic irony
to show that in continuity with Christ's rule divine power operates through his modesty and weakness.