Abstract

This article pursues an antihermeneutic conception of Socratic irony that troubles the borders between pedagogical authority and humility. One of the most tenacious ways of troping the teacher-student relation, Socratic irony is often figured as a way for a masterful teacher to exercise authority over a student. Drawing on the writings of Søren Kierkegaard and Avital Ronell, this article repositions such irony as an uncontrollability in language itself—one that can humble and humiliate teacher and student alike. Via divergent readings of Plato’s Gorgias and Aristophanes’ Clouds, as well as Bruno Latour’s interpretation of the former, I question how this approach to Socratic irony might re- and unwork rhetoricians’ positions of mastery with regard to both students and systematized bodies of knowledge.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2079
Print ISSN
0031-8213
Pages
pp. 149-172
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-18
Open Access
No
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