Ironic Life

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2016-06-27
  • Publisher: Polity

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping Icon Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • eCampus.com Logo Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $25.33 Save up to $13.30
  • Rent Book $12.03
    Add to Cart Free Shipping Icon Free Shipping

    *This item is part of an exclusive publisher rental program and requires an additional convenience fee. This fee will be reflected in the shopping cart.

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


"Just as philosophy begins with doubt, so also a life that may be called human begins with irony" so wrote Kierkegaard. While we commonly think of irony as a figure of speech where someone says one thing and means the opposite, the concept of irony has long played a more fundamental role in the tradition of philosophy, a role that goes back to Socrates Ð the originator and exemplar of the urbane ironic life. But what precisely is Socratic irony and what relevance, if any, does it have for us today?

Bernstein begins his inquiry with a critical examination of the work of two contemporary philosophers for whom irony is vital: Jonathan Lear and Richard Rorty. Despite their sharp differences, Bernstein argues that they complement one other, each exploring different aspects of ironic life. In the background of Lear’s and Rorty’s accounts stand the two great ironists: Socrates and Kierkegaard. Focusing on the competing interpretations of Socratic irony by Gregory Vlastos and Alexander Nehamas, Bernstein shows how they further develop our understanding of irony as a form of life and as an art of living. Bernstein also develops a distinctive interpretation of Kierkegaard’s famous claim that a life that may be called human begins with irony.

Bernstein weaves together the insights of these thinkers to show how each contributes to a richer understanding of ironic life. He also argues that the emphasis on irony helps to restore the balance between two different philosophical traditions philosophy as a theoretical discipline concerned with getting things right and philosophy as a practical discipline that shapes how we ought to live our lives.

Author Biography

Richard Bernstein is Vera List Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Jonathan Lear and Richard Rorty on Irony
  • Lear’s Case for Irony
  • Rorty on Irony, Contingency, and Liberalism
  • Some Questions Concerning Lear and Rorty
  • 2. What is Socratic Irony?
  • Gregory Vlastos: Socratic Irony as Complex Irony
  • Alexander Nehamas: Socratic Irony as Silence
  • Vlastos and Nehamas: Productive Tensions
  • 3. Søren Kierkegaard: Irony and Ethical Passion
  • Irony as Infinite Absolute Negativity
  • Moving Beyond “Pure Irony”
  • 4. Irony, Philosophy, and Living a Human Life
  • The Art of Living
  • Why Irony Matters
  • Notes
  • References
  • Name Index
  • Subject Index

Rewards Program

Reviews for Ironic Life (9781509505739)