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The Isolated Self

Truth and Untruth in Søren Kierkegaard’s On the Concept of Irony

Often overlooked by Kierkegaard scholars, On the Concept of Irony—Kierkegaard’s dissertation—is in fact a foundational text that established some of Kierkegaard’s most important ideas on the self. In The Isolated Self, K. Brian Soderquist restores this important work to its proper place, offering a rare full-length study of the text that shows how and why Kierkegaard would return to the ideas he developed there throughout his entire career.
Thoroughly examining On the Concept of Irony, Soderquist uncovers the most comprehensive account of the “double movement” that is so important in Kierkegaard’s later works. Hinging on irony, the double movement describes the way existence pushes us to move from an immediate, unreflective life toward a self-developed worldview. Soderquist bores into this notion of irony, reconstructing the way it was conceived in Kierkegaard’s time by analyzing its use by related thinkers such as Hegel, Friedrich Schlegel, Johan Ludvig Heiberg, Hans Lassen Martensen, and Poul Martin Møller. Altogether Soderquist shows how Kierkegaard’s concept of irony, as demonstrated in this very early work, is crucial to understanding his pivotal thoughts on selfhood. 

247 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2013

Danish Golden Age Studies

Philosophy: General Philosophy

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“Standing at the beginning of Kierkegaard’s authorship, yet not avowedly belonging to the authorial project itself, On the Concept of Irony is often found as a mere footnote within Kierkegaard scholarship. In this engaging book, K. Brian Soderquist brings Kierkegaard’s Magister dissertation to the fore and develops a compelling case for treating On the Concept of Irony ‘as a prism through which to illuminate Kierkegaard’s authorship as a whole.’”

Simon Podmore, University of Oxford

Table of Contents


Introduction: What is Irony in On the Concept of Irony?

An Orientation in the Research Tradition

Reconstructing a Lost Historical Horizon

Closure, Openness, and a Reconciliation with Actuality  


1. Contemplative History: A Methodology for Dual Purposes

Hegel’s Speculative History

Kierkegaard’s Contemplative History

2. Kierkegaard’s Nihilistic Socrates

Socrates’ Place in World-History

Socrates’ Abstract Personality

3. Irony Defined: The Isolated Subject

“Irony is Isolation”

Historical Actuality and Absolute Nothingness


4. Schlegel’s Aesthetic Salvation: A Reconciliation with Actuality

Schlegelian Irony

Lucinde: A Guide to Selfhood

5. Kierkegaard’s Critique of Romanticism: The Closed Self

Hegel on Romantic Irony

Poul Martin Møller on Irony and Selfhood

Kierkegaard’s Critique(s)

6. Irony, Humor, and the Religious Self

A Local Interpretation of Irony and Humor

The Problem of Irony in Kierkegaard’s Journals

7. The Ghost of Irony in Kierkegaard’s Authorship

A Glance at the Foregoing Chapters

The Discussion of Irony Recast


Index of Persons

Index of Subjects

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