Kierkegaard on Socrates’ daimonion

Rico Sneller (Corresponding author)

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In this article, I argue that Kierkegaard’s interpretation of Socrates’ daimonion in The Concept of Irony should be read in light of his notion of the demonic in The Concept of Anxiety, and vice versa. Whereas the first should primarily be seen as an exemplification of philosophical transcendental consciousness, the second assumes a more strictly ‘moral’ connotation (‘anxiety about the good’). If the notion of the demonic in The Concept of Anxiety draws upon the Socratic daimonion in The Concept of Irony, this will have implications for philosophy and science in so far as they take a transcendental consciousness for granted. However, Kierkegaard’s continued reference to, if not identification with, Socrates, prevents us from immobilising Kierkegaard’s ‘own’ philosophy, as though the Socratic position can ever be definitively overcome. The ‘enclosed reserve’ of the demonic is rather philosophy’s weak spot.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-100
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophy and Theology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • anxiety
  • demonic
  • irony
  • Socrates’ daimonion


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