Laughing to Learn: Irony in the Republic as Pedagogy

Polis 28 (2):235-49 (2011)
Recent commentators have attended to dramatic and ironic aspects of Plato’s Republic. But a more sustained examination of the relation between irony and the exchanges of Socrates and Glaucon is required because a crucial purpose and presentation of the irony have largely gone unnoticed. I argue that Socrates employs irony in part to parody Glaucon’s extremism and that he does so to exhort Glaucon to think critically. I examine how Socrates uses the term makaria (blessedness) primarily ironically and pedagogically. A possible reason for this use of makaria is that aspects of Kallipolis are a parody of Glaucon that aim to instruct Glaucon intellectually.
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