Socratic Irony

I was reading up on the dictionary definition of irony1 and came across this definition of the term “Socractic irony“:

Socratic irony
pretended ignorance in discussion.

I’ve never heard this term before. I’m familiar with the concept of dramatic irony, but Socratic irony is a new one for me. I think I would merely have referred to it as “feigned ignorance.”

You learn something new every day!

1What, doesn’t everyone read the dictionary for fun?a
aNote that this sentence is sarcastic, not ironic.

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  • It seems to me that Socratic irony refers to a specific subset of feigned ignorance where the affectation takes the form of questioning that leads others toward learning. Typically, the Socratic method comes with a sagacious tone. When instead it takes the form of humble curiosity, it is innately ironic since it is not possible to embark on a course of deliberately leading questions without already having some sense of the destination.


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  • @Demonweed – The dictionary I was look at clearly needs a better definition. I can see how Socratic irony would relate, as you say, to the Socratic method and that the questions by the instructor using the Socratic method would be Socratically ironic (because, of course, they know the answer to the question when they ask it)… but stupid has only that vague four word definition. My kingdom for an Oxford English dictionary!


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Category: Nerdery