Romantic Irony and the Dialectics of Practice

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No. 9, 2021


Romantic Irony and the Dialectics of Practice



Liu Senlin


In terms of relationship, romantic irony provides reference for the dialectics of practice because of its reflection of traditional metaphysics and critique of the absolute, cold, and rigid dialectics of idealism. The enlightenment brought by romantic irony’s adoption of poetics to supplement and transform the standpoint provided by traditional philosophy indicates that dialectics cannot only be approached at the level of philosophy; its appeal can only be fully demonstrated through an interdisciplinary vision. However, romantic irony and the concomitant “creation” chiefly concern the humanities, awakening through “remote places” isolated from the pollution of modernity, tempering the self and implementing the Ur-Ich attained through limitless inner reflection. At the same time, the dialectics of practice broadens its horizons to include the economy and society; it sees the dualism of progress and its limitations in the reification of the relations of production. In contrast, romantic irony appears to be too purist and beset with too many restrictions. Transcending mere language, logic, and concepts, the dialectics of practice breaks away from such treatment of dialectical structure and from the tradition that criticism and creation are only conducted in the fields of the humanities and the arts. It transcends the “dialectics” which entrap romantics in illusion as they seek infinity, thus transforming and raising the level of romantic irony’s criticism of modernity and its quest for political practice. The abandonment of traditional metaphysics means that the dialectics of practice is not only reliant on the rationality of the economy and society and their achievements, but also that it remains open to the vitality, sensibility and emotion of literature and the arts, attaining the organic unity of man and nature. This has a certain significance in that it prevents dialectics from becoming absolute and rigid.