College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree



Hegel, Schlegel, irony, comedy, aesthetics


At task in this dissertation are two forms of humor, comedy and irony, and their respective roles in the philosophical projects of G.W.F. Hegel and Friedrich Schlegel. By examining the role of these two forms of humor in the context of the philosophical projects of these two thinkers, we gain not only a fruitful point of entry into each thinker’s philosophical project on its own terms, but also an entry point that allows us to examine why their projects diverge so sharply from one another. Whereas Hegel provides his audience with a systematic progression of the arts that ultimately leads to art’s self-transcendence and the transition into thought, Schlegel’s reader is confronted with texts that are thoroughly fragmentary, open-ended, and which do not provide a direct path from poetry to philosophy. Hegel’s treatment of comedy is historical; comedy marks an important transitional moment in the history of fine art that he tracks in his Aesthetics. The comprehensibility of Schlegel’s ironic fragments, on the other hand, is left to a future reader, a reader that is formed through the reading of the fragments. Irony is a performative, literary technique that permeates Schlegel’s fragmentary texts. Irony is the method by which he performs, in a relationship of symphilosophy with his reader, the striving toward the Absolute. By following the thread of humor, in its respective forms of comedy and irony, through the projects of each of these two thinkers, we not only get a better appreciation for why their projects diverge so sharply from one another, but we also gain a picture of the relationship between art and philosophy, between art and truth, and how access to the truth and to the Absolute is gained for each thinker.

Available for download on Monday, August 31, 2026