20 Pages

Gadfly: Kierkegaard’s Relation to Socrates

ByHjördis Becker-Lindenthal

The gadfly is a common epitheton for Socrates, but also for Kierkegaard, to whom scholars frequently refer as “the gadfly in Copenhagen” or simply “a vexing gadfly.”1 The Dane himself uses the metaphor of the gadfly (Bremse) to describe his activity as a writer and his relation to his contemporaries. The powerful image of the tabanida refers back to Plato’s Apology, where Socrates depicts himself as a stinging gadfly that irritates Athens’ citizenry.2