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Epilogue - Earnest Satire, Cynical Credulity, and the Task of Irony

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 January 2022

Shane Herron
Affiliation:
Flinders University of South Australia
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Summary

The Epilogue argues that a collary of the book's thesis is that earnestness and credulity are not the same thing: the satires of Swift and Defoe reveal that credulous investment in even apparently authentic beliefs need not be earnest. This remains true regardless of whether there is a rigorous factual basis for such beliefs: the same bad faith can power both the most rigorous research as well as the most baseless conspiracy theorizing. A second corollary is therefore that such credulity need not be naïve or unreflective but can instead demonstrate both self-awareness and a deep cynicism, in the same way that Hutcheson’s moral sense is simultaneously an automatic and instantaneous process yet also one that reflects, upon further investigation, a kind of reasoning.

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Irony and Earnestness in Eighteenth-Century Literature
Dimensions of Satire and Solemnity
, pp. 184 - 189
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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