A blog dedicated to understanding Hans Blumenberg's Höhlenausgänge.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Secularization: Status of the Concept

I am going to be looking at The Legitimacy of the Modern Age for a little while before I get back into Höhlenausgänge. I think I need to understand a little better what Blumenberg has in mind when he uses the term "Neuzeit" (which I assume is what Wallace is translating as "Modern Age").

Part I is titled, "Secularization: Critique of a Category of Historical Wrong". But I'm not sure this means that Blumenberg considers secularization "a historical wrong" -- I think there is something in the word "critique" or in the word "category" that I am not picking up on yet but which means he is analyzing the line of thinking which considers secularization to be a wrong.

Chapter 1, "Status of the Concept", contains this paragraph:
Bear in mind also that the use of the expression no longer implies any clear judgement of value. Even one who deplores secularization as the decay of a former capacity for transcendence does so with hardly less resignation that someone who takes it as the triumph of enlightenment -- since after all it has turned out to be the final, definitive triumph. The historian [I am assuming this is Blumenberg speaking for himself] will incline to neither attitude. But what attitude will be appropriate for him when he speaks of "secularization"? One would think that that would have been to some extent clarified. It is just that assumption that will be disputed here.
Blumenberg also quotes the following passage from Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition:
"...the 'worldliness' of the modern age cannot be described as the recovery of a consciousness of reality that existed before the Christian epoch of our history. There is no historical symmetry according to which this worldliness would be, as it were, a disposition for the return of the Greeks' cosmos. The Renaissance was only the first misunderstanding of this sort, an attempt to forestall the new concept of reality that was making its entrance by interpreting it as the recurrence of a structure already experienced and managed with familiar categories... This unhistorical interpretation displaces the authenticity of the modern age, making it a remainder..."
Note that Blumenberg is taking the title of his book from Arendt.


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