Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age: Part I, Chapter 3

Lowith - uses secularization thesis to establish continuity between medieval and modern models of history, which are both linear, thus more effectively distinguishing both from pagan antiquity, and it's cyclical conception - Puts the great epochal shift between pagan antiquity and Christian middle ages

Blumenberg's critique - burden of proof to show a unity of substance between medieval and modern conceptions of history has not been met.

In particular, the modern idea of progress in history -- even in utopian variants -- has obvious discontintuities with Christian eschatology. Eschatology looks forward to an external event disrupting history, while progress is seen as a force immanent in history. Eschatology (by late middle ages) was a matter of fear and dread in the face of the arbitrary, absolute will of God, while the idea of progress expresses hope in what may be achieved by humankind.

32: "[T]he idea of progress is precisely not a mere watered down form of judgment or revolution; it is rather the continuous self-justification of the present, by means of the future that it gives itself, before the past, with which it compares itself."

33: "The idea of method is not a kind of planning, not a transformation of the divine salvation plan, but rather the establishment of a disposition: the disposition of the subject, in his place, to take part in a process that generates knowledge in a transubjective manner." (Consider consequences of replacing disposition with discipline in this sentence.)

Moreover, the idea of progress in history can be satisfactorily accounted for by already existing models -- e.g., the advances of astronomy and the rejection of the canonical status of classical literature in the querrelle des anciens et des modernes. Furthermore, the tranformation of progress in history into an infinite process was not the appropriation of a divine attribute for it; it was instead compensation for the failure of immediate realization of the fulfillment of progress and also a regulative idea protecting against misappropriation of the concept for absolutist projects.

No comments: