Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age: Part I, Chapters 6 and 7

65: "What mainly occurred in the process that is interpreted as secularization, at least (so far) in all but a few recognizable and specific instances, should be described not as the transposition of authentically teleological contents into secularized alienation from their origin but rather as the reoccupation of answer positions that had become vacant and whose corresponding questions could not be eliminated."

'residual needs' as key factor in retention of systems of questions across changes of epochs

67: system of explanatory values of Christianity reaches its 'crisis' in Scholasticism -- an interestingly Hegelian framing

Christianity also was shaped by the requirements of a transition of epochs: it found itself in the position of providing answers to systems of questions inherited from the thought of pagan antiquity.

Example: classical philosophy had well developed ideas about the nature of 'happiness' (and thus, I think Blumenberg is saying, of a complete life); Christianity found itself expected to give content to the 'salvation' promised in immortality, and filled this with the classical philosophical ideal of beatific contemplation.

Questions about originality of the materials of Christian thought were also raised by its opponents at the time of this epochal change. The early Christian response focused on the idea that all true knowledge found in the classical sources was in fact originally borrowed from Biblical revelation. Along with this Christian thought set up a model in which the original ownership of an idea is constitutive of the sole legitimate right to use it. But the modern idea of knowledge as something which any subject can produce -- and, more importantly, reproduce -- dissolves the authority of original ownership, and makes the charge of secularization itself an anachronism.

The attribution of absolute infinity to God, along with omnipotence, created the unbearable contradictions of Scholastic philosophy, and thus led to the self-destruction of the medieval system (forgive me for again thinking of Hegel).

On infinity as an attribute of progress: in this context, it is seen negatively, as a resignation, not positively, as a form of praise, as it was in the medieval conception of god

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