Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age: Part I, Chapter 8

Even for Blumenberg, the arguments in this chapter tend toward the cryptic.

Carl Schmitt claims the concepts of modern state are secularized theological concepts.

Blumenberg first asks what Schmitt's position (in favor of absolutism, basically) gains from this assertion. Intelligibility by analogy, it appears. For from within the reference point of Enlightenment thought, there is no support for the existence of "exceptional" cases which require arbitrary authority.

Schmitt argues that Blumenberg is defending the legality of the modern age rather than its legitimacy. (Legality (for Schmitt): timeless justification with respect to a structure of norms. Legitimacy: demonstration of foundation within history.) Blumenberg concedes (I think) that the former corresponds to how modern rationality defines itself. He claims, however, that his project is not to defend this self-understanding but to demonstrate how it performs the (necessary) function of self-assertion against what preceded it.

98: "From the point of view of all kinds of requirements for legitimation, not only did rationalism make a disturbing and destructive entrance, but when the ground had been cleared and leveled, it proved to be sterile as far as new conceptions were concerned." I don't think I agree with this. Doesn't this read arguments for popular rule out of the content of modern political thought?

Introduction of concept of sufficient rationality, 99: "[T]his book's concept of rationality is neither that of an agency of salvation nor that of a creative originality either. On the analogy of the principle of sufficient reason, I would like to entitle this concept that of a sufficient rationality. It is just enough to accomplish the postmedieval self-assertion and to bear the consequences of this emergency self-consolidation. The concept of the legitimacy of the modern age is not derived from the accomplishments of reason but rather from the necessity of those accomplishments."

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