Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age: Part II, Chapter 2

Scholasticism destroys confidence in the idea of an orderly cosmos congenial to humanity. This 'disappearance of order' provokes a reaction, but not to restore belief in a world that is good for man -- that has been permanently lost. Rather, this reaction accepts the unreliability, the changeability of the world, but therefore sees the world as something which man can act on to make it better .

Blumenberg sees the modern advance in technical matters as a radical break, not as the acceleration of a gradual accumulation that dates to pre-modern times. This is a case that would have to be made in much more detail to convince me.

139: "If the 'disappearance of order' that was brought about by the disintegration of the Middle Ages pulled self-preservation out of its biologically determined normality, where it went unnoticed, and turned it into the 'theme' of human self -comprehension, then it is also the case that the modern stage of human technicity can no longer be grasped entirely in terms of the syndrome of the anthropological structure of wants. the growth of the potency of technique is not only the continuation -- not even the acceleration --of a process that runs through the whole history of humanity. On the contrary, the quantitative increase in technical achievements and expedients can only be grasped in relation to a new quality of consciousness. In the growth of the technical sphere there lives, consciously facing an alienated reality, a will to extort from this reality a new 'humanity.' Man keeps in view the deficiency of nature as the motive of his activity as a whole."

In positing art as a more radical imposition of human will against the world than science and history (which are beholden to the world insofar as they seek truths in it), Nietzsche at least correctly identified what the turning towards modern consciousness hinged on: the rejection of the belief that the world is good for man just as it is.

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