Monday, May 26, 2008

Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age: Part III, Chapter 3, "Skepticism Contains a Residue of Trust in the Cosmos"

Hellenistic philosophy has a therapeutic character. The classical schools of philosophy had failed to deliver undisputed truth, but claimed that possession of truth was necessary for happiness. Hellenistic philosophy represents a drawing back from theoretical pretension, separation of truth from happiness.

For both Epicureans and Pyrrhonian Skeptics, philosophy doesn't provide happiness, but eliminates the impediments to it (especially those created by theory).

Pyrrhonian Skepticism accepted that man has a natural drive for knowledge, and that man's happiness was tied up with it -- but in the seeking of it, not in the fulfillment. Knowledge of particular events in the present may be or become evident to us, but happiness does not depend upon this. The danger lies in trying to see behind what is present, the phenomena, to something more real. An abandonment to the immediacy of life. Man is thus not responsible for his happiness -- even Epicurean ataraxia is rejected as dogmatic -- which Blumenberg claims is bearable (and this is an argument by appea to anthropology) only under the unclaimed assumption of a stable cosmos.

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