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History, Metaphors, FablesA Hans Blumenberg Reader$
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Hans Blumenberg

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501732829

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501732829.001.0001

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Critique of a Category of Historical Illegitimacy (1964)

(p.53) 3 “Secularization”
History, Metaphors, Fables

Hans Blumenberg

Cornell University Press

This chapter evaluates Hans Blumenberg's interpretation of the modern age, which is thrown into sharper relief in a text that would become the basis for his most famous book, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age. Presented in 1962 at the seventh German congress of philosophy, “'Secularization': Critique of a Category of Historical Illegitimacy” (1964) challenges the notion of modernity as the illegitimate appropriation of medieval theological patterns, concepts, and institutions. Against such a substantialist view of history, Blumenberg presents a functional model in which “positions” of past thought systems become vacant and are “reoccupied” with new but unrelated concepts. Eschatology, to give an example, is not secularized into the concept of progress. Instead, once it loses its status as an explanation for the course of history, this function is taken up by the entirely distinct concept of scientific progress.

Keywords:   Hans Blumenberg, modern age, philosophy, secularization, modernity, medieval theological concepts, medieval theological institutions, thought systems, scientific progress, eschatology

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