But, being labelled a "Half-Jew", considering that his mother was Jewish , [1] the Catholic Blumenberg was barred from continuing his studies at any regular institution of learning in Germany. At the end of the war he was kept hidden by the family of his future wife Ursula. Blumenberg greatly despised the years which he claimed had been stolen from him by the Nazis. His friend Odo Marquard reports that after the war, Blumenberg slept only six times a week in order to make up for lost time.

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His organization is loosely thematic, in that he takes up some variant or aspect of the seafaring metaphor and examines it for some stretch before moving on to another topic.

Within his exploration of these topics, he tends to follow the series of treatments chronologically, but not rigidly so. So while there is no overarching account of either the structure or the genesis of the metaphor, there is episodic insight into both. In the image of the shipwreck with spectator, the spectator carries on the ancient ideal of theory as contemplation, but with a new object. The birth of a human being is also depicted as a kind of shipwreck, like a sailor being thrown ashore from the sea.

The notion that seafaring is unnatural informs these uses of the shipwreck metaphor. This analogy is metaphorical and literal at the same time -- seaborne commerce really is driven by a refusal to accept all limits to desires as natural limits.

Through this figure is expressed a justification of the passiones, the passions, against which philosophy discriminates: pure reason would mean the absence of winds and the motionlessness of human beings who possess complete presence of mind. The context is that Herostratus, destroyer of the temple of Ephesus, is arguing for an equal claim to fame with Demetrius, who had erected statues in Athens, because the destructive work of the passions is a prerequisite for clearing the ground in order for new human achievement to be possible.

In the case of Margaret, this was an imagined death by shipwreck rather than her actual one. Margaret sees her reckoning with this death, expressed in a poem, as superior because it was not planned ahead of time.

Hadrian sees his as superior because his calm acceptance, also expressed in poetry, achieves the classical ideal. Hadrian poses the question whether her poem was not actually composed after her brush with shipwreck, to which Margaret counterposes the question whether his poem was not actually composed well before his death.

The dialogue is resolved on the acceptance of moderation even in virtue. Blumenberg finds irony both in the ultimately unacknowledged fact that the poetic ideal was separated from actualization in both cases, and in the exaggerated metaphysical distance of the interlocutors from the human predicament in that they are dead and thus beyond any threat of disaster. She has to be warned, none too successfully, that the aliens could reverse the role of spectator and specimen, since they could just as well catch her like a fish as be shipwrecked.

Candide, for instance, may retreat to his garden in the end. Rather, it is the actual experience of the arbitrariness of shipwreck which extinguishes his passion for believing that things could be better. She counsels that time is short, and feeling and thinking must not be delayed by too much careful preparation -- like a ship always in port being caulked rather than being made use of while it could.

And he believes that animals share the passion of curiosity. Compares his feeling of security to that of passengers who are saved from a shipwreck, and look back at their experience from a safe harbor -- but then goes on to express doubt that there is a safe harbor in the world.

Through this story, Voltaire hopes to illustrate triviality of human history. He shows his revulsion with an analogy to an angel who would use his observation of the sufferings of the damned as an occasion to reflect on his his own imperviousness to suffering; this angel, according to Voltaire, would be indistinguishable from a devil.

And he goes on to say that it is his experience and that of others that curiosity rather than taking pleasure in safety drives people to gawk at a shipwreck.

Curiosity only exists where there is security, he contends, otherwise men would be occupied with his own immediate concerns. Moreover, animals do not share the ability to be curious, because they lack the capacity of detachment from what is strange and frightening, and the sense of security it brings.

Galiani forgoes the shipwreck metaphor altogether in his argument, preferring the to illustrate his point with the image of a theater. There, spectator are able to take interest in the drama because they are sheltered and secure. Blumenberg notes that the dangers of the spectacle to which the audience devotes its interest are not even real, so that in preferring this metaphor to that of the shipwreck Galiani aestheticizes what was originally a moral relationship.

In suppressing the shipwreck metaphor in this case, Blumenberg also sees an abandonment of the classical implication of precarious human existence in the face of nature. Instead, in his Dialogues sur la commerce des bles, Galiani portrays the relationship between man and nature as a somewhat equal struggle between to indefinite powers.

And so seafaring and shipwreck metaphors are made available for use to illustrate the proper prudence of administration informed by the best available evidence. The poem has an intense, present tense description of a storm and shipwreck, with a an abrupt transition to a past tense coda when the topic switches to the "I" which is revealed to have been only a spectator. Then he notes that Herder, in turn, used the shipwreck metaphor in to describe the relationship between the German public and the French Revolution.

In that year, when he sailed from Riga to visit the Enlightenment thinkers in France, he uses sea exploration as a metaphor for philosophical discovery. By , Herder is using the shipwreck metaphor to express the current situation of philosophy in his Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind.

In his Letters for the Advancement of Humanity of , he turns this metaphor, and the metaphor of the theater, to the task of accounting for the reception of the French Revolution in Germany. He sees the relationship between the events in France and the German public as a comfortably distant one secured by the difference of language akin to that between spectators and actors, or a spectator and a shipwreck.

Blumenberg notes that the shipwreck metaphor is deployed with an unusual destabilizing twist, however: Herder suggests that a demon toss the spectator into the sea. Also, as with Galiani, Blumenberg notes that the shipwreck is presented as the superficial level of a more profound metaphor of theatrics.


Shipwreck with Spectator



Hans Blumenberg


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