Hans Blumenberg: The Paradox of Jesus’ Last Words

Joe Paul Kroll completed his PhD thesis, A Human End to History? Hans Blumenberg, Karl Löwith and Carl Schmitt on Secularization and Modernity, in 2010 at Princeton University.

A great deal has been written, not least in these pages, of the ‘monstrous phrase’, known also as der ungeheure Spruch: the Latin motto preceding the fourth book of Goethe’s Dichtung und Wahrheit, nemo contra deum nisi deus ipse.

Carl Schmitt, in Politische Theologie II, attributes a Christological meaning to this saying, tracing its roots to a fragment by the dramatist J.M.R. Lenz, in which a girl invokes the image of Christ against an overbearing, God-like father with the words: “Gott gegen Gott!” Schmitt interprets this as the revolt of the Son against the Father, of the redeemer God against the creator God.

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Hans Blumenberg: ‘Vergleichsverbot’

Joe Paul Kroll completed his PhD thesis, A Human End to History? Hans Blumenberg, Karl Löwith and Carl Schmitt on Secularization and Modernity, in 2010 at Princeton University. This post and original translation is his first post on Chakira.

Hans Blumenberg wrote enough during his lifetime to keep his editors, archivists, publishers, translators and not least readers occupied for decades to come. Having retired from academia with a sense of relief in the early 1980s, Blumenberg’s writing took two principal forms: work on the ‘big books’ on the one hand, short essays, vignettes rather, on the other. Blumenberg’s fancy might be taken by a quotation pulled from his vast archive on index cards – literary correspondences being a favorite source –, by events recounted in biographies, by arresting turns of phrase in the works of Husserl, Wittgenstein or Heidegger and, of course, by metaphors wherever he came upon them. The result is sometimes inspiring, sometimes confusing and vague, and sometimes, as in the case below, somewhat awkward. I will leave readers to draw their own conclusions, adding only that it does offer a potentially unsettling perspective on Blumenberg’s own attitude to Vergangenheitsbewältigung, a topic on which he could be pointed as well as judicious almost to a fault. But as ever, Blumenberg is hard to pin down.
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Meir Soloveichik: All Religions are Unique in the Same Way

In praising Mitt Romney’s Liberty University speech, Meir Soloveichik has done the impossible. He has bridged the incommensurable gap between religions, rendering knowledgeable verdicts on the status of Mormonism vis a vis Christianity. Of course, it’s slightly easier to do the impossible if you only proclaimed the thing impossible earlier in the article.

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Ceasar at the Sacred Grove

I’m posting on Lucan’s Civil War in conjuction with my friends at waggish.

Goethe’s apophthegm “nemo contra deum nisi deus ipse” was a major preoccupation of Hans Blumenberg. One way to explicate this enigmatic remark is historically. For one god to have the room to exist, another god sometimes needs to go away. So, on the simplest level, one god sometimes has to supplant another god. The project of genealogy would be to show the artificial nature of these transitions. Lucan, in book 3 of the Civil War, undertakes just such a genealogy. Presaging Caesar’s accession to the divine pantheon, Lucan details his deforestation of a sacred grove “because it is in his way.”

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Barack Obama’s Revelation

Carl Schmitt famously interrupted the workaday realities of politics with the hierophany of “the political.” Ensconced within the mysterious realm of the definite article, Schmitt’s political offered a stormy rejoinder to the processual sterility of liberal politicking. This Romantic alternative politics has resurfaced in an illiberal post in the Forward which shows a disdain for politics. Jay Michaelson, channeling the POTUS, rises above petty horse trading for the sake of revelation.
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Moshe David Valle Bites the Bullet

Recently, the New Yorker discussed a peculiar American institution. Jill Lepore’s article on the second amendment yokes a sickening feeling over our bristling-with-arms culture to a history chronicling the Amendment’s recent miraculous growth. The analysis is anything but dispassionate. Of her trip to a gun school, Lepore has this to say.

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Passover and Avodah be-Gashmiyut

Reading my new Haggadah, I am struck by how it depicts Hasidism as an attempt to bring Jewish popular practice into the ambit of traditional Jewish metaphysics and Kabbalah. Haggadah Siach Tzadikim (2010) collects “beautiful words of jest from the mouths of saints” on the supposition that these puns and funny stories contain holy allusions.

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