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The Legitimacy of the Modern Age (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought) Paperback – October 21, 1985


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The Legitimacy of the Modern Age (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought) + Work on Myth (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought) + Care Crosses the River (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought
  • Paperback: 728 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (October 21, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262521059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262521055
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #459,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A great sweeping history of the course of European thought, built on the Hegel-Heidegger scale.... " Richard Rorty , The London Review of Books



"It has been left for Blumenberg to write a major treatise on the metaphysical tradition which unites intellectual history with critical dissection of the concept of 'secularization': a concept that has served two generations of writers in their efforts to make sense of the modern world. "What Blumenberg has done, to put it briefly, is to describe the disintegration of the medieval world-view as a consequence of latent contradictions already present in the scholastic tradition: ultimately in the synthesis of early Christianity and neo-Platonism inherited by the European middle ages. However, this formulation supplies only the feeblest sort of pointer to the importance of a work whose author is no mere historian but an original thinker in his own right, equipped with the sort of synthesizing faculty which was the pride of German scholarship in its great age." The Times Literary Supplement



"Modern science buried centuries of theological controversy. Hans Blumenberg has unearthed these controversies again, rethinking the dilemmas and dead ends of Christian dogma that provided the intellectual provocations for the scientific revolution.... But Blumenberg has not merely written a scholarly, nuanced, and illuminating study of the religious background to modern science. He has also written a philosophical book, a combative response to the dim Romantic suggestion more common in Germany than America, that the modern age 'as a whole' is somehow illegitimate." Stephen Holmes , The American Political Science Review

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Saul Boulschett on June 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
The issue concerning the legitimacy of the modern age was more pressing for the Europeans than for the Americans, largely because of the latter's historic distancing from Catholicism and the tradition of scholarship funded by the catholic church. Thus for the American reader the very notion that the modern age may be "illegitimate" somehow may ring hollow, if not outright absurd. This book defends the status of the modern age against any suggestion that somehow it may be an aberration, a condition gone awry. The modern age, in all its seeming anti-religious tendencies fueled especially by the scientific drive for the truth, is the 'legitimate' heir to the tradition of taking literally to heart,"Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free". This book focuses on the philosophical foundations of Medieval theology and Nominalism that paved the way for secularization in the modern age. Blumenberg, with his astonishing scholarship and intellectual prowess makes it clear that, intentionally or not, much of what passed for pious and official christian theology during the middle ages actually had very little to do with "religion" per se (Christ's ethical teaching), and everything to do with Greek philosophy, especially Aristotle's, under the guise of church dogma. In serving theology, attributes of God in His omnipotence and omniscience were framed around the notion of absolutes, leading to unresolvable contradictions and paradoxes. For example, the idea that God should be omnipotent necessarily meant He ought to be capable of creating a rock so heavy that even He cound not lift it. This book is simply the most facinating and in-depth account of the strange doings of the Church Fathers in their relentless quest for the Truth.Read more ›
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
A masterpiece that defies summaries and labels. While MIT Press has, thankfully, translated four of Blumenberg's books, he is not "seeping" into the culture in spite of laudatory reviews by philosophers like Richard Rorty. This can't be because he's "difficult" (and he is difficult - an eloquent) - difficult writers like Derrida or Habermas have large (and largely academic) followings. Blumenberg rather resists "positions" around which flags can be planted, battle cries formulated. Amazingly empathetic, Blumenberg "thinks with" and through the Western philosophical tradition. His account of Late Medieval Nominalism as an irreparable rupture of Ancient and Christian cosmologies, presaging Descartes' "founding" of a distinctively modern epoch is worth the read - as is so much else. I can only hope Blumenberg's translator, Robert Wallace will bring us more from this author, who died in 1996.
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Format: Paperback
This is a tome readable in style but monstrous in size and engaging in high level skepticism of philosophical narratives. Blumenberg's task is to show that modernity did not have its origin in the secularization of religious traditions. On the contrary, it began with a desire to pry into the unknown, to know for oneself what was hidden -- with a Gnostic theological grounding that makes God hidden from the world.

"The modern age began, not indeed as the epoch of the death of God, but as the epoch of the hidden God, the deus absconditus-- and a hidden God is pragmatically as good as dead. The nominalist theology induces a human relation to the world whose implicit content could have been formulated in the postulate that man had to behave as though God were dead. This induces a restless taking stock of the world, which can be designated as the motive power of the age of science." (346)

The original sin of modernity is thereby not to be found in any medieval mistake, but dates back to the original attempt to hold back Gnosticism in the early Church, which failed in the blossoming of a new civilization. The mind that thinks to climb a mountain and see its height, like Petrarch, or the mind that ignores ignores the natural warning of darkness and descends into the depths of a cave, like Da Vinci, is already a Faustian mind enaged in "overstepping of limits".

Looking to the writings of the early moderns, Blumenberg concludes: "This is no 'secularization' of man having been created in God's image.
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sebastijan1982 on December 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book itself is interesting and quite difficult. But the problem is with binding. Practically all the papers fell out. I will have to bind the book again. I can't believe they sell book with such an awful binding.
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