Hans Blumenberg on the rigorism of truth and the strangeness of the past

James Kent

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In this paper I discuss Hans Blumenberg’s The Rigorism of Truth, a short polemic that criticizes Freud and Hannah Arendt for placing (what he considers) a misplaced faith in the liberatory potential of rational truth in moments of historical disaster. The secondary literature suggests that this piece exhibits either all the signs of a late, Romantic capitulation to the ‘need’ for myth, or Blumenberg’s failure to recognize his own faith and debts to the ‘mythology’ of reason’s emancipatory hopes. My argument hinges on the claim that these readings put undue emphasis on the philosophical anthropology component of Blumenberg’s work. Instead, I offer a new reading of the essay, in keeping with an alternative reading of his theory of myth. The essay transforms, then, from a polemic regarding the need for myth, into a nuanced description of the ways in which we can overestimate our capacity to overcome it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-52
Number of pages16
JournalThesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Arendt
  • Blumenberg
  • Freud
  • myth
  • truth

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