Hans Blumenberg

Hans Blumenberg (born 13 July 1920 in Lübeck; died 28 March 1996 in Altenberge) was a German philosopher and intellectual historian.

He studied philosophy, German studies and the classics (1939–47, interrupted by World War II) and is considered to be one of the most important German philosophers of the century. He died on 28 March 1996 in Altenberge (near Münster), Germany.

Blumenberg created what has come to be called 'metaphorology', which states that what lies under metaphors and language modisms, is the nearest to the truth (and the farthest from ideologies). His last works, especially "Care Crosses the River" (Die Sorge geht über den Fluss), are attempts to apprehend human reality through its metaphors and involuntary expressions. Digging under apparently meaningless anecdotes of the history of occidental thought and literature, Blumenberg drew a map of the expressions, examples, gestures, that flourished in the discussions of what are thought to be more important matters. Blumenberg's interpretations are extremely unpredictable and personal, all full of signs, indications and suggestions, sometimes ironic. Above all, it is a warning against the force of revealed truth, and for the beauty of a world in confusion.


Hans Blumenberg finished his university entrance exam in 1939 at the Katharineum zu Lübeck, as the only student receiving the grade 'Auszeichnung' ('Distinguished'). 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.[citation needed] Instead, between 1939 and 1941 he was to pursue his studies of philosophy at the theological Universities in Paderborn and Frankfurt, where he was forced to leave towards the end of this period. Back in Lübeck he was enrolled in the workforce at the Drägerwerk AG. In 1944 Blumenberg was detained in a concentration camp, but was released after the intercession of Heinrich Dräger. 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.[2] Consequently, the theme of finite life and limited time as a hurdle for scholasticism recurs frequently in Part 2 of The Legitimacy of the Modern Age (German: Die Legitimität der Neuzeit). After 1945 Blumenberg continued his studies of philosophy, Germanistics and classical philology at the University of Hamburg, and graduated in 1947 with a dissertation on the origin of the ontology of the Middle Ages, at the University of Kiel. He received the postdoctoral habilitation in 1950, with a dissertation on 'Ontological Distance, an Inquiry into the Crisis of Edmund Husserl's Phenomenology ('Die ontologische Distanz: Eine Untersuchung über die Krisis der Phänomenologie Husserls'). His mentor during these years was Ludwig Landgrebe. During Blumenberg's lifetime he was a member of the Senate of the German Research Foundation, a professor at several universities in Germany and a joint founder of the research group "Poetics and Hermeneutics".

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