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  • Archives, Thresholds, Discontinuities:Blumenberg and Foucault on Historical Substantialism and the Phenomenology of History

Blumenberg's The Legitimacy of the Modern Age was published in the same year as Foucault's The Order of Things (1966). Both books attempt to grasp certain not altogether self-evident changes in the Western history of knowledge and attempt new methods of considering these discontinuities and the so-called "thresholds" between epochs. Beyond such general points of shared interest, one must ask if Blumenberg and Foucault share other intellectual features, for they both developed strong philosophical critiques of Husserlian and Heideggerian approaches to history, critiques that arose from their shared hostility to a kind of "historicism," alongside their refusal of any "substance."

Blumenberg, modernity, Foucault, substantialism, phenomenology

Blumenberg and Foucault share a number of viewpoints regarding the concept of history. Both directly challenged what they considered to be limitations in concepts of history that are found in some of the most classical philosophical formations—not only, for example, in Husserl's phenomenology and Heidegger's Seinsgeschichte (history of Being) but also in Hegel's view of the history of Spirit, and in Marx's understanding of world history. In this article, I do not address the case of Marx, and I will mention Hegel only in passing, chiefly because Blumenberg himself remained quite reticent concerning these two canonical authors. Both Blumenberg and Foucault expressed themselves at considerable length regarding Husserlian phenomenology and Heideggerian Seinsgeschichte, often expressing their criticism with special acuity. This was particularly true for Foucault in the 1960s and 70s during his so-called "structuralist" period. In both cases, however, we can also detect the influence—both debt and distance—of both Husserlian and Heideggerian phenomenology. In recent years, a new interest has arisen concerning the links between Foucault's "archaeology" and certain themes found in Husserl's thought, beyond the very metaphor of "archaeology" and the study of the historical constitution and strata of the objects of science that are indicated by the concept of the "historical a priori"1 In several interviews [End Page 133] from the 1980s, Foucault also acknowledged his debt to the Heideggerian conception of history (specifically in the Nietzsche lectures) as a succession of configurations of being, each of which is illuminated by a certain will, and his debt to Heidegger's idea of the historicity of Truth.2 In Blumenberg's case, the discussion of the phenomenology of time and history occupies an important place in his Lebenszeit und Weltzeit (Lifetime and World Time), and at times Blumenberg openly characterized his own project as a "phenomenology of history."3 In this article, I will not focus directly on such debts or influences; instead, I will direct our attention to certain critical points—namely, points of rupture that specifically bear on the very practice of history such as Foucault and Blumenberg conceive it in relation to both phenomenology and the "history of Being."

But we must begin with a preliminary question: Is it legitimate to consider these two twentieth-century philosophers together? Foucault, unlike his colleague and friend Pierre Hadot, who had met Blumenberg and occasionally cited his work, never actually quoted Blumenberg and probably knew very little about his work. We should recall that when Foucault died in 1984 no books by Blumenberg were available in a French translation. Meanwhile, Blumenberg explicitly quoted Foucault only on one single occasion (as far as I am aware), in Die Lesbarkeit der Welt (The Legibility of the World), but the allusion refers to a relatively minor and introductory study of Flaubert's Temptation of Saint Antoine.4 Moreover, we do know, from a letter that he sent to his publisher, Suhrkamp, that Blumenberg considered Foucault's multivolume History of Sexuality to be a series of poor quality. For context, in 1986 Suhrkamp Verlag committed a great deal of its advertising to the publication of the translated second and third volumes of the History of Sexuality. It was also publishing Blumenberg's Lebenszeit und Weltzeit at the same time, but with much less fanfare.5 Despite all this, Foucault and Blumenberg are often considered together, especially by American readers such as Richard Rorty and Paul Rabinow,6 as well as [End Page 134] German readers such as Anselm Haverkamp and French readers such as Jean Greisch.7 Whatever Blumenberg himself may have felt about Foucault, we are left with the general impression of a "family resemblance," due primarily to the apparent proximity of their thoughts concerning history, namely a shared emphasis on the problem of discontinuities and "thresholds." While the authors interpret the concept of threshold differently, they share an interest in some periods of the history of Western thought not much investigated by Husserl or Heidegger (such as the beginnings of Christianity and the Renaissance) and also what I would characterize as an extension of the scope of archives or of the investigated corpus, beyond the canonical history of metaphysics, to the history of science and metaphors in Blumenberg, and to a focus on the archives from disciplinary institutions such as hospitals, asylums, jails, and so on, in Foucault.

For such a comparison we should confine our focus to certain books: Blumenberg's The Legitimacy of the Modern Age and Foucault's The Order of Things.8 It so happens that both works were published in 1966, a fact that cannot be dismissed as insignificant. To these two major texts we should also add Foucault's The Archaeology of Knowledge, which was published just three years later, in 1969.9 To specify the ways both Blumenberg and Foucault challenge the "continuist" views of the history of Being, Spirit, and Science, I will focus on three concepts: discontinuity, thresholds, and archives.


We shall begin the comparison with a few words about the approach of historicity as such, at the phenomenological level and at the level of the analytics of Dasein, as these approaches constitute a common background from which both Blumenberg and Foucault branched off. In Lebenszeit und Weltzeit, Blumenberg provides an interesting discussion of this theme, [End Page 135] focusing his attention on the question of the distinction and of the entanglement between "time of consciousness" (Zeitbewußtsein)—the first object of a phenomenology of time, what Husserl calls the "phenomenological time" (phänomenologische Zeit)—and "time of the world" (Weltzeit). Consciousness can detach itself from worldly time and from its linearity, but its inscription in a body and in a world is also an inscription in certain places and dates that bear the mark of history, or that participate in what Heidegger called a "generation." According to Blumenberg, one finds an exemplary illustration of this problem of historical inscription in Proust. Historical echoes of the Dreyfus affair or the First World War come into the Guermantes's salon, and, more specifically, the war itself directly touches the lives of various characters who remain ever present in the memory of the narrator. Blumenberg wonders if some aspects of Heidegger's thought, including his ideas about history and time (and maybe his acutely philosophical awareness of membership in a generation), are not a result of the First World War. The war has not only compromised a certain historical optimism, namely the representation of historical progress as a process guaranteed by a kind of secularized Providence; it has also shattered any idea of a trans-historical or teleological Reason, of a "constancy" of problems and questions, of a philosophia perennis, of a tradition that one could follow without questioning its historical constitution. The way that Heidegger, in Sein und Zeit (Being and Time), lays the greatest philosophical stress on the problems of finitude and being-to-death—and his very thematization of the authentic historicity as "anticipatory resoluteness" (vorlaufende Entschlossenheit) within a generation—bears the trace of a catastrophic event which had forever transformed Europe's self-image.10 Many writings about the "crisis" of Europe testify to this, including Paul Valéry's observation that "we, civilizations, now know that we are mortal."11 Heidegger did not deny the "localization" of his own thought within a "facticial situation," as we may recall from his early lecture on the "hermeneutics of facticity," in which he had already criticized Husserlian phenomenology for its alleged ahistoricity. But Heidegger developed this point in a rather abstract fashion.

Concerning Blumenberg's hypothesis of a direct effect of the "ideas of 1914" and of the First World War upon Heidegger's thought, one can find some confirmation in Heidegger's private or semi-private writings—for [End Page 136] instance, in a letter to his wife (March 16, 1916) in which he expresses his "right" to "declare a war, daggers drawn, against rationalism," with the explanation that he owes this to his "dead" comrades on the war front. Beyond Heidegger's own personal opinions, his letter calls into question the phenomenology of historicity: namely, whether one should distinguish some "strata," some "layers" in historicity—the lifetime of an individual, the participation of a generation in common "events," but also, at another level, the historicity of the access to "things" that disclose themselves as historical, including the objects of thought. It is true that in Being and Time, the interpretation of various types of "time"—worldly time, social time, time of the clocks, Jetzt-Zeit, time of the "now" as a basis for the concept of time in physics, and so forth—finds a certain equivalent at the level of historicity.12 But it takes the form of what Blumenberg has identified and criticized—not least for its possible political implications—as a "dualization" between, on the one hand, a "history" conceived as succession under the empire of causality, and, on the other hand, a "Geschichtlichkeit" (historicality), in which Dasein projects itself toward a future passing through the past and opening to its "repetition" (Wiederholung).13 The working out of a plurality of experiences of time and of forms of "history" has been further developed by both Blumenberg and Foucault, but by avoiding the "dualization" between "proper" and "improper," "authentic" and "unauthentic." Indeed this concerns the very history of historians, especially the historians of the Annales School, to which Foucault refers when searching for the source of the idea that there are different "histories," heterogeneous levels of duration. In the 1978 interview "La scène de la philosophie," Foucault says that "there is not only one time in the Hegelian or Bergsonian way, one big fluxus that would bring everything, there are various histories which superpose. Braudel did very interesting works on these various durations: you have elements which remain stable during a very long time, whereas others fall down."14

Altogether removed from these Heideggerian concerns, we can see in both Foucault and Blumenberg how the historical investigations of historians and historians of sciences come to support the idea of a diversity of "histories." In "Life: Experience and Science," his introduction to the 1978 [End Page 137] English translation of Canguilhem's Le Normal et le pathologique (On the Normal and the Pathological), Foucault invokes the history of the sciences just as he had done in The Archaeology of Knowledge, because the history of the sciences "[has constituted] itself on another modus than history in general."15 He adds that "the life sciences call for a certain manner to make their history."16


This leads us to the concept of discontinuity. It is remarkable that in Foucault's writings this concept is often linked to the history of the sciences. Writing about Canguilhem, Foucault further connects discontinuity to a kind of positive understanding of "error" as a mode used by living beings to explore their experience: "If the history of science is discontinuous, that is if it can be analyzed only as a series of 'corrections,' as a new distribution of true and false which can never finally, once and for all, liberate the truth, it is because there, too, 'error' constitutes not overlooking or delaying a truth but the dimension proper to the life of men and to the time of the species."17 Blumenberg also explores the problem of discontinuity. In Legitimacy, discontinuity is used in a general critique of "historical substantial-ism."18 Blumenberg seeks to dismantle any approach to history that subscribes to the concept of the "self-alienation of a substance," whether that is identified with Hegelian Spirit or with any underlying "unity." The well-known critique of the secularization thesis is directed against this kind of substantialism. One might think that it is precisely on this point that Blumenberg's own thought represents a phenomenology of history—namely, in its ambition to deny any presuppositions beyond phenomena, its refusal to postulate any prior substance or "constancy," even the constancy [End Page 138] of mere problems or "anthropological" qualities. To be sure, this is a different conception of a phenomenology of history than that which was practiced in Husserl's "historical meditation" (historische Besinnung) in the Krisis: there, Husserl read the whole history of philosophy and science in light of the transcendental problem, and he looked to Descartes, Hume, and Kant for the discoveries and re-coveries of this claim.

The Husserlian narrative is both unitary and teleological: the Copernican revolution is reduced to the mathematization of Nature, to the production of an outstanding techno-scientifical efficacity and of an "objectivist" drift of rationality. Blumenberg, in The Genesis of the Copernican World, recasts the transformations of astronomy and physics from Copernicus and even before him, in the context of a reassessment of the rights of Reason to an exact "explanation" of the Universe, a reassessment which has, paradoxically, theological roots. (It is a tribute to God to explain the perfection of the mechanism and laws of the Universe in a more exact manner than what the Ptolemaic schemes offered.) Blumenberg develops a type of interrogation that was missing in the "history" practiced by Husserl: How do we read the "sources" in the light of what follows? Or, to quote Arbeit am Mythos (Work on Myth), "the reception of the sources creates the sources of the reception."19 Aware of this historicity of reception, one can better avoid anachronistic projections by taking into account the heterogeneity of grounds and not reducing history to "the simplicity of something that is always the same,"20 be it a complicated teleology or the history of one crucial and forgotten question.

Blumenberg has shown a deep interest in the question of a philosophical anthropology, and he was no doubt a bit confused by the announcement at the end of Foucault's The Order of Things concerning the "death of man." Nevertheless, Foucault's affirmation,—according to which "man" would not have been the constant, stable, and permanent object of the history of Western thought—can also be found in its own way in Legitimacy. Let us consider, for example, what Blumenberg writes concerning Giordano Bruno: "It is clear that the Nolan has no independent anthropology; for him, man is not a subject sui generis. Man retracts himself, as one of the endless phases through which nature's self-realization passes, into the universal process, which in his ways and with his own means he 'pushes forward.' Talk about man is an incidental subject in cosmology."21 As it is [End Page 139] for Foucault, anthropology for Blumenberg is not coextensive to thought: "man" is not a central and constant object in the succession of the epistemai. He appears in a certain configuration—a late configuration—of knowledge. Speaking more generally, this is the type of history that Foucault values and theorizes in his introduction to The Archaeology of Knowledge: "the problem is no longer one of tradition, of tracing a line, but one of division, of limits; it is no longer one of lasting foundations, but one of transformations that serve as new foundations, the rebuilding of foundations."22 Similarly, Blumenberg speaks of "redistribution" (Umbesetzung) while making room for some "mortgages" (Hypotheke) of questions, for problems which persist beyond the theoretical systems where they are born—which might allow Blumenberg to give a better account of certain intellectual "persistances" than Foucault does.


In Foucault, the question of the threshold is a correlative or a development of the problem of discontinuity. Consider, once again, the introduction to The Archaeology of Knowledge, in which Foucault poses the problem of how "to specify the different concepts that enable us to conceive of discontinuity (threshold, rupture, break, mutation, transformation)."23 Following the works of Canguilhem, Bachelard, and Althusser, the concept of threshold is mainly worked out within the framework of the history of sciences and knowledge. In The Archaeology of Knowledge it assumes various forms, such as threshold of epistemologization, threshold of positivity, and threshold of scientificity (seuil épistémologique, seuil de positivité, seuil de scientificité).24

By contrast, Blumenberg's reflection in part four of Legitimacy, [End Page 140] "Aspects of the Epochal Threshold," is more oriented toward the very question of the "threshold of an Epoch." By definition, a change of epoch is an event that can be confirmed only after it has occurred. There is an intellectual temptation to concentrate all changes into one figure or one gesture: thus philosophical modernity is identified with Husserl, alongside Heidegger and Descartes. Blumenberg suggests that Descartes has given to the modern age the basic categories for its self-interpretation: the idea of "an absolute, radical new beginning, whose only prerequisites lay in the rational subject's making sure of itself."25 But for Blumenberg the idea of a beginning ex nihilo is simply not plausible—neither rationally nor historically. Descartes presented as "the monologue, beginning at point zero, of an absolute subject"26 what was, in fact, his reaction to a situation of crisis: crisis of the foundations of knowledge, in the late Middle Ages, for a theology that ceased playing its role of guarantor. Without being able to give a precise account of Blumenberg's argument here, we can say that it is the "maximization" of theology, the nominalist doctrine of the divine omnipotence, which resulted in this paradoxical consequence: God's absolute power, unbound, can destroy at any moment what He has done, even the relationship of a cause to its regular effect, between the sensible sign and what it signifies, and so on; no regularity and no "law" of nature is ever sure.

Blumenberg refuses to accept Descartes's self-stylization and he further notes that by assigning to Descartes the significant role of marking a break between epochs, both Husserl and Heidegger have too much taken for granted this Cartesian self-conception: "The negative idealization of the Modern Age in the 'history of Being'—[which] perhaps has only one thing in common with the self-consciousness of the Enlightenment, namely, the capacity to designate Descartes's Cogito as the epochal beginning that lacks any intelligible antecedents."27

Refusing to search for the change of epoch in the decision of a subject, Blumenberg attempts to grasp it through a comparative method, in which the concept of threshold plays a central role. "There are no witnesses to [End Page 141] changes of epoch," Blumenberg explains. "The epochal turning is an imperceptible frontier [Limes], bound to no crucial date or event."28 As was the case for Foucault, this refusal to claim for being the subject of history is what partly inspires Blumenberg's "differential" approach of the epochal threshold: "Admittedly, it is never possible to do enough to satisfy the need for 'significance' of everyone who would like to be a subject of history."29 But this need of historical "Pragnanz," of gestures, of "well cut-off engravings," is quickly undermined by historiographical ambition: it is not difficult to show, for instance, that Copernicus, Bacon, and Descartes were still largely medieval in the motives and presuppositions of their endeavors. In contrast with this focus on the "Founding figures," Blumenberg develops a method of "differential analysis."30 He evaluates what separates a thinker such as Nicolas of Cusa, who attempts for the last time, in the fifteenth century, to grasp the world within a congruent medieval conceptuality, from a thinker such as Giordano Bruno, who celebrates a new reality and casts a triumphant gaze at the end of the sixteenth century on the reality that has been "overcome." Between them there lies a Copernican revolution: "The Copernican destruction of the reality of the primary heaven and of the primary movement, also excludes Aristotle's prime unmoved mover and Scholasticism's cosmological proof of God's existence, as well as the assumption which is dependent upon them, of subordinate spheres and sphere movers."31 Even if the heretical monk Bruno ("the Nolan") is burned on the Campo dei Fiori, he has grasped that something irreversible has happened.

Of course, concerning the periods of intellectual history, Blumenberg paid much attention (as did Foucault in "The Age of Resemblance" in The Order of Things) to a period that he ironically refers to, in his tribute to Cassirer, as the "no man's land" of the philosophical history of philosophy: the Renaissance. On this precise point, both Blumenberg and Foucault (who wrote a beautiful review of Cassirer's book on The Enlightenment) are closer to Cassirer than to his philosophical adversary in Davos.

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Compared to the history of philosophy and the history of sciences as practiced by Husserl in The Crisis of the European Sciences or by Heidegger (though one must consider the many lectures published in Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe, to which neither Blumenberg nor Foucault had access), the "history" that is performed by both Blumenberg and Foucault is characterized by a considerable opening of "archives," or a corpus of inquiry. Concerning the diversity of the archives as well as the reflection about the very notion of the "archive,"32 it is chiefly Foucault's work that marks a break: he takes into consideration what in French is typically called a "littérature grise"—namely, administrative writings (sometimes anonymous); rules for local institutions, factories, prisons, asylums, and schools; plans for disciplinary architectures and panoptical utopias; treatises of police; mirrors of the princes; expert reports; lawyers' mémoires; alchemists' grimoires; and here and there one can hear these voices of "infamous men" ("hommes infâmes"), the abnormal, the mad, the criminal, the hysterical, and so forth.33

Here, the Foucauldian perspective breaks not only with the Husserlian "historical meditation" or the Heideggerian history of metaphysics, but also with any "history of Spirit" or "philosophical history" that finds its center only in philosophy itself. Before posthumously becoming an author who was himself buried under commentaries, Foucault ardently decried the practice of philosophy that restricted itself to the indefinite commentary of the same texts. In his famous reply to Derrida, he criticized a type of philosophy that had become "an infinite commentary of its own texts . . . without any relationships to any exteriority."34

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Blumenberg did not venture nearly as far as Foucault into this "exteriority" from the texts of the tradition. Even in the case of Legitimacy, Blumenberg's approach to the history of concepts (and metaphors) and reflection upon history has been criticized for being too disengaged from social history. Nevertheless, like Foucault, whose "fiches" and notes have been accessible at the Bibliothèque nationale since 2013 (filling 117 boxes), Blumenberg had his own system of Zettel, his famous Zettelkästen, in which he collected as preparatory material for books and papers a huge number of quotes, metaphors, definitions, and so on, which he wrote on note cards and color coded.35 For example, he collected all the quotes and variations in Western thought that illustrated the metaphor of "Truth as Light" and developed them into a paper, "Light as Metaphor of Truth."36 Conserved in Marbach, his Zettelkästen comprises 33,000 entries over 55 years—that is 550 per year.37

This "treasure" of quotes did not concern only philosophical and scientific texts, but also poetry, novels, even newspapers. And this had an effect on Blumenberg's approach of epochs. Blumenberg's approach of modernity makes a prominent place, for instance in the paper "Wirklich-keitsbegriff and Möglichkeit des Romans," for the evolution of the literary forms, and first for the novel as sign or quintessence (Inbegriff) of a "modern concept of reality": reality as a context, always in the process of its confirmation38.

In this way, Blumenberg resembles Georg Lukács in The Theory of the Novel, or Milan Kundera in The Art of the Novel, who saw the novel as an essential product of the Modern Age, a fact which, according to both Kundera and Blumenberg, is neglected in the assessments of modernity developed by Husserl and Heidegger.39 Following Kundera's perspective, Don Quixote is just as important as Descartes's Meditations for understanding modernity. But, from Heidegger's perspective, the advent of the novel as a [End Page 144] typical form is only an ontological effect insofar as it signifies the subjectivist grounding of modern metaphysics.

This Behauptung, or assertion of subjectivity, which becomes the object in quest of a certainty that it must itself guarantee, bears some resemblance to the form of the novel as Blumenberg conceives it: as a quest for a confirmation, by the subject, of a reality which seems first marked by uncertainty, doubt, and a plurality of perspectives (the "polyphonic novel," such as those of Dostoyevsky or Faulkner, is a distinctively modern achievement). By contrast, Blumenberg notes, what Heidegger sought in Hölder-lin's poetry was a break with the concept of reality as consistency of context, in order to make room for a disruptive event, for a "return of the gods" that was quite incompatible with the modern concept of reality.

Blumenberg and Foucault nevertheless share a certain distance from what Foucault called the "author-function." When Blumenberg practices his "transversal cuts" in order to follow the transformations and uses of a metaphor, he makes use of texts belonging to the most varied registers, disciplines, and "hierarchies." Here once again, the history of metaphors has a proper duration, but one can find in it, or through some series of transformations of a metaphor, a transformation of the horizons of meaning. For instance, Giordano Bruno is not a "man of the Enlightenment," something that we paradoxically know, according to Blumenberg, through his use of the metaphor of the "light of truth": he understands it as a cycle, an alternation of days and nights, and not as the advent of an Aufklärung that would dissipate the obscurity and dispel any darkness, as the philosophers of the Aufklärung did.


Each in his own way, Blumenberg and Foucault both rely on a renewal of the practice of intellectual history and of history in general, associated with collective programs of research. For Foucault these include the history of sciences and French epistemology (e.g., Bachelard, Canguilhem, Cavaillès, etc., but also the Annales School); for Blumenberg these include the "history of concepts" (i.e., Begriffsgeschichte) and the historical semantics, but also the history of reception, such as it was thematized and worked out in a pluridisciplinary mode by the group Poetik und Hermeneutik, of which he was a co-founder with Hans Robert Jauss—with an opening to both history of sciences and to literature. These new methods and new questions have induced a series of breaks with Husserl's "historical meditation" in [End Page 145] the Krisis as well as with Heidegger's "history of metaphysics" as a clue for the history of Being. But it is also from these thoughts that they have received some of their fundamental impulses. The young Blumenberg, in his doctoral dissertation, Die ontologische Distanz, had considered "the crisis of Husserl's phenomenology," confronted with the necessity of historicizing itself, as a sign for a more radical crisis of the modern age. Husserl's "query" (Rückfrage) to the origins of the modern gap between "life-world" and scientificity would be radicalized by Heidegger as a necessity of a "deconstruction" of the tradition that supported the scientific investigation of being. This crisis of phenomenology was seen as a more general symptom of the modern "project," which Blumenberg at the time considered in terms very close to those of Heidegger in his Holzwege. To be sure, Blumenberg never ceased, afterward, to forge a different understanding of the modern "turn," and to put forward an archaeological or genealogical "question in return" that would not undermine the legitimacy of the modern age. Quite simply, the modern age is an epoch in which people feel the need to situate themselves in history. "Who are we, now?" "Which processes have made of us what we are?" It is striking to note that these questions are precisely Foucault's questions in his late texts about an "ontology of actuality," a modern tradition in which he locates, of course, Kant, Nietzsche, and Marx, but also Husserl and Heidegger. In appendix 28 of the Krisis, Husserl wrote, "There is no doubt, we must ourselves dig into historical considerations, if we must be able to understand ourselves as philosophers."40 To what kind of "understanding of ourselves" have we access through "historical meditations"? Husserl, Heidegger, Blumenberg, and Foucault would certainly not have given the same answers to this question. But the idea of a "question in return" to the formation of the historical world, which prescribes us its objects and its tasks as necessary, is surely one of the enduring inheritances of both phenomenology and its sharpest critics.

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Jean-Claude Monod
École normale supérieure


1. Edmund Husserl, "Phänomenologische Archäologie," in Die Aktualität des Archäologischen in Wissenschaft, Medien und Künsten, ed. Knut Ebeling and Stefan Altekamp (Frankfurt: Fischer, 2004), 46–48.

2. Michel Foucault, "Le retour de la morale," in Dits et écrits (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 4:696–707; Foucault, "Truth, Power, Self," in Dits et écrits, 777–83, at 780.

3. Hans Blumenberg, Wirklichkeiten, in denen wir leben (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1981), 6.

4. Blumenberg, Die Lesbarkeit der Welt (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1981), 305–9.

5. I thank Nicola Zambon, who worked on the Blumenberg Nachlass in Marbach, for this information.

6. Richard Rorty, "Against Belatedness," London Review of Books 5, no. 11 (June 16, 1983): 3–5,; Paul Rabinow, Anthropos Today: Reflections on Modern Equipment (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003).

7. Anselm Haverkamp and Jean-Claude Monod, Philosophie de la métaphore: Penser avec Blumenberg (Paris: Hermann, 2017); Jean Greisch, "'Umbesetzung' versus 'Umsetzung': Les ambiguïtés du théorème de la sécularisation d'après Hans Blumenberg," Archives de philosophie 67, no. 2 (2004): 279–97.

8. Hans Blumenberg, Die Legitimität der Neuzeit [hereafter DLA] (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1966; extended and revised ed., 1973, 1974, 1976). Translated into English from the 1976 edition by Robert M. Wallace as The Legitimacy of the Modern Age [hereafter LMA] (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983), 466. Foucault, Les Mots et les choses (Paris: Gallimard, 1966). Translated into English as The Order of Things (New York: Vintage, 1970).

9. Foucault, L'Archéologie du savoir (Paris: Gallimard, 1969), 12. Translated into English as The Archaeology of Knowledge (London: Routledge, 2002).

10. Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, translated into English as Being and Time by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (Oxford: Blackwell, 1962), § 62, 352.

11. "Nous autres, civilisations, nous savons maintenant que nous sommes mortelles," Paul Valéry, "La Crise de l'esprit," in Variété (Paris: Gallimard, 1924); reprinted in Oeuvres, t. 1 (Paris: Gallimard, 1957), 998.

12. Heidegger, "Temporality and Historicity," in Being and Time, chap. 5, esp. § 73 and 74.

13. Heidegger, Being and Time, § 62.

14. "Il n'y a pas un seul temps à la manière hégélienne ou bergsonienne, une espèce de grand flux qui emporterait tout, il y a des histoires différentes, qui se superposent. Braudel a fait des travaux très intéressants sur ces différentes durées: vous avez des éléments qui restent stables pendant très longtemps, pendant que les autres se décrochent," Foucault, "La scène de la philosophie," in Dits et écrits, 3:580.

15. "[Une réflexion théorique indispensable … permet à l'histoire des sciences de] se constituer sur un autre mode que l'histoire en general," Foucault, "Introduction par Michel Foucault," in Dits et écrits, 3:437.

16. "Les sciences de la vie appellent une certaine manière de faire leur histoire," Foucault, "Introduction par Michel Foucault," in Dits et écrits, 3:439.

17. "Si l'histoire des sciences est discontinue, c'est-à-dire si on ne peut l'analyser que comme une série de 'corrections,' comme une distribution nouvelle du vrai et du faux qui ne libère jamais enfin et pour toujours la vérité, c'est que, là encore, l''erreur' constitue non pas l'oubli ou le retard d'une vérité, mais la dimension propre à la vie des hommes et au temps de l'espèce," Foucault, "Introduction par Michel Foucault," in Dits et écrits, 3:441.

18. Blumenberg, DLA, 37, 541; LMA, 29, 466.

19. "Die Rezeption der Quellen shafft die Quellen der Rezeption," Blumenberg, Arbeit am Mythos (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1990, 329).

20. "[Die Geschichte zu schrumpfen] auf die Simplizität der Immer-Gleichen," DLA, 126; LMA, 114.

21. "Es ist einleuchtend, daß es eine selbständige Anthropologie des Nolaners nicht gibt; für ihn ist der Mensch kein Thema sui generis. Er nimmt sich als einen der unendlichen Durchgänge der Selbstverwirklichung der Natur zurück in den universalen Prozeß, den er in seinen Art und mit seinen Mitteln 'betreibt.' Über den Menschen zu reden, ist ein beiläufiges kosmologisches Thema," DLA, 694; LMA, 311.

22. "Le problème n'est pas celui de la tradition et de la trace, mais de la découpe et de la limite; ce n'est plus celui du fondement qui se perpétue, c'est celui des transformations qui vaent comme fondation et renouvellement des fondations," Foucault, L'Archéologie du savoir, 12; The Archaeology of Knowledge, 6.

23. "Comment spécifier les différents concepts qui permettent de penser la discontinuité (seuil, rupture, coupure, mutation, transformation)?" Foucault, L'Archéologie du savoir, 12; The Archaeology of Knowledge, 6.

24. Foucault, L'Archéologie du savoir, 247–51; The Archaeology of Knowledge, 205–6

25. "[Die von Descartes formulierte Konzeption des] absoluten und radikalen Neuanfanges, der seine Voraussetzungen ausschließlich in der Selbstversicherung des rationalen Subjekts," Blumenberg, DLA, 441; LMA, 378.

26. "Auf dem Nullpunkt ansetzende Monolog des absoluten Subjekts," Blumenberg, DLA, 442; LMA, 379.

27. "Die negative Idealisierung der Neuzeit in der 'Seinsgeschichte'—die mit dem Selbstbwusstsein der Aufklärung vielleicht nur das eine gemeinsam hat, in Descartes' Cogito den unvordenklichen Anfang der Epoche bezeichnen zu ko¨nnen," DLA, 220; LMA, 192–93.

28. "Es gibt keine Zeugen von Epochenumbrüchen. Die Epochenwende ist ein unmerklicher Limes, an kein prägnantes Datum oder Ereignis evident gebunden," Blumenberg, DLA, 545; LMA, 469.

29. "Dem Prägnanzbedürfnis aller, die Subjekte der Geschichte sein möchten, kann freilich nie genug getan warden," DLA, 536; LMA, 461.

30. Blumenberg, DLA, 545; LMA, 470.

31. "Die kopernikanische Destruktion der Realität des erstens Himmels und der ersten Bewegung schließt auch den ersten unbewegten Beweger des Aristoteles und den kosmologischen Gottesbeweis der Scholastik sowie die davon abhängige Annahme nachgeordneter Sphären und Sphärenbeweger aus," Blumenberg, DLA, 686; LMA, 584.

32. I won't evoke here the concept of "archive" built by Foucault as a background for his practice of "archeology." Foucault gives this long definition of it in his "Answer to a Question" of the Journal Esprit: "By this word [archive], I don't mean the mass of texts that have been collected at a given time ... I mean a set of rules which, at a given epoch and for a determined society, define:—the limits and forms of the 'speakable': about what is it possible to speak? . . . —the limits and forms of the appropriation: which individuals, which groups, which classes have access to this type of discourse." ["Par ce mot, je n'entends pas la masse des textes qui ont pu être recueillis à une époque donnée . . . J'entends l'ensemble des règles qui, à une époque donnée et pour une société déterminée, définissent:—les limites et les formes de la dicibilité: de quoi est-il possible de parler? . . . —les limites et les formes de l'appropriation: quels individus, quels groupes, quelles classes ont accés à tel type de discours?"] Foucault, "Réponse à une question," Dits et écrits, 1:681-82.

33. Foucault, "La vie des hommes infâmes," in Dits et écrits, 3:237-53.

34. "Un commentaire infini de ses propres textes . . . sans rapport à aucune extériorité," Foucault, "Réponse à Derrida," in Dits et écrits, 2:284.

35. See Daniela Helbig, "Life without Toothache: Hans Blumenberg's Zettelkasten and History of Science as Theoretical Attitude," Journal of the History of Ideas 80, no.1 (2019).

36. Blumenberg, "Licht als Metapher der Wahrheit. Im Vorfeld der philosophischen Begriffsbildung," in Aesthetische und metaphorologische Schriften (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2001), 139–71.

37. See Jürgen Kaube, "Alles und noch viel mehr: Die gelehrte Registratur," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 3, 2013,

38. Blumenberg, "Wirklichkeitsbegriff und Möglichkeit des Romans," in Aesthetische und metaphorologische Schriften (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2001), 47–73, at 71.

39. Milan Kundera, L'Art du roman (Paris: Gallimard, 1986).

40. "Also ist es kein Zweifel, wir müssen uns in historische Betrachtungen vertiefen, wenn wir uns als Philosophen . . . sollen verstehen können," Edmund Husserl, Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendantale Phänomenologie (Belgrad, 1936), Husserliana, vol. 28, Beilage 28, 510.

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