Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Hannes Bajohr, Florian Fuchs, and Joe Paul Kroll

History, Metaphors, Fables
A Hans Blumenberg Reader
[Geschichte, Metaphern, Fabeln. Ein Hans Blumenberg-Reader]

signale|TRANSFER: German Thought in Translation
Cornell University Press and Cornell University Library, Ithaca (NY) 2020, 624 pages
ISBN 978-1-5017-3282-9 (Hardcover); 978-1-5017-4798-4 (Paperback); 978-1-5017-4799-1 (E-Book)

Hans Blumenberg (1920–1996) was one of the most important German philosophers of the twentieth century. An intellectual historian as well, he created the concept of metaphorology, which states that the limits of conceptual thought can be overcome by studying the world-views hidden in metaphors.

History, Metaphors, and Fables collects the central writings by Hans Blumenberg and covers topics such as on the philosophy of language, metaphor theory, non-conceptuality, aesthetics, politics, and literary studies. This landmark volume demonstrates Blumenberg's intellectual breadth and gives an overview of his thematic and stylistic range over four decades. Blumenberg's early philosophy of technology becomes tangible, as does his critique of linguistic perfectibility and conceptual thought, his theory of history as successive concepts of reality, his anthropology, or his studies of literature. History, Metaphors, Fables allows readers to discover a master thinker whose role in the German intellectual post-war scene can hardly be overestimated.

Florian Fuchs is a Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

Hannes Bajohr is a Research Fellow at the Media Studies Department at the University of Basel.

Joe Paul Kroll is a freelance translator, editor, and writer.


Table of Contents

  1. The Linguistic Reality of Philosophy (1946/1947)
  2. World Pictures and World Models (1961)
  3. "Secularization": Critique of a Category of Historical Illegitimacy (1964)
  4. The Concept of Reality and the Theory of the State (1968/1969)
  5. Preliminary Remarks on the Concept of Reality (1974)
  6. Light as a Metaphor for Truth: At the Preliminary Stage of Philosophical Concept Formation (1957)
  7. Introduction to Paradigms for a Metaphorology (1960)
  8. An Anthropological Approach to the Contemporary Significance of Rhetoric (1971)
  9. Observations Drawn from Metaphors (1971)
  10. Prospect for a Theory of Nonconceptuality (1979)
  11. Theory of Nonconceptuality (circa 1975, excerpt)
  12. The Relationship between Nature and Technology as a Philosophical Problem (1951)
  13. "Imitation of Nature": Toward a Prehistory of the Idea of the Creative Being (1957)
  14. Phenomenological Aspects on Life-World and Technization (1963)
  15. Socrates and the objet ambigu: Paul Valéry's Discussion of the Ontology of the Aesthetic Object and Its Tradition (1964)
  16. The Essential Ambiguity of the Aesthetic Object (1966)
  17. Speech Situation and Immanent Poetics (1966)
  18. The Absolute Father (1952/1953)
  19. The Mythos and Ethos of America in the Work of William Faulkner (1958)
  20. The Concept of Reality and the Possibility of the Novel (1964)
  21. Pensiveness (1980)
  22. Moments of Goethe (1982)
  23. Beyond the Edge of Reality: Three Short Essays (1983)
  24. Of Nonunderstanding: Glosses on Three Fables (1984)
  25. Unknown Aesopica: From Newly Found Fables (1985)
  26. Advancing into Eternal Silence: A Century after the Sailing of the Fram (1993)

Media Response

16 Feb 2021
The Aesthetic Dimension of Life and the Freedom of Thought: “A Hans Blumenberg Reader” Review

Review by Marina Marren, in: Phenomenological Reviews, 16 Feb 2021