Myth and Metaphor: Key Issues in Hans Blumenberg´s Cultural Anthropology

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This essay will focus on two interrelated aspects of Blumenberg's philosophy: myth and metaphor. Blumenberg perceives the functions of myth and metaphor in the development of culture as rational and logical solutions to the life-threatening problems posed by man's biological deficits. (Here Blumenberg agrees with Arnold Gehlen's anthropological theory of deficiency and his definition of humans as M ngelwesen - beings lacking the necessary instincts to fit into the natural environment). One of the central questions of anthropology is how man - despite this apparent lack of instincts - manages to exist. Blumenberg's answer: because he deals with reality belatedly, selectively, indirectly, and, most of all, metaphorically. Used correctly, myth and metaphor not only manage to dodge any immediate and frightening confrontation with reality, but even offer Lebenskunst (the art of living), that primary skill of dealing with and enjoying oneself. After taking a closer look at Blumenberg's definition of myth and (absolute) metaphor, the essay will show how both - even in our time - can be employed to compensate man's biological deficiencies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPAN : Philosophy Activism Nature
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)88-93
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2010