By Merold Westphal
Offers a reader's consultant to the booklet usually taken to be Kierkegaard's most crucial contribution to philosophy and theology.
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Extra resources for Becoming a Self: A Reading of Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript
In particular, it is consistent, Blumenberg says, with current theories of the origin of manof what happened when our ancestors adopted an upright, bipedal posture; were displaced from the sheltering * Throughout this book, single quotation marks have been used exclusively as 'scare quotes,' to draw attention to special uses of terms or to emphasize (as in this case) the problematic status, in the discussion, of the concepts referred to by the words in question. , within a set of double quotes), which requires single quotation marks for contrast.
Sources of these kinds are simply too heterogeneous to be compatible as explanations of the same myths. But none of them is necessarily incompatible with the "absolutism of reality" model. This model says nothing about the source of the contents of myths; it only says that their ultimate function, wherever their contents may come from, is to put behind us the Angst that would be inspired by an overpowering reality. You might say that it is a theory of the origin of myth (in the singular), rather than of myths (in the plural).
Thoroughly and explicitly rational "decision-making" is not possible in every case. And that, of course, is where "institutions" come in. Blumenberg acknowledges the danger that goes along with them: "Every economy of ideas for which no rational foundation is given becomes suspect when it presents itself as the demand for submission to something for which no rational foundation can be given, and thus becomes the center of new anxieties''a result that would contradict the inherent purpose of myth (namely, the overcoming of the ultimate anxiety caused by the "absolutism of reality"), but is very possible if the relation of myth (and of "institutions" in general) to rationality is not clearly understood.