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The Laughter of the Thracian Woman: A Protohistory of Theory (New Directions in German Studies)

Hans Blumenberg

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ISBN 10: 1623564611 / ISBN 13: 9781623564612
Published by Bloomsbury Academic, 2015
Used Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Laughter of the Thracian Woman: A ...

Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

Publication Date: 2015

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

Edition: UK ed.

About this title


An important work by 20-century philosopher Hans Blumenberg, here translated into English for the first time, The Laughter of the Thracian Woman describes the reception history of an anecdote best known from Plato's Theaetetus dialogue: while focused on observing the stars, the early astronomer and proto-philosopher Thales of Miletus fails to see a well directly in his path and tumbles down. A Thracian servant girl laughs, amused that he sought to understand what was above him when he was not mindful of what was right in front of him.

Variants of this story recur in texts by Diogenes Laertius, Church Fathers Tertullian and Eusebius, medieval and Renaissance-era preachers, Enlightenment figures Voltaire, Montaigne, Bacon, and Kant, and later in works by Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Blumenberg's own colleagues. Some of these philosophers sympathize with Thales' ambitions while others chastise his negligence. Blumenberg sees the story as a highly sought substitute for our missing knowledge of the earliest historical events that would fit the label “theory.” By retelling the anecdote, philosophers reveal their distinctive values regarding absorption in curiosity, philosophy's past, and the demand that theorists abide by sanctioned methods and procedures.

In this work and others, Blumenberg demonstrates that philosophers' most beloved images and anecdotes have become indispensable to philosophy as metaphors; that is, as representations whose meanings remain indefinite and invite frequent reinterpretation.

About the Author:

Hans Blumenberg (1920-1996) was one of the most significant German philosophers of the twentieth century. His publications include The Legibility of the World, Legitimacy of the Modern Age, Genesis of the Copernican World, Work on Myth, and Out of the Cave.

Spencer Hawkins is an Instructor in the Cultures, Civilizations, and Ideas program at Bilkent University, Turkey.

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