For distinguished philosopher Hans Blumenberg, lions were a life-long obsession. Lions, translated by Kári Driscoll, collects thirty-two of Blumenberg’s philosophical vignettes to reveal that the figure of the lion unites two of his other great preoccupations: metaphors and anecdotes as non-philosophical forms of knowledge.
Each of these short texts, sparkling with erudition and humor, is devoted to a peculiar leonine presence—or, in many cases, absence—in literature, art, philosophy, religion, and politics. From Ecclesiastes to the New Testament Apocrypha, Dürer to Henri Rousseau, Aesop and La Fontaine to Rilke and Thomas Mann, the extraordinary breadth of Blumenberg’s knowledge and intellectual curiosity is on full display. Lions has much to offer readers, both those already familiar with Blumenberg’s oeuvre and newcomers looking for an introduction to the thought of one of Germany’s most important postwar philosophers.
‘Blumenberg was one of those rare figures, like Robert Burton or Goethe himself, who was able to read widely across disciplines and time periods while maintaining a detailed sense of the internal conflicts and complexities of each particular domain.’—David Auerbach
‘As digital data systems continue to expand, our human memories seem more anecdotal than ever. Transcultural communication reveals the subjectivity of our local thought systems with intensifying clarity. The analogies we use to move between cultures and disciplines, or between artificial intelligence and human consciousness, come to seem ever more far-fetched, like metaphors. To float in seas of such associative, anecdotal knowledge can make one feel passive. Blumenberg describes the appeal of this mode of thinking in ways that humble but also empower his reader. He helps us see its philosophical usefulness without obscuring its limits. Lions and Blumenberg lead us into his writing with gentle whimsy. Hopefully, they will inspire readers to reach for his more challenging works as well.’—Marta Figlerowicz, Boston Review. Read the extensive review of Lions and Blumenberg (also available from Seagull Books) here.
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