Silence, Non-Conceptuality, and Skepticism: The Coda to the Höhlenausgänge

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Hans Blumenberg ends his last book, Höhlenausgänge (Cave Exits) with a coda, entitled “Another Myth,” composed solely of a cave story quoted verbatim from the Babylonian Talmud, to which he adds not a word of his own. This ‘performative act of silence’ raises the general issue of silence in Blumenberg’s thought. Despite the many variants of the cave story recounted in the Höhlenausgänge, I argue, three stand out as paradigmatic cave stories. The first is the speculative prehistoric cave story with which the book opens, which seeks to imaginatively reconstruct the beginning of human culture; I call this “Blumenberg’s cave.” The second is Plato’s cave allegory, the reception history of which can be read as Blumenberg’s version of the history of philosophy. The third is the Talmudic version of the cave story, which could have been, but wasn’t, presented as a moment in the reception history of Plato’s cave. Blumenberg’s point of silence about the Talmudic cave story endows it with hermeneutic significance, and renders the concept of silence a key that helps unlock the Höhlenausgänge’s overall argument.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-142
Number of pages15
JournalThe Germanic Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2020, © 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Blumenberg
  • Höhlenausgänge
  • metaphorology
  • non-conceptuality
  • silence


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