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The Laughter of the Thracian Woman: A Protohistory of Theory

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by Hans Blumenberg
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The Laughter of the Thracian Woman: A Protohistory of Theory by Hans Blumenberg

This is the first English translation of Hans Blumenberg's The Laughter of the Thracian Woman, complete with annotations and a critical afterword. Blumenberg describes the reception history and figurative function of the following anecdote found in 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 did not even know 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 by Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Blumenberg's own colleagues. Some of these philosophers sympathize with Thales' ambitions while others chastise his negligence. Whatever position they take on the story, Blumenberg shows that it stands in for the unknowable history leading up to the attitude known as "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.

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Ebook Details
Pages: 208
Size: 628 KB
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic USA
Date published:   2015
ISBN: 9781623568535 (DRM-EPUB)
9781623563363 (DRM-PDF)

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Nonfiction > Language Arts & Disciplines > Linguistics
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