Shipwreck with Spectator : Paradigm of a Metaphor for Existence
Part of the Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought series
This essay exemplifies Blumenberg's ideas about the ability of the historical study of metaphor to illuminate essential aspects of being human. Originally published in the same year as his "Work on Myth", "Shipwreck With Spectator" traces the evolution of the complex of metaphors related to the sea, to shipwreck and to the role of the spectator in human culture from ancient Greece to modern times. The sea is one of humanity's oldest metaphors for life, and a sea journey, Blumenberg observes, has often stood for our journey through life.
We all know the role that shipwrecks can play in this journey, and at some level we have all played witnesss to others' wrecks, standing in safety knowing that there is nothing we can do to help, yet fixed comfortably or uncomfortably on our ambiguous role as spectator. Through Blumenberg's knowledge of letters, from ancient texts through 19th-century reminiscences and modern speeches, we see layer upon layer revealed in the meaning humans have given to these metaphors; and in this way we begin to understand what metaphors can do that more straightforward modes of expression cannot. This edition of "Shipwreck With Spectator" also includes "Prospect for a Theory of Nonconceptuality", an essay that recounts the evolution of Blumenberg's ideas about metaphorology in the years following his early manifesto "Paradigms for a Metaphorology".