Secularization, Genealogy, and the Legitimacy of the Modern Age: Remarks on the Löwith-Blumenberg Debate

This essay reconstructs the secularization debate between Blumenberg and Löwith. It explores what a genealogy of secular modernity can and cannot accomplish, asking how to build on Blumenberg's legacy without repeating his errors. Blumenberg absorbed the skepticism of a genealogy of secularism and responded with an unrealistic image of disconnected modernity, while also understanding that modernity might contain normative resources of its own not requiring the redemptive efforts of secularizing translation. The legitimacy of the modern age involves not only the secularizing redemption of religious norms but also a search for sources of profane hope beyond the confines of tradition.