He did not refuse this parlor game: The discreet Hans Blumenberg also filled out the questionnaire with which the Frankfurter Allgemeine magazine once cultivated biographical curiosity on a weekly basis. In 1982 the philosopher chose another philosopher as his hero in reality: Socrates - with the succinct explanation: "Because he didn't write anything." A hero does not have to be a role model, but it is probably not its direct opposite. That is why the information is astonishing, because Blumenberg had made a name for himself as the author of opulent intellectual history books: the legitimacy of modern times(1966), an epoch diagnosis that focuses on human self-assertion and scientific curiosity in order to issue a birth certificate of its own right to the modern world; The Genesis of the Copernican World (1975), a history of science that at the same time tells the story of a worldview and self-image that rejects people from the center of the cosmos and yet urges them to be aware of their uniqueness; Work on the Myth (1979), an extensive illustration of the insight that the enlightening formula "From Myth to Logos" itself speaks the word of a myth that needs to be clarified; The Readability of the World (1981), an archeology of the will to know, which traces the unfulfillability of the need, which is expressed in the metaphor of the - decipherable - "Book of Nature".

Hans Blumenberg was born 100 years ago, on July 13, 1920, in Lübeck. © Peter Zollna / Suhrkamp Verlag

In addition, Blumenberg had written thousands of other pages or had them written according to dictation - including the majority of those that are now being presented as a book under the title Reality and Realism in the year of his 100th birthday (Suhrkamp, ​​232 pp., € 30) ). It is also about the origin of our horizon of consciousness, about historical transformations of the understanding of reality, as articulated in science, philosophy and literature. Approximately two dozen editions of more or less work-like bundles have been conjured up from the seemingly inexhaustible estate since the author's death in 1996. According to Blumenberg, the "output" was an incredible twenty pages a day in the most productive time of his working life.

Should one imagine a person who is driven, who was subject to an inner compulsion to write and would rather have freed himself from it? It would be better to be prepared for an author who used irony and self-irony, a subtle art that can also be one of concealment - especially when asked about the "personal" in the media. The fact that the mountain of flowers in the FAZ questionnaire chose Socrates as a hero could, however, be surprising for a second reason: the ancient philosopher was a figure in public life, he did not write, but he talked, engaged in conversations with other people in Athens' market place. Hans Blumenberg, on the other hand, a professor at the University of Münster, no longer organized seminars and colloquiums from 1978 onwards; he withdraws more and more into his "writing cave", avoiding the scuffle of discussion. Until his retirement in 1985, he only fulfilled his teaching duties through lectures. After all, a university auditorium is also a public sphere, but it is not the sphere in which a university lecturer becomes a public intellectual . And it never became Blumenberg, a public intellectual; especially with his "apolitical", as well as learned as well as playful, concentrated and detourable books. The beautiful advertising that Odo Marquard has made for her does not change their bulkiness. According to the humorist among German post-war philosophers, it was a matter of "crime fiction disguised as learned tome".

Even if Blumenberg, unlike the generation generals Jürgen Habermas, Hermann Lübbe and Robert Spaemann, who spoke a few years younger, did not speak in public affairs, he made a public appearance - beyond the auditorium and book cover - as a feature writer in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and, not quite as often, in the FAZ. The ready-to-write scholar was able to hope for educated readers here in the 1980s and 1990s. What is less well known is that the young Blumenberg, who worked as an assistant at the University of Kiel, already touched the buttons for newspapers - also to earn extra money for himself and the growing family. In his magistral "intellectual biography", Rüdiger Zill attaches considerable importance to the feature-based works of Blumenberg. They mark the beginning and end of a path of thought in their own way. These texts appeared in the Hamburg Free Press and the Dusseldorf News until the mid-1950s : glosses, commemorative articles, cultural criticism (such as mass tourism).

As a feature writer, Blumenberg "was able to free himself and grind the heavy style that was still defaced by the metaphysical mannerisms of his early texts," notes Zill. Of course, depending on the taste and sensitivity of the reader, the later style of the author of "problem thrillers" seems artificial here and there. The dissertation of 1947, which was written within a few months, probably no longer belongs to those early texts that the biographer has in contrast. It has now been printed for the first time, probably for the library of advanced Blumenberg lovers. As her title suggests, the contributions to the problem of the originality of medieval scholastic ontology (Suhrkamp, ​​€ 28), in which Heidegger serves the confident author as a sparring partner, are kept in an academic style.