Theory of Nonconceptuality

The term “Unbegrifflichkeit” has initially sparked my interest due to my recent investment the notion nonconceptuality. I began to read the book with the same title by Hans Blumenberg, which has been published posthumously in 2007 with Suhrkamp. I started to translate some passages, which I consider key to his approach of the nonconceptual.

This is a first passage from p. 75-76 of “Theorie der Unbegrifflichkeit” by Hans Blumenberg
Translated by Manuela Kölke

“The distant noise of a massive body, or the perception of a trace, allow for the possibilities (and alarm the corresponding precautious behaviors) that it might be a mammoth. Just as important as the admission of this possibility is the other moment that it can also be excluded, and thereby set off a consolidation of the situation or a change of attention. “It is not a mammoth” – that is, according to Kant, an infinite judgment, that is, a logically almost worthless one, because it has diminished the infinity of possibilities only by one; in the finite horizon of a situation, however, for the logic of the lifeworld, this exclusion may be of the highest value. In the ‘negation,’ the ‘decision of reality about the awareness of possibilities’ is taken note of and brought into knowledge. Freud once remarked that the dream-consciousness is a consciousness which knows no negation. (Interpretation of Dreams, 169 ff. Merleau-Ponty, Lectures I 80). Because it knows no concept. Awakening has the character of negation against the dream because it allows the concept again. The metaphoric, as well, does not know the negation, unless, in the conceptual statement [Feststellung] toward the context of the metaphoric, that one metaphor does not get along with another, that there is interference between them, and so on. The ‘concept’ allows us to recognize and introduce imaginatively what is not there, which is according to experience not present. The concept thus allows to identify ‘gaps in the context of experience’ because it is related to the absent – but not only to make it present but also to leave it absent. Again and again, it must be said that to speak about something, which is not perceived and given is the actual mental achievement.”

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