Is nihilism a self-conquering philosophy

ANGELUS PERDITUS Karl Löwith's world history and salvation events But woe! it walks in night, it dwells like in orcus, without divine our race. Hölderlin1 Angelus perditusKarl Löwith's world history and salvation happen I. In Walter Benjamin's well-known interpretation of a drawing by Paul Klee, the angel of history turns his face to the past. «Wherever a chain of events appears before us, there he sees a single catastrophe, which incessantly piles rubble upon rubble and hurls them at his feet. He would like to linger, wake the dead and put what has been broken together. But a storm blows from paradise, which has got caught in its wings and […] drives it inexorably into the future, which it turns its back on, while the heap of rubble grows towards the sky in front of him. What we call progress is this storm. »2 The horrified angel, retreating from history into the future, turns out to be the angel of death: on his path no stone remains unturned. Although Benjamin is looking for a conception of history that avoids "any complicity" with blind progress, the horror, it seems, cannot be driven from the angel's face. The angel has no choice. If the storm of paradise that saved him from annihilation had not come to his aid in good time, he would not be an accomplice of this storm. One with him, he fell irredeemably between the suffering and the dead. Perhaps he is trying to alleviate the suspicion of complicity by turning his face away from the future and directing his terrified gaze on us, Karl Löwith's world history and salvation events, the heap of rubble. The paradisiacal origin of the storm still means consolation and hope: "The past has a secret index through which it is referred to redemption." 3 Benjamin is one of the last of the occidental philosophy of history, which keeps the angel of history in flight have seen. But he already knows that the splinters of the messianic "now time" can only flash up in the moment that we recapture from the flight of the angel scurrying into the future, only in a "story brushed against the grain", in a "now" that is torn from the continuum of history and domesticated for the world of the suffering, but is lost again and again. It is unmistakable that it is only about a flash of the messianic present and not about an emanation inherent in the past, that the "weak messianic power" that is given to us at the end of our past is only a conditional opportunity . Benjamin had already noted in an early fragment: “It is the Messiah himself who completes all historical events, in the sense that he himself redeems, completes and creates its relationship to the messianic. That is why nothing historical can in itself relate to the messianic. Therefore the kingdom of God is not the telos of historical dynamis; it cannot be set as a goal. Historically, it is not the goal, but the end. ”4 (A very difficult sentence, said Jacob Taubes, the angel's other authentic eyewitness, in his last lecture shortly before his death: 5“ Well, first of all it is clear: There is one Messiah. No Schmonzes, ‹the messianic›, ‹the political›, no neutralization, but the messiah. ») Karl Löwith - who in his main work on the philosophy of history tries to explain that historical progress and the idea of ​​a universal history in general can cause the storm blows from Paradise in the direction of the messianic end, assuming it is essential, as soon as there was no wind from the mouth of God, the angel of history would fall immediately6 - as Benjamin repeatedly cites an image that is, so to speak, a counterpart to the Angelus novus. In a painting by Pieter Breughel you can see how Icarus falls into the sea without the landscape, which is in perfect peace, including the shepherd and herd of sheep, even noticing it. Where the idea of ​​world history finally sinks, the world itself remains untouched, not in the least impressed by the Angelus perditus196 fall of the angel of human salvation history.7 The two interpretations of images, which under the brown canopy of the forties of the "historical reason" of the Taking historical-philosophical views into account, show the consistent decision-making options within a dilemma that has proven to be a trap. In the middle of the 20th century, the angel of history can only be regarded as an angel of death or a fallen angel. To drive the angel of death further on in its sad flight, the wind from paradise is required for this, and only the resigned rehabilitation of the chance that was given to the Messiah makes it possible at all to see him. The fallen angel plunges into the indifference of the universe and probably also pulls the looks directed at him with him. Maybe Taubes was right and there is no Schmonzes: either-or. His Occidental Eschatology, 8 which he wrote about the same time as Löwith's world history and salvation events and which can be understood as a counterpart to this work, regards - no differently than Löwith's book - the occidental intellectual and philosophical history as a secularization of Old Testament chiliasm, sees in it in contrast to Löwith, the perfectly legitimate heirs and the unbroken continuation of the Old Testament eschatology. The historical-philosophical thought, which began with the Enlightenment and is alive to this day, actually says the same thing in Taubes' interpretation as the Old Testament only in other words, without the view that is directed towards the end - that which is off for the Messiah released point - is directed, would tremble. Only a view that is apocalyptic from the outset can recognize hope in the sky darkened by the catastrophe and not see despair, reinforcement and not the commandment to renounce a tradition of thought leading to the catastrophe. Martin Buber, who rejects the apocalyptic position but maintains the prophetic position, speaks of "God's darkness" when it comes to the darkness into which his time sinks, that is, he explains it as a time in which God is before ours Eyes disappears, but "if the sun is darkened, there is an event between it and our eyes." 9 God is neither dead nor seems dead, the "desert night" only hides him from our view of Karl Löwith's world history and salvation events . Buber's hope is not linked to darkness, but to its relativity, to the sun, which will certainly appear again. The fact that Taubes like Buber are not faced with an insoluble dilemma is based on the unbroken relevance of the biblical tradition - understood apocalyptically or prophetically - in their eyes. About a hundred and sixty years earlier you could stand in line for a ticket to the trap at Kant's. Benjamin's terrible dilemma seems to lie precisely in the question of whether someone can cling to the belief of the redeeming end, who has known since Kant that it is we ourselves who make time together with its specially determined end from the indifferent - yes In Benjamin's view, infinites are always interpreted against us - that man "writes history" for himself, that - if life is dear to us - we ourselves again and again "hold on" to the past, "take hold of" it, it "Overpower ".10 As the young Lukács put it after Kant: In the world forsaken by God, the meaning of totality is" given up, not given ". In Th eodor Lessing's words, history is the meaning of the meaningless.11 If God, as Kant writes in a later note, "is not a substance outside of me, but merely a moral relationship in me" (in Buber's view, this sentence opens our time, the epoch of God's darkness), if the end is not given but a goal we have set, what role can then - if at all - play the hope that is placed in something that is only externally in this time can occur? Taubes and Buber are, in a certain sense, premodern authors: they speak with that six thousand year old voice that has enough power to drive every angel, no matter how disheveled its wings, towards the end, but that voice is still that voice. Benjamin and Löwith already begin to speak in silence. In this silence Benjamin finds complicity and threat, yet he wants to find hope in it. Löwith, on the other hand, makes friends with the beauty of silence. Both know they can only count on their own voice. Benjamin, however, calls the name of the Messiah into this silence, perhaps it returns barely audibly, at least as an echo, perhaps the word called into the silence could be heard out of the silence. Löwith chooses the other path that presents itself in the trap: he tells the story of the words called into silence. From outside, in the post-Angelus perditus198, almost as someone who has come out of silence. And the words reveal themselves: They can all only be His words, even those that deny Him, because whoever calls into the silence must refer to Him, even unintentionally, and if there is no one left to refer to, then these words fall out of our mouths with a hollow sound, or more precisely they clap - into that special Breughel sea. The time of the philosophy of history seems to be the one in which belief in the power of the Creator's words is replaced by belief in the creative power of the human word.12 But this time must end as soon as our gaze can no longer avoid the heap of ruins That this vain speech actually "created" .13 Löwith naturally knows that the speech that justifies suffering is originally born out of fear of the futility of suffering and seeks to fathom where and why these words oppose itself themselves, have turned against their original task. II. The twofold thesis of world history and salvation events can at first glance be consistently maintained until the end. Löwith sees the great turning point in Western intellectual history in the break with the ancient cosmic-cyclical worldview, in the radiance of Judeo-Christian theology, which asks about the ultimate goal, the meaning of history - human suffering. This question, which in his view has lost its dimension from the start, this hubris, is both the womb of the theologies of history and the philosophies of history that are secularized from them, as well as the cause of their inevitable failure. «To seriously ask about the ultimate meaning of history goes beyond all knowledge and takes our breath away; it puts us in a vacuum that only hope and faith can fill. ”14 The history that has come to the fore, the modern belief in its absolute relevance, the future as the yardstick that defines the present, could only therefore become central Become an element of Western thought because "Jewish messianism and Christian eschatology opened the horizon of the future to our post-Christian understanding of world history" - this is the name of the first half of the thesis (also represented by Taubes). Except that the modern conception of history has not only distanced itself greatly from its Jewish and Christian origins, but has also come into fatal confrontation with them. The first half of the thesis therefore requires a qualification: "A distinction must be made between a historical origin and its possible consequences." Because today we have a historical awareness "which is as Christian in its origin as it is unchristian in its consequences". According to the idea that recurs both in this text and in Löwith's entire life's work, the idea of ​​the relevance of history cannot be built on Christian foundations; a Christian philosophy of history represents "an artificial structure" that is Christian history Nonsense". For the second half of these paradoxical theses - the idea of ​​world history is of biblical origin, but incompatible with its source - he puts forward arguments from two different directions. On the one hand, by arguing from Christianity, he recalls its original ahistoricity. Thus also because the progress-oriented modern conception of history "lacks the belief that Christ is the beginning of an end", that is, while he opens a perspective for faith, he at the same time finally closes the perspectives of this worldly history. At another point he formulates - by arguing more strictly - that the appearance of Christ, his death and his resurrection are for the Christian view of history "the only historically relevant secular sequence of events, everything else is only prehistory and consequence, but has no independent historical meaning . The chapters on Augustine and Orosius emphasize that secular history was originally considered completely irrelevant to salvation history and only served as the scene of salvation-historical events.15 On the other hand, by looking back from the modern historical worldview, he diagnoses the gradual loss of the perspective of eternity . In world history and salvation events, Löwith particularly emphasizes the two spiritual turns of Western Christianity as the main stages of the process (which of course only shows itself in retrospect), which aims at the salvation of the original intentions and yet leads to their renunciation. The first turning point is the answer to the absence or delay of the Parousia - the theological aspect of the secular institution of the Church, its reconciliation: the Augustinian theology of history. Its ambivalence is shown in the fact that it contrasts the earthly city with the heavenly city, but recognizes the historical role of the earthly in their opposition, even if only as the scene of the events of salvation history. The second turning point is the theology of history by Joachim von Fiore, who abolishes the juxtaposition of secular history and salvation history by making the two coincide. He "discovers" the heavenly in the earthly and thus opens the way for the thought to reach the goal in this world. Fulfillment outside of history thus becomes a goal within history which, according to Joachim's pious idea, begins to be realized in the exemplary life of religious orders. Löwith describes Joachim's theology as revolutionary and sees in it the overture to the secularization of salvation history. "Revolutionary" is of course an ominous attribute here and indicates that Löwith felt the decisive moment for the downfall of the European spirit in this great achievement.16 From now on, history has absolute relevance and the fundamental opposition in which the Christian Religion is opposed to it, expires. The way opens up to the historical movements that herald this worldly salvation, and the time in which we live gains in value - as the moment of the deeds which are decisive from the point of view of salvation. The relevance of worldly time draws the tension that previously existed in the juxtaposition of the heavenly and earthly city in its consequences into our time and transforms it into conflicts of epochs. The fulfillment seems to be a new epoch, the last act in worldly history. The change from the salvation event to world history is the prerequisite for the idea of ​​the "feasibility" of history by man. The time of the revolutions ran in a continuum from the French Revolution (but actually already since Joachim) to the Bolshevik and National Socialist revolutions, writes Löwith in Der Europäische Nihilismus.17 In a certain sense Karl Löwith's world history and salvation events are just about it a single movement striving towards the future on the ruins of the past. The original, anti-world radicalism of Christianity is changing into an anti-past radicalism that no longer relates to eternity but to the future. The saving event first became world history, which was set in motion by Providence. After finally eliminating the assumption of the absolute, which already seemed superfluous, it became a daring program of progress or simply of breaking with the past.("Because courage lures forward, courage detaches from the previous, courage dares to do the unfamiliar and unpredictable", were Heidegger's words at an election address by the National Socialists in 1933.) When the philosophies of history secularized the words of faith, they postponed not only a question belonging to the jurisdiction of faith on a terrain on which no well-founded answer could be given, they also let man loose in an irreparable way on his own story, in which he imagined with self-arrogance that he was the one fulfilling them, and thus sacrificing the position of reserve in relation to what has just happened. Regardless of how critical the view of the worldly future may be to the present as it has been thrown into the shackles of the past, in reality it is its prisoner. From the perspective of the future, the events of the present are of crucial importance and therefore the gaze is unable to put them into perspective. He is at the mercy of the moment, which he must recognize as the overture of the future. The context of eternity - in which everything that is momentary is seen as transitory and relative and therefore cannot acquire real power - no longer exists. Seen in this way, the modern conception of history - which considers itself critical but is servile - lags behind both ancient and Christian doctrine of eternity as soon as it gets rid of the dimensions of wisdom and faith that limit the overwhelming power of the present. This is the most important argument for the incompatibility of modern historical thought with the biblical tradition, which was already the basic idea in the 1941 work Von Hegel bis Nietzsche18. This idea goes beyond the original twofold theses Angelus perditus202 of the work and its initial question, which examines the theological roots of the modern conception of history - that is, the question within the Judeo-Christian tradition - and replaces it with another comparison that turns out to be more fundamental proves. Although Löwith repeatedly juxtaposes the "ancient" and the "Judeo-Christian" worldview and presents them as alternatives, for example, he connects them at the same time by emphasizing their common features compared to the modern world-historical way of thinking. “The modern overestimation of history, the 'world' as 'history', is the result of our alienation from the natural theology of antiquity and from the supernatural theology of Christianity,” he writes, and “he believes in the The absolute relevance of history [...] came about through the emancipation of modern historical consciousness from its original limitation by classical cosmology and Christian theory. Both limited the experience of history and prevented it from becoming excessive. " In this history of decline, Christianity inevitably finds itself in a double position - Habermas calls this "double bookkeeping" in his Löwith essay19: it is a dramatic break with the ancient cosmic view, and yet, viewed from the perspective of secularization, a bridge to antiquity. (Likewise, each of the stages described by Löwith in the development of world-historical outlook characterizes this double position: even Hegel retains something from the perspective of eternity, which is no longer present in those who tread the path he has opened.) Interpretation Löwiths is the story of the thoughts that were formulated about the meaning of history, about submitting oneself to the captivity of the instantaneousness of the gaze once raised to eternity, as well as about the historical legitimization of the power of the momentary, about the sinking of perspective from the Eternity into the hopelessness of temporality.20 (Although the assessment of the present shows not only an obvious relationship with Georg Lukács' lines about “transcendental homelessness” 21, but also with the idea of ​​Heidegger's “oblivion of being”, Löwith recognizes in Heidegger , whose National Socialist Karl Lö With world history and salvation events, he does not interpret speeches and articles as a faux pas, but as a logical consequence arising from the apology of temporality, the one who fulfills this process.) 22 A philosophy of history would therefore be built neither on the basis of faith nor on that of reason - it seems that it can only be a product that has arisen from the mixture of the two starting points. When the lack of parousia became clear, the focus of faith could no longer satisfy Westerners, writes Löwith. But he could not do without it either, so he tried to rationalize his faith, to bring the standpoints of faith and reason so far closer together that he considered the assumptions of faith to be certainties of reason. He had to bring back those aspects of reason neglected in favor of faith, which, however, could not take the place of faith quietly and with impunity. The eye of reason can never see what has appeared to the eye of faith: the end as hope. The elimination of faith in view of the end plunges the end into its simple cruelty. So it was a matter of freeing oneself from the end. According to Löwith, the modern belief in progress had basically long since eliminated the Christian elements of creation and fulfillment by adopting the conception of infinite and continuous movement from the ancient worldview, albeit without maintaining its cyclical time structure. This resulted in a confused mixture in which the end thrown out the window in the shape of the - yet indispensable - future knocked on the door. III. From the philosophies of history that culminated in the apology of temporality, there are theoretically two possible ways out: a return to the original view of the end-oriented belief, alien to the world, or a return to the cosmic-cyclical standpoint of pagan reason. The former means the opposition to the world as a whole, the latter the admiration of the world as a whole, a satisfaction with the beauty of the cosmic order, comparable to the way Goethe found glory and harmony in nature.24 Löwith considers the first way as impassable for himself, although in several of his writings he quotes a letter from Jacob Burckhardt with great sympathy, in which Burckhardt, who is perhaps closest to him emotionally and abhors the zeitgeist, describes the pure resistance of Christians in the catacombs to worldly powers as gives an example to follow. But Löwith knows that Burckhardt has not decided on this path either and rather praises his resigned skepticism about history (while he notes that even Burckhardt has retained a remnant of his belief in history, which for him even means one last religion). Löwith sees - after Nietzsche, as a student of Husserl and Heidegger - no personal way back to faith. He considers the Christian religion to have run aground hopelessly, and he is not looking for a way back to the Jewish religion, which his father had already abandoned. Not because he considers it to be the only one that can be reconciled with the philosophy of history - but build it (albeit at the price of limiting the historical horizon to a single people) on the conviction of the real and permanent historical presence of God -, but himself sees no need to call God to help for the perspective of eternity, since he is convinced that this represents the natural dimension of our world anyway. (The "postulate of an eternity that belongs exclusively to God would only be enlightening if it could be demonstrated that the world is not itself the one and the whole of that which is naturally existent and, as the one and the whole, has no beginning or end and therefore fully satisfies the claim to eternity and does not have any extraterrestrial or transcendent needs ».) 25 The second way, leading back to the ancient view, attracts Löwith his whole life. Overwhelmed, he quotes Polybius in World History and Salvation, who wrote down the words of Scipio, who defeated Kathargo, about the future fall of Rome and the changeability of fate, saying: “And wherever classical feelings are alive, this remains the ultimate wisdom of the historian. » He also writes in a review of Gerhard Krüger and later in the essay On the Meaning of History: It could also be that Herodotus and Thukydides, Aeschylos and Sophocles had a far deeper insight into Karl Löwith's world history and salvation events, history and man when our transcendental-philosophical and historical-philosophical construction on the guideline of freedom and progress towards a fulfillment and that classical philosophy never made history a topic only because it saw that it was from the fortuitous fortunes of history history or report, but no philosophical knowledge. "26 It is only" our short-sighted bias in the historical human world that closes us the free view of the everlasting and regularly moving celestial world and the Greek discovery of the cosmos to a seemingly unrepeatable worldview makes. "27 (" Blessed are the times, "sighed the young Lukács in Die Theorie des Romans," for whom the starry sky is the map of the paths that can and must be walked, and whose paths are illuminated by the light of the stars. ") 28 The one who leads back The way - writes Mihály Vajda in connection with Lukács, 29, and Habermas about Löwith30 - is conceivable "when the God-forsaken world of modernity is not the expression of the existential tragedy of human existence but a historical crisis" (with Löwith the consequence historical thought itself). Then it would be surmountable, and a homecoming could not be ruled out. Löwith's cosmic, ahistorical outlook only grows stronger when he becomes acquainted with Zen Buddhism, and through the influence of "Eastern thought" in general during his exile in Japan. From then on, the features of the ancient and eastern views, which were regarded as common, form the basis for his criticism of the occidental culture of history.31 He returns the conception of modern occidental thought advocated by Hegel, Marx and Dilthey, according to which the history of nature is part of the human history turns into its opposite. His work Nature and History, written in 1950, is the programmatic formulation of this idea, as are remarks ten years later on the difference between Orient and Occident or his essay On the Meaning of History.32 However, Löwith has increasingly recognized that it is with the revival, the evocation Greek culture did not simply stick to the academic echo of the corresponding ideas of Nietzsche and Heidegger or the literary effect of neo-paganism - the latter a favorite topic of the Marburg George Circle, which he accompanied with Angelus perditus206 with as much attention as it was with great distance. The cultural criticism, skeptical of its own time, became the spirit of the times, which in the first half of the century cast a spell over numerous scribes in Central Europe and ultimately bloody compromised themselves. In any case, many boarded the Hellas Express at the time, but not all of them arrive at the same place. Some would like to get off at Polybios, others at Perikles and still others do not want to stop until Parmenides - Lukács would like to make his way to Homer. It causes a few surprises when the tracks lead to completely different end stations. The fashionable German cultural criticism - which, in Löwith's view, is the phenomenon of fateful nihilism after the loss of the measure of eternity - dealt with Christian humanism by referring to the Greeks. When Löwith is confronted with the fact that neo-paganism does not take the position of eternity, but is made a battle cry by the apologists of temporality, he cannot help but protect the Christian tradition from them in The European Nihilism. A friend's remark in 1940 that he was campaigning for something that he himself had destroyed is of course entirely justified in 1940. Retreating on the path that he believed was the way out, Löwith soon finds himself trapped in a trap that is not even his own. But in order to fi nd and set up his own trap, which every serious thinker deserves, he has to face dilemmas that seem to come from outside and that he must wade through. Löwith himself considers his position ambiguous. This ambiguity is theoretically “not to be simplified”. But "the questions posed by Nietzsche [...] remain as such". This ambiguous position "turns itself into a resolute rejection of the apparent completeness with Christianity and Christian humanity - namely at the decisive moment when a whole people, together with their" poets and thinkers, is practicing "Nietzsche's" will to power "and that Barbarism becomes manifest, which with Nietzsche himself still seemed acceptable through spirit, and even 'Christianity'. "33 Although the given historical circumstances could provide a reason for the emphasis on the humanistic aspects of Christianity as opposed to paganism, which was interpreted in a barbaric way. 207Karl Löwith's world history and salvation events, Löwith did not see any reason for conversion. “In the face of this dehumanization of man, mere humanity is incapable of raising even an effective protest, and this explains it when the spiritual reaction resorted to similarly drastic means and preached a return to the church. Some friends have also expected a radical solution from me, be it in the sense of a return to Judaism or a decision in favor of Christianity or a political commitment. Instead, I saw that the 'radical' solutions in particular are not solutions at all, but blind stiffeners that make a virtue out of necessity and simplify life. ”34 Löwith looks around - and remains trapped. He acknowledges that this will be his permanent residence from now on. IV. For a while, Löwith was also a trap dweller in the physical sense. In 1933 he stayed in Germany, although he had been invited to a scholarship abroad. But a gentleman, a war veteran does not flee, and anyway, this great historian of the German spirit, endowed with an extremely well-founded and comprehensive knowledge, this real German professor is cut from the same cloth as Max Weber and Husserl, men who support him Had a decisive influence on attitude. Because of his war award, he was able to observe for two more semesters how the number of SA uniforms among his students increased. Then he made up his mind, went to Heidegger, said goodbye to Husserl and Bultmann, from Gadamer and Krüger, gave his last lecture on Nietzsche's theory of eternity and accepted a scholarship at the last moment: in Mussolini's Italy. Two years later, he left his beloved Italy just in time. This time he emigrates to Japan, where, with the help of his students, he has the opportunity to teach at the University in Sendai. Shortly before Pearl Harbor, Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr finally invite him to the theological seminar in Hartford, USA, where the preparatory work for his work World History and Salvation takes place. From then on, only his own familiar philosophical traps await him. Angelus perditus208 Such as his own strange position. Because with the burial of the philosophies of history, which distinguish themselves with the best information about the end, he inevitably sees himself, like every real philosopher of history, as someone who is at a kind of historical end point - here at the end point of the history of the philosophy of history. He writes that we are "more or less at the end of modern historical thought". And it is precisely from this classic end point of "perfected sinfulness" that the series of philosophies in world history shows itself to be an extremely meaningful flow: as a history of decline from the search for the order of eternity through nihilism to decline, to the corrupt apology of the National Socialist and Bolshevik New Order. In Von Hegel bis Nietzsche or in Der Europäische Nihilismus, almost the entire modern history of German intellectual history - with its greats understood and loved by Löwith - presents itself as the unfolding of the ultimate doom.It is a coherent story that has a beginning, a kind of fall into sin (with the question of the meaning of the story, the abandonment of the ancient worldview), and a grave ending that reminds of the need to return to the starting point. In world history and salvation events he literally takes the path through the history of philosophy from the end35 - apparently in order to arrive at the beginnings of historical-philosophical thought, but in reality he wants to go further, namely before these beginnings. A similar dilemma raises Löwith's argumentation, the overall way in which his train of thought is presented. For when asked why Western thought turned away from the measure of eternity, he answers by depicting this turning point as a historical process. (The question can now be asked, he writes at one point, “How did this modern aberration come about, which has dissolved the one physical cosmos into a multiplicity of historical worlds and the always identical human nature into a multiplicity of historical modes of existence? The question can only be answered through historical reflection, which, however, has the purpose of dismantling the constructions of historical consciousness. ") 36 How can it be - asks Habermas - that Löwith have no doubts about his own company," as far as it is consists in breaking the spell of Karl Löwith's world history and salvation events of historical consciousness with magic spells that he has learned from himself. "37 For," How hardly anyone else Löwith has tracked down the arts of historical consciousness and its finesse - of course only to weaken it ».38 Habermas mentions at this point - a little insecure and extremely elegant - The special difficulty of the critical argument against Löwith: “Before an argument is brought into the meeting, one feels irritated by the restless awareness that Löwith has not already analyzed it in advance and formulated it much better. His critics stand on a ground prepared by himself. "39 And Löwith, when he writes of the Christian apologists, does indeed reflect his own position:" If a convert to the Christian faith shares his new certainty of faith with others who do not have it sharing, communicating and defending before them, he finds himself eo ipso in a historical situation that forces him not only to speak to others and to defend himself against them, but also to speak in their language in order to be understandable to them. Thus, as a converted Jew, Paul spoke to unconverted Jews and Gentiles; Origines as a philosophically educated Christian to philosophically educated pagans […]. The question arises in which language, to whom and against whom a modern Christian apology would have to speak in order to be historically effective and understandable. "40 Today this can only be the language of the" scientific "and" historical "modes of thought. However, since theology forgets its origin and carries the arrow of Enlightenment in its own flesh, regards itself as a historical-critical science and is thus lost, "it no longer knows to whom to speak and against whom to defend" .41 But doesn't Löwith also carry this arrow in his flesh and would he really not regret tearing out with him what clings to him? Because the individual philosophical-historical analyzes are so sensitive, the negative protagonists of failure are so close to Löwith that one almost has the feeling that sometimes he would like to forget the original purpose of their presentation. So he writes the adventures of the European spirit - cosmic world view, eternal natural cycle - as pure intellectual history. On the one hand, it is clear that Löwith's train of thought seems to belong in that "postmodern" family that arose as a consequence of the historical viewpoint, which relativizes the individual times Angelus perditus210 and whose thinkers link the world historical viewpoint with a certain historical place and a certain time "situationalize" them. That is, in his view, world history is one of those paradigms in which the problem of human suffering was thematized and which also proves to be exhausted and emptied, a paradigm in which the voice of suffering can no longer be made to sound credibly. Löwith even goes so far that he sometimes does not treat the Christian and ancient views as alternatives that are linked to an era, but as alternatives that are actually always available. Goethe can, for example, appear to Hegel as a representative of eternity, to the totality of history as someone who takes the standpoint of natural wholeness. “It seems,” he writes, “as if the two great conceptions of antiquity and Christianity, cyclical movement and eschatological orientation, have exhausted the fundamental possibilities of understanding history. Even the most recent attempts at interpreting history are nothing more than variations on these two principles or their intermingling.42 In his opinion, however, it is by no means indifferent which outlook determines thought, and although it seems that he does not answer clearly when asked why the gaze of occidental man originally turned from pagan reason to faith, he tries to correct this turn in retrospect, so to speak. Löwith therefore settles with the philosophy of history, since he sees it as a traitor to eternal values. He does not want to leave metaphysics itself, but only the impasse it has got into in order to fi nd the everlasting standards again. It is precisely not the absolute values ​​that he has had enough of, only he does not consider history, the future, to be "the decisive horizon of human existence". His work World History and Salvation, which accounts for the philosophies of history, is not only a tableau drawn with unusual elegance since Heine and an unusually extensive material from the history of philosophy that has been mobilizing since Hegel, but also a real work in the philosophy of history. "In the following study, the term 'philosophy of history' denotes the systematic interpretation of world history based on a principle, Karl Löwith's world history and salvation events, by means of which historical events and consequences are brought into context and related to a final meaning," he writes at the beginning of the book. This time it is precisely about such a design "inspired by the great breath of occidental metaphysics" 43. The return to the cosmic worldview would - Löwith clearly sees this - go hand in hand with a twofold farewell. With a rejection of the excellent role of man and the individual as well as of the culture of protest, because both are linked to a point of view that is defined against the “outside world” and cannot be formulated from the point of view of the eternal natural order. At the end of the very work - European Nihilism - in which Germany becomes the gravedigger of Europe precisely because of its protesting spirit, Löwith addresses the Japanese readers with an afterword and saves them from the impression that writing as a whole might have created. “The European spirit is not least the spirit of criticism, which knows how to distinguish, compare and decide. Criticism seems to be something purely negative, but it has that positive power of negation in it, which keeps the traditional and the existing in motion and drives its further development. Criticism is the very principle of our progress, in that it dissolves and moves whatever exists from step to step. The Orient cannot endure such ruthless criticism, either of itself or against others, on which all European progress is based. Criticism of the existing in general, of the state and nature, of God and people, of beliefs and prejudices - this all-encompassing and questioning, doubting and inquiring power of distinction, that is an element of European life without which it is inconceivable . All other peculiarities of Europe are closely related to this ability to criticize: […] above all: the utterly different individuality. For only a person who is an 'individual' who - whatever he takes part in - is indifferent can at all so sharply and definitely distinguish and de- Angelus perditus212 differentiate between himself and God, between himself and the world , between himself and his people and state, between himself and his fellow human beings, between himself and his own ‹moi haïssable› (Pascal), between truth and lie, yes and no. ”45 These lines, which spring from Hegel's spirit, also guide him actually on his interpretation of Greek antiquity, and with him he takes the view: The essence of Europe lies in its anti-Asian spirit, in its general principle of individuality. In Greek antiquity, "the general as such [...] has been overcome, immersion in nature is abolished," he quotes Hegel. We are probably in the middle of Löwith's very own trap. This image of the Greeks, which honors the breakout from immersion in nature, can in no way be brought into agreement with what we achieve at the price of rejecting our "glued to the historical human world". The praise of the all-breaking and renewing passionate criticism is not a stoic point of view. If we greet ancient Greece with Hegel as the morning of the spirit of progress, it can hardly offer a refuge from the ideas of progress. No matter how we look at the Greeks, it is doubtful that the cult of individuality, the idea of ​​humanity - if one stays within the ancient view - could be justified. For is not the chosen one, a - Jewish, Christian or Enlightenment-rationalist - theory of being emphasized from the environment, an indispensable prerequisite? And at this point it becomes clear why Löwith did not merely induce the accidental challenge of historical events to defend Christian humanism against the destruction which he on the other hand endeavored to promote.46 Like Rousseau, his colleague in decadence historiography, Löwith had this too Feeling, "[e] there is [...] an age at which the individual would like to stop: You will search for the age from which you wish your species would have stopped there." Dissatisfied with your present condition - for reasons that herald even greater dissatisfaction to your unhappy offspring - you may want to be able to go back; and this feeling must express itself in praise of your first Karl Löwith's world history and salvation ancestors […]. ”47 Löwith thought to find this time in antiquity, in that age which perhaps still knew the power of infinity. In reality, however, he could not bear the thin air of eternity that swallowed man, and like Pascal once upon a time, "the eternal silence of these infinite spaces [...] terrified him". He resembles a prisoner who is constantly making brilliant escape plans for others. He knows the only way out of the trap, so he prefers to stay. He belongs to the group of thinkers, including Galileo and Einstein, who raised their hands against the "scientific" traditions intended to underpin the dogma of human choice - and then carefully withdrew their hand. Although he does not believe in the angel of history who set out on his flight on the night after God's death, he knows that he had an important mission to those who thought they saw him and that he might mean the same as he did thought: that the finite is not final. The Breughel picture he has chosen is neither a landscape painting without people nor a purely bucolic idyll, but the frozen moment of Icarus ’fall. A moment that is indifferent to the nature depicted, but important for us, the viewers of the picture. The picture, painted with great artistic skill, refers to both perspectives at the same time.