Hans Blumenberg is known as much for his theoretical focus on unsayability as he is for his ostentatious reclusiveness. This article argues that Blumenberg’s figure of the spectator connects these two elements. Blumenberg’s social and theoretical retreat to a spectatorial position bears distinctive traces of his attempt at finding new ways to do philosophy after 1945. As much a departure from as a legacy of his early attempts to critically renew scholarly practice with the working group Poetics and Hermeneutics, the figure of the spectator served Blumenberg as a means of self-stylization and embodied his striving at the descriptive representation of unsayability. Blumenberg’s theoretical figure of the distanced yet critically engaged spectator is distinguished both from Martin Heidegger’s notion of thinking as action and from Edmund Husserl’s positioning of the philosophical spectator as removed from the empirical world. The figure of the theoros, the spectator, absorbs the ambition of bringing into view the unsayable and of articulating the conditions for this spectatorial act.

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