Von der aufklärung des vampirismus zum vampirismus der aufklärung: euine west-östliche debatte zwischen einst und heute

Constantin Rauer


In the first part of this essay, I shall sketch the debate about vampirism during the age of Enlightenment historically, while in the second part, I will interpret this debate philosophically. The historical reconstruction mainly relies on Gábor Klaniczay’s brilliant essay The Decline of Witches and the Rise of Vampires in the Eighteenth-Century Habsburg Monarchy. My purpose, however, is different from that of Klaniczay. While he is interested in the connection between the decline of witches and the rise of vampires in the Eighteenth-Century Habsburg monarchy, I am interested in the relationship between the performances of vampirism in Eastern European countries, and their theoretical responses in Western Europe. In the second, philosophical part of this essay, I shall read this whole phenomenon of vampirism, both in the Western European theoretical debate and in Eastern European performances, as a symptom, behind which I see an entirely different discourse at work: the power struggle between the old faculty of theology, and the new faculty of medicine. I argue here that Western European Enlightenment vampirism transforms into medical Enlightenment vampirism, and that the Eastern European peoples criticized precisely this through their actual performances of vampirism. Thus, the debate about vampirism actually conceals the dialectics of the Enlightenment. Looking back from the present, we are surprised to find that perhaps Western European scholars with their allegedly enlightened knowledge were not the ones who had the final say, but, on the contrary, the Eastern European peoples with their popular beliefs.


Vampirism; Theology; Medicin

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5007/1677-2954.2008v7n1p87






ethic@. Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC, Brasil, eISSN 1677-2954

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