To be critical meant to raise thought so far above all constraints that, through the perception of the falseness of constraints, knowledge of the truth takes flight as if by magic.

Just one question regarding this clause. I am a little bit puzzled by the phrase "knowledge of the truth takes flight as if by magic". I have the problem with the phrase "take flight" in the context of the sentence. In all dictionaries is the meaning of it similar to "flee", "run away" and so on. So this would mean that in the end of the critical process the knowledge of the truth is away, disappeared. Firstly, I thought that this could be some sort of paradox that the author (Walter Benjamin) uses. Just to be sure I browsed through Benjamin's text translated to my native language. Its interpretation of the passage is quite contrary: The knowledge of the truth reveals or – this is a literary translation – gets out of a shell.

So can you tell me what exactly the phrase "take flight" means in the above sentence?

1 Answer 1


Take flight can mean to escape/run away, but it can also mean to become airborne, e.g. a bird takes flight when it starts flapping its wings - but it's not necessarily trying to escape anything.

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    And in this case, it's not literally flying; it's figuratively flying. One could argue the "flight=flee" sense as well, that the knowledge has escaped the constraints. Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 15:16

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