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Consequences of Hermeneutics

Fifty Years After Gadamer's Truth and Method


Publication Year: 2010

These essays examine the achievements of hermeneutics as well as its current status and prospects for the future. Gadamer’s text provides an important focus, but the ambition of these critical reappraisals extends to hermeneutics more broadly and to a range of other thinkers, such as Heidegger, Ricoeur, Derrida, and Rorty.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix

As always, there are a number of people who have made this volume possible. The editors would especially like to thank Henry Carrigan at Northwestern University for his support for the project and the expeditious way in which he brought the volume into production. Ingo Farin has been a useful source of advice and assistance on translational matters, while Michael Haskell and Luke Fischer provided invaluable help at...

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Introduction: Consequences of Hermeneutics

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pp. xi-xviii

The two key figures in the development of modern hermeneutics are undoubtedly Martin Heidegger and Hans- Georg Gadamer. Yet while Heidegger's Being and Time is certainly a key text in the history of hermeneutics in the twentieth century, it was the publication of Gadamer's Truth and Method in 1960 that was the watershed event in the development of philosophical hermeneutics, and that established the hermeneutical...

Part I: Origins, Elements, and Traditions

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1. Gadamer's Hidden Doctrine: The Simplicity and Humility of Philosophy

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pp. 5-24

In a conversation with Riccardo Dottori conducted around the time of his hundredth year, Hans-Georg Gadamer speaks about many of the issues that over time have shaped his project of a philosophical hermeneutics. Surprisingly, there is little discussion of the specific issues developed in Truth and Method, the book published forty years earlier that established Gadamer once and for all as a philosopher for the twentieth century.

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2. Truth, Method, and Transcendence

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pp. 25-44

In one of the most methodologically significant passages of Truth and Method, Gadamer writes, To be historically aware means that knowledge of oneself can never be complete. All self- knowledge arises from what is historically pre-given, what with Hegel we call "substance," because it underlies all subjective intentions and actions, and hence both prescribes and limits every...

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3. Gadamer's Platonism: His Recovery of Mimesis and Anamnesis

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pp. 45-65

It need not be argued that Hans- Georg Gadamer's most notable contribution to contemporary philosophy is his hermeneutics. Yet three of the ten volumes of his collected works are devoted to studies of ancient Greek philosophy, especially the work of Plato. His attention to Plato was not a side interest unrelated to his hermeneutics. In fact, his concern for Plato is importantly related to his hermeneutics, for his hermeneutical...

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4. The Tradition of Tradition in Philosophical Hermeneutics

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pp. 66-80

The past decade has not vindicated philosophical hermeneutics. In fact, recent events have if anything exposed the futility and even the extreme danger of the interpretative idiom taken as if it were itself an unquestionable truth. Those who exploit this situation at the expense of the critical spirit of philosophical hermeneutics too often employ a knee- jerk skepticism that undermines the distinction between research and rationalization,...

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5. Inside and Outside Hermeneutics: Contributions Toward a Reconstructive Reason

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pp. 81-97

It is true that, generally speaking, the expression "consequences of hermeneutics" refers to the effects that the philosophy of interpretation has brought about in the last fifty years in fields of research outside of it. This is, obviously, the main sense of the concept. It is also evident, however, that if one considers the nature and manner of philosophical hermeneutics, it is somewhat doubtful whether the inside- outside couple...

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6. The Hermeneutics of Everydayness: On the Legacy and Radicality of Heidegger's Phenomenology

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pp. 98-120

Throughout his later work, Heidegger speaks insistently and provocatively of the newly found poverty of philosophy, or of philosophy's successor, which he calls simply: thinking. Toward the end of the "Letter on 'Humanism,' " for example, he writes: It is time for one to break the habit of overestimating philosophy and of thereby asking too much of it. What is needed in the present world crisis is less philosophy, but more attentiveness in thinking; less literature...

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7. Two Contrasting Heideggerian Elements in Gadamer's Philosophical Hermeneutics

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pp. 121-131

I wish to discuss two important contrasting Heideggerian elements in Gadamer's hermeneutics. The first is the finite universality of Gadamer's focus on understanding (based on Heidegger's existential ontology of Dasein).1 The second is the specificity of his focus on truth and the experience of art (based on Heidegger's "The Origin of the Work of Art" ["Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes"]).2

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8. In the Nets of Tradition: A Hermeneutic Analysis Concerning the Historicity of Human Cognition

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pp. 132-143

In a brief meditation on what we do as philosophers, Ludwig Wittgenstein states that "working in philosophy--like work in architecture in many respects--is really more a working on oneself. On one's own interpretation. On one's way of seeing things."1 This "one's way of seeing things" hints at a perspectival character of cognition that, with respect to the self- reflective character of thought, underlines the well- known...

Part II: Conversation, Understanding, and Language

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9. Gadamer and Rorty: From Interpretation to Conversation

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pp. 147-160

In the half- century since its publication, Hans- Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method has had significant influence on various Anglophone academic disciplines, especially aesthetics, literary criticism, art history, and intellectual history, but it has had quite limited influence on Anglophone analytic philosophy.1 The canonical and methodological divide between the analytic and continental traditions in philosophy has ensured that...

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10. Being Is Conversation: Remains, Weak Thought, and Hermeneutics

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pp. 161-176

Among the most important consequences of Heidegger's destruction of Being as presence, in addition to the overcoming of metaphysics and the elevation of hermeneutics to the center of philosophical concern, is the weakening of Being to its own remains. While few Heideggerian scholars consider the German master's philosophical destruction as a weakening of Being, most contemporary hermeneutic philosophers agree that he is...

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11. "Being Able to Love and Having to Die": Gadamer and Rilke

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pp. 177-189

Rainer Maria Rilke was for a long time regarded, not unlike Hölderlin, as a "philosophical poet." For this reason he exercised from early on a special fascination for philosophers, but Rilke scholarship was also determined in a one- sided direction. In 1976 Richard Exner insisted that "it is now high time not to regard Rilke's work as a kind of quarry from which material evidence is arbitrarily extracted for this or that philosophical...

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12. Nihilistic or Metaphysical Consequences of Hermeneutics?

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pp. 190-201

Hermeneutics does not, as such, have much to do with metaphysics. It initially started as a reflection that provided methodical and practical guidelines for the interpretation of sacred texts. Its general principles needed to be heeded with or without metaphysics. As hermeneutics evolved into a general reflection on the truth experience of the humanities, metaphysics did start to play a role, since Dilthey claimed that the...

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13. Critique: The Heart of Philosophical Hermeneutics

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pp. 202-217

Philosophical hermeneutics has been charged with not providing for the possibility of critique, most famously by Jürgen Habermas. However, we must first ask, "What is critique?" What type of critique is demanded? Is it self- critique, critique of an other, critique of tradition, ideology critique, or philosophical critique? What does the possibility of critique presuppose in a theory, in a hermeneutics, in a philosophy? Does justified critique...

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14. "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," or Nietzsche and Hermeneutics in Gadamer, Lyotard, and Vattimo

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pp. 218-243

I am not about to tell the story of Nietzsche's incorporation, or the resistance to the same, into the texts and textures of hermeneutic discourse. Firstly this is because such readings have already and in fact been offered, in various ways, by a number of authors, and that for a very long time, in articles and even books in English and German, in French and Italian, and so on.1 Enacting a banal and utterly unerotic repetition of...

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15. The Condition of Hermeneutics: The Implicative Structure of Understanding

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pp. 244-258

If hermeneutics has acquired a philosophical dignity in the last century, it is because Heidegger has posed for the first time a problem one could rightly define as Kantian: why can hermeneutics claim to be the method of the human sciences? Or in other terms: what is the ontological foundation of understanding? As for Kant with knowledge, Heidegger also begins with the consideration that understanding is given; it is something...

Part III: Practice, Politics, and Ethics

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pp. 259-280

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16. The Origin of Understanding: Event, Place, Truth

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pp. 261-280

Hermeneutics, especially as articulated by Gadamer in Truth and Method, begins nowhere if not with the concrete experience of understanding--an experience that arises in the encounter with a work of art, in the reading of a text, in the conversation with another person, in the simple appearing of things as thus and so. For this reason, hermeneutics has its origin in an event--the same event that Heidegger...

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17. The Political Outcome of Hermeneutics: To Politics Through Art and Religion

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pp. 281-287

One could argue that fifty years after the publication of Truth and Method hermeneutics has rediscovered some of its roots--which were already present and brought forth in the history reconstructed by Gadamer-- and has placed others in parentheses. Gadamer always insisted on the importance of biblical hermeneutics and juridical hermeneutics in the development of the reflection on interpretation; but in...

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18. What Is the Ethics of Interpretation?

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pp. 288-305

In this essay I attempt to draw some of the implications of the difference between "interpreting better" and "interpreting differently," and I characterize these implications as leading to an ethics of interpretation or a politics of interpretation. The dispute over whether an interpretation may be accorded the status of better as opposed to merely "different" has been at the center of interpretation...

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19. Political Hermeneutics, or Why Schmitt Is Not the Enemy of Gadamer

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pp. 306-323

In Truth and Method, Hans- Georg Gadamer explicitly mentions and engages with Carl Schmitt's work only once, on a singular occasion--which is, itself, a meditation on the notion of "occasionality"--that of a contentious reading of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The object of Gadamer's criticism in appendix 2 of his masterpiece is Schmitt's 1956 text Hamlet or Hecuba: The Irruption of Time into Play, and especially...

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20. Sex, Gender, and Hermeneutics

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pp. 324-342

From almost the moment feminists and women's studies scholars began to distinguish gender from sex, they also began to raise questions about the distinction. The original distinction was meant to absolve the biology of sex of the blame for women's traditionally subordinate position in society. That position, feminists and scholars argued, stemmed not from nature or what they termed the sexed characteristics of female...

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21. Being as Dialogue, or The Ethical Consequences of Interpretation

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pp. 343-367

Hans- Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method is rightly credited with successfully challenging a concept of human- scientific interpretation modeled after the natural sciences.1 One lasting achievement is to show that even positions such as Romantic hermeneutics or historicism, in spite of their opposition to the explanatory law- based model of science, remain guided by the ideal of objective knowledge.2 Gadamer sets out to reconstruct...


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pp. 369-389


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pp. 391-405


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pp. 407-410

E-ISBN-13: 9780810164703
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810126862
Print-ISBN-10: 0810126869

Page Count: 428
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: New
Volume Title: 1