Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics

thus heidegger calls precisely for "hermeneutic concepts"--that is, expressions that are not merely capable of reflecting a neutral, present-at-hand fact; rather, they are "accesible only in repeated new interpretations". consequently a sentance is hermeneutical when it calls the interpreter to an act of self-reflection or interpretation, and so to self-application. thus it is necessary to pierce through the facade of universal self concepts in order to return to the specific experiences that reveal themselves through them.

for gadamer, he learned that language can transcend itself and thereby exhibit the potential for rationality. habermas believed that hermeneutics had to be charged with "linguistic idealism", becasue it overlooked the factical limits of language. however, the hermeneutic conception of language is based, from the ground up, on the experience of just these limits. the ceaseless striving for words and understanding indeed presupposes the experience of the inadequacy of linguistic understanding. the universality of language is not that of any particular language-state, as though everythign could be said and understood effortlessly; it is the search for words. it is an apparent paradox that, hermeneutically, we are in search of understanding and language, because they fail us in principle.

gadamer's hermeneutics does not exhaust itself in resignation to finitude; it strives for a "critically reflexive knowledge", the effectiveness of which is most manifest where correcting objectivistic self-misunderstandings increases the individual's freedom.

thus hermeneutics defends "speaking intelligibly" against the propositional logic that measures language by the criterion of a propositional calculus.

universal understanding was in principle achievable in conversation.

insisting on the sign, as if it did not refer to something else, something unreachable, is the purest positivism- it is indeed, if the label still means anything, bad metaphysics.

..foundationalist positions that would like to do away with the inner dialogue of the soul that constitutes understanding.

...in the conversation of the soul with itself, as Plato liked to describe thought.

by metaphysics is meant-etymologically, historically, and thematically-the overcoming of temporarality. According to Heidegger, however, such transcendance is based on the repression of our temporality; the claim to infinite truth results from the negation of finitude. But it belongs to finitude (if the tautology is not meaningless) that it remains finite, even and especially when the claim to infinitude is made.

hermeneutic distinction between truth and method. truth is to be found outside or beyond the narrow circle of knowledge that can be methodologized.

what liberates us for the possibility of being human is the realm of free and measured reflection constituted by the inner logos, the most basic theme of hermeneutics, which has long since promised, and been called reason.

Jean Grondin. Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics. London: Yale University Press, 1994.

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