On the destructive power of the third: Gadamer and Heidegger's doctrine of intersubjectivity

Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (1):5-21 (2003)
Axel Honneth investigates an ambiguity in Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics. In Truth and Method, Gadamer lays out key forms of reciprocal recognition. By means of them, he can subject historical transmission to normative appraisal. Gadamer makes the recognitional interaction relative only to an ‘I’ and ‘Thou’, omitting reference to an objective ‘Third’. Honneth claims that Gadamer posits this restriction based on the influence of Heidegger’s Mitwelt concept. Honneth claims, however, that Gadamer’s model fails to explain the possibility of a hermeneutic openness to agents who are not in close personal proximity to us. Instead, Honneth argues that the concrete other in I/Thou relations must be supplemented by a standpoint where the concrete and generalized other continually and reciprocally correct one another
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