David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (1):45-65 (2000)
This paper re-examines the central thesis of Gadamer’s hermeneutics that objectivity is not a suitable ideal for understanding a text, historical event, or cultural phenomenon because there exists no one correct interpretation of such phenomena. Because Gadamer fails to make clear the grounds for this claim, this paper considers three possible arguments. The first, predominant in the literature on Gadamer, is built on the premise that we cannot surpass our historically situated prejudgments. The paper rejects this argument as insufficient. Similarly, the paper rejects a second argument concerning the heuristics of understanding. The paper then articulates a third argument that the object of understanding changes according to the conditions in which it is grasped. The paper appeals to the notion of relational properties to make sense of this claim and to defend the position against two objections: i) that it conflates meaning and significance, and ii) that it is saddled with an indefensible relativism
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