At the start of his account of hermeneutic experience, Gadamer quotes Heidegger: “Our first, last and constant task is never to allow our fore-having, fore-sight and fore-conception to be presented to us by fancies and popular conceptions, but rather to make the scientific theme secure by working out these fore-structures in terms of the things themselves.” Heidegger’s “fore-structures” reflect our practical pre-understanding and ongoing engagement with our world or “the things themselves.” Yet, if so, how can we work these fore-structures (...) out in terms of them? Gadamer claims to take his answer to this question from Heidegger and to appeal, like him, to the hermeneutic circle. However, I argue that Gadamer takes the question more seriously than Heidegger does by supplementing recourse to the hermeneutic circle with an appeal to dialogue. I also explore concerns about this supplement. Gadamer conceives of understanding as a dialogue in which we test our fore-meanings against those of others and come to a consensus with others about a subject matter (Sache). Yet, dialogue can just as easily reinforce or even exaggerate our fore-meanings as test them For its part, consensus is as easily to be feared as sought. (shrink)
: Operations on intersexuals indicate that the sex of a person is based on more than biology. Expectations about proper gender activities furnish the frameworks through which certain features and combinations of features are understood to be fundamental to bodies and to comprise their sex. Yet, we can ask whether this interpretation is either coherent or consistent with our fuller conceptions of ourselves. Is there a point to interpreting a person as a sex?
rgen Habermas's response to struggles for recognition on the part of women and minority groups. Although this response expands the focus of liberal political theory from the achievement and constitutional protection of individual rights to the public deliberations and discussions of democratic citizens, the article argues that Habermas pays insufficient attention to the interpretive aspects of democratic deliberation. For Habermas the role of interpretation in feminist struggles for recognition is restricted to the clarification and self-clarification of needs. Where different groups (...) of women understand their needs differently, these differences must be procedurally resolved. In contrast, the article argues that conflicting interpretations are the source of reciprocal processes of education necessary to legitimate policy conclusions. Moreover, it argues that social identities are in general products of interpretation and that conceiving of them in this way allows for fluidity and flexibility in who we take ourselves to be. Key Words: deliberation democratic discourse feminism Habermas interpretation Rhode. (shrink)
Feminists often look to postmodern philosophy for a framework within which to treat difference. We might more productively look to a hermeneutic philosophy that emphasizes the interpretive dimensions of difference and allows us to acknowledge the partiality of our understanding. Hence, we might also recognize the importance of a hermeneutic conversation unconstrained by relations of power or ideology in which all nonexclusionary interpretive voices can be educated by one another.
The essays address the following questions: How and under what conditions has our culture come to represent the individual? What characterizes individualistic ideology and the social, economic, and political systems within which it has emerged? What is the role of the individual within them? What have been the major challenges to individualism? What aspects of contemporary thought and research point to new ways of thinking about the individual?
Richard Rorty challenges the traditional use of hermeneutic understanding to defend the methodological autonomy of the social sciences, claiming that hermeneutics is part of both social and natural science and, moreover, that it exposes the limits of ?epistemologically centered philosophy?. Hermeneutics is interested in edification rather than truth, in finding new ways of speaking rather than adjudicating knowledge claims or securing the grounds of rational consensus. Although Rorty refers to Gadamer's ?philosophical hermeneutics? as support for this position, Gadamer's own analysis (...) points in a different direction. First, it distinguishes the social from the natural sciences as forms of practical, not theoretical, knowledge. As hermeneutic analyses, the social sciences participate in an on?going dialogue about values and forms of life. Second, the goal of this dialogue is cognitive and normative agreement. Indeed, hermeneutics is an act of integration which tries to expand consensus between different cultures and historical perspectives by mediating their claims to truth. (shrink)