Truth and Creativity the Meaning of 'Die Virtualitat des Sprechens' in H. G. Gadamer's Philosophical Hermeneutics

Dissertation, Fordham University (1982)
Francis Ambrosio
Georgetown University
The goal of this study is to investigate the meaning and significance of the concept of die Virtualitat des Sprechens as it functions in the thought of H. G. Gadamer. The primary thesis proposed is that the success of Gadamer's enterprise in Wahrheit und Methode of providing a corrective to misunderstandings about the experience of understanding and the event of truth arising out of a model based on the ideal of scientific objectivity, depends on his ability to display how the human relationship to the world emerges into language as a virtual whole of meaning. ;A secondary thesis is put forward in the course of the investigation proposing that in order to understand Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics as a whole, and in particular the meaning which he attributes to the notion of virtuality as its central element, it is necessary to recognize how Gadamer develops that meaning in dialogue with Heidegger, Hegel, and Plato. Consequently we examine how Heidegger's thought on the nature of truth occurring as an historical event in language provides the basis for the meaning of virtuality. Next, we follow Gadamer's extension of the meaning of virtuality by redefining Hegel's speculative and dialectical logic of the wholeness of truth by re-thinking it from the "center of language." We then explore the Platonic character of Gadamer's attempt to provide a concrete referent for the meaning of virtuality by identifying the "discipline of dialogue" as the open-ended principle of determination which is required both to hold these diverse currents in Gadamer's thought in a productive tension and to answer the question of how living language can mediate the universal openness of the world to understanding with the radical finitude and historicality of the event of truth. ;By way of conclusion, we attempt to appropriate Gadamer's meaning of virtuality by applying it to the question of the role of the individual interpreter in the process of understanding. Based on a conversation with Professor Gadamer, this application unfolds in terms of a consideration of the possible relationship between die Virtualitat des Sprechens and the nature of authentic human creativity in the event of truth.
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