Made for each other: The interdependence of deconstruction and philosophical hermeneutics

Philosophy and Social Criticism 26 (1):51-70 (2000)
Critics of Hans-Georg Gadamer maintain that his philosophical hermeneutics is unduly conservative: supposedly, Gadamer too readily accepts tradition and too quickly assumes that a text has a unified and understandable meaning. Critics of Jacques Derrida, meanwhile, declare that deconstruction leads to nihilism: if the meaning of every text is undecidable, then a text can mean anything at all - no one meaning is better or worse than any other. And if there is no ground to stand upon, these critics add, then how can we normatively evaluate others? In this essay, I respond to the critics of both Gadamer and Derrida by arguing that philosophical hermeneutics and deconstruction should be understood as complementary postmodern philosophies, as mutually supportive descriptions of the hermeneutic situation. As such, deconstruction counters the charge that philosophical hermeneutics is conservative: instead, a Derridean view uncovers the radical political potential that resides within Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics. Meanwhile, philosophical hermeneutics counters the charge that deconstruction is nihilistic and cannot support ethical or political critique. A Gadamerian view explains how deconstruction assumes the possibility of understanding meaning and maintaining values that can engender critique. Key Words: deconstruction • Derrida • Gadamer • hermeneutics • justice • philosophical hermeneutics • postmodernism
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/019145370002600103
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 27,651
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

38 ( #135,565 of 2,169,342 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #345,568 of 2,169,342 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums