Conversations in Postmodern Hermeneutics

In H. Silverman (ed.), Lyotard: Philosophy, Politics, and the Sublime. Routledge (2002)
Conversation is, first of all, an event, something that happens. But the concept of conversation has also been appropriated by various thinkers as a model or metaphor of hermeneutical experience, of communication, political discourse, the acquisition of knowledge, and so forth. As an event it has been analyzed within the hermeneutical tradition, from Schleiermacher to Gadamer, and in this analysis it has been tied to Romantic conceptions such as the universality of language, "linguistic heritage" (Angeborenheit der Sprache ), and what von Humboldt called "the common denominator of human nature," the universal and spiritual humanity that we all share.1 So conceived conversation has been made a model of hermeneutical experience. Gadamer, as is well known, characterizes reading as a conversation or dialogue with a text. This is more than metaphor, he tells us. Interpretation means bringing the text "into the living present of conversation" (TM 368), restoring it to an original condition.
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