Hermeneutics and the 'classic' problem in the human sciences

History of the Human Sciences 24 (3):47-63 (2011)

Authors
Abstract
There has been a long-standing and acrimonious debate in the human sciences over the role played by classic texts. Advocates of the classic insist its value is timeless and rests on the intrinsic superiority of its cognitive insights and aesthetic virtues. Critics, by contrast, argue that the respect accorded the classic is spurious because it conceals the ideological assumptions, tensions and discontinuities of tradition. This article seeks a solution through the account of ‘the classical’ brought by Hans-Georg Gadamer in Truth and Method, which acknowledges a text’s ‘eminence’ as well as its ‘historicity’. Following the introduction, the article divides into four sections. The first section notes that the hermeneutic account of tradition describes it as being open to challenge rather than closed and unchangeable, and that the classic, as grounded in tradition, will conserve difficulty as readily as comfortable certainty. The second section focuses on the idea that in the classic we find matter ‘properly portrayed’, while the third notes the importance of ‘application’ for an understanding of classic texts. It is noted that both ‘proper portrayal’ and ‘application’ depend on recognizing the role of the fusion of historical horizons in generating classic texts. The final section challenges the criticism that the classic is no more than a reflection of the institutional power wielded by the canon, arguing instead that the classic and the canon are different entities, and conflating them in favour of the latter, misleadingly reduces classic-ness to being no more than an effect of canonicity
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/0952695111405277
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 42,330
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Truth and Method.H. G. Gadamer - 1975 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 36 (4):487-490.
The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.J. F. Lyotard - 1985 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63:520.
On the Logic of the Social Sciences.Jürgen Habermas - 1997 - Human Studies 20 (4):413-428.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2012-07-14

Total views
17 ( #482,981 of 2,254,414 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #769,068 of 2,254,414 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature