Review of Metaphysics 33 (3):628-629 (1980)

David Hoy’s book is a readable and generally clear introduction to the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer and to the contemporary debate surrounding Gadamer’s contribution to the theory of interpretation. Hoy begins with a chapter on a work familiar to American readers and antithetical to Gadamer—E. D. Hirsch’s Validity in Interpretation. Hirsch is shown to be in some respects a follower of the hermeneutics of Schliermacher and Dilthey in that his defense of authorial intention approximates the "empathy" of nineteenth-century hermeneutics. Hoy makes a careful analysis of the problems involved in Hirsch’s distinction between "meaning"—"the meaning of [an author’s] utterance is the meaning he wills to convey" —and significance—the relation between meaning and some other, extra-textual, element or system. Hoy properly questions the view of language inherent in Hirsch’s contention that verbal meaning is entirely determined by an individual will. He notes that Hirsch neglects meaning determined by the semantics of units of text larger than the sentence. Hoy also argues persuasively that Hirsch’s claim to base his meaning/significance distinction in Frege’s opposition between Sinn and Bedeutung constitutes a misreading of Frege, and shows an ambiguity in Hirsch’s conception of the author, sometimes presented as an historical being with a will and intention and at others as the equivalent of the persona or dramatic speaker of the New Critics.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph198033314
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