Hans-Georg Gadamer is one of the leading philosophers in the world today. His philosophical hermeneutics has had a major impact in a wide range of disciplines, including the social sciences, literary criticism, theology and jurisprudence. Truth and Method, his major work, is widely recognised to be one of the great classics of twentieth-century thought. In this book Georgia Warnke provides a clear and systematic exposition of Gadamer's work, as well as a balanced and thoughtful assessment of his views. Warnke gives (...) particular attention to the ways in which Gadamer's work has been taken up and criticised by literary critics, social theorists and philosophers, such as Hirsch, Habermas and Rorty. She thus provides an introduction to Gadamer which demonstrates the relevance of his work to current debates in a variety of disciplines. This book will be invaluable to students and specialists throughout the humanities and social sciences, as well as to anyone who is interested in the most important developments in contemporary thought. (shrink)
Jean Grondin’s starting point in his impressive book is what Hans-Georg Gadamer refers to as the universal claim of hermeneutics. Gadamer is better known for the limits his hermeneutics seems to place on universal claims. Against the reliance the Enlightenment placed on the insights of a reason common to humanity, Gadamer stresses the prejudiced and partial character of attempts to understand meaning. And against more contemporary attempts to ground Enlightenment conceptions in universal human competencies, he stresses the historicity and finitude (...) of human knowledge. Our attempts to understand the meaning of texts, conversations, historical events, and social actions and practices are conditioned by the horizon of our language, our own historical experiences, and our assumptions and expectations. Still, Gadamer ends his Truth and Method by stressing not only the linguistic character of understanding but the infinite capacity of all languages to find and express new dimensions of meaning. “Language,” he writes, “forestalls any objection to its jurisdiction. Its universality keeps pace with the universality of reason.”. (shrink)
In the past decade the work of Jurgen Habermas has sparked off a series of lively debates over modernity and post-modernity, the nature of language, the interplay of law and politics and the dilemmas of morality. Significantly, these debates unfold in the context of his particular reading of the modern philosophical tradition from the German enlightment to the present period. In this original interpretation, David Rasmussen provides both guide and critique to the later Habermas encountered in the context of the (...) best of the critical literature that has emerged in recent years. Reading Habermas argues that Habermas' concept of modernity provides the context for the theory of language as well as his approaches to law and ethics. This book, as its title implies, offers a reading. It explores philosophical options chosen in the light of other, rejected readings. It is a distinctive, readable contribution to the current controversy surrounding the most recent developments in critical theory. (shrink)
In Legitimate Differences, Georgia Warnke argues that we can make important progress in resolving a number of seemingly intractable political debates about various contested social issues if we stop viewing them as debates between defenders of different moral principles, and start seeing them as debates among defenders of different interpretations of the same set of moral principles. Competing interpretations of literary texts can differ and disagree and yet all be legitimate. Thus, if debates about social policy questions turn out to (...) be merely debates about how to interpret moral principles, Warnke claims, then it will be possible for citizens on different sides of these issues to recognize the legitimacy of the positions of their opponents. Through extensive discussions of the public debates in the U.S. about abortion, surrogacy, affirmative action, and pornography, she argues that taking such an interpretive turn will allow us to appreciate that it is possible for many sides in such debates to be defending legitimate positions. (shrink)
Commentators have compared Hans-Georg Gadamer’s focus on tradition in Truth and Method to his focus on solidarity in his later work in order to suggest that the latter signals a move away from ontological toward ethical and political concerns. This paper, however, is guided by Gadamer’s own view that his work, both early, late, and in Truth and Method, was always concerned with ethical and political issues. I therefore want to challenge the idea that his so-called politics of solidarity marks (...) a new direction in his work. His politics of solidarity does mark a new direction in discussions of solidarity insofar as he disconnects it from any necessary grounding in preexisting affinities such as religion and nationality. Gadamer’s later work may also be more explicitly concerned with the question of differences and the other than is Truth and Method. Nevertheless, I want to argue that rather than signaling a new direction for Gadamer, both his politics of solidarity and his concern with otherness highlight important features already present in his earlier account of tradition. Indeed, I think attention to this earlier account discloses a political dimension to Gadamer’s thought that is more sophisticated than his remarks on solidarity. Attention to this dimension of his earlier account allows us to challenge the now standard objection that it undermines possibilities for critical reflection. (shrink)
_Legitimate Differences_ challenges the usual portrayal of current debates over thorny social issues including abortion, pornography, affirmative action, and surrogate mothering as _moral_ debates. How can it be said that our debates oppose principles of life to those of liberty, principles of liberty to those of equality, principles of equality to those of fairness, and principles of fairness to those of integrity, when we as Americans share all these principles? Debates over such issues are not, Georgia Warnke argues, moral debates (...) over which principles we should adopt. Rather, they are interpretive debates over the meanings of principles we already possess. Warnke traces the structure of these debates with reference to the work of Jane Austen, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jürgen Habermas, and Bernard Williams. In separate chapters on surrogate mothering, affirmative action, abortion, and pornography she articulates new understandings of the meanings of some of our principles and shows the equal legitimacy of some different interpretations of the meanings of others. Finally, she suggests that the orientation of American public policy ought to be directed less at finding single canonical interpretations of our principles than at accommodating different legitimate understandings of them. The perspective offered by _Legitimate Differences_ should have a significantly beneficial effect on public discussions. (shrink)
Richard Rorty challenges the traditional use of hermeneutic understanding to defend the methodological autonomy of the social sciences, claiming that hermeneutics is part of both social and natural science and, moreover, that it exposes the limits of ?epistemologically centered philosophy?. Hermeneutics is interested in edification rather than truth, in finding new ways of speaking rather than adjudicating knowledge claims or securing the grounds of rational consensus. Although Rorty refers to Gadamer's ?philosophical hermeneutics? as support for this position, Gadamer's own analysis (...) points in a different direction. First, it distinguishes the social from the natural sciences as forms of practical, not theoretical, knowledge. As hermeneutic analyses, the social sciences participate in an on?going dialogue about values and forms of life. Second, the goal of this dialogue is cognitive and normative agreement. Indeed, hermeneutics is an act of integration which tries to expand consensus between different cultures and historical perspectives by mediating their claims to truth. (shrink)
For many deliberative theorists, the importance of a public exchange of reasons lies in its capacity to improve the quality of democratic decision making. The 1831-1832 debate over abolishing slavery in Virginia in the state’s House of Delegates raises the question of whether it can do so on its own. The bigotry of those opposing the abolition of Virginian slavery was matched only by the prejudice of those advocating for its end. This paper examines James Bohman’s sophisticated defense of deliberative (...) democracy but argues for the value of negative and disclosive experience. (shrink)
Feminists often look to postmodern philosophy for a framework within which to treat difference. We might more productively look to a hermeneutic philosophy that emphasizes the interpretive dimensions of difference and allows us to acknowledge the partiality of our understanding. Hence, we might also recognize the importance of a hermeneutic conversation unconstrained by relations of power or ideology in which all nonexclusionary interpretive voices can be educated by one another.
: Operations on intersexuals indicate that the sex of a person is based on more than biology. Expectations about proper gender activities furnish the frameworks through which certain features and combinations of features are understood to be fundamental to bodies and to comprise their sex. Yet, we can ask whether this interpretation is either coherent or consistent with our fuller conceptions of ourselves. Is there a point to interpreting a person as a sex?
rgen Habermas's response to struggles for recognition on the part of women and minority groups. Although this response expands the focus of liberal political theory from the achievement and constitutional protection of individual rights to the public deliberations and discussions of democratic citizens, the article argues that Habermas pays insufficient attention to the interpretive aspects of democratic deliberation. For Habermas the role of interpretation in feminist struggles for recognition is restricted to the clarification and self-clarification of needs. Where different groups (...) of women understand their needs differently, these differences must be procedurally resolved. In contrast, the article argues that conflicting interpretations are the source of reciprocal processes of education necessary to legitimate policy conclusions. Moreover, it argues that social identities are in general products of interpretation and that conceiving of them in this way allows for fluidity and flexibility in who we take ourselves to be. Key Words: deliberation democratic discourse feminism Habermas interpretation Rhode. (shrink)
At the start of his account of hermeneutic experience, Gadamer quotes Heidegger: “Our first, last and constant task is never to allow our fore-having, fore-sight and fore-conception to be presented to us by fancies and popular conceptions, but rather to make the scientific theme secure by working out these fore-structures in terms of the things themselves.” Heidegger’s “fore-structures” reflect our practical pre-understanding and ongoing engagement with our world or “the things themselves.” Yet, if so, how can we work these fore-structures (...) out in terms of them? Gadamer claims to take his answer to this question from Heidegger and to appeal, like him, to the hermeneutic circle. However, I argue that Gadamer takes the question more seriously than Heidegger does by supplementing recourse to the hermeneutic circle with an appeal to dialogue. I also explore concerns about this supplement. Gadamer conceives of understanding as a dialogue in which we test our fore-meanings against those of others and come to a consensus with others about a subject matter (Sache). Yet, dialogue can just as easily reinforce or even exaggerate our fore-meanings as test them For its part, consensus is as easily to be feared as sought. (shrink)
Operations on intersexuals indicate that the sex of a person is based on more than biology. Expectations about proper gender activities furnish the frameworks through which certain features and combinations of features are understood to be fundamental to bodies and to comprise their sex. Yet, we can ask whether this interpretation is either coherent or consistent with our fuller conceptions of ourselves. Is there a point to interpreting a person as a sex?
Armour's Being and Idea begins with the felt need for unity, the need at the base of the philosophies of both Spinoza and Hegel and a need increasingly felt by us who inhabit a modern or postmodern world. "Sometimes," Armour writes, "we are looking for a unity of knowledge which will enable us to 'make sense of' the various things that we know. Sometimes we are looking for a thread that will link together the seemingly meaningless events of our lives. (...) Sometimes we are looking for a unity between the source of 'explanation' of the world and the world of appearances. Sometimes we are looking for a unity of principle either in our moral affairs or in our scientific explanations". (shrink)
The ideal of deliberative democracy grounds the legitimate use of state power in free public reasoning among equals. It does not conceive of democratic decision-making as a mere aggregate of individual preferences. Instead, in public debates over proposed policies and programs, citizens advance considerations they think can be compelling to others who may possess values and commitments different from their own. Decisions are collective, then, in the sense that they reflect a process of reasoning to which all citizens can agree. (...) At the same time, decisions respect pluralism insofar as they acknowledge the differences in the values and commitments of a diverse body of citizens. As Joshua Cohen writes. (shrink)