This book draws on the hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer to inform a feminist perspective of social identities. Lauren Swayne Barthold moves beyond answers that either defend the objective nature of identities or dismiss their significance altogether. Building on the work of both hermeneutic and non-hermeneutic feminist theorists of identity, she asserts the relevance of concepts like horizon, coherence, dialogue, play, application, and festival for developing a theory of identity. This volume argues that as intersubjective interpretations, social identities are vital ways (...) of fostering meaning and connection with others. Barthold also demonstrates how a hermeneutic approach to social identities can provide critiques of and resistance to identity-based oppression. (shrink)
Gadamer's Dialectical Hermeneutics affirms the continuity between Gadamer's interest in Plato and his hermeneutics by focusing on the role of dialectic for Gadamer's own conception of understanding. Highlighting the productive and on-going nature of the dialectical tension at the heart of hermeneutics clarifies the roles that truth, good, practice, theory, and dialogue play in Gadamer's thought and emphasizes his desire to recover the practical nature of philosophy.
This article explores the question of the role of religion in the public square through the lens of Richard Rorty’s more general public–private distinction. When we note his various positions over the years on the role of religion in the public square we observe a shift that yields a more favorable public role for religion so long as it limits itself to social action and refrains from making knowledge-claims that serve as tools of the powerful. But if, according to Rorty, (...) religion per se is no longer the problem, then what becomes of his efforts to endorse a more general public–private distinction? The argument set forth assesses the inadequacies and limitations of Rorty’s assumptions about the public–private split and suggests another way of framing the issue that will prove productive in debates concerning the role of religion in the public square. (shrink)
Some feminists have criticized Judith Butler's theory of performativity for providing an insufficient account of agency. In this article I first defend her against such charges by appealing to two themes central to Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutics. I compare her emphasis on the sociohistorical nature of agency with Gadamer's insistence on the historical nature of knowledge, and I examine the significance Butler assigns to repetition and note its affinities with Gadamer's conception of play. In the final part of the article I (...) argue that in spite of providing an adequate account of agency, Butler's theory of performativity provides no way to allow us to evaluate performances. I show how Gadamer's account of festival, which builds on his concept of play, is useful in helping us make sense of how we might delineate true from false performances, and thus identities. (shrink)
This chapter defends the relevance of four themes central to Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutics for debates about bio-medical enhancement. First, I expose some of the hidden assumptions and “prejudices” motivating certain discussions of bio-medical enhancement in order to avoid platitudes and thus engage a more rigorous philosophical approach. I then provide a brief history of hermeneutics, which derives its names from Hermes, the messenger bridging the distance between gods and humans, that defends the importance of “finitude” as feature crucial to the (...) human condition that proves salient for discussions about enhancement. Next, I argue that “equilibrium,” the state of balance between two opposing forces, is an apt way to describe the human condition of mortals who strive after immortality. I close by examining one more assumption underlying the ethics of enhancement: namely, thinking that experts are the ones who can and should solve our problems. A hermeneutic approach recommends a “dialogue” amongst peers over a panel of experts. (shrink)
My aim is to respond to the charge that Gadamer has not been specific enough about a positive account of Truth in Truth in Method. Rather than denying this charge, however, I turn to his writings on Plato in order to develop a more detailed and viable conception of Truth. At the same time, I also seek to show how Gadamer's Truth project relies on, but is not reducible to, Heidegger's notion of aletheia. Assessing Gadamer's Truth project in terms of (...) both Plato and Heidegger results in the claim that Gadamer replaces Heidegger's onto-hermeneutic view of Truth with an ethico-hermeneutic one. What is distinctive about Gadamer's ethico-hermeneutic notion of Truth is that it is characterized by a two-step movement of self away from self and toward another, followed by a Heimkehr. In other words, if we are going to speak about the radicality of Gadamer's Truth project, we must read it as validating the generalization of hermeneutics that is witnessed in its fundamental concern with the Truth of understanding beings, rather than true interpretations of texts as such. The paragon movement of Truth, for Gadamer, is the understanding that occurs with another in light of the Good. (shrink)
In the following essay I explore the hermeneutical significance of Gadamer’s writings on the relational, and thus ethical, components of understanding. First, I look at his discussion in Truth and Method of the significance of the “I-Thou” relation for interpretation. I then turn to his 1985 essay on Aristotle’s notion of friendship, “Friendship and Self-Knowledge: Reflections on the Role of Friendship in Greek Ethics.” My interest is to think about the implications of these writings for his theory of hermeneutics in (...) general. I conclude that both motifs indicate the importance of openness to the other that leads to a deeper realization of our solidarity with the other. (shrink)
In The Life of the Mind, Hannah Arendt explores the relationship between thinking, willing and judging. She poses the question of whether these may be among those conditions that prevent a person from doing evil. While many consider her account of thinking and willing insufficient for treating this question, I argue that in order fully to understand Arendt's notion of the will, particularly as it relates to our ability to avoid doing evil, one must consider the way in which she (...) attempts to overcome the Augustinian dilemma of how one can love both God and one's neighbor at the same time. Drawing on her Love and Saint Augustine, I seek to show that her 'Augustinian' notion of the will is extremely fruitful for helping us understand what she meant by the two movements of withdrawal from, and activity within, the world. Key Words: Arendt • Augustine • ethics • evil • love • will. (shrink)