Gadamer's Repercussions: Reconsidering Philosophical Hermeneutics

By Bruce Krajewski | Go to book overview

For example, self-respect and the need to be free of self-reproach (the goals of “a rational plan of life”) are the main features of John Rawls's ethical theory. See A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971), esp. 433–46. Much of contemporary moral philosophy sees ethics as a function of rational choice, where my concern is always with what will help me to achieve my goals, which comes down to the question of what comes back to me in the way of profit for my right conduct. In the long run decency toward others pays. The writings of Martin Hollis on this matter are very instructive. See, for example, The Cunning of Reason (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987). Levinas's philosophy can be read as a thoroughgoing critique of rational-choice theory.
See Adriaan T. Peperzak, “On Levinas's Criticism of Heidegger, ” in Beyond: The Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1997), 204–17. For a discussion of the ethical in Heidegger's thinking—where the ethical includes the relation to a nonhuman as well as human alterity—see Joanna Hodge, Heidegger and Ethics (London: Routledge, 1995).
In “Philosophy and the Idea of Infinity, ” Levinas writes: “Cognition consists in grasping the individual, which alone exists, not in its singularity … but in its generality, of which alone there is science. ” To which he adds:

And here every power begins. The surrender of exterior things to human freedom through their generality does not only mean … their comprehension, but also their being taken in hand, their domestication, their possession. Only in possession does the I complete the identification of the diverse. To possess is, to be sure, to maintain the reality of the one possessed, but to do so while suspending its independence. In a civilization which the philosophy of the same reflects, freedom is realized as a wealth. Reason, which reduces the other [to the same], is appropriation and power. (DEHH168/CPP50)

Likewise in “Ethics as First Philosophy, ” Levinas writes:

In knowledge there … appears the notion of an intellectual activity or of a reasoning will—a way of doing something which consists … of seizing something and making it one's own, of reducing to presence and representing the difference of being, an activity which appropriates and grasps the otherness of the known. A certain grasp: as an entity, being becomes the characteristic property of thought, as it is grasped by it and becomes known. Knowledge as perception, concept [Begriff, from greifen, to grasp], comprehension, refers back to an act of grasping. The metaphor should be taken literally: even before any technical application of knowledge, it expresses the principle rather than the result of the future technological and industrial order of which every civilisation bears the seed. The immanence of the known to the act of knowing is already the embodiment of seizure. (LR76)

Being and Nothingness, trans. Hazel E. Barnes (New York: Philosophical Library, 1956), 344–58.
See Habermas, “Discourse Ethics: Notes on a Program of Philosophical Justification, ” in Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, trans. Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990), 43–115.
On the social character of ϕϱόνησις” see P. Christopher Smith, “The I-Thou Encounter (Begegnung) in Gadamer's Reception of Heidegger” (PHGG514–19). See also Joseph Dunne, Back to the Rough Ground: 'Phronesis' and 'Techne' in Modern Phil


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Gadamer's Repercussions: Reconsidering Philosophical Hermeneutics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction - The Task of Hermeneutics as Philosophy 1
  • Notes *
  • Part One - Gadamer's Influence 13
  • Chapter 1 - On Hans-Georg Gadamer's 100th Birthday 15
  • Chapter 2 - Being That Can Be Understood is Language 21
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 3 - An Essay on Gadamer and Levinas 30
  • Notes 50
  • Chapter 4 - Gadamer and Romanticism 55
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 5 - Literature, Law, and Morality 82
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 6 - A Critique of Gadamer's Aesthetics 103
  • Notes *
  • Part Two - Gadamer and Dialogue 121
  • Chapter 7 - To Its Cultured Despisers 123
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 8 - Gadamer's Philosophy of Dialogue and Its Relation to the Postmodernism of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, and Strauss 145
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 9 - Meaningless Hermeneutics? 158
  • Notes *
  • Part Three - Gadamer in Question 167
  • Chapter 10 - Radio Nietzsche, Or, How to Fall Short of Philosophy 169
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 11 - Hans-Georg Gadamer's Philosophical Interventions Under National Socialism 212
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 12 - A Response to Orozco and Waite 229
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 13 - A Response to Zuckert 244
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 14 - A Response to Zuckert 256
  • Notes *
  • Contributors 307
  • Index 311


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