The Life of Understanding: A Contemporary Hermeneutics

The Life of Understanding: A Contemporary Hermeneutics

The Life of Understanding: A Contemporary Hermeneutics

The Life of Understanding: A Contemporary Hermeneutics

Synopsis

In Gadamer's hermeneutics, interpretation is inseparable from the broader concern of making one's way in life. In this book, James Risser builds on this insight about the juxtaposition of human living and the act of understanding by tracing hermeneutics back to the basic experience of philosophy as defined by Plato. For Risser, Plato provides resources for new directions in hermeneutics and new possibilities for "the life of understanding" and "the understanding of life." Risser places Gadamer in dialogue with Plato, with the issue of memory as a conceptual focus. He develops themes pertaining to hermeneutics such as retrieval as a matter of convalescence, exile as a venture into the foreign, formation with respect to oneself and to life with others, the experience of language in hermeneutics, and the relationship between speaking and writing.

Excerpt

My aim in this book is to develop and enlarge the hermeneutic insight that understanding is inseparably tied to the life situation. This is the insight that characterizes the scope of hermeneutics drawn from the principal sources for this book, namely, the hermeneutics of Martin Heidegger and, more particularly, Hans-Georg Gadamer. This is the hermeneutics that begins with Heidegger’s early formulation of hermeneutics under the heading of a hermeneutics of facticity, in which philosophical research has as its basic concern the interpretive movement occurring within factical life. Factical life, as the original evidence situation of philosophy, is simply the existing historical situation in which an individual always finds oneself and which requires interpretation as a way of continually gaining access to it. This hermeneutics, which effectively recasts the character of the theoretical as it was conceived in the early project of phenomenology and neo-Kantian philosophy, is furthered by Gadamer, who broadens it into a more overt cultural and social context where the perspective of interpretation is indeed inseparable from its basic relation not just to the historical aspect of historical life but to human living in general. While it is true that Gadamer’s hermeneutics devotes considerable attention to the character of textual interpretation, it is not, at bottom, a theory of textual interpretation in its classical sense. In his philosophical hermeneutics the interpretation of texts is to be woven into the broader concern of making one’s way in life such that the interpretation of texts is part of the communicative experience in which the world in which we live opens up.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.