Self-Understanding and Lifeworld: Basic Traits of a Phenomenological Hermeneutics

Self-Understanding and Lifeworld: Basic Traits of a Phenomenological Hermeneutics

Self-Understanding and Lifeworld: Basic Traits of a Phenomenological Hermeneutics

Self-Understanding and Lifeworld: Basic Traits of a Phenomenological Hermeneutics

Synopsis

What are the foundations of human self-understanding and the value of responsible philosophical questioning? Focusing on Heidegger's early work on facticity, historicity, and the phenomenological hermeneutics of factical-historical life, Hans-Helmuth Gander develops an idea of understanding that reflects our connection with the world and other, and thus invites deep consideration of phenomenology, hermeneutics, and deconstruction. He draws usefully on Husserl's phenomenology and provides grounds for exchange with Descartes, Dilthey, Nietzsche, Gadamer, Ricoeur, and Foucault. On the way to developing a contemporary hermeneutical philosophy, Gander clarifies the human relation to self in and through conversation with Heidegger's early hermeneutics. Questions about reading and writing then follow as these are the very actions that structure human self-understanding and world understanding.

Excerpt

To what extent are you the same person you were at
ten years, fifteen years old—and so on? and as an em
bryo, a fetus—?

Paul Valéry

Living means being an other.

Fernando Pessoa

Augustine’s famous question—“What is time?”—with respect to which he professes to be in the condition of an intelligible unintelligibility [verständigen Unverständigkeit], could have as an answer precisely this knowing ignorance, if the question concerning human being itself is asked: “If nobody asks me about it, I know it; if I want to explain it to a questioner, I don’t know it.”

Attempts to solve this riddle have not been lacking in the long history of thought—because it sits so uncomfortably in its perplexity, and not only for philosophers. From different directions and approaches, one has assumed the disquieting question of just who we are and how we are in the world. the present investigation seizes the hermeneutical-phenomenological track from these manifold philosophical access points and develops from here its paths of thought. That this leads its reflections above all into an interpretive dispute with Husserl and in particular the early work of Heidegger is due to the prehistory of this treatise.

At the time in which I edited Heidegger’s lecture course Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie from the winter semester 1919–1920, it became more and more clear to me that Heidegger’s restructuring of phenomenology into a hermeneutical phenomenology of the lifeworld during his first creative period in Freiburg concealed within itself an untapped potential. It therefore seems to me appropriate, in the present discourse concerning the philosophical task of human self-understanding, to be able to deliver a productive contribution to the conception of a worked-out philosophy of

1. Augustine, Confessions, trans. Joseph Bernhart (Munich: Verlag Kösel, 1966), 629.

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