Lessing has said that if God held all truth in His right hand, and in His left hand the lifelong pursuit of it, he would choose the left hand.
Kierkegaard Concluding Unscientific Postscript
THIS BOOK IS AN ATTEMPT to show how the theory of interpretation that Hans-Georg Gadamer has developed, his hermeneutics, might be extended to ethics. Gadamer concerns himself primarily with the understanding of texts and works of art. Here, using his exploration of these forms of understanding as a basis, I will be inquiring about the nature of ethical understanding.
Of course, Gadamer comes from a tradition very different from the English-speaking one that, since I am writing about him in English, establishes the framework for my discussion. Consequently my undertaking will involve a kind of translation and what he calls a Horizontverschmelzung or "merging of horizons," the horizons, namely, of the traditions of Anglo- American thought, its ethical and moral philosophy in particular, with those of an initially foreign way of thinking. To accomplish this I will begin with areas where Anglo-American thinking, with its familiar topics and approach to these, overlaps with Gadamer's. Then, having gotten a foothold on the new territory, as it were, I will move outward into Gadarner's particular ways of seeing and speaking about things. My goal, accordingly, will not be so much to incorporate Gadamer's approach within the endeavors of Anglo-American thought as the reverse: to widen the concerns of Anglo-American thought, its horizons, so that in the end, newly fructified by graftings from Gadamer's ways of seeing and putting things, it might transcend some of its previous limitations and escape some of the aporiai or dead-