Hermeneutics and Human Finitude: Toward a Theory of Ethical Understanding

By P. Christopher Smith | Go to book overview

of the ēthikē aretē, the customary habitual excellence, which is the precondition of what he calls orthos logos, or right and righted reason that, in turn, governs the choices one makes in reasonable deliberation concerning a given situation. 35


NOTES
1.
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty ( Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1978), pp. 55-56.
2.
At IGPAP 110, Gadamer points out that by itself choosing presupposes commitment to the life of reason rather than to the life of pleasure. Hence, strictly speaking, one cannot be said to "choose" the life of pleasure over the life of reason, as the character of Philebus in the dialogue of the same name makes evident. Philebus, committed as he is to following his desires for satisfaction, is incapable of engaging in deliberation about whether a life of pleasure would be the best choice or not and turns the whole thing over to Protarchus. He has foresworn deliberation, but not deliberately, not logēi, but ergēi, not in reasoning or by choice, but in deed alone. Much the same thing happens, as we noted, when Callicles backs out of the discussion with Socrates leaving him to finish the deliberations about the best choice of life, rhetoric or philosophy, by himself.
3.
Michael Oakeshott speaks of a conservative disposition that inclines thought away from possibility and toward actuality, or, as Musil puts it (see Chapter 1, note 6, above), away from thinking in the counter-factual subjunctive, "if only it were the case that . . .," and toward acceptance of a familiar present expressible in the indicative. A man of this temperament, Oakeshott submits, "will not be an ardent innovator." "For, innovating is an activity which generates not only the 'improvement' sought, but a new and complex situation of which this is only one of the components. The total change is always more extensive than the change designed; and the whole of what is entailed can neither be foreseen nor circumscribed" ("On Being Conservative," in The Portable Conservative Reader, ed. Russell Kirk [ New York: Viking, 1982], pp. 571-72).
4.
Gadamer views the Republic's exposition of the "perfect" state as a satirical inversion or a caricature that exposes e contrario the

-257-

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Hermeneutics and Human Finitude: Toward a Theory of Ethical Understanding
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xxvii
  • 1 - Macintyre and the Disarray of Analytical Moral Philosophy 1
  • Notes 94
  • 2 - Language as the Medium of Understanding) 105
  • Notes 171
  • 3 - The Ethical Implications of Gadamer's Theory of Interpretation 179
  • Notes 257
  • Conclusion: Gadamerian Conservatism 267
  • Note 281
  • Bibliography 283
  • Index 287
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