ist gemein!" meaning roughly, "That's despicable," though, like the Greek aischros, the German "gemein" is much more broadly used than the English "despicable," and extends even to minor things as "That's mean." Whatever the level, we all have an understanding, a synesis, Gadamer reminds us, of what is meant when such an expression is used: in some way the individual, of whose action it is said, has, in pursuing his or her own advantage, violated our sense of decency and the community between people known to us from time out of mind. But if that community can be violated, it still exists. Something, however diminished it may be in our consciousness of it, is still there to be "recollected," to be understood like valuable usages that have somehow vanished from our speaking, but that nonetheless have not fallen so far into disuse that we might not recover them.
Thus a hermeneutical ethics would avail itself of philosophy to win the soul back from its dissipation in the self-indulgence of aesthetic consciousness. And having sought, in theoretical reflections like Kant Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, Aristotle Ethics, or Plato Republic to assist in fortifying the soul against flattery and in restoring its measure and unity, a heremeneutical ethics would return the individual to the tradition of community between us, in which, however shattered our society might be, we as human beings always continue to under way.