Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Current Research

Here is the summary of a current research project:

An unattractive feature of post-Habermasian influence on Gadamer scholarship is to view Gadamer's thought as reactionary to Heidegger. Commonly, this view is one of discipleship in Habermas famously put Gadamer's contribution to philosophy as the“urbanization of the Heideggerian province.”1 While it is important to keep in view Gadamer's connection to Heidegger, I find Gadamer more active and productive than this discipleship view might suggest, even in his appropriation of certain Heideggerian concepts. As such, I argue Gadamer's understanding of truth is an appropriation of Heidegger's conception of truth, and his use of the concept of truth accurately describes how the subject matter (Sache) is understood in hermeneutic experience. In reversing the primacy for interpreting the central notion of truth, one can find Gadamer’s appropriation as an original contribution to phenomenological understanding of truth. The contribution lies in seeing truth in our lived hermeneutic experience.

The move on my part at looking what truth is in both Heidegger and Gadamer has several functions. First, Heidegger's concept of truth as used by Gadamer makes possible seeing the difference between the human sciences and the natural sciences. Secondly, the mediation spoken of between past and present, that is, the fusion of horizons, I argue, is connected to the notion of Heidegger's truth. In section I, I explicate Heidegger's notion of truth. It is my contention that Heidegger only sets the stage, but that Gadamer gives it content.2 Next, I develop the connection of truth between the fusion of horizons and Heidegger's concept of truth in section II.

1 Jiirgen Habermas, Philosophical-Political Profiles, tr. Frederick G. Lawrence (Cambridge, 1983), 190.

2The fact that Gadamer doesn't fully develop a theory of truth in Truth and Method has been seen as a shortcoming. This criticism is developed y Robert Bernasconi in “Bridging the Abyss: Heidegger and Gadamer,” Research in Phenomenology, 16 (1986), 4. I don't claim content-bestowing conditions at the level of phenomenological analysis in Gadamer and Heidegger. Instead, my use of “content” designates a well-developed conception of phenomenological truth that isn't given much treatment by Heidegger in either Being and Time or in Heidegger's dealing with the issue of truth indirectly in his 1931 lectures On the Essence of Truth wherein Heidegger develops his concept of truth indirectly through an analysis of Plato's Allegory of the Cave and the Theaetetus.

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