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Episteme

Abstract

Gadamer is too often charged with subjectivism and relativism. Bearing in mind Hubert Dreyfus’ new interpretation that Heidegger describes two separate types of resoluteness and authenticity, the author rescues Gadamer’s philosophy of openness by identifying its hermeneutic with Heidegger’s Aristotelian side—skirting supposed associations with Kierkegaard or Nietzsche that have confused Gadamer’s project in the past. Following Heidegger, Gadamer’s epistemology identifies both a personal (situated, particular) horizon and historical (given, universal) horizon, and understanding is the fusion of the two. Gadamer’s openness is a condition of our accomplished understanding, where our knowing of our essential finitude promotes on-going attention to the concrete real. By way of analogy, Gadamer’s open person understands most readily, as Heidegger’s social virtuoso responds appropriately to the Situation. But it is important to stress that openness is not so much a trait as it is an ability in a situation-by-situation basis. Gadamer’s purpose is ethical insofar as he pushes for us to be more dialectical.

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