Hermeneutics and the Voice of the Other

Re-reading Gadamer's Philosophical Hermeneutics

By James Risser

Subjects: Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791432587, 278 pages, March 1997
Hardcover : 9780791432570, 278 pages, March 1997

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Table of contents




Part One
The Voice of Tradition

Chapter One
The Philosophical Background of Philosophical Hermeneutics

§ 1. Phenomenology as a movement beyond Neo-Kantianism

§ 2. Kierkegaard's philosophy of existence

§ 3. Heidegger's hermeneuties of facticity

§ 4. Hermeneutics and historical existence

Chapter Two
History and the Voice of Tradition

§ 5. Hermeneutics in the historical sciences

§ 6. Dilthey's ambiguity

§ 7. Historical understanding: Tradition

§ 8. Historical understanding: The principle of Wirkungsgeschichte

Chapter Three
Hermeneutic Experience

§ 9. Philosophical hermeneutics as experience

§ 10. Experience and memory

§ 11. Phronesis as a paradigm for hermeneutic experience

§ 12. The primacy of practice

Part Two
The Voice of the Text

Chapter Four
Philosophical Hermeneutics and Finitude

§ 13. The question of finitude in philosophical hermeneutics

§ 14. An ontology of living being

§ 15. Finitude, language and possibility

Chapter Five
Philosophical Hermeneutics and Truth

§ 16. The question of truth in philosophical hermeneutics

§ 17. The being of the beautiful

§ 18. The imaging of truth

Chapter Six
The Voice of the Text

A. Hermeneutics and Deconstruction—First Approach

§ 19. Situating hermeneutics and deconstruction

§ 20. Text and interpretation as communicative event

§ 21. Two faces of Socrates

B. Hermeneutics and Deconstruction—Second Approach

§ 22. Hermeneutics at the edge of the breath

§ 23. The voice in the breath

§ 24. The drift in the voice

Chapter Seven
The Voice of the Poet

§ 25. The question of poetic discourse

§ 26. The gift of the word

§ 27. Poetic dwelling


Glossary of Greek Terms



Elucidates the major components of Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics found in his later work.


Dealing extensively with Gadamer's later writings, Hermeneutics and the Voice of the Other shows neglected and widely misunderstood dimensions of Gadamer's hermeneutics: historicity, finitude, truth, the importance of the other, and the eminence of the poetic text.


"…Risser's book, with its reliable and insightful expositions, its tracing of the philosophical sources of Gadamer's thought, and its cogent replies to major critics, offers a guidebook to hermeneutics of enduring value both to novice and expert." — International Studies in Philosophy

"…the volume is … the best introduction to philosophical hermeneutics in English and should be widely used. It firmly establishes Risser as an impeccable interpreter of Gadamer's thought." — Review of Metaphysics

"In this text, Risser has heard Gadamer's own voice. Here is a study of Gadamer that presents him as neither a proto-pragmatist, nor a Heideggerian epigone, nor as a half-hearted 'post-modern' but as an independent thinker with a position of his own. Risser makes it admirably clear that although Gadamer has his roots in many of the same sources as those philosophers and philosophical positions with which his work is often confused, he nevertheless points to possibilities of interpretation of these sources that present challenging alternatives to the reigning orthodoxies. This is a work that anyone who wishes to avoid caricaturing Gadamer should read." — Brice Wachterhauser, St. Joseph's University

"At last, here is a well balanced book sympathetic to Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics that deals extensively with his later writings. It carefully elucidates and clarifies key concepts in Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics, beginning with the often neglected elements of finitude and facticity in Gadamer and their roots in Heidegger and culminating with a chapter on 'The Voice of the Poet,' again returning to an emphasis found in the later Heidegger. A particularly valuable dimension of the book is Risser's effort in each chapter to specify how his reading of Gadamer differs from those offered by various critics who have reproached hermeneutics on various grounds." — Richard E. Palmer, MacMurray College