Back to David Vessey's Homepage

 

Gadamer's Critique of Heidegger's Account of Authentic Relations to Others

DavidVessey, University of Chicago

 

 

Hans-Georg Gadamer was quicker to praise his teacher, Martin Heidegger, than to criticize him. He often went to lengths to suggest he and Heidegger were not so different at just those areas we might expect them to diverge. Still late in life, Gadamer did suggest clear differences between him and Heidegger on the issue of intersubjectivity.  His comments and criticisms are brief and scattered, however, so require reconstructing to appreciate their scope and strength. That is what I will do here. In the end Gadamer is right to criticize Heidegger's account of intersubjectivity, however their differences tend to stem more from how they construe authenticity.[1]

               Gadamer's central objection is that Heidegger's account of intersubjectivity—his account of the way we are shaped as subjects through our relations to other subjects—fails to appreciate the essential role dialogue plays in self-understanding. As such, Heidegger fails to account for a crucial feature of intersubjectivity. Gadamer writes,

The way Heidegger had developed the preparation of the question of Being, and the way he had worked out the understanding of the most authentic existential structure of Dasein, the Other could only show itself in its own existence as a limiting factorÉ. Heidegger's answer seemed to me to give short shrift to the phenomenon I was concerned with. It is not only that everyone is in principle limited. What I was concerned with was why I experience my own limitation through the encounter with the Other, and why I must always learn to experience anew if I am ever to be in a position to surpass my limits.[2]

According to Gadamer, other subjects donŐt simply mark the limits of our understanding; they are a necessary means for understanding our limits. To help us appreciate Gadamer's criticisms I will look at Heidegger's account of intersubjectivity as it was articulated up to and in Being and Time, spell out Gadamer's concerns, and then show why they are not met on Heidegger's account. Then I will address a subsequent question: is Heidegger's account incomplete simply because his focus on Being did not require a full account of intersubjectivity?

               Heidegger's mature account of intersubjectivity contains three separate theses: the phenomenological thesis, the ontological thesis, and the authenticity thesis. One has to do with our awareness of other subjects, one with the role other subjects play in Dasein's constitution, and one with the role of others in our quest for authenticity.[3] There is a tendency to fail to distinguish these three accounts, but they are clearly developed separately in the lectures and talks given by Heidegger in the period leading up to Being and Time.[4]

               The phenomenological thesis is that we are constantly aware of the presence of other subjects in our interactions with objects in our environment. Artificial objects appear to us as existing for a purpose, as having designers, manufacturers, and potential users, and thus as containing references to other subjects.

The 'description' of the surrounding world near us, for example the work world of the handworker, showed that together with the useful things found in work, others are also encountered 'for whom' the 'work' is to be doneÉ. The field for example, along which we walk 'outside' shows itself as belonging to such-and-such person who keeps it in good order.[5]

Heidegger believes we come to understand ourselves though our relations to objects and people in our environment. So by showing that our environment contains overwhelming evidence of other persons—whether they are physically present or not—Heidegger can show the artificiality of the problem of other minds. Just as it takes enormous abstraction from how we actually perceive the world to question the existence of "an external world," so too it requires enormous abstraction from how we actually understand ourselves to raise the question of solipsism. Skepticism about other mind depends on a mistaken conception of the mind: it takes us to be conceptually enclosed beings who must free ourselves from our subjective world, get "outside" of our minds, and then empathically find our way inside another's mind. This picture fails to take seriously the phenomenological fact that experiences are saturated with the awareness of others.

Heidegger recognizes that this phenomenological critique of empathy does not necessitate an ontological conclusion. It is one thing to claim we perceive things in a certain way; it's quite another to claim that this reveals something about what we are. He makes this explicit in a lecture from 1925:

The rejection of this pseudo-problem of empathy—how does an initially isolated subject reach another?—by no means implies that being-with-one-another and its comprehensibility does not stand in need of phenomenal clarification. É It does not eliminate the ontological problem of empathy.[6]

The ontological problem of empathy is the clarification of Miteinandersein—being-with-one-another—as belonging to the nature of Dasein. Heidegger at this point argues that we are not merely related to others accidentally; rather our relations to others are actualizations of our relational nature.

               Heidegger builds on the view that the common mistake made by those captured by the question of other minds is the belief that we are isolated from the contents of other minds and claims that, in general, the account of the subject (as it has been historically understood) is flawed. Once we reject the idea that subjectivity is constituted through consciousness and accept the idea that it is constituted through our involvement in the world—Dasein's being is being-in-the-world—then the way entities appear to us reveals something to us about our nature. The fact entities appear as tools for use shows us we are by nature being with practical concerns. Analogously, the fact entities appear to us as other subjects, other Daseins, shows that we are by nature social beings. We share a world and exist alongside others. [7] HeideggerŐs idealism lies here in the view that the fundamental categories of being reveal the fundamental ways Dasein exists in the world and thus the fundamental nature of Dasein. Being related to others, then, is not merely a property we have among other properties without which we would still be what we are. Rather, as one of the ways in which the world is inescapably constituted by us, it is also one of the ways we exist as constituting. There is no time at which we donŐt exist as constituted in relation to others. That is why Heidegger says that Dasein is equally-originally Mitsein—to exist is to exist-with.

He comes by this view in other ways. For example he embraces Aristotle's claim that we are zoon logon echon, but then interprets logos as "disclosive speaking" and points out that speaking always presumes a relation to others. "Speaking is in itself self-expression, speaking-with-one-another, with other speakers."[8] As such he embraces Aristotle's claim that we are by nature social.

               Gadamer takes Heidegger's ontological thesis about intersubjectivity to be his great contribution to the debate. He writes that Heidegger

knew very well that Dasein is also Mit-sein, and distinguished Mit-sein as an equally original state of Dasein. Thus Dasein is just as originally Mit-sein as it is Dasein. In Heidegger's approach, with regard to the question of Being the primacy of subjectivity is ruled out so radically that the Other cannot even become a problem.[9]

By establishing the fundamental character of Dasein as Mit-sein Heidegger has shown the mistaken presumption behind many of the questions of intersubjectivity. Just as the question of empathy fails because it takes as its starting point the question of how we can get outside of our enclosed mind to gain evidence of another's enclosed mind, so too do questions of social ontology labor under the mistaken starting point that we are constituted as essentially isolated individuals and so need to understand how our relation to other, isolated individuals becomes established.[10]

               Although Heidegger says we are always being-with, he also sees this character as the main source of alienation from ourselves: proximally and for the most part we are "not ourselves, but the Others; our lives are lived in terms of the Others."[11] Our relations to others usurp our ability to relate to ourselves and we come to think of ourselves impersonally as simply "one.Ó We are one among many, and this impersonal way of existing has rules all of its own. As one, we do as one does: one speaks a certain way and acts a certain way. We belong to what Heidegger calls Das Man, the anonymous everyday, average way of existing that keeps us from being truly authentic.  He writes,

Dasein, determined as being-with-one-another, simultaneously means being led by the dominant interpretation that Dasein gives of itself; by whatever one says, by fashion, by trends, by what is going on: the trend that no one is, whatever is the fashion: nobody. In everydayness Dasein is not that Being that I am. Rather the everydayness of Dasein is that Being that one is.[12]

To the extent Dasein belongs to Das Man, Dasein is precluded from becoming an authentic individual; only by turning away from Das Man can Dasein come to have a glimpse of its own authenticity.

               If Dasein is "proximally and for the most part" living its life anonymously, then it invites the question of how we can come to an awareness of ourselves as individuals and live our life in such a way as to express our individuality. To answer this Heidegger turns to the one phenomenon that is distinctively our own and that could never belong to Das Man: death, or rather our death. Our own death is the sole time when future possibilities cannot overturn our present self-understanding. Death—our death—makes our past fixed by making our future nonexistent so it is only at the point of death that we become what we are. Of course ironically, or perhaps tragically, that is the time we also cease to be. But along with this, death is also that which is irreducibly our own. Death is never generic. Heidegger repeatedly argues that we can never understand death through another's death and uses this fact to reveal that death remains the one thing that individuates. By "running forward to death" we can see our past as our own and have the ability for the first time to appropriate it as our own. In doing so we become able, again for the first time, to be authentic, that is, to live authentically not falling into Das Man. Therefore for Heidegger at the heart of becoming authentic is the need to free ourselves from all corrupting relations to others. This account of the fallenness and the role of being towards death constitutes Heidegger's third, authenticity thesis of intersubjectivity.[13]

What does Gadamer think is lost in this account?  Why think "Heidegger's inability to acknowledge the other was a point of weakness in him"?[14] Gadamer writes,

I was trying, in opposition to Heidegger, to show how the understanding of the Other possesses a fundamental significance. É In the end, I thought the very strengthening of the Other against myself would, for the first time, allow me to open up the real possibility of understanding. To allow the Other to be valid against Oneself—and from there to let all my hermeneutic works slowly develop—is not only to recognize in principle the limitation of one's own framework, but is also to allow one to go beyond one's own possibilities, precisely in a dialogical, communicative, hermeneutic process.[15]

For Gadamer we exist in conversation or in dialogue with one another and it is through these conversations that we fully come to realize our limitations.[16] Dialogue is an irreplaceable means for self-understanding. There are insights about ourselves attainable through dialogue that we would not be able to attain any other way. This view, if true, would undermine Heidegger's argument that authenticity is attained only by turning away from others and finding the one thing that will definitively individuate us. Instead authenticity requires turning toward others and engaging others in dialogue.

               So why think dialogue is the means by which we understand our limitations? The few comments Gadamer makes suggest three arguments for this view. First, it is only by testing our views on others that we can understand the hidden biases in our views. It is by coming to realize that someone could legitimately disagree with us on a particular topic that we come to reflect on the contingencies that led us to our view on the topic. These contingencies need not be ones that show the error of our views, but they do show us something about ourselves as beings contingent in a particular way. Gadamer's view is that all judgments piggyback on prejudgments and to be critically reflective is to question not only our judgments but also our prejudgments. The best means for bringing our prejudgments to light is through dialogue; in dialogue we come to see how others might judge differently, and this difference might raise our prejudgments to consciousness. For this reason he says that we should always enter into dialogue with the presumption that our interlocutor has something to teach us about the subject matter.  "Openness to the other, then, involves recognizing that I myself must accept some things that are against me, even though no one else forces me to."[17] The central hermeneutic virtue is "holding oneself open to the conversation."[18]

               The second argument is that in dialogue with another person we not only become aware of a different perspective, we sometimes acquire new knowledge about our own views. ItŐs a common occurrence to find ourselves at a loss for words on a topic we thought we knew well. ItŐs only when trying to put our ideas into words we find we didnŐt understand them as well as we thought. At other times we find ourselves surprisingly articulate, even about ideas we didnŐt even know we held. Gadamer writes that

Genuinely speaking one's mind has little to do with a mere explication and assertion of our prejudices; rather, it risks our prejudices—it exposes oneself to one's own doubt as well as to the rejoinder of the other. Who has not had the experience—especially before the other whom we want to persuade—of how the reasons that one had for one's view, and even the reasons that speak against one's view, rush into words? The mere presence of the other before whom we stand helps us to break up our own bias and narrowness, even before he opens his mouth to make a reply.[19]

When engaging another person we are required to put our view in terms such that the other person can appreciate the truth of our view.  Because our conversation partners vary, we are continually recasting our own views for the sake of the dialogue. This recasting, in effect re-translating given the vocabulary and beliefs of our interlocutor, is not ancillary to forming our views, as if we had the views well formed in our minds and were simply picking the words to accompany them, but is part and parcel of the formation of our views. As it is only in dialogue with another person that we can find out if we are as articulate about a subject matter as we might think, dialogue becomes a crucial forum for testing out understanding and likewise revealing our limitations in understanding.[20] 

               The third suggested argument is that dialogue is the way we best embody our awareness of our finitude. It belongs to Gadamer's Aristotelian heritage to see that certain beliefs are realized fully only when they are lived. If we want to understand our limitations we need to acquire not just a theoretical understanding of what this means, but a practical understanding of what this means. Such practical understanding is particularly important for matters of self-understanding. Practical wisdom comes from acting, so the practical wisdom about the nature of our limitations comes from acting according to our natures in such a way as to reflect awareness of our limitations. Since for Gadamer, like Heidegger, we are fundamentally linguistic beings, we actualize our nature by working to make our understanding explicit. We actualize our nature in such a way as to be aware of our limitations by engaging in dialogue. Dialogue, then does not simply confirm our limitations or provide us new theoretical insights, it provides the practical self-understanding to accompany the theoretical awareness that we have something to learn from one another and that we may not understand our own views as well as we could. Dialogue also helps establish the virtues of humility, sensitivity to difference, and desire for truth.

               Given these arguments, all of which I believe are good arguments, we can accept Heidegger's phenomenological argument (that we are constantly aware of other subjects in our everyday dealings with artificial objects), and his ontological argument (that our subjectivity gets some of its character from out relations to other subjects), but not his authenticity argument. It should come as no surprise that while Gadamer shares Heidegger's appreciation and use of Aristotle, Gadamer does not embrace Heidegger's Kierkegaardian themes of fallenness into Das Man or focus on authenticity.[21] In fact, Gadamer rarely speaks of authenticity, much less fallenness or death.[22] If the point of authenticity is that it puts us in a better position to judge as individuals, Gadamer's equivalent notion is one of being experienced—of the phronimos. And the mark of the experienced person is his or her willingness to engage in dialogue.[23] 

               Finally, perhaps Heidegger's authenticity thesis is presented simply because of his commitment to the "question of Being." In another context would be able to give an account of the formative role of dialogue, it simply doesnŐt make sense in that context. Indeed in Being and Time Heidegger does say that  "being-with-one-another maintains itself and shows many mixed forms whose description and classification lie outside the limits of this investigation."[24] Nonetheless, I think itŐs clear that the authenticity thesis is not an accidental feature of Heidegger's account of intersubjectivity. There is never a place in Being and Time or in the lectures and talks leading up to Being and Time where Heidegger discusses Mit-sein without immediately connecting it to Das Man and the threat losing our identity in the masses.  Many of these instances are unrelated to the Seinsfrage, occurring instead as part of his interpretations of Aristotle, Plato, or Dilthey. For Heidegger our relations to others are fundamentally and above all a threat to our authenticity rather than a resource for becoming authentic. For this reason Gadamer is right to claim that "Mit-sein, for Heidegger, was a concession that he had to make, but one that he never really got behindÉ. [It] is, in truth, a very weak idea of the other, more a letting the other be than an authentic 'being-interested-in-him.'"[25]

 

                                                                                                                                       David Vessey

                                                                                                                                       University of Chicago



[1]  Quite a few people have discussed the relationship between Heidegger and Gadamer, but none have focused on Gadamer's criticisms of Heidegger nor even mentioned the criticisms I will focus on here. See Rod Coltman's The Language of Hermeneutics: Gadamer and Heidegger in Dialogue (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), Ingrid Scheibler's Gadamer:  Between Heidegger and Habermas  (Lanham, Mass.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000); Catherine Zuckert's Postmodern Platos: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Strauss, Derrida   (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Jean Grondin's Hans-Georg Gadamer: A Biography (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003); Robert DostalŐs "Gadamer's Relation to Heidegger and Phenomenology" in The Cambridge Companion to Gadamer, edited by Robert Dostal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) and his "The Experience of Truth for Gadamer and Heidegger: Taking Time and Sudden Lightning" in Hermeneutics and Truth, edited by Brice Wachterhauser  (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1994); JŸrgen Habermas'  "Urbanizing the Heideggerian Province—In Praise of Hans-Georg Gadamer" in Philosophical-Political Profiles (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985); James Risser's "Hermeneutics Between Gadamer and Heidegger"  (Philosophy Today 41: Supplement 1997) and his "Philosophical Hermeneutics and the Question of Community" in Interrogating the Tradition: Hermeneutics and the History of Philosophy, edited by Charles Scott and John Sallis (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000); and Walter Lammi's "Hegel, Heidegger, and Hermeneutical Experience" in Hegel, History, and Interpretation , edited by Shaun Gallagher (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997).

[2] "Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity; Subject and Person" Continental Philosophy Review, vol. 33, no. 3 (July 2000) 284.

[3]  "Dasein," an antiquated word for existence meaning literally "there-being," is appropriately understood as coextensive with human being. Heidegger uses it to try to avoid misleading terminology about subjects or individuals. He defines it in Being and Time as that being for whom the question of its being is an issue.

[4] The phenomenological thesis appears as early at 1919; the ontological thesis appears in 1922, but significant modifications do not occur until the summer of 1925; and the authenticity thesis shows up initially in 1923, but doesn't take its developed form until the winter of 1925. The crucial texts are Gesamtausgabe 18: Grundbegriffe der Aristotelischen Philosophie (SS 1924) (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 2002); Gesamtausgabe 19: Platon: Sophistes (WS 1924-1925) (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1992), translated as Plato's Sophist (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997); Gesamtausgabe 20: Prolegomena zur Geschichte des Zeitbegriffs (SS 1925) (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1994), translated as History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985); Gesamtausgabe 21: Logik: Die Frage nach der Wahrheit  (WS 1925-1926) (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1995); Gesamtausgabe56 /57 Zur Bestimmung der Philosophie. 1: Die Idee der Philosophie und das Weltanschauungsproblem (Kriegsnotsemester 1919); 2: Phţnomenologie und transzendentale Wertphilosophie (Sommersemester 1919); 3: Anhang: †ber das Wesen der Universitţt und des akademischen Studiums (Sommersemester 1919) (Vittorio Klostermann, 1999), translated as Towards the Definition of Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2002); Gesamtausgabe 63: Ontologie. Hermeneutik der Faktizitţt (SS 1923) (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1995), translated as Ontology: The Hermeneutics of Faciticity (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1999); The Concept of Time (Cambridge, Mass., Blackwell, 1992) and "Wilhelm Dilthey's Research and the Struggle for a Historical Worldview (1925)" in Supplements: From the Earliest Essays to Being and Time and Beyond, edited by John van Buren (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002). Volumes 62, 64, and 80 will provide us with even more material from the "silent decade" before Being and Time. Unfortunately because later revisions made by Heidegger to these texts are not indicated by the editors, we cannot be certain at this time that everything in the Gesamtausgabe texts truly dates to the time of the lecture.

[5]  Being and Time, translated by Joan Stambaugh (Albany: SUNY Press, 1996), 111.

[6] History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena, 243.

[7]  He distinguishes Dasein as subjects from non-human objects in "The Struggle for a Worldview": "The Being-there [Dasein] of life is further defined by the being-there-with-us of other realities that have the same character of being that I myself have: other human beings. We enjoy a peculiar kind of being-with-one-another [miteinandersein]. We all share the same environing world; we are in the same space. Space is there for us as we are with one another, and we are there for one another. But the chairs in this space are, on the contrary, merely present, they are not there for one another, and though they are of course all in the same space, this space is not there for them" (163).  Somewhat misleadingly, his term for the kind of being others show themselves to have is "Mit-Dasein," translated usually as co-Dasein or Dasein-with. The idea is that we are directly aware of them as Dasein and as connected to us (and our environment) in virtue of that fact.

[8] Grundbegriffe der Aristotelischen Philosophie (SS 1924), 50. The full quotation is "Sprechen is nicht primţr und zunţchst ein Vorgang, zu dem nachher andere Menchen dazukommen, so dass es dann erst ein Sprechen mit anderen wŸrde, sondern das Sprechen ist in ihm selbst als solches Sichaussprechen, Miteinandersprechen mit anderen Sprechenden und deshalb das seinsmţssige Fundament der koinonia" (50). Also "Es wird verstţndlich, dass die Bestimmung des Miteinanderseins gleichursprŸnglich ist mit der Bestimmung des Sprechendseins.  Es Wţre gţnzlich verkehrt, aus einem der Sţtze den anderen zu deduzieren, sondern das Phţnomen des Daseins des Menschen als solches hat gleichursprŸnglich das Sprechendsein und das Miteinandersein" (64), and "Discourse is always discourse about something and expressing oneself about something, and it is always with and to someone" ("Wilhelm Dilthey's Research and the Struggle for a Historical Worldview (1925),"162)

[9] "Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity; Subject and Person," 283.

[10] The term social ontology comes from Michel Theunissen's The Other: Studies in the Social Ontology of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Buber (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1984) where it refers to the ontological  issue of intersubjectivity: how we are constituted as subjects through our relations to other subjects.

[11] " Wilhelm Dilthey's Research and the Struggle for a Historical Worldview (1925)," 164.

[12]  The Concept of Time, 17E. Compare to the following in History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena: "The being-with-one-another dissolves one's own Dasein totally into the mode of being of the others. The Dasein allows itself to be carried along by others in such a way that the others in their distinctiveness vanish even more. In the sphere of its possibilities of being, each is totally the other. It is here that the peculiar 'subject' of everydayness—the Anyone [Das Man]—first has its total domination. The public being-with-one-another is lived totally from this Anyone. We take pleasure and enjoy ourselves as one takes pleasure and we read and judge about literature as one judges, we hear music as one hears music, we speak about something as one speaks" (245). See also Being and Time, ¤27.

[13] It makes sense to ask, then, if there can be any authentic relations to others. Heidegger says that there are two ways to authentically relate to others, but neither is a relation that makes us authentic, rather both are ways that we as authentic can relate to unauthentic others. We can "leap-in" and take over their projects or we can "leap-ahead" and show them how to succeed in their projects. This explication of FŸr-sorge first appears in Logik: Die Frage nach der Wahrheit  (WS 1925-1926).

[14] A Century in Philosophy: Hans-Georg Gadamer in Conversation with Riccardo Dottori  (New York: Continuum, 2004), 22.

[15]  "Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity; Subject and Person," 284.  Compare to the following quotation from A Century in Philosophy: "The genuine meaning of our finitude or our thrownness consists in the fact that we become aware, not only of our being historically conditioned, but especially of our being conditioned by the other. Precisely in our ethical relation to the other, it becomes clear to us how difficult it is to do justice to the demands of the other or even simply to become aware of them. The only way not to succumb to our finitude is to open ourselves to the other, to listen to the "thou" who stands before us" (29).

[16] We can get a clue of the difference between Gadamer and Heidegger by noting that Heidegger uses the term Rede, discourse or speech, to refer to our essentially linguistic nature. Rede is closely connected to Gerede, the empty idle talk of Das Man. Gadamer instead uses Gesprţch, dialogue or conversation, for describing how we are essentially linguistic. Both connect their term, Rede for Heidegger and Gesprţch for Gadamer, with Logos as used in Aristotle.

[17] Truth and Method (New York: Continuum, 1994), 361

[18] The Philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer, Library of Living Philosophers vol. XXIV (Chicago: Open Court, 1997), 36.

[19]  "Text and Interpretation" in Dialogue and Deconstruction: The Gadamer-Derrida Encounter, ed. Richard Palmer and Diane Michelfelder (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989), 26.

[20] Both of these two arguments together support to the widely held view that someone can understand us better than we understand ourselves. Not only could another have information about us or insights into us that we lack, but he or she may also be able to articulate our views to us better than we can articulate them ourselves.  On the idea that we must always be open to the possibility of learning from others consider this quotation from Gadamer in Conversation (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001): "What I tried to do, following Heidegger, was to see the linguisticality of human beings not just in terms of the subjectivity of consciousness and the capacity for language in that consciousness, as German Idealism and Humboldt had done. Instead, I moved the idea of conversation to the very center of hermeneutics. Perhaps a phrase from Hšlderlin will make clear to you what kind of turn this move involved. Because Heidegger could no longer accept the dialectical reconciliation with Christianity which had marked the whole post-Hegelian epoch, he sought the Word through Hšlderlin, whose words ŇSeit ein Gesprţch wir sind/ Und hšren kšnnen voneinanderÓ [Since we are a conversation/And can hear one another] inspired him. Now Heidegger had understood this as the conversation of human beings with the gods. Perhaps so. But the hermeneutic turn, at least also includes us in HšlderlinŐs Ňone another,Ó and at the same time it contains the idea that we as human being have to learn from each other" (39).

[21] Herbert Dreyfus distinguishes Heidegger's Aristotelian themes from his Kierkegaardian themes.  (See, for example, "Could Anything be More Intelligible than Everyday Intelligibility? Reinterpreting Division I of Being and Time in the light of Division II," in Appropriating Heidegger, edited by James E. Faulconer and Mark A. Wrathall (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Central among the Kierkegaardian themes are the ideas of fallenness, authenticity, the Augenblick (the rapturous insight into Being), and anxiety unto death. Gadamer rarely mentions Kierkegaard and when he does it's usually in the context of Kierkegaard's influence on early 20th century dialogical reactions to Hegel, such as those put forward by Ferdinand Ebner and Martin Buber.

[22] The one obvious exception is his essay "The Experience of Death" (in The Enigma of Health (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996) where he makes the non-Heideggarian claim that the awareness of our unavoidable death can create a sense of universal solidarity.

[23] See especially Truth and Method, 346-362. On page 355 he writes, Ňa person who is called experienced has become not so only through experiences but is also open to new experiences. The consummation of his experience, the perfection that we call Ôbeing experienced,Ő does not consist in the fact that someone already knows everything and knows better than anyone else. Rather, the experienced person proves to be, on the contrary, someone who is radically undogmatic; who, because of the many experiences he has had and the knowledge he has drawn from them, is particularly well equipped to have new experiences and to learn from them. The dialectic of experience has its proper fulfillment not in definite knowledge but in the openness to experience that is made possible by experience itself.Ó

[24] Being and Time, 115. Gadamer suggests this response too. When discussing Heidegger's account of FŸr-sorge he writes, "Here again, Heidegger is concerned only with the preparation of the question of Being, which can only be posed beyond all metaphysics.  The formula of the Ňfreeing solicitudeÓ is obviously meant as a freeing of that in which the authenticity of Dasein consists, and about which Being and Time tries to unfurl the question of Being in metaphysics in a new sense" ("Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity; Subject and Person," 283).

[25]   A Century in Philosophy, 23.

 

Back to David Vessey's Homepage