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14 - The Constellation of Hermeneutics, Critical Theory, and Deconstruction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2021

Robert Dostal
Affiliation:
Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania
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Summary

Hermeneutics, critical theory, and deconstruction designate three intellectual orientations that have dominated debates in continental philosophy. All three exhibit the “linguistic turn.” The debate between Habermas and Gadamer brought Gadamer to prominence. Important for both is the Aristotelian distinction between the practical and the technical. Gadamer is more negatively critical of the Enlightenment than is Habermas. Both are concerned with the instrumentalization of reason in modernity. Yet Gadamer sees Habermas as too utopian. Habermas sees Gadamer as insensitive to the way dialogue is distorted by social forces and political power. This chapter concludes with a consideration of Gadamer in relation to Derrida and deconstruction. Both were profoundly influenced by Heidegger. Yet Gadamer emphasizes continuity, while Derrida emphasizes rupture and break. Gadamer shows us the achievement of understanding, while Derrida is preoccupied with the ways we misunderstand. Derrida and Gadamer serve as correctives of the other, just as Habermas and Gadamer serve as correctives of the other.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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