chapter  3
19 Pages

A Response to P. Christopher Smith

WithR. Nicholas Davey

P. Christopher Smith correctly judges Plato to be both impulse and obstacle in the development of Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutics. The discussion of Plato's influence upon the development of concepts of language is an excellent instance of his notion of Wirkungsgeschichte. Gadamer's acceptance of Socratic dialegesthai as the model of hermeneutic understanding has as its consequence a downgrading of the propositional function of language. In response to Christopher Smith's paper two issues have been discussed. Firstly, the extent to which Plato's dual approach to language affects the historical parameters out of which Gadamer's hermeneutic arises. Secondly, the downgrading of the statement implicit in Gadamer's evaluation of Socratic discourse as paradigmatic of hermeneutic understanding. The concept of the statement, the dialectical accentuation of it to the point of contradiction is in extreme contrast to the nature of the hermeneutical experience and the linguistic nature of human experience of the world.