chapter  5
9 Pages

The Dialectical Unity of Hermeneutics: On Ricoeur and Gadamer

WithLeonard Lawlor

This chapter explores the difference between Ricoeur and Gadamer in its sharpest resolution. It focuses on the dialectical process of concept formation, the basis of the claims about the poetical word. When one examines Ricoeur's dialectic of event and meaning and Gadamer's concept formation, one sees that both these notions oppose the type of teleology in which a pre-existing, static meaning encloses the process of understanding from the outside. The dialectic which is language points to presentation as the nature of language and expresses that the dialectical unity of hermeneutics is presence. Discourse can be characterized as an event because discourse possesses temporal existence. Temporal existence gives discourse "ontological priority" over the codes, which, having no existence apart from their actualization in speech, possess only "virtual existence". Discursive presence implies that every discourse is singular or unique and whole. In metaphorical discourse, understanding achieves the same aim of univocity in a somewhat different way.