This is how Gadamer begins his chief text
These studies are concerned with the problem of hermeneutics. The phenomenon of understanding
Probably something important to uh.. understand.
Sorry, when I read these krauts I really do get the feeling the US is an open-air zoo.
“Know what I understand? I understand the feelings of oppressed people!” Do you understand that they tend to be “oppressed” because they’re prone to vice? “They’re perfect, shut up!” Evil is perfect… We’ll silence you if you say otherwise… This is a zoo.
The text in question, Truth and Method, is considered one of the most important books of philosophy of the 20th century. That’s why I’m kind of tongue-in-cheek about calling Gadamer H’s disciple. Nonetheless, he’s clearly part of the neech-H chain.
So let’s begin and the beginning and read the rest of the sentence from above
It begins as an implicit confrontation with Kaiser Bacon.
Look around and ask yourself- did the abovesaid “chain” succeed? Clearly it did not- we live in a time when “science” is the arbiter of understanding.
So from the outset he brings up the most obvious “understander” that is marginalized today- theology. Before you get too kneejerk about that consider that the Zarathustra is a quasi-theological text. Hölderlin, in his talk of a “new god”, is approximately a theological poet. From the viewpoint of “science”, these are not legitimate forms of understanding.
To get spicier here, our idea of understanding itself was determined by violence. While Germany did indeed have a problem of excessive scientism, it wasn’t as bad as the Anglosphere. So people got shot, and thus we have Bacon firmly at the helm.
So Gadamer begins by asking how do humans experience the world in general? He’s implying that modern science doesn’t account [logos] for certain dimensions of our experience.
Notice the “paradox” of this
Given the dominance of modern science in the philosophical elucidation and justification of the concept of knowledge and the concept of truth, this question does not appear legitimate.
Truth and Method is not itself a “scientific book”.
What, do they expect us to use goggles and beakers to prove that scientism causes emptiness and the degradation of the spirit?
Like I’ve said before, scientism is so “close” to us it’s difficult to see. Just consider when you see some decadent clown out and about with their sophistry that that atheism is grounded in the scientific picture of the world, which is amoral.
It makes me smirk to think about how people who’ve studied these things in detail are “the real scientists”. We can only recognize each other however, and there aren’t many. To people who call themselves scientists though WE look like the bozos for believing thus.
I probably attract a very particular type of person here
modes of experience that lie outside science: with the experiences of philosophy, of art, and of history itself.
I.e. I just don’t expect many people in the “natural sciences” to read what I say, proportionally speaking. This is a “humanities” place. And I’m trying to emphasize here that if you are part of one of the humanities your existence is subordinate in our culture. Differently put, what you help people understand is not REAL understanding. The relativistic attitude and science go hand in hand and their relation is also internally contradictory- we have relativism about everything EXCEPT science. Subjectivism is another way of terming this attitude. The status quo is subjectivist and scientistic. There are other causes for this besides science though- subjectivism, equal rights, democracy are all connected too.
Anyway, speaking of the friend-enemy distinction, whenever you see H practicing phenomenology realize that he is in an implicit war with science. And he’s ALWAYS practicing phenomenology. So am I to some extent. That’s the (usually unstated) background of what we’re up to. We are challenging Bacon. We are attempting to cross the rubicon of “understanding”.
Here is Gadamer’s own rank-ordering of weaponry, what’s at stake, and what’s most pressing in this context of the Baconian horizon
The fact that through a work of art a truth is experienced that we cannot attain in any other way constitutes the philosophic importance of art… together with the experience of philosophy, the experience of art is the most insistent admonition to scientific consciousness to acknowledge its own limit.
He begins by appealing to EXPERIENCE. He thinks that alone refutes scientism. This is from the introduction. He begins the main text with an interpretation of the aesthetic consciousness.
“What are those bloody germans up to over there anyway??”
Are you so sure you know how to “understand”? I mean understand in general. Gadamer believes that even works of art tend to be interpreted by means of the scientific conception of truth.
Like I discussed in a post on Scruton, this is important to understand given that art seems to have replaced religion for many people in our time. Knowing HOW to understand art would make it a less idolatrous religion.
This isn’t a book on aesthetics though. Aesthetics is a springboard for the broader investigation of the meaning of truth. And like I said, he models this off of Aristotle’s phronesis. One would have to infer that with a scientistic worldview there is no… conscience. So we get into some pretty heavy things here.
Do this yourself- reflect on your experience of your favorite artworks. What does science have to say about that? Besides nothing. It CAN’T. There is a truth of art that is not in science’s domain, and it’s a truth that is arguably more important than scientific truth. So why is science the arbiter of truth in general then?
You have to know that the specific field of philosophy that I tend to draw from and muse on is marginal in the academy. Dominant is a scientistic version of philosophy, usually known as Anglo analytic philosophy. So it’s not just artists and art-lovers who should have a gripe with Bacon’s truth-totalitarianism, it’s also philosophy-enthusiasts.
We’re not trying to understand some thing here, we’re trying to understand understanding itself. And why???
the way we experience one another, the way we experience historical traditions, the way we experience the natural givenness of our existence and of our world, constitute a truly hermeneutic universe
In everything they do, modern people have both a jew and a scientist in their head. This shapes their personalities to the core in ways you will scarcely understand without having studied both the JQ and scientism. People will kill for the subjectivist worldview which is grounded in scientism. “That’s just your opinion, UNLESS it’s science!” And who the hell even reads science? Thus everything is opinion. The “oppressed” tend to be dirtbags that are a burden on society and that’s just your opinion to think they’re worse than anyone else. And of course this soul-killing epistemological pseudo-logos makes the happy merchant smile.
Question any left-lib rigorously enough and they will confess that deepdown they are a subjectivist. Keep questioning and you will trace this back to a mixture of unreflective scientism and shoddy historiography. This is “the modern mind”. And postwar Gadamer here attempts to heal at least one important side of the sickness.