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Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics


Ladislav Tkáčik

To be confronted with a text can lead us to open our own living world, to its expansion and saturation with something new or even with something else, something unpredictable. What then makes a human a human? Can philosophical hermeneutics say anything about that? It can! «Language is the real centre of a human being… The human is a real, as Aristotle used to say, being who has language» (Hans-Georg Gadamer). What makes a human a human is the fact that internal reflection is performed behind his voice. This is the most original topic of philosophical hermeneutics.
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10. Hermeneutics and Postmodernism


Both Habermas and Gadamer in the 1980s polemised with postmodernism, or more particularly, with its offshoot in the form of grammatology which is connected with the name of Jacques Derrida (1930 – 2004). Let us mention some of his earlier works: De la grammatologie (Grammatology) and L’Écriture et la difference (Writing and Variety) from 1967 and La dissemination (Dissemination) from 1972. Postmodernism in general and Derrida in particular could see a return to the metaphysical determination for power behind the hermeneutically anticipated effort to achieve understanding. The postulated dialogic character of discourse should only cover this unacknowledged motive. Dialogic rationality should then have a totalitarian background. Its performance would reject individuality, difference, it would equalise the conflict and it would not absolutely correspond to Habermas’ pressurelessness. ← 83 | 84 →

Derrida writes: “Discourse, therefore, if it is originally violent, can only do itself violence, can only negate itself in order to affirm itself, make war upon war which institutes it without ever being able to reappropriate this negativity to the extent that it is discourse. Necessarily without reappropriating it, for if it did so, the horizon of peace would disappear into the night (worst violence as previolence). Thus discourse chooses itself violently in opposition to nothingness or pure non-sense, and, in philosophy against nihilism” (Derrida, J.: Násilí a metafyzika. Praha: Filosofia, 2002, p. 95). Derrida does not feel embarrassed to say “thus, the thought as pre-comprehension of being signifies nothing less than a conceptual or totalitarian comprehension...

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