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Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics

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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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11. The World of Language and Discourse

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The term “text” etymologically refers to the Latin textus that is translated as mesh, fabric. The text could be defined as a designation of a continuous written unit, as a language utterance captured and fixed in the written form. If we want to understand a text we have to understand the language and discourse function.

Gadamer points out “The more that discourse is a living performance the less we can realize it” (Pravda a metóda II., p. 131). Ignorance concerning itself belongs to its fundamentality. Discourse experience of the world is experienced by the world and not by discourse. He continues that the concept of discourse “presupposes the awareness of discourse. But this is the result of a movement of reflection where the thinking one extricates himself by means of reflection from the unconscious performance ← 89 | 90 → of speech and keeps distance from himself. The mystery of discourse itself lies in the fact that it can never really be totally realized. Each thinking discourse is always struck by discourse. We can think only in some language and precisely this settling of our mind in a language is a deep riddle of discourse for thinking” (Ibid., p. 129). Discourse is not only a means or a tool. The essence of a tool is availability. A human, although, seizes it, grasps it, uses it, and puts it away. Discourse is not usable in this way since we are surrounded by it, we live in it and not...

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