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Hermeneutics and the Provisional Character of Dialogue

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The model of dialogue has been of crucial importance for the philosophical-hermeneutic account of interpretation ever since Schleiermacher. In this essay we investigate how contemporary hermeneutics accounts for this model in terms of provisionality and how the attention to provisionality marks the contemporary hermeneutic conception of interpretation. We will do so by first exploring how the theme of provisionality arises in Martin Heidegger’s work on interpretation: provisionality appears out of Heidegger’s concern with the primacy of anticipation in interpretation. Subsequently, we will show how Hans-Georg Gadamer’s attention to dialogue incorporates the theme of provisionality: since no dialogue ever truly comes to an end, every dialogue invites its own continuation. Finally, we will discuss how Jacques Derrida’s account of dialogue radicalizes the conception of this provisionality: despite its invitation for continuation, dialogues are radically interrupted; consequently, an additional work of interpretation is needed to continue a dialogue beyond these interruptions.

Affiliations: 1: Radboud University Nijmegen, Department of; 2: Radboud University Nijmegen, Department of


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