Hermeneutics as Politics

Hermeneutics as Politics: Second Edition

With a Foreword by Robert B. Pippin
Copyright Date: 1987
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Hermeneutics as Politics
    Book Description:

    Hermeneutics as Politics,perhaps the most important critique of post-modern thought ever written, is here reissued in a special fifteenth anniversary edition. In a new foreword, Robert B. Pippin argues that the book has rightfully achieved the status of a classic. Rosen illuminates the underpinnings of post-modernist thought, providing valuable insight as he pursues two arguments: first, that post-modernism, which regards itself as an attack upon the Enlightenment, is in fact merely a continuation of Enlightenment thought; and second, that the extraordinary contemporary emphasis upon hermeneutics is the latest consequence of the triumph of history over mathematics and science."Perhaps the most original and philosophically important critical account of hermeneutics-of its philosophical status and historical development-to appear since Gadamer'sTruth and Method."-Choice"A philosophical polemic of the highest order written in a language of unfailing verve and precision. . . . It will repay manyfold the labour of a slow and considered reading."-J. M. Coetzee,Upstream

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14839-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-2)
    Robert B. Pippin

    Hermeneutics as Politicsis an excellent, bracing critique of postmodernism, and a fine introduction to the philosophical world of Stanley Rosen. On the one hand the book, first published in 1987, has a distinct historical location: the moment—announced in architecture, literature, and visual art as well as reported to government bureaucracies by philosophers—when the “end of modernity” was proclaimed. The collective project of Western modernity—the Enlightenment aspiration for liberal democratic institutions and the relief of our estate through scientific and technological progress, the whole “grand narrative” of secular progress based on universally shareable rational values—was said...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    The studies presented here are unified by two closely related themes. First: the cluster of contemporary movements which we are now accustomed to call "postmodernist," although they understand themselves as an attack on the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, are in fact a continuation of that Enlightenment. Second: hermeneutics, the characteristic obsession of postmodernism, has an intrinsically political nature, which, especially in the United States, is rapidly being concealed by an encrustation of scholasticism and technophilia. As Julia Kristeva remarks:

    Academic discourse, and perhaps American university discourse in particular, possesses an extraordinary ability to absorb, digest, and neutralize all of the key, radical,...

  5. 1 Transcendental Ambiguity: The Rhetoric of the Enlightenment
    (pp. 19-49)

    The modern age has been characterized since its inception by a contrapuntal structure of daring and inquietude. The daring is best illustrated by the mathematical enthusiasm of Descartes and his progeny. Daring casts its own shadow: terror. In Pascal’s words, “the eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me.”¹ The secular infinity of the modern universe brings with it a modern conception of the experience of time. To cite Pascal again, “we never care about the present time.” And so “the past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end. Hence we never live, but we...

  6. 2 Platonic Reconstruction
    (pp. 50-86)

    What is the difference between speech and writing? This is the point of orientation for the extravagant discourse (spoken and written) of Jacques Derrida, the most prominent contemporary opponent of the Enlightenment. In his dispensation of darkness, Derrida is a paradigm for a multitude of lesser antiluminaries. One cannot quite say that they shine in his reflected brilliance without sacrificing what I believe is a valid metaphor. Perhaps it would be better to think of Derrida’s disciples as consequences of what he himself calls “the trace.” To quote the master: “the trace is in effect the absolute origin of sense...

  7. 3 Hermeneutics as Politics
    (pp. 87-140)

    The Derridean deconstruction of "platonism" is the most recent episode in the quarrel between the ancients and the moderns. One may also understand it as the latest convulsion in the death throes of the Enlightenment. I do not mean by this to imply that the convulsion is sufficient in itself to establish the triumph of antiquity. Only moderns participate in a quarrel with antiquity. What remains to be seen is whether a resident of modernity can understand the terms of the quarrel with his ancestors in a way that is not distorted by the aforementioned convulsions. If we grant at...

  8. 4 Theory and Interpretation
    (pp. 141-174)

    Every hermeneutical program is at the same time itself a political manifesto or the corollary of a political manifesto. In particular, this is true of the postmodern attack upon the Enlightenment. Needless to say, this attack has different faces. It is also true that not each version of the attack makes hermeneutics central to its own enterprise. But it is not by chance that hermeneutics has somehow become pivotal, a point of juncture, as it were, for schools as diverse as Frankfurt critical rationalism, late Wittgensteinian language analysis, poststructuralism, and deconstruction, to name only a few. The extraordinary multiplication of...

  9. 5 Conversation or Tragedy
    (pp. 175-193)

    In his essay “On the Study of Greek Poetry,” Friedrich Schlegel, one of the most neglected of nineteenth-century thinkers, has this to say about modern poetry:

    It makes no claims at all to objectivity, which however is the first condition of pure and unconditioned aesthetic worth, and its ideal is the interesting, i.e. subjective aesthetic force.

    A few pages later, we find the following passage on modern aesthetics:

    Blunt or false feelings, confused or wrong judgments, defective or common intuitions, will not only generate a multitude of separately incorrect concepts and principles, but also fundamentally wrong directions of investigation, totally...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 194-208)
  11. Index
    (pp. 209-213)