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Gadamer's Aesthetics

Gadamer (1900–2002) does not provide an account of the aesthetic in any customary sense. His approach to art runs, in many ways, against conventional philosophical expectations. Aesthetic qualities are not debated in the manner of the analytic tradition of modern philosophy, nor does he concern himself overtly with the problems of aesthetic pleasure. Gadamer’s approach to aesthetic experience stands squarely in the phenomenological tradition. He is primarily concerned with the place of art in our experience of the world. Furthermore, his approach to aesthetic theory is one of those rare intellectual achievements which are simultaneously deconstructive and constructive. He dismantles elements of the grand tradition of Platonic, Kantian and Hegelian aesthetics and yet offers a phenomenological reconstruction of many of the central insights of that tradition to demonstrate its continuing relevance to our contemporary experience of art. Gadamer is primarily concerned with the cognitive dimension of such experience, with what artworks address and what they put at issue. This makes for a flexible philosophical approach capable of ranging freely over a number of art forms and styles, discussing both the singularity of works and their broader significance. The approach is clearly hermeneutical in that it endeavours to reacquaint us with those received meanings and preoccupations which underlie our experience of art. Openly influenced by Heidegger, the later essays on language and poetry in particular, Gadamer’s aesthetics is far from traditional. His key claims are:

  • Aesthetics is not the study of specific types of subjective pleasures derived from art. It is a study of what objectively informs our subjective awareness of art.
  • Hermeneutical aesthetics seeks to break through the pleasurable distractions of aesthetic consciousness in order to disclose the cultural and linguistic realities that manifest themselves within it.
  • Hermeneutical aesthetics presupposes phenomenological involvement with the subject matters of art rather than disinterested detachment.
  • Hermeneutical aesthetics regards aesthetic appearance not as a distraction from the real but as the vehicle through which real subject matters reveal themselves. It overturns the notion that artworks are at one remove from reality.
  • Hermeneutical aesthetics is dialogical in character. It recognises that practitioner and theoretician share in bringing a subject matter to light and plays down any theory/practice division in the arts. Interpretation is a means to a work’s realisation.
  • Hermeneutical aesthetics is not a theory of art per se, more a set of practical contemplative notes for enhancing one’s encounter with art. The end of hermeneutical aesthetics is not to arrive at a concept of art but to deepen our experience of art. In hermeneutical aesthetics, theory is deployed to deepen contemplation of artworks rather than to categorise their nature.
  • Gadamer’s aesthetics is deeply respectful of art’s ability to disrupt and challenge customary expectations. It attributes an ethical significance to art as being able to reveal the limitations of fixed cultural expectancy and to open the spectator towards the other and the different.

In this entry, we discuss the leading arguments which inform these contentions.

1. Art as Interlocutor

Gadamer’s aesthetics fosters an attentiveness towards the mystery of the given and its unexpected folds of meaningfulness. Gadamer’s arguments are varied, ushering the reader towards an aesthetic attentiveness rather than making iconoclastic declarations about what the aesthetic is. They embrace close readings of the poets Rilke and Celan as well as broad strategic manoeuvres which defend the cognitive status of aesthetic and hermeneutical judgements. Hermeneutics (the art and discipline of interpretation), of which Gadamer is one of the twentieth century’s most formidable exponents, is deeply involved in philosophical disputes over the legitimacy of claims to understanding in the visual and literary arts. It does not oppose “scientific” modes of knowledge but resists their cultural privileging. For Gadamer aesthetics stands on experientially accumulative modes of learning (Bildung) which orientate and ground sound judgement in the arts. Conversation and its unpredictable turns is, appropriately, a central thread within hermeneutical aesthetics. A late exchange between Carsten Dutt and Gadamer (Dutt 1993, 61–67) offers a gentle point of entry into how philosophical hermeneutics approaches art and aesthetic experience.

Gadamer insists that a picture or image that is worthy of being called a work of art, has the power to affect us immediately. (GW 8, 374). Art addresses us. The claim that a work of art “says something to someone” (Palmer 2001, 70) alludes to the surprise, shock and, sometimes, dismay at being directly affected by what is in a work and of being forced to reflect on its claim so that it becomes more understandable to both oneself and others. Gadamer argues that “the experience of art is an experience of meaning, and as such this experience is something that is brought about by understanding” (Palmer 2001, 70). To this extent, then, “aesthetics is absorbed into hermeneutics” (Palmer 2001, 76). This distances Gadamer from more conventional justifications of the aesthetic as offering a special kind of pleasure. The essay The Relevance of the Beautifulsuggests that “the mere onlooker who indulges in aesthetic or cultural enjoyment from a safe distance, whether in the theatre, the concert hall, or the seclusion of solitary reading, simply does not exist” (RB 130). A person who takes himself to be such an onlooker, misunderstands himself. “Aesthetic self-understanding is indulging in escapism if it regards the encounter with the work of art as nothing but enchantment in the sense of liberation from the pressures of reality, through the enjoyment of a spurious freedom” (RB 130). These remarks divorce Gadamer’s thinking from Dilthey’s Erlebniss-Ästhetik in which artworks are proclaimed the site of intense but momentary experience enjoyed for their own sake independent of their cognitive content. The hedonistic personalisation of aesthetic response has two alienating consequences. On the one hand, the judgement that aesthetic experience is purely subjective severs the individual from communal networks of meaning capable of illuminating personal experience from the perspective of what is socially shared. On the other, attempts to render subjective experience academically legitimate by presenting it as a social product further estrange the individual from his experience, by translating it into third-person terms he or she may not endorse or recognise: individual experiences of beauty can suddenly become embodiments of class prejudice. In contrast to Dilthey (1833–1911), Gadamer defends an Erfahrungs-Ästhetik which claims that like significant life-experiences, our relationships with artworks are deep and ongoing: we revisit them and in doing so understanding is continually renegotiated. Gadamer speaks of the “interminability” of such experience (die Unabschliessbarkeit aller Erfahrung, Palmer 2001, 66). It is forever open because of its cognitive movement. The cumulative nature of such experience is an instance of Bildung (formation and learning through experience) and is, as such, a living process of becoming (Werden).

Gadamer’s aesthetics is strictly anti-Kantian. It abjures phenomenalist disinterestedness for the sake of phenomenological involvement. It is also anti-idealist. It refuses the idea that in aesthetic experience we perceive “a pure integration of meaning”. His aesthetics is consequently anti-representationalist. There is in the artwork something which Gadamer describes as its resistance to integration, to being reduced to a concept (Palmer 2001, 25). He contends that Hegel’s definition of the beautiful as the “sensuous appearing of the Idea” presumes that aesthetic experience is able to reach beyond the specific type of appearance to its underlying idea. In this model, aesthetic experience becomes the expectation of a semantic fulfilment. Once the idea behind the appearance is grasped, “the whole of its meaning would have been understood once and for all and thus ‘brought in to our possession so to speak’” (Palmer 2001, 71). The work of art becomes a carrier of meaning, to be abandoned once the lead story has been grasped. But, Gadamer argues, “our understanding of artworks is manifestly not of this type. Everyone knows this from his or her own encounters with art, from concerts, visits to museums, and from his or her reading” (Palmer 2001, 71). This denial of idealist aesthetics is at the basis of his claim that an artwork is essentially enigmatic.

Gadamer’s opposition to aesthetic idealism is supported by the claim that art “cannot be satisfactorily translated in terms of conceptual knowledge” (RB 69). A work does not simply refer to a meaning which is independent of itself. Its meaning is not to be grasped in such a way that that it can be simply transferred to another idiom. Indeed, because it invites many interpretations, an artwork acquires an ideality of possible meanings which cannot be obviated by any possible realisation (RB 146). The work has, therefore, an autonomy which cannot be substituted by anything else or, to put it another way, the work is always in excess of its readings, its meanings are always more than its interpretations. This is congruent with Gadamer’s theses that Being exceeds knowing and, similarly,that linguistic Being transcends linguistic consciousness.

An important consequence arises from this, namely, Gadamer conceives art as presentational (darstellen) rather than representational (vorstellen). In the essay “Word and Picture” (1992), he claims that he tries “to undermine the idea that the picture is a mere copy” (GW 8, 374). As a work does not represent anything other than itself, the meanings it carries can only come to the fore in its self-presentation. Yet the emergent meaning is never given in its entirety nor obviated by any realisation. This is consistent with the eventual nature of art. “When a work of art truly takes hold of us, it is not an object that stands opposite us which we look at in hope of seeing through it to an intended conceptual meaning … The work is an Ereigniss—an event that ”appropriates us“ to itself. It jolts us, it knocks us over and sets up a world of its own, into which we are drawn” (Palmer 2001, 71). What is revealed, however, remains but an aspect of the work which when it appears drives others into the background. Disclosure and hiddenness are not contraries in Gadamer’s aesthetics, but mutually dependent: the disclosed reveals the presence of the undisclosed in the disclosed. “It is in the sheer being there (Da-sein) of the work of art that our understanding experiences the depths and the unfathomability of its meaning” (Palmer 2001, 72). The claim that a work’s meaning can never be completely fulfilled is supported by a linguistic analogy concerning the speculative. Art has a language in that its signs and symbols function like semantic units. Gadamer comments on the living virtuality of meaning contained in each word, an inner dimension of multiplication. Accordingly, language is not the representation (mimesis) of a set of pre-given meanings but a “coming to language” of a constant reserve of meanings (Palmer 2001, 67). The finitude of linguistic expression is such that no utterance can be complete. Nothing comes forth in one meaning that is simply offered us (PH 103). “The only thing that constitutes language … is that one word leads to another, each word is, so to speak, summoned, and on its side holds open the further progress of speaking” (Palmer 2001, 67). No meaning can be completely revealed. Because we can re-visit artworks repeatedly, the meaning disclosed initially can be expanded or changed. The partial nature of any given meaning disclosure enhances rather than diminishes the possibility of meaning within a work. “The work of art consists in its being open in a limitless way to ever new integrations of meaning” (PH 98) and furthermore, “the inexhaustibility that distinguishes the language of art from all translation into concepts rests on an excess of meaning” (PH 102).

Gadamer’s conversation on aesthetics paints its bolder themes: art is interrogative by nature, artworks work through a disclosure of meaning, disclosures of meaning establish art’s cognitive status, the cognitive content of art is partly intelligible and partly enigmatic, and artworks are always open to re-interpretation. These are, however, not free-standing arguments. Gadamer’s position is hermeneutical not because of an underlying thesis which goes unremarked but because it is informed by a constellation of various arguments which shape the central position. To the broader arguments we now turn.

2. The “Substance” of Aesthetic Subjectivity

Gadamer’s determination to reveal the cognitive content of aesthetic experience requires him to expose the ontological grounding of subjectivity. To approach artworks solely on the basis of subjective responses to them or, to read them only in terms of an artist’s intentionality, is, for Gadamer, always to miss the point. Hermeneutically speaking, the philosophical focus should be on what shapes subjectivity and guides its expectations. This initiates a speculative refiguring of aesthetic subjectivity. In Truth and Method he writes,

All self-knowledge arises from what is historically pre-given, what with Hegel we call “substance,” because it underlies all subjective intentions and actions, and hence both prescribes and limits every possibility for understanding any tradition whatsoever in its historical alterity. This almost defines the aim of philosophical hermeneutics: its task is to retrace the path of Hegel’s phenomenology of mind until we discover in all that is subjective the substantiality that determines it. (TM 302)

In The Relevance of the Beautiful Gadamer elucidates substance as follows:

“Substance” is understood as something that supports us, although it does not emerge into the light of reflective consciousness, it is something that can never be fully articulated, although it is absolutely necessary for the existence of all clarity, consciousness, expression and communication. (RB 78)

Uncovering the ontological foundations of aesthetic experience does not undermine the primacy Gadamer gives to art’s immediate address. The aim is to demonstrate the cognitive legitimacy of subjective experience by revealing how aesthetic experience is both involved in something larger than itself and, indeed, reflects (speculum) that larger actuality within itself. The ability of aesthetic experience to express trans-individual phenomenological structures explains what is meant by substance and his speculative attitude towards it. Gadamer’s aesthetics is properly concerned with experiencing what underlies its more abstract concepts. This is not a matter of naming or describing the reality which manifests itself in aesthetic experience but of trying to say something about the experience an individual has of it. Gadamer’s reflections commence with the immediacy of art’s claim, its contemporaneous nature, and then explore what influences the experience of that claim. The aim is seemingly paradoxical: to understand that which shapes, lies beyond, but only “shows” itself in aesthetic experience.

3. The Contemporaneous and Art Experience

Of all things that speak to us, it is the artwork that does so most directly (PH 95). The phenomenological immediacy of art which initiates Gadamer’s hermeneutic enquiry into aesthetic experience may not seem a promising starting point from a hermeneutic perspective. It declares an unconventional hermeneutical approach to art: “if we define the task of hermeneutics as the bridging of personal or historical distance between minds, then the experience of art would seem to fall entirely outside its [hermeneutics’] provenance” (PH 95/97). However, Gadamer does not define hermeneutics this way. It is not the reconstruction of artistic intention which forms the object of his enquiry, but the question of what informs the immediacy of an artwork’s claim. The artwork is an object of hermeneutical investigation not because of any provenance in psychological events but because of the fact that it says something to us (PH 98). Hermeneutic involvement is required because the meaning transmitted can never be fully complete and unambiguous. It demands interpretive involvement. Hermeneutics is required wherever there is a restricted transposition of thought. The historical finitude of meaning and the fact that no meaning can be given completely necessitates hermeneutical involvement in our experience of an artwork. The task of interpretation is to probe the possible meanings held within the experience of a work, and by drawing on them to bring that experience to greater completeness.

It should be noted that Gadamer’s talk of integrating the alien into what is understood as meaningful is not to be grasped as subsumption within the same. Assimilation is not the equivalent of translating the alien into a stable set of meanings which do not change as a consequence of that subsumption. Integration implies a reciprocity: the integrated changes its character as well as the character of the whole within which integration occurs. Furthermore, whatever is given in subjective consciousness as contemporaneous has dimensions of meaning that transcend what that consciousness initially grasps. Gadamer is concerned to probe the ontic dimensions of aesthetic experience. The thesis that experience of the contemporaneousness of art involves us in more than what we are presently aware of (i.e., the “substance” of underlying and on-going trans-individual linguistic and cultural practices) is supported by the three arguments from analogy concerning the character of play, the festival and the symbol.

4. Play

Gadamer’s discussion of the relation between art and play should not be equated with any argument that art is a trivial game or pastime. He follows the precedent of Schiller’s Letters on Aesthetic Education, which contend that artworks are dramatic in that they place something in play. The underlying motif is that aesthetic consciousness is far from self-contained but is rather drawn into the play of something much larger than what is evident to subjective consciousness. The analogy with drama and, indeed, sporting events, implies that art is eventual, an occasion that consciousness surrenders to and participates in. Spectatorial participation (like much art research) demands immersion in that which cannot be fully anticipated or controlled by individual consciousness. The game and the artwork are both forms of self-movement which require that the spectator play along with what they bring into being (RB 23). Gadamer asserts the “primacy of the play” over consciousness: “the players are merely the way the play comes into presentation” (TM 92, 98). Participation takes the individual players out of themselves. The individual subject is that upon which success, satisfaction or loss is imposed from within the game. By analogy, the work of art is also “the playing of it”. An autonomous event comes into being, something comes to stand in its own right which “changes all that stand before it” (RB 25). Like the ancient theoros, the spectator not only participates in the event which is the artwork, but is potentially transformed by it (RB 24).

The game analogy also serves to undermine approaches to art which are exclusively intentional, material and conventional. First: the subjectivity of an artist cannot be an appropriate interpretive starting point. Grasping what transpires in a player’s consciousness does not reveal the nature of the game being played. Reconstructing the conscious life of an artist, pace Dilthey’s hermeneutics of nacherleben (re-living), may reveal interesting aspects of an artist’s intentions but it does not uncover what informs that subjectivity. Second: as with the game, art is not to be understood by reference to its tools and equipment alone. Art requires materials certainly, and an appreciation of how a specific tool might be used. Yet neither game nor art is constituted by its equipment. Third: comprehending a game or an artwork requires an appreciation of the appropriate rules or conventions. What constitutes fair or foul play depends upon a set of pre-understood principles just as what is esteemed excellent in art requires normative expectancies of appraisal. Yet art’s vitality clearly does not reside in the following of conventions.

The overall argument is not that game or artwork cannot be reduced to intention, material or convention but rather that each of these elements comes into their own when taken up within the playing of the game or in the practice which is art. It is the playing that draws spectator, player, intention, equipment and convention into the one event. This promotes an interactive view of art as a communicative event. It lends a dialogical dimension to art. An artwork involves more than one voice as, indeed, the word inter-pretation implies. Furthermore, the conception of art as an event requires a different ontological structure to those standard accounts of aesthetic experience grounded in subjectivity alone. An artwork is not an object completely independent of the spectator yet somehow given over to the spectator for his or her personal enjoyment. To the contrary, the game analogy suggests that the act of spectatorship contributes to enhancing the being of the artwork by bringing what is at play within it to fuller realisation. The spectator just as much as the artist plays a crucial role in developing the subject-matters that art activates. The aesthetic spectator is swept up by her experience of art, absorbed in its play and potentially transformed by that which spectatorship helps constitute. Though Gadamer’s argument distances itself from traditional subject-object paradigms, it does retain certain features of Kant’s aesthetics.

Whereas Kant attributes a non-purposive rationality to the aesthetic attitude, Gadamer attributes it to the playful process of art practice itself. Both art and the game share a to-and-fro movement not tied to any specific goal other than to fulfil themselves for their own sake (TM 103): no one knows how a game will end and no one knows to what end an artwork works (Lawn 2006, 91). However, what is clear is that it is what occurs when the artwork or the game is in-play that matters. Often contrary to their own willing and doing, the spectator is taken over by a substantial and consequential event that transcends the boundaries of everyday consciousness and which has no purpose other than to bring something forth.

5. The Festival

Conventional accounts of aesthetic experience stress its intense and individuating nature (Erlebniss). Yet despite its intimacy, Gadamer emphasises that within experience (Erfahrung) one is always participating, perhaps unwittingly, in something beyond oneself. Aesthetic involvement is in some respects, therefore, a communal activity. The analogy between aesthetic experience and the festive is telling.

Work is something that separates and divides us. For all the cooperation necessitated by joint enterprise and the division of labour in our productive activity, we are still divided as individuals as far as our day to day purposes are concerned. Festive celebration, on the other hand, is clearly distinguished by the fact that here we are not primarily separated but rather gathered together. (RB 40)

Gadamer’s thinking here betrays a further Kantian inflection. The Kantian conception of aesthetic pleasure, as a variety of experience which arises only where the egotistical interests that constitute the commerce of everyday life are not in play, suggests the possibility of a community forming around shared non-hostile pleasures. Gadamer’s account of aesthetic experience is not concerned with a putative kingdom-to-come but with rediscovering and forging the communality that we are. Despite this difference, aesthetic experience establishes for both thinkers a meditative space in and through which something can be occasioned. The underlying point remains. Whereas for Kant it is a change in the disposition of subjective consciousness (i.e., its adoption of an aesthetic attitude) which initiates a better disposition towards the community, for Gadamer it is the participation in a trans-subjective event which effects a change in subjective dispositions towards the community.

When Gadamer argues that “the mystery of festive celebration lies in this suspension of time”, he refers to how festivity suspends work-time. This initiates that “play-time” in which another order of events emerges. It is in such time that an artwork “comes to stand” irrespective of whether it is a painting, drama or symphony. The festive “represents a genuine creation, [for] something drawn from within ourselves takes shape before our eyes in a form that we recognise and experience as a more profound presentation of our own reality” (RB 60). This distances Gadamer from the view that aesthetic experience is a solitary subject’s personal response to an artwork. In the festive—an analogy for the communal dimensions of aesthetic experience—the individual subject comes to stand differently in its relationship to others. Just as the artwork comes to stand in the festival, so too does the artwork bring its spectators to stand as a community: “in the festive the communal spirit that supports us all and transcends each of us individually represents the real power of the festive and indeed the real power of the art work” (RB 63). The festival occasions individuals surpassing their everyday view of themselves as potentially hostile competitors and coming to see themselves as a community formed around a shared interest in what the artwork brings forth. This is an analogy for something more fundamental.

Instrumentalist conceptions of language persuade us that the spoken and written word are but communicative tools, but for Gadamer participation in language acknowledges that an individual is located within a substantive horizon of meanings which transcends subjective consciousness. Pragmatic concerns encourage the forgetting of such interconnectedness but when such individualism is suspended by the festival or, indeed, by the adoption of an aesthetic attitude, the re-discovery of oneself as belonging to an extensive community of shared meanings and involvements becomes possible. The artwork’s communicative capacity awakens the realisation that in as much as I understand myself as being addressed, I must acknowledge that I already belong to something larger than myself. The artwork festivises: it reveals our personal indebtedness to past and future communities of meaning. The thesis that we belong to a hermeneutic collective which is the effective underpinning of art’s ability to communicate is further elaborated in Gadamer’s discussion of the symbol.

6. The Symbol

A discussion of the symbol forms the third aspect of Gadamer’s case that aesthetic experience involves an ex-stasis of the aesthetic subject. It provides a further analogue for the speculative dimension of aesthetic experience. The word “symbol” is a Greek term for a token of remembrance (tessera hospitalis) that could be broken in two so that should a descendent of a former guest enter his house, the co-joined pieces would kindle into an act of recognition. (RB 31). The symbol connotes (explicitly) what we recognise implicitly (RB 31). It is associated with the fragmentary and a promise of completeness which “in turn alludes to beauty and the potentially whole and holy order of things” (RB 32). The symbol is associated, then, with notions of repetition and the hope for an abundance of meaning. Its connection with the speculative is best appreciated by reference to the sign.

If the sign’s proper function is to refer to its referent, it is self-cancelling. The road sign that is so attractive that it distracts from the danger it refers to and causes a new one by prompting drivers to pull up and admire it, does not function properly. The symbol, however, does not refer to something outside itself. It presents its own meaning. The material symbol is, indeed, the place where that meaning becomes present. Yet the symbolically delivered meaning is never given completely. Its meaning is indeterminate. References to the symbol as fragmentary nevertheless anticipate the possibility of wholeness. The speculative dimension of such reasoning resides in the premise that every stated meaning involves bringing forth more than is actually spoken. Resonance and depth depends upon animating the statement’s hermeneutic Hintergrund, lighting up unstated meanings or revealing anticipated ones. The “speculative” capacity of an image or word concerns its ability to sound out or insinuate the unstated nexus of meanings which sustain a given expression but which are not directly given in it. The speculative power of an image or phrase has something in common with the sublime: it illuminates in the spoken or visual image a penumbra of unstated meanings whose presence can be sensed but never fully grasped or conceptualised. Hence, an artwork can always mean more, that is, insinuate a transcendent dimension of meaning which though never exhausted by the symbols which carry it do not exist apart from the symbols that sustain it. The symbol is resonant with the suggestion of meaning because it constantly invokes what is not immediately given. This not-given does not exist apart from the given but is inherent within it. Hence, the hermeneutical sublime, the excess of meaning, the promise of meaning more and meaning something different which is made apparent by the symbol, is held within, is immanent in the given.

7. Presentation, Representation and Appearance

Gadamer’s account of the symbol establishes that artworks are presentational rather than representational. Presentations occasion the meanings they invoke and do not represent a meaning independent of themselves. The argument effects a profound and significant change in the meaning of aesthetic appearance. The representational view of art relegates art to a secondary status: the artwork brings to mind something other than the artwork, an original state of affairs, a specific meaning or reality. Art’s objective co-relative is, accordingly, positioned outside the work so that the work becomes the mere appearance of something else. The presentational account of art is consistent with Gadamer’s phenomenological orientation. If the meaning invoked by a work is not independent of the work that summons it, the work is the occasion of the coming-into-appearance of that meaning. Appearing becomes synonymous with original creation. Aesthetic appearance is not secondary to reality or truth but is the medium through which the work’s truth shows/presents itself. Even as presentation, appearance does retain a certain negativity, though in Gadamer’s hands it has a positive quality. Appearance always hints at a semblance of something incomplete or not yet fully realised. Gadamer’s ontology openly reinforces if not requires such negativity. The claim that each artwork has its own temporality implies that each will never reveal itself completely. The claim that the reception of all art is contemporaneous dictates that what appears to us as meaningful is not necessarily what appeared to a previous generation as meaningful. Like the symbol, appearance is always partial. However, appearance, when considered aesthetically, has the cadence of the symbolic: it alludes to something beyond itself but which nevertheless inheres within it as the yet-to-be-revealed.

Such arguments support Gadamer’s conception of the artwork as that which stands-in-itself. That which comes to stand is intelligible as the presentation of a certain meaning, but because of the indeterminacy of that meaning it retains something of the enigmatic. This eminent quality—a genuine work can never be measured against the original way it was shown (RB 146)—Gadamer also refers to as its hermeneutic identity. The truth of an artwork is not its simple manifestation of meaning but rather the unfathomableness and depth of its meaning (PH 226). Its truth embraces a tension between revelation (what appears) and what is concealed (what has yet to be shown). The artwork does not simply offer “a recognisable surface contour” but has an inner depth of self-sufficiency which Gadamer calls after Heidegger a “standing-in-itself”. In short, the mark of a substantial work is that it veils possibilities of meaning. Such resistance is a stimulus to further interpretation. Substantive works, like significant symbols, have an opaque aspect.

The symbol and its reticence about revealing the withheld aspects of its meaning do not connote something utterly alien to us. The yet-to-be revealed is a dimension of meaning overlooked, forgotten, or not perceived within what has already been shown or grasped. In other words, the power of the symbol resides in its ability to reveal that, unbeknown to ourselves, we are in communion with something much larger than ourselves, that is, horizons of meaning which implicitly sustain reflection and which can, when made explicit, bring us to think quite differently of ourselves. The mystery of the symbol is its promise of transcendence: an effective and affecting symbol reveals that we belong to a hermeneutic community always larger than we envisage. The analogy of the festival, once again, is telling. In the festival, individuated work roles are renounced as we rediscover communal ties. Gadamer’s arguments about play, festival and symbol serve, then, as the basis for his claim that aesthetic experience, our experience of art, is a demonstrable instance of how subjectivity is informed by a substantiality that transcends an individual consciousness.

8. The Issue in Question

Gadamer’s aesthetics involve a variety of interlocking arguments, one of the most significant of which concerns the Sache selbst. The term is difficult to translate, but it refers, loosely speaking, to a work’s subject matter, to what it addresses or to what issue has been placed in question. Philosophical usage of the word evokes phenomenological notions of intentionality: what a work is directed at or points toward. The Sache is not a determinate concept but an area of significant meaningfulness, a constellation of concerns which orbit the affective, conative and cognitive complexities of subject matters such as grief or love. The Sache underpins Gadamer’s claim that aesthetic experience has a significant cognitive content. Subject matters may transcend an individual work in that no one work can exhaust their significance, but as ideas Sachen are not independent of the body of works that exemplify them. If they were ontologically distinct, the idealism Gadamer rejects would be forced on him and he would be compelled to argue that art is representational, refers to a concept beyond itself and, indeed, disappears into that concept once evoked. Art becomes philosophy once more. If, however, art is presentation, as Gadamer insists, a work’s meaning is not independent of it. Art does not therefore copy and thereby represent a subject-matter, but configures a visual or literary space in which a subject-matter can be summoned. Gadamer counters an ancient line of argument that regards art as secondary to, inferior to, and a corrupter of, the real. Contrary to the Platonic tradition, his argument implies that art adds to the reality of its subject-matters. Gadamer’s evaluation of the aesthetic contrasts vividly with Kant’s in this respect. Kant considers aesthetic experience to be indifferent to whether or not its object is real (cf. TM 89). A work’s credibility does not depend on its relationship to an original object or co-relative. Whether what is represented exists or not is inconsequential. What matters is the aesthetic merit of the work, not the strength of its likeness. Should the artwork be harmed, the being of the correlative is unaffected. Gadamer’s presentational aesthetics is, by contrast, profoundly anti-Platonic: a work’s disappearance diminishes the reality of that which presents itself through it.

Although subject matters transcend the individual works which embody them, they do not exist apart from their historical embodiments but, unlike Platonic forms, they do not transcend history but mutate and develop ever new permutations. Any diminishment of art diminishes the historical effectiveness of a given subject-matter. Were John Donne’s love poems all lost, our understanding of the exquisite joys and pains of human love would be irreparably diminished. A semi-Platonic argument about mimesis reinforces a discernibly non-Platonic argument concerning the historically fluid character of subject matters. The argument that artworks direct us to a subject matter irrespective of whether they be realist or abstract constructions, suggests a moment of return and repetition. An issue, question or subject-matter is recognised.

Where something is recognised it has liberated itself from the uniqueness and contingency of the circumstances in which it was encountered. It is a matter of neither of there and then, nor of here and now but it is encountered as the very self-same. Thereby it begins to rise to its permanent essence and is detached from anything like a chance encounter. (RB 120)

This passage strengthens the presentational approach to art but its reference to essences requires clarification.

It is part of the process of recognition that we see things in terms of what is permanent and essential unencumbered by the contingent circumstances in which they were seen before and are seen again. What imitation reveals is the real essence of the thing. (RB 99)

It is not suggested that we see repeatedly the same essence in a work of art. Were this to be suggested, works would become dull and uninformative and make no new contribution to a genre. Gadamer’s insistence is that works should speak directly to and, indeed, transform our self-understanding. Such transformative power implies recognising in a work what was previously understood of a subject-matter, but transformed, as if seen for the first time. The life of a subject matter is one of change and development. Gadamer’s mimesis argument claims that through repeated re-working and re-interpretation a subject matter not only accrues more aspects but also, in so doing, they allow that subject-matter to become more fully what it is. “A work of art belongs so closely to what it is related to that it enriches the being of that as if through a new event of being” (TM 147). The “joy of recognition is rather the joy of knowing more than is already familiar”. Artworks allow subject-matters to become more what they are. In conclusion, Gadamer’s phenomenological aesthetics effectively destroys the Platonic separation of art and reality. Artworks are the sites in which trans-individual both present and transform themselves. Whereas, as we have seen, for Kant the destruction of an artwork has absolutely no bearing upon the objectivities it represents, we can now understand why Gadamer is committed to the opposing view that the destruction of an artwork diminishes the reality of the subject-matters that come forth through it.

9. Art and Language

The strategic centrality of language in Gadamer’s aesthetics is beyond doubt. The ability of artworks to bring things to mind and to hint at unseen meanings is reason to claim that in its speculative capacities, art functions essentially like a language. Yet he acknowledges that linguistic means of expression are inadequate to the task of conveying what occurs within an experience of art.

Language often seems ill-suited to express what we feel. In the face of the overwhelming presence of works of art, the task of expressing in words what they say to us seems like an infinite and hopeless undertaking … One says this, and then one hesitates (TM 401).

Two claims underwrite this scepticism: words do not readily capture the sheer complexity of aesthetic experience, and the finitude of language itself prevents it from capturing the totality of such experience. In other words, the experience of art always just eludes theoretical containment. These are not difficulties with language per se, but rather reflect the limited capacity of the human mind to grasp the totality of its involvements. Yet in Gadamer’s thought these negative aspects incentivise further hermeneutic involvement in aesthetic experience. The incompleteness of any interpretation of an artwork opens us to the possibility that there is always something more or something else that can be said. The temporal nature of experience and its interpretation prevent closure or, in other words, both are by nature always open to further ways of thinking and speaking about art. The argument reinforces the claim that art and its interpretation extend the being of the subject-matters addressed and, furthermore, that aesthetic experience itself has a temporal continuity which is linked to its cumulative character as a mode of Bildung.

The issue about the relationship between art and language is not one of linguistic capture but of finding the appropriate words to open the content of aesthetic experience. What is meant by the notion that an artwork addresses us with a meaning? Although an agent of the linguistic turn of the twentieth century, Gadamer’s reflections on language run counter to many semiotic theories. According to Weinsheimer, “the dualism of signifier and signified has no phenomenological basis” for Gadamer “since in speaking we have no awareness of the world as being distinct from the word” (Weinsheimer 1993, 162). Gadamer speaks of the perfection of the word as being the disappearance of any gap between sense and utterance. Poetry would be the “paradigm case” of an artwork with a clear and immediate presentation of meaning. Yet this is seemingly inconsistent with the notion of a work that “stands-in-itself”. If aspects of its meaning are withheld, sense and utterance are once again separated. The word, it would appear, signifies something beyond itself after all. There is, in other words, a tension between Gadamer wanting to hold that the work of art and the world that comes forth within it are indivisible and saying that the world which a work invokes is larger than the work itself. The poetic word, insofar as it is poetic, stands-in-itself; and yet as word it invokes something beyond itself. Gadamer’s speculative account of meaning collapses, it would seem, into a referential account of signs. Speculatively charged words refer to other signs or patterns of meaning beyond themselves. This suggests that words are self-negating signs: when they function as they should, they disappear into what it is referred to. To conclude that words operate as representational signs seems quite contrary to the account of art functioning in the manner of a symbol. Closer inspection suggests that Gadamer’s account of the speculative account of meaning is presentational after all. Let us restate the question.

If the artwork is an autonomous entity that stands-in-itself and does not refer to anything outside itself, what of art’s speculative capacity to refer to other complexes beyond its immediate horizon? The theological notion of a host can dissolve the inconsistency. On the one hand, for an artwork to have a speculative capacity, it must invoke perimeters of meaning which transcend its own immediate circumstance. Without this, an artwork cannot connect us with frameworks of otherness. Yet this argument threatens to turn Gadamer’s aesthetics into an idealism referring specifically to the idea which the artwork was invoking. Art would once again be subordinated to a vehicle of philosophy. On the other hand, there is something within the constitution of an artwork that makes it resist theoretical reduction. Its invocation of an excess of meaning resists conceptual capture. This brings us to the crux of the matter. Does the excess of meaning which a work can speculatively invoke exist apart from the work that summons them? The speculative dimensions of art suggest that an artwork is indeed a host for that which lies beyond it and yet, at the same time, the transcendent dimensions of meaning (its excess of meaning), remain immanent within the work that invokes them. The presence of the transcendental only manifests itself through the work that hosts it. To put it another way, it is in the work that the transcendental set of meanings achieves its presence. The full resonance of a subject-matter which of course extends well beyond any one work is nevertheless only discernible in the works that host them. Indeed, subject-matters do not exist apart from the works that manifest their presence. Ontologically speaking they inhere within the work. The work is the occasion in which these dimensions of meaning appear and they command the attention of the viewer so long as the work holds them in play. In other words, with regard to the tension between representation and presentation in Gadamer’s position, the speculative charge of artworks does indeed suggest that they function as representational signs always referring beyond the given meaning. Yet this is another way of saying that, ontologically speaking, artworks function as symbols. Considered as a referential sign, what the artwork refers to is not a world independent of the sign but another set of signs. However, such other configurations of meaning may mean more than the signs that invoke them but they are inherent within those very signs. In other words, the very signs which refer speculatively to other dimensions of meaning also function symbolically in that the other horizons of meaning invoked are immanent within the work’s autonomy. As a symbolic host, the artwork holds that which refers beyond itself within itself.

10. Tradition

Art seems to solve the riddle of the temporal core of truth (Adorno). A work that proves itself a “classic” through the ages and remains constant in its effect remains binding, no matter how the interpretations and the criteria of evaluation change in the course of time. (Habermas quoted by Krajewski 2004, 20)

What binds us to a tradition, according to Gadamer, is not a misplaced conservatism but the questions a canon or body of work asks of us. However, the question of tradition is one of the most controversial within Gadamer’s philosophy. It arises because of the way Gadamer establishes individual and collective learning on the acquisition of accrued experiences (Bildung) and practices, rather than upon any methodological norm. His argument exposes the Enlightenment prejudice against prejudice. The liberating and universalising aspects of reason tend to marginalise and chastise both the culturally different and the historically particular as divisive and irrational. Gadamer contends, however, that such an unqualified hypostasisation of reason and its methods has the unfortunate consequence of condemning as methodologically groundless the very valuations that ordinary linguistic and experiential practices are based on. Gadamer is not unsympathetic to Nietzsche, who rejects the claim that humanity is shaped by external necessity. Our existence within the world and our place within it is, metaphysically speaking, utterly contingent. If there is no metaphysical necessity that governs human practices, why should we even ask for a methodological grounding, when language has neither required nor functioned with such a license? Like Wilhelm Dilthey before him, Gadamer insists that nothing justifies and gives meaning to life other than life itself. This is not the invocation of nihilism, for life does not occur in a vacuum. Creatures such as humans, which have no pre-determined essence, only survive by both remembering what has worked well within a practice and by constantly testing it against contemporary needs and circumstances. There is a constant tension between acquired experience and the need to stabilise its lessons and the need to question and thereby destabilise the tried and the tested. All expressive practices depend upon an inheritance of insight and valuation. They are dependent upon accrued learning and experience. Such observations agitate Gadamer’s critics, who see in the unreflective acceptance of the given an irresponsibly conservative privileging of the received, and a wilful blindness to possible repressive or exclusionary practices within inherited modes of operation. In response to such scepticism, it must be acknowledged that inherited practices can, logically speaking, have negative entailments. However, a commitment to tradition, is not a commitment to remaining the same, and nor is it indicative of a wilful refusal to confront the negative entailments within what is transmitted historically. Traditions which are incapable of changing risk becoming outmoded. Traditions are not founded upon core and fixed identities. As vibrant religious and artistic traditions demonstrate, those which are in constant debate over aim and direction often prove engaging and influential. Traditions capable of subjecting their self-understanding to critique constitute continuities of conflict. The importance of received understanding for Gadamer is not its historical provenance but how it opens us towards and engages us with issues in a community of debate. The Cartesian project of subjecting all beliefs to sceptical examination until they can be methodologically affirmed is, in Gadamer’s view, nihilistic. The project is implausible since the range and depth of pre-understanding is so extensive as to be untheorisable. To condemn pre-understanding as unjustifiable because it cannot be methodologically grounded is highly dangerous as it devalues those very insights upon which our initial world-orientation depends. It is not that these insights are instrinsically valuable but that they are essential staging posts in the journeys of understanding they enable. It is the continuous debate and dialogue over practice that enables participants to move on, widen and transform acquired experience. Movement and development is intrinsic to the German word for tradition: Überlieferung has the active connotation of both transmitting and handing something on. What a tradition transmits from age to age are questions, problems and issues. The importance of canonic works is not that they are peerless exemplars of an idiom or style but rather that they raise issues and difficulties in an exemplary way. Traditions can check their self-understanding against their own historical projections. A commitment to tradition is not a commitment to an academic antiquarianism. It is, essentially, a commitment to a field of debate. Tradition is presented as a resource and a provocation for thinking and creativity: whereas sameness is the currency of a conservative conception of tradition, instability, questions and the challenge of otherness are the drivers of Gadamer’s more dialogical concept of tradition.

It has been argued against Gadamer that his revaluation of tradition does not really bring its content to a point of critical reflection. He acknowledges that like any other temporal phenomenon, not all of its vistas can be adequately thematised or articulated. This does not mean, however, that tradition is beyond critical appraisal. Traditions can, as Pannenberg argues, check their normative assumptions against their self-projections. Other critics suggest that Gadamer’s approach to tradition and aesthetics is overtly Classical in its preoccupation with forms that maintain a continuity through time rather than radically alter themselves. It does not allow for those radical intrusions or revolutionary interjections which alter the perceptual paradigm of an age. The counter-objection is not only that the charge overlooks Gadamer’s embrace of Heidegger’s quite radical phenomenological reworking of the Classical tradition, but also the fact that for one paradigm to replace another, there must be a certain relation between them. One must address an absence, fulfil an unseen possibility or a lack, within the other. Cubism, for example, implies a visual orientation quite different from realism, but both idioms belong to a common tradition in that they strive to show us something of the real. Without a degree of continuity with tradition, any radical emergence would have no bearing upon the received and thereby lack the ability to call into question received notions and understanding. It is, however, precisely the challenge of the different and the other which is the driver of Gadamer’s dialogical conception of tradition. It is a conception which is in part modernistic: tradition is presented as being in constant debate with itself. Its renewal demands change and transformation. Furthermore, a virtue of this dialogical conception of tradition is that it is not culturally specific. Because its main focus is on the subject-matters which different cultural practices address, it offers a model of cognitive engagement that can operate between distinct traditions rather than in just any one.

11. Paradox of the In-between

There is a creative tension at play within Gadamer’s aesthetic thinking. On the one hand, Gadamer stalwartly defends the autonomy of the artwork and, on the other, despite his resistance to any subsumption of art within philosophy, he insists that aesthetics should be absorbed within hermeneutics, which is for the most part understood as a theoretical enterprise. This tension replicates aspects of the so-called hermeneutic circle. Schleiermacher, for example, argues that it is only possible to grasp an individual’s personal utterances if one can understand the general structure of the language which that individual operates within. Conversely, general structures are only intelligible in terms of particular exemplifying utterances. Wilhelm Dilthey operates within a similar part-whole structure, namely, an individual’s personal experiences will mean little to the reader unless they can be contextualised within a historical context. A movement between part and whole also takes place in Gadamer’s thinking. The artwork is initially presented in its singularity. But then, the particular is illuminated by being brought under a subject-matter. To engage with artworks discursively is to bring generalisations about a work to bear, placing it in a wider context of associations. The movement to the wider level of generalisation also returns the spectator to the particular, since generalisation enables an understanding of what is singular about a work by locating it within a broader background. This double hermeneutic movement is highly characteristic of Gadamer’s aesthetic. It recognises that the cognitive dimension of aesthetic experience is like all linguistic experience both centrifugal and centripetal in nature. When a work addresses us its impact is centrifugal: it upsets and transforms what we customarily recognise. It awakens us to the hermeneutical sublime, to what lies beyond but nevertheless shapes our normal range of understanding. Thus, Gadamer can argue that, “something is a poetic structure when everything pre-structured is taken up into a new, unique form … as if it were being said for the first time to us in particular” (GW 8, 62). Yet this estranging moment initiates a centripetal return, a homecoming. “The poem and the art of language generally as a heard or written text is always … something like a recognition in every single word” (GW 8, 62). Yet the question remains: is the passage from the immediacy of the given artwork to theoretical contemplations about its subject matter not an instance of moving from the particular givenness of a work to a more abstract level of reflection about its subject-matter? Does not the contemplative movement away from the work betray its particularity and suggest that the sense of a work lies beyond it, in its concept? Were Gadamer to have fallen into this impasse, an idealist and representationalist account of art would be forced upon him. The vehemence of his resistance to these stances suggests that something other than a simple shift from the particular immediacy of a work to a theoretical contemplation of its content must be at play.

The accusation of inconsistency requires the assumption that the aesthetic experience of a work on the one hand and its contemplation on the other, are separable. However, it is in Gadamer’s mind part of an intense experience that it impels us towards seeking to bring it into words. Experience endeavours to bring itself into words. These words will by virtue of their semantic associations place the experience in a wider context (the centrifugal) and at the same time these words will because of their poetic capacity for singularity make the experience clearer and more distinct.

Experience is not wordless to begin with, subsequently becoming an object of reflection by being named, by being subsumed under the universality of the word. Rather experience itself seeks and finds words that express it. We seek the right word—i.e., the word that really belongs to the thing (or experience) so that in it the thing comes into language. (TM 417)

This suggests that Gadamer is not applying a hermeneutic method to aesthetic experience but seeking to expose the hermeneutical movement from part to whole within aesthetic experience. In other words, the claim that aesthetics should be taken up within hermeneutics is not an attempt to reduce aesthetics to another idiom. It announces an endeavour to articulate the hermeneutic dynamic of aesthetic experience itself. Let us briefly recapitulate the argument.

The tension in Gadamer’s position arises from (1) asserting art’s autonomy and (2) demanding that aesthetics be subsumed within hermeneutics. Undoubtedly, the weight of argument is on the latter. He systematically criticises Kantian aesthetics for its narrow-minded concentration on the subjectivity of momentary pleasures and offers in its place a substantial reconstruction of the cognitive content of art’s address. In other words, Gadamer switches the status of autonomy from the sensible irreducibility of a work to its hermeneutic autonomy. This entails the argument that a work which challenges our outlook does so because it is enigmatic by nature: it gives rise to difficulties of meaning and interpretation which cannot be explained away by a more fundamental level of understanding. The autonomous work that stands in itself is a work that both presents a meaning and at the same time holds something back. It is in other words always pointing beyond itself but within itself. This substantiates Gadamer’s claim that the hermeneutical constitution of an autonomous work resists theoretical reduction. In the essay “Word and Picture”, he expresses sympathy with Schleiermacher’s remark, “I hate all theory that does not grow out of practice” (GW 8, 374). However, as has been argued, the transcendent dimensions of meaning which a work speculatively invokes are not outside the work but immanent within it. In other words, we do not need a special hermeneutic method to access the withheld but just a deeper, more attentive contemplative acquaintance. When Gadamer speaks of being attentive to what an artwork says, of discerning its enigmatic quality and of becoming aware of its speculative resonances, he is indeed speaking in a hermeneutical idiom, but this is most clearly not a case of Gadamer submitting aesthetic experience to an externally derived theory. To the contrary, Gadamer is trying to draw out the hermeneutical dynamics of aesthetic experience itself. Thus the tension between the immediacy of experience and reflection upon the content of that experience is not a tension between experience on the one hand and theory on the other. It is a tension within aesthetic experience between what an artwork invokes of its subject-matter and how what is invoked changes the character of that which invokes it. What hermeneutical reflection reveals of aesthetic experience is nothing extraneous to such experience but a further disclosure of what is held within it. To conclude, if aesthetic experience is hermeneutical in that artworks speculatively illuminate meanings beyond what is immediately disclosed, hermeneutical experience should equally be taken up by aesthetics in that subject-matters only manifest their presence in the singular and particular.


Gadamer Bibliographies

Two Gadamer bibliographies are worthy of note. Lewis Edwin Hahn’s The Philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer, Chicago, Open Court, 1993 has a “Selected Gadamer Bibliography” with five sections. The second bibliography is a recently extended edition of Etsuro Makita’s excellent Gadamer Bibliographie, Frankfurt, Lang, 1995.

Primary Literature

In German

  • Dutt, Carsten (ed.), 1993, Hermeneutik-Ästhetik-Praktische Philosophie: Hans-Georg Gadamer im Gespräche, Heidelberg: C. Winer Universitäts Verlag.
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 1975, Wahrheit und Methode, Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr.
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 1993 (GW), Gesammelte Werke (9 Bände), Tübingen: (UTB) Mohr Siebeck.
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 1993 (GW 8), Kunst als Aussage (Gesammelte Werke Band 8), Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).

In English

  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 1976 (PH), Philosophical Hermeneutics, D. Linge (ed.), Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 1986 (RB), The Relevance of the Beautiful, London: Cambridge University Press.
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 1989 (TM), Truth and Method, London: Sheed and Ward.
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 1992, On Education, Poetry and History, Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 1994, Literature and Philosophy in Dialogue, Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 1994 (HW), Heidegger’s Ways, Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Palmer, E. (trans.), 2001, Gadamer in Conversation: Reflections and Commentary, English translation of Dutt (ed.) 1993, New Haven: Yale University Press.

Secondary Literature

  • Arthos, John. 2014, Gadamer’s poetics. A Critique of Modern Aesthetics, Bloomsbury Studies in Continental Philosophy
  • Bruns, Gerald, 1992, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern, New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Clark, Timothy, 2008, The Poetics of Singularity, The Counter-Culturalist Turn in Heidegger, Derrida, Blanchot and the later Gadamer, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Connor, Steven, 1992, “Modernism and Postmodernism” in Cooper, 1992, pp. 288–293.
  • Cooper, David E., 1992, A Companion to Aesthetics, Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Davey, Nicholas, 2006, Unquiet Understanding, Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Davey, Nicholas, 2013, Unfinished Worlds, Hermeneutics, Aesthetics and Gadamer, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
  • Davey, Nicholas, 2016, "Word, Image, and Concept", in Blackwell Companion to Hermeneutics, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Dostal, Robert J., 2002, The Cambridge Companion to Gadamer, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Gjesdal,Kristin, 2009, Gadamer and the Legacy of German Idealism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Grondin, Jean, 1995, Sources of Hermeneutics, Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Harrington, Austin, 2004, Art and Social Theory: Sociological Arguments in Aesthetics, Cambridge: Polity.
  • Heywood, Ian, 1997, Social Theories of Art: A Critique, London: Macmillan.
  • Krajewski, Bruce, 2004, Gadamer’s Repercussions: Reconsidering Philosophical Hermeneutics, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Lawn, Chris, 2006, Gadamer: A Guide for the Perplexed, London and New York: Continuum.
  • Schmidt,Dennis, 2012, Between Word and Image, Heidegger, Klee and Gadamer on Gesture and Genesis, Bloomington, Indiana University Press.
  • Szondi, Peter, 1995, Introduction to Literary Hermeneutics, London: Cambridge University Press.
  • Weinsheimer, Joel, 1991, Philosophical Hermeneutics and Literary Theory, New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Wolff, Janet, 1975, Hermeneutic Philosophy and the Sociology of Art, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.


  • 美学不是从艺术中得出的具体类型的主观乐趣的研究。这是一个客观地告诉我们主观艺术意识的研究。
  • 解释学美学旨在突破美学意识的愉悦分心,以揭示其中表现出来的文化和语言现实。
  • 解释学美学的前提是以现象学的方式参与艺术的主题,而不是无私的分离。
  • 解释学美学认为美学的外表并不是真正的分心,而是作为真实科目揭示自己的手段。它推翻了艺术品脱离现实的观念。
  • 解释学美学是对话的。它认识到从业者和理论家分享了一个主题,淡化艺术中的理论/实践部门。解释是工作实现的手段。
  • 解释学美学不是艺术本身的理论,更多的是一套实用的沉思笔记,用于增强与艺术的相遇。解构学美学的结束不是达成艺术的概念,而是加深我们的艺术经验。在解构学的美学中,理论被部署来深化艺术品的思考,而不是对自己的性质进行分类。
  • 伽达默尔的美学深深地尊重艺术破坏和挑战习惯期望的能力。它将艺术的伦理意义归功于能够揭示固定文化期望的局限性,并向另一方展开不同观点。



伽达默尔的美学培养了对于给定的神秘感和意想不到的有意义的折射的注意。伽达默尔的观点是多种多样的,引起读者的审美注意力,而不是对美学方面进行破坏性宣言。他们拥抱Rilke和塞拉尼诗人的广泛阅读以及广泛的战略演习,捍卫审美和解释学判断的认知地位。诠释学(解读的艺术和纪律),其中伽达默尔是二十世纪最强大的指数之一,深深参与了对视觉和文学艺术理解的合法性的哲学争议。它不反对“科学”的知识模式,而是抵制其文化特权。Bildung),其在艺术中取向和研磨声音判断。对话及其不可预知的转折恰恰是解释学美学中的中心线。Carsten Dutt和Gadamer之间的晚交会(Dutt 1993,61-67)提供了一个温和的入口,阐述哲学解释学如何处理艺术和审美经验。

伽达默尔坚持认为,值得被称为艺术品的图片或图像有权立即影响我们。(GW 8,374)。艺术对我们说 声称艺术作品“向某人说话”(帕尔默,2001年,70年代)暗示惊奇,震惊,有时甚至因为工作中受到的影响而被迫沮丧,并被迫对其声明作出反思自己和其他人变得更加容易理解。伽达默尔认为,“艺术的经验是一种意义的经验,因此,这种经验是理解所带来的”(Palmer,2001,70)。那么在这个程度上,“美学就被解释学所吸收”(Palmer,2001,76)。这使得伽达默尔从更传统的美学理由向您提供特殊的乐趣。这篇文章美丽的相关性表明,“无论是在剧院,音乐厅还是孤独阅读的隐藏中,从安全的距离沉迷于审美或文化享受的旁观者根本不存在”(RB 130)。一个让自己成为旁观者的人误解自己。如果把艺术作品视为脱离现实压力,通过享受虚假的自由来解决自己的魅力,美学自我就会放纵逃避主义“(RB130)。这些言论与伽达默尔从狄尔泰的Erlebniss-Ästhetik的想法离婚其中艺术作品被宣布为独立于他们的认知内容而为自己享有的强烈但瞬间体验的场所。美学反应的享乐主义个性化有两个疏远的后果。一方面,审美经验纯粹主观的判断从个人的社会网络中分辨出来,从社会共享的角度来看,可以照亮个人经验。另一方面,通过将主观经验作为社会产品呈现,使个人的经验成为尝试,使个人从经验中进一步疏离,将其转化为第三人称,他或她可能不赞同或认可:个人的美丽体验可能突然变成阶级偏见的实施。与Dilthey(1833-1911)相反,伽达默尔防守Erfahrungs-Ästhetik声称,像重要的生活经验,我们与艺术品的关系是深刻和持续的:我们重新审视他们,这样做的理解不断重新谈判。伽达默尔谈到这种经历的“不连贯性 ”(Unabschliessbarkeit allerer Erfahrung,Palmer,2001,66)。由于其认知运动,它永远是开放的。这种经验的累积性质是Bildung(通过经验形成和学习)的一个例子,因此是成为(Werden的生活过程


伽达默尔反对美学理想主义的支持是由于艺术“不能在概念知识方面得到令人满意的翻译”(RB 69)。一项工作不仅仅是指独立于自身的意义。它的意义不能被理解为可以简单地转移到另一个成语的方式。实际上,由于它引用了许多解释,艺术品获得了不可能被任何可能的实现所消除的可能意义的理想(RB 146)。因此,这项工作是一个不能被其他任何东西取而代之的自治,换句话说,这项工作总是超出其读数,其含义总是超过其解释。这与伽达默尔的论文是一致的,即“超越知识”,同样地,语言上的超越语言意识。

一个重要的后果来自于此,即伽达默尔将艺术视为展示(darstellen)而不是代表性的(vorstellen)。在“文字和图画”(1992)中,他声称他试图“破坏图片只是一个副本”(GW 8,374)。作为一种工作,它不代表其他任何东西,它的含义只能在自我介绍中脱颖而出。然而,这种紧迫的意义从来没有得到完全的体现,也没有得到任何的认识。这与艺术最终本质是一致的“当一件艺术品真正掌握着我们的时候,我们看不到一个与我们对立的对象,希望通过它看到一个预期的概念意义...工作是一个Ereigniss - 事实上,“把我们'本身。它震动了我们,它打倒了我们,建立了一个自己的世界,我们被绘制了“(Palmer,2001,71)。然而,揭示的仍然是工作的一个方面,当它看起来驱使他人进入背景。伽达默尔美学中的披露和隐藏并不是相反的,而是互相依赖的:披露的揭示了披露中未公开的存在。“真是在那里(Da-sein)的艺术作品,我们的理解经历了深刻和不可思议的意义“(Palmer 2001,72)。声称一个工作的意义永远不能完全实现的是一个关于投机性的语言类比的支持。艺术有一种语言,它的符号和符号功能就像语义单元。伽达默尔对每个单词中包含的意义的生活虚拟性,乘法的内在维度进行评论。因此,语言不是代表(mimesis)一组预先给定的意义,但是一种“意义不变的语言”(Palmer,2001,67)。语言表达的有限性是没有话语能够完成的。没有什么出现在一个意思,只是提供给我们(PH 103)。“构成语言的唯一的一件事就是一个字可以引向另一个词,每个单词都可以被传唤,而且在这方面可以打开进一步的发展进程”(Palmer,2001,67)。没有意义可以完全揭示。因为我们可以重复参观艺术品,所以最初披露的意义可以扩大或改变。任何给定意义披露的部分性质增强而不是减少工作中意义的可能性。“艺术的工作是以无限的方式开放,永远不会有新意义的整合”(PH 98),而且,




所有的自我知识都来自历史上预先给予的,黑格尔我们称之为“实质”,因为它是所有主观意图和行为的基础,因此既规定和限制了理解任何历史变化传统的一切可能性。这几乎定义了哲学解释学的目的:它的任务是回溯黑格尔思想现象学的道路,直到我们发现所有这些主观的决定它的实质性。(TM 302)


“物质”被理解为支持我们的东西,虽然它不是反映意识的光,但它是永远不能被完全阐明的东西,尽管所有的清晰,意识,表达和沟通的存在是绝对必要的。(RB 78)

揭示美学经验的本体论基础并不会破坏伽达默尔对艺术立场的首要地位。目的是通过揭示美学经验如何参与到比自身更大的事物上,并且确实反映(窥视)本身更大的现实性,来证明主观经验的认知合法性美学经验表达跨个体现象学结构的能力解释了实质意义和对他的投机态度。伽达默尔的美学正好与经验有关 什么是更抽象的概念的基础。这不是命名或描述体现在审美经验中的现实,而是试图说出个人所拥有的经验。伽达默尔的思考开始于艺术主张的即时性,同时代的性质,然后探讨影响这一主张的经验的因素。目的看起来似乎是矛盾的:要了解哪些形状,谎言超越,而只是在美学经验中“展现”自己。


在所有与我们说话的事情中,最直接的就是艺术品(PH 95)。将伽达默尔的解释学探究引向美学体验的艺术的现象直觉似乎从解释学的角度来看似乎是一个有前途的起点。它宣布了一种非常规的解释学方法:“如果我们将解释学的任务定义为将个人或历史距离与心灵之间的距离联系在一起,那么艺术的经验似乎完全不在它的[解释学]来源之外”(PH 95 / 97)。然而,伽达默尔并没有用这种方式来定义解释学。艺术意图的重建不是形成他的调查对象,而是关于艺术品索赔的直接性的信息的问题。对我们(PH 98)。需要解释学的参与,因为所传达的意义永远不能完全和明确。它需要解释参与。解释学是必需的,只要有有限的思想转换。意义的历史条件和没有任何意义的事实完全有必要解释我们对艺术品的经验。解释的任务是探索在工作经验中所持有的可能意义,并借鉴他们以使经验更加完整。


伽达默尔关于艺术和戏剧之间关系的讨论不应该等于任何论证,即艺术是一种微不足道的游戏或消遣。他遵循席勒美学教育的先例认为艺术品是戏剧性的,因为 他们放置了一些东西根本的主题是,审美意识远不是独立的,而是被吸引到比主观意识显而易见的东西更大的戏剧中。与戏剧和事实上的体育赛事相似,意味着艺术是最终的意识,是意识投降和参与的场合。观众参与(像许多艺术研究)要求沉浸在个人意识不能充分预测或控制的场合。游戏和艺术品都是自我运动的一种形式,需要观众与其所带来的一致(RB 23)。伽达默尔认为“游戏的首要地位”超过意识:“玩家只是演戏的演出方式”(TM 92,98)。参与让个体玩家脱身。个人主题是在游戏中成功,满足或损失。比喻,艺术的作品也是“演奏”。一个自主的事件成立,有一些事情就是自己的立场,“改变所有的立场”(RB 25)。像古代一样theoros,观众不仅参与艺术品的事件,而且还可能被它改造(RB 24)。


总体上的论据不是说游戏或艺术作品不能减少到意图,材料或惯例,而是每个元素在游戏或在艺术实践中被采纳时都是自己的 这是在一场比赛中吸引观众,球员,意图,设备和会议的演出。这促进了艺术作为交际活动的互动视角。它为艺术提供了一个对话的维度。作品涉及多个声音因为,事实上,字表示暗示。此外,艺术作为一个事件的概念需要与唯一基于主体性的美学经验的标准叙述不同的本体论结构。艺术品不是完全独立于观众的对象,而是以某种方式给予观众个人享受。相反,游戏的比喻表明,观众的行为有助于通过将其中的内容带入其中来增强艺术品的存在,从而更好地实现。观众就像艺术家在开发艺术活动的主题方面发挥关键作用一样多。美学观众被她的艺术经验所吸引,吸收了戏剧,并可能由观众帮助构成的艺术变化。

康德把审美态度的非目的理性归结为伽达默尔,把自己归功于艺术实践本身的戏剧化过程。艺术和游戏都会分享一个不受任何具体目标束缚的动作,而不是为了自己而实现自己(TM 103):没有人知道游戏如何结束,没有人知道什么结局作品(草坪2006,91)。然而,很明显的是,当艺术品或游戏在游戏中是重要的时候发生的。通常违背自己的愿望和做事,旁观者被超越日常意识界限的重大而相应的事件所接管,除了提出异议之外,没有目的。



工作是分离和分割我们的东西。对于联合企业所需的所有合作和我们生产活动中的分工,我们在日常关系方面仍然分为个人。另一方面,节日庆祝活动显然是因为这样一个事实,我们并不是主要分开,而是聚集在一起。(RB 40)


当伽达默尔认为“节日庆典的奥秘在于暂停时间”时,他指的是节日如何暂停工作时间。这启动了另一个事件顺序出现的“播放时间”。无论是绘画,戏剧还是交响乐,艺术品都在这样的时代。节日“代表着一种真正的创作,因为我们内心所吸取的东西在我们眼前形成了一种我们承认和体验作为对我们自己现实的更深刻的介绍的形式”(RB 60)。这样,伽达默尔认为美学经验是一个单独的主题对艺术品的个人反应。在节日中,对于审美经验的社区层面的类比 - 个人主体与其他人的关系不同。正如艺术品在节日中一样,艺术作品也让观众成为一个社区:“在欢乐的共同精神,支持我们所有人,超越我们每个人个人代表了节日的真正力量,确实是艺术作品的真正力量“(RB 63)。节日的场合,个人超越自己的日常观点,成为潜在的敌对竞争对手,并将自己看成是围绕着艺术品带来的共同兴趣而组建的社区。这是一个比较根本的事情。“节日的共同精神,支持我们所有人,超越我们每个人个人代表节日的真正力量,真正的艺术作品的真正的力量”(RB 63)。节日的场合,个人超越自己的日常观点,成为潜在的敌对竞争对手,并将自己看成是围绕着艺术品带来的共同兴趣而组建的社区。这是一个比较根本的事情。“节日的共同精神,支持我们所有人,超越我们每个人个人代表节日的真正力量,真正的艺术作品的真正的力量”(RB 63)。节日的场合,个人超越自己的日常观点,成为潜在的敌对竞争对手,并将自己看成是围绕着艺术品带来的共同兴趣而组建的社区。这是一个比较根本的事情。

语言学的观念使我们说出口语和书面语言只是交际工具,但对于伽达默尔语言的参与,承认个人位于超越主观意识的意义的实质范围之内。务实的担忧鼓励忘记这种相互关联,但是当这种个人主义被节日暂停,或者实际上采用审美态度时,重新发现自己属于广泛的共同意义和参与的社区成为可能。艺术品的交际能力唤醒了认识到,尽管我理解自己被解决,我必须承认,我已经属于比我自己更大的东西。艺术品进行 庆祝活动:它揭示了我们对过去和未来社会意义的个人债务。我们属于解释学集体的论文,是伽达默尔对符号的讨论中进一步阐述的,这是艺术交流能力的有效基础。


对符号的讨论形成了伽达默尔案例的第三个方面,即美学经验涉及审美主体的。。。它为审美经验的投机维度提供了进一步的模拟。“符号”一词是一个希腊术语,用于纪念记忆(tessera hospitalis)),可能会被打破两个,所以如果前任客人的后裔进入他的房子,共同的作品将引起认可的行为。(RB 31)。这个符号意味着(明确地)我们隐含的认识(RB 31)。它与零碎和完全的承诺相关联,“反过来暗示着美丽和潜在的整体和圣洁的秩序”(RB 32)。这个符号与重复的概念和丰富意义的希望相关联。与投机者的联系最好通过参考标志。




这样的观点支持伽达默尔对艺术品的概念,就像它本身那样。表现出来的是可以理解为表达某种意义,但由于这种意义的不确定性,它保留了一些神秘的东西。这个杰出的品质 - 一个真正的工作,永远不能以原来的方式来衡量(RB 146) - 伽马德也指的是它的解释学认同。艺术品的真实性不是其意义的简单表现,而是其意义的不可靠性和深度(PH 226)。它的真理包含启示之间的紧张(出现的)和隐藏的(什么还没有显示)。艺术品不仅仅是提供“可识别的表面轮廓”,而是具有内部自给自足的深度,伽达默尔在海德格尔之后称之为“站立在本身”。简而言之,大量工作的标志是它掩饰了意义的可能性。这种阻力是进一步解释的刺激。实质的作品,像有意义的符号,有一个不透明的方面。



伽达默尔的美学涉及到各种各样的互动论证,其中最重要的一个涉及到Sache selbst这个词很难翻译,但它是松散地指的是一个作品的主题,它所解决的内容或者是什么问题。这个词的哲学用法唤起了故意的现象学概念:一件工作是针对或指向什么。实事不是一个确定的概念,而是显著有意义的领域,关注星座,其轨道的情感,意动和认知题材,如悲伤或爱的复杂性。该 实事支持伽达默尔认为美学经验具有重要的认知内容。主题事项可能超越个人的工作,因为没有一项工作可以用尽其意义,而是思想的神秘不是独立于体现其作品的作品。如果他们在本体论上是独一无二的,伽达默尔拒绝的理想主义将被迫对他而言,他将不得不认为艺术是代表性的,指的是超越自己的概念,实际上消失在这个概念中。艺术再次成为哲学。然而,如果伽达默尔坚持认为,艺术是呈现的,那么作品的意义就不是独立的。因此,艺术不会复制,从而代表主题,而是配置可以传唤主题的视觉或文学空间。伽达默尔反对一种古老的论据,将艺术视为真实的次要,劣等和腐败者。与柏拉图式的传统相反,他的论点意味着艺术增添 对其主题的现实。伽达默尔对美学的评价在这方面与康德的生动对比。康德认为美学经验对其物体是否真实无动于衷(参见TM89)。工作的可信度不取决于它与原始对象或共同对象的关系。代表是否存在是无关紧要的。重要的是工作的美学价值,而不是其相似的力量。如果艺术品受到伤害,相关的是不受影响的。相反,伽达默尔的演讲美学深刻地反对柏拉图式:一件作品的消失减弱了通过它产生的现实。


如果认识到某些东西,就会从遇到的情况的独特性和可及性中解脱出来。这是既不是那里的,也不是现在的,也不是现在的事情,而是与自己相同的。因此,它开始变成其永恒的本质,并且与任何机会相遇脱离。(RB 120)


这是承认过程的一部分,我们看到的事情是永久性和根本性的,不受其他情况的影响,再次被看到。什么模仿揭示的东西是真正的本质。(RB 99)

不建议我们在艺术作品中反复看到同样的本质。如果要这样做,作品将变得沉闷和不知情,并且不会对一个类型做出新的贡献。伽达默尔的坚持是,作品应该直接和直接地转化我们的自我理解。这种变革的力量意味着在工作中承认以前对主题事项的理解,但是被转化,就像第一次看到的那样。主题的生命是变化与发展之一。伽达默尔的mimesis论据声称,通过反复重新工作和重新解释,一个主题不仅仅是积累了更多的方面,而且在这样做的时候,它们允许这个主题变得更加完整。“一件艺术作品与其丰富的东西如此密切相关,就像通过一个新的事件一样”(TM 147)。“认识的快乐是比已经熟悉的更多的知识的乐趣”。艺术品允许主题事项变得更多。总之,伽达默尔的现象学美学有效地破坏了柏拉图式的艺术与现实的分离。艺术品是跨个体既存在又转变自己的网站。而正如我们所看到的那样,对于康德而言,艺术品的破坏对它所代表的客观性绝对没有影响,



语言通常似乎不适合表达我们的感受。面对艺术作品的压倒性存在,用言辞表达他们对我们的看法的任务似乎是一种无限无望的事业。一个人说,然后一个犹豫(TM 401)。

两个主张承认了这种怀疑:言语不容易捕捉审美经验的纯粹复杂性,语言本身的有限性阻止了这种经验的整体。换句话说,艺术的经验总是不包括理论的遏制。这些并不是语言本身的困难 而是反映了人类思维能力的有限性,把握了整个人的参与。然而,在伽达默尔的思想中,这些消极方面激励了进一步的解释学参与审美经验。对艺术品的任何解释的不完整性使我们看到总是有更多的东西或其他可以说的东西的可能性。经验的时间性质及其解释阻止封闭,换句话说,这两者本质上总是可以进一步的思考和谈论艺术的方式。这个论点强调了艺术及其解释扩展了所处理的主题的存在,此外,审美经验本身具有与其累积性作为Bildung模式相关联的时间连续性

关于艺术和语言之间的关系的问题不是语言学的捕捉,而是找到适当的词来打开美学体验的内容。一个艺术品对我们有意义的概念是什么意思?虽然二十世纪语言转向的代理人,伽达默尔对语言的反思与许多符号学理论背道而驰。根据温斯海默的说法,“伽达默尔的”特征和二义性没有现象学基础“,因为在说我们没有意识到世界不同于”(Weinsheimer 1993,162)“。伽达默尔说这个词的完美性是感觉和话语之间的任何差距的消失。诗歌将是艺术品的“范式案例”,具有清晰明确的意义。然而,这似乎与“立场本身”的作品的概念不一致。如果其含义的方面被拒绝,感觉和话语再次分离。这个词会显现出来,这意味着超乎自己的东西。换句话说,伽达默尔希望认为艺术作品和其中所出现的世界是不可分割的,并且说工作所涉及的世界大于工作本身。诗意的词,只要是诗意的,就是自己的; 但是,作为一个词,它援引了一些超越自己的东西 伽达默尔的意图崩溃的投机性帐户,似乎被认为是对标志的引用。有意义的词语是指超越自己的其他意义或意图模式。这表明这个词是自我否定的标志:当他们按照自己的意图运作时,它们就会消失于所谓的。得出结论,词语作为代表性的迹象似乎与艺术以符号的方式运作的叙述相反。更仔细的检查表明,伽达默尔对于意义的投机性叙述的叙述毕竟是表现的。让我们重申这个问题。

如果艺术作品是一个独立的实体,它本身就是自主的,也不指自己以外的任何东西,那么艺术的投机能力是否超出了它的视野呢?主持人的神学观念可以解决不一致之处。一方面,艺术品具有投机能力,必须引用超越自身直接环境的意义。没有这个,艺术品就不能用我们的框架来连接我们。然而,这个观点威胁到将伽达默尔的美学变成一种专门针对这个想法的理想主义 艺术品正在调用。艺术将再次从属于哲学哲学。另一方面,在艺术品的宪法中有一些东西使它抵制理论上的减少。其引用过多的意思抵制了概念的捕捉。这使我们成为事情的症结所在。除了传唤他们的工作外,工作可以推测的过多意义存在吗?艺术的投机方面表明,艺术品确实是一个艺术品的主持人,而在它之外,而在同一时间,意义的超越维度(其超出意义)在调用它们的工作中仍然是内在的。超验的存在只能通过承载它的工作来体现。换一种方式,超越意义的一套意义实现了它的存在。然而,主题的全面共鸣当然远远超出了任何一项工作,但只能在托管他们的作品中被看出。事实上,除了展示其存在的作品之外,主题还不存在。在本体论上,他们在工作之内。这些工作是这些意义上的出现的场合,只要这些工作保持在起作用,它们就会引起观众的注意。换句话说,关于伽达默尔立场的表现与表达之间的紧张关系,艺术品的投机指控确实表明它们作为代表性标志,始终超出了给定的含义。然而,这是另一种说法,就本体论而言,艺术品作为符号。作为参考标志,艺术品所指的不是独立于标志的世界,而是另一套标志。然而,这种意义的其他配置可能意味着比引用它们的标志更多,但它们在那些非常标志中是固有的。换句话说,推测意义上的意义的其他方面的迹象也象征性地起作用,因为在工作的自主权中所援引的意义的另一个视野是内在的。作为一个象征性的主持人,艺术家认为它本身就是超越本身的。换句话说,推测意义上的意义的其他方面的迹象也象征性地起作用,因为在工作的自主权中所援引的意义的另一个视野是内在的。作为一个象征性的主持人,艺术家认为它本身就是超越本身的。换句话说,推测意义上的意义的其他方面的迹象也象征性地起作用,因为在工作的自主权中所援引的意义的另一个视野是内在的。作为一个象征性的主持人,艺术家认为它本身就是超越本身的。



伽达默尔认为,根据伽达默尔的观点,我们对传统有什么约束力,这不是一个错误的保守主义,而是一个正确的工作问题。然而,传统的问题是伽达默尔哲学中最有争议的问题之一。这是因为伽达默尔在获得积累的经验方面建立个人和集体学习的方式(Bildung)和做法,而不是任何方法学规范。他的观点揭示了启蒙运动对偏见的偏见。理性的解放和普遍化的方面倾向于将文化差异和历史特有的边缘化和惩罚分为分裂和非理性。然而,伽达默尔认为,这种不合理的理性及其方法的沉默,是以普遍的语言和经验实践为基础的谴责作为方法论无根据的不幸后果。伽达默尔对尼采不满意,尼采反对人类被外部需要所塑造。我们在世界和我们内部的存在在形而上学上是完全或有的。如果没有管理人类习俗的形而上学必要性,为什么我们甚至要求方法论的基础,语言既不要求也不具有这种许可证的功能?像在他面前的威廉·狄尔泰(Wilhelm Dilthey),伽达默尔坚持认为,除生命本身以外,没有任何理由和意义。这不是虚无主义的追求,因为生活并不是在真空中发生的。没有预先确定的本质的人类的生物只能通过记住在实践中运作良好并通过不断测试当代需求和情况来生存。所获得的经验与需要稳定其教训和需要质疑,从而破坏经过试验和测试的稳定性之间存在着不断的紧张关系。所有表现的做法都取决于洞察力和估价的继承。他们依赖于积累的学习和经验。这样的观察结果激发了伽达默尔的评论家们的观点,他们以无反射的态度接受了对所接受的不负责任的保守的特权,以及对继承的经营模式中可能的镇压或排斥行为的故意的盲目性。为了回应这种怀疑,必须承认,继承的做法在逻辑上可能具有负面的意义。然而,对传统的承诺不是保持一致的承诺,也不表示故意拒绝在历史上传播的负面任务。不能改变风险的传统过时。传统不是建立在核心和固定的身份之上的。充满活力的宗教和艺术传统表明,那些在目标和方向上不断争论的人往往表现出有吸引力和影响力。能够使自己的理解受到批评的传统构成冲突的连续性。对伽达默尔的接受理解的重要性不是它的历史来源,而是它如何打开我们,并使我们与一个辩论的问题融合在一起。所有信仰受到怀疑审查的笛卡尔项目,直到他们可以被方法论证实是伽达默尔认为是虚无主义的。该项目是不可信的,因为前期理解的范围和深度是如此广泛,不可抗拒。谴责前期理解是不合理的,因为它不能以方法论为根据,是非常危险的,因为它贬低了我们初始世界取向所依赖的那些见解。这些见解并不是内在的价值,而是他们在理解旅程中必不可少的阶段。不断的辩论和实践对话,使参与者能够继续,扩大和改造所获得的经验。运动与发展是德国传统语言所固有的:Überlieferung具有传播和传递某些东西的积极内涵。传统从年龄到年龄的都是问题,问题和问题。佳能作品的重要性不在于他们是一个成语或风格的无与伦比的典范,而是以示范的方式提出问题和困难。传统可以根据自己的历史预测来检查自己的理解。对传统的承诺不是对学术古物学的承诺。它本质上是对辩论领域的承诺。传统被认为是一种思考和创造力的资源和挑衅,而同一性则是保守的传统概念的货币,不稳定性,问题和对等的挑战是伽达默尔更加对话的传统观念的驱动力。



伽达默尔审美思维中存在创造性的紧张关系。一方面,伽达默尔坚决捍卫艺术家的自主权,另一方面,尽管他在哲学中抵制了任何艺术的包容,但他坚持认为,美学应该被解释学所吸收,大部分被理解为理论企业。这种张力复制了所谓的解释学圈的各个方面。例如,施莱尔马赫(Schleiermacher)认为,如果能够理解个人在其中运作的语言的一般结构,只能掌握一个人的个人话语。相反,一般结构在特定的例证性话语方面是可以理解的。Wilhelm Dilthey在类似的部分整体结构中运作,即,个人的个人经历对读者来说意义不大,除非他们可以在历史背景下进行语境化。伽达默尔思想中也发生了整体运动。艺术品最初以其奇点呈现。但是,特别是被带入一个主题。要与艺术作品进行交涉,就是将作品放在一边,将其放在更广泛的协会背景下。更广泛泛化的运动也使观众回归到特定的角度,因为泛化使得能够通过在更广泛的背景下定位来了解什么是单一的作品。这种双重解释学运动是伽达默尔审美的高度特征。它认识到审美经验的认知维度就像所有的语言经验一样,离心式和向心性都是自然界。当一个工作解决我们的影响是离心的:它扰乱和改变我们通常认识到的。它唤醒了我们对解释学的崇高,超越了什么,但形成了我们正常的理解范围。因此,伽达默尔可以认为,“当所有预先结构化的东西都被带入一个新的独特的形式,就像一个诗意的结构,就像是第一次被我们特别地说”(GW 8,62)。然而,这个疏远时刻启动了向心回归,归乡。“这首诗和艺术的语言一般都是一个听到或书写的文字,总是像一个单词一样的认可”(GW 8,62)。但问题仍然存在:是从给定艺术品的直接性到关于其主题的理论思考的段落,而不是从作品的特定赋予转向更抽象的关于其主题的反思层面的实例?离开工作的沉思运动不背叛其特殊性,并表明工作的意义超越它的概念?伽达默尔已经陷入了这一切僵局, 理想主义和代表性的艺术叙事将被迫对他。他对这些立场的抵制的激情表明,除了从工作的特殊即时性到理论上的内容的简单转变之外,其他事情必须发挥作用。


经验不是开头的话,随后成为一个反思的对象,被命名,被纳入了这个词的普遍性。相反,经验本身寻求并发现表达它的词语。我们寻求正确的词 - 即真正属于事物(或经验)的词语,使得它成为语言。(TM 417)


伽达默尔的立场的紧张状态来自于(1)声称艺术的自主性,(2)要求美学被纳入解释学之中。毫无疑问,争论的重要性在于后者。他有系统地批评康德美学思想集中在短暂的乐趣的主体性上,并为艺术地址的认知内容提供了实质性的重建。换句话说,伽达默尔把自治的地位从一个工作的合理的不可约性转变为它的解释学自主权。这就是说,一个对我们的观点构成挑战的工作,是因为它本质上是神秘的,它引起了一个不能被更基本的理解解释的意义和解释的困难。自主的工作本身就是两项工作提出一个意思,同时又回想起来。总而言之,它总是指向自己,但在内部本身。这证实了伽达默尔声称自治工作的解释学结构抵制了理论上的减少。在“文字与图画”一文中,他表达了对施莱马赫的话的同情,“我恨所有不成实践的理论”(GW 8,374)。然而,如前所述,工作推测的超越意义的层面不在工作之内,而是内在的内在。换句话说,我们不需要一种特殊的解释学方法来访问被扣留的人,而只是一个更深入,更周到的思考熟人。当伽达默尔谈到对艺术品的注意时,就会辨别出神秘的质量和意识到它的投机性的共鸣,他确实以一种解释学的成语来说,但最明显的是,伽达默尔向外派派的理论提出审美经验的情况并不是这样。恰恰相反,伽达默尔试图画出美学体验本身的解释学动态。因此,经验的直接性和对经验内容的反思之间的紧张关系,一方面不是经验与另一方面的理论之间的紧张关系。在艺术品调用其主题之间的审美经验中,如何调用它的特征改变了它的特征,这是一种紧张的态度。什么是解释学的反思揭示了审美经验与这种经验无关,而是进一步披露其内容。总而言之,



两个伽达默尔参考书目值得注意。刘易斯·埃德温·汉恩(Hans Edwin Hahn) 芝加哥公开法院汉斯 - 乔治·伽达默尔的哲学”,1993年的“选定的伽达默尔参考书目”有五个部分。第二本参考书目是最近推出的Etsuro Makita的优秀“ Gadamer参考书目”,法兰克福,1995年。



  • Dutt,Carsten(ed。),1993,Hermeneutik-Ästhetik-Praktische Philosophie:Hans-Georg Gadamer imGespräche,Heidelberg:C. WinerUniversitätsVerlag。
  • Gadamer,Hans-Georg,1975,Wahrheit und Methode,Tübingen:JCB Mohr。
  • Gadamer,Hans-Georg,1993(GW),Gesammelte Werke(9Bände),Tübingen:(UTB)Mohr Siebeck。
  • Gadamer,Hans-Georg,1993(GW 8),Kunst als Aussage (Gesammelte Werke Band 8),Tübingen:JCB Mohr(Paul Siebeck)。


  • Gadamer,Hans-Georg,1976(PH),哲学解释学,D.Linge(ed。),Berkeley:加州大学出版社。
  • Gadamer,Hans-Georg,1986(RB),The Relevance of the Beautiful,London:Cambridge University Press。
  • Gadamer,Hans-Georg,1989(TM),Truth and Method,London:Sheed and Ward。
  • 伽达默尔,汉斯 - 乔治,1992年,教育,诗歌与历史,奥尔巴尼:纽约州立大学出版社。
  • Gadamer,Hans-Georg,1994年,对话文学与哲学,奥尔巴尼:纽约州立大学出版社。
  • Gadamer,Hans-Georg,1994(HW),Heidegger's Ways,Albany:State University of New York Press。
  • Palmer,E.(trans。),2001,Gadamer in Conversation:Reflections and Commentary,Dutt(ed。)1993,New Haven:耶鲁大学出版社的英文翻译。


  • 阿诺斯,约翰。2014年,伽达默尔的诗学。现代美学批判,大陆哲学的布鲁姆斯伯里研究
  • 布伦斯,杰拉尔德,1992年,解释学古代与现代,纽黑文:耶鲁大学出版社。
  • 克拉克,提摩太,2008年,“奇异的诗学”,海德格尔的反文化转向,德里达,布朗肖特和后来的伽达默尔,爱丁堡:爱丁堡大学出版社。
  • Connor,Steven,1992,“现代主义与后现代主义”,Cooper,1992,pp。288-293。
  • Cooper,David E.,1992,A Companion to Aesthetics,Oxford:Blackwell。
  • Davey,Nicholas,2006,Unquiet Understanding,Albany:State University of New York Press。
  • 戴维,尼古拉斯,2013年,未完工的世界,解释学,美学和伽达默尔,爱丁堡:爱丁堡大学出版社
  • Davey,Nicholas,2016,“Word,Image,and Concept”,在Blackwell Companion to Hermeneutics,Chichester,Wiley-Blackwell。
  • Dostal,Robert J.,2002,剑桥同伴伽达默尔,剑桥大学出版社。
  • Gjesdal,克里斯汀,2009年,伽达默尔和德国理想主义遗产,剑桥大学出版社。
  • Grondin,Jean,1995年,解释学的来源,奥尔巴尼:纽约州立大学出版社。
  • Harrington,Austin,2004,Art and Social Theory:Sociological Arguments in Aesthetics,Cambridge:Polity。
  • Heywood,Ian,1997,“ 社会理论艺术:批判”,伦敦:麦克米伦。
  • 克拉伊夫斯基,布鲁斯,2004年,伽达默尔的repercussions:重新考虑哲学解释学,伯克利:加州大学出版社。
  • 草坪,克里斯,2006年,伽达默尔:困惑的指南,伦敦和纽约:连续。
  • 施密特,丹尼斯,2012年, 词与图像之间,海德格尔,克莱和伽达默尔的手势和创世纪,布鲁明顿,印第安纳大学出版社。
  • Szondi,Peter,1995,“文学解释学导论”,伦敦:剑桥大学出版社。
  • Weinsheimer,Joel,1991,哲学解释与文学理论,纽黑文:耶鲁大学出版社。
  • 沃尔夫,珍妮特,1975年,解释学哲学和艺术社会学,伦敦:Routledge和Kegan保罗。


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