Sunday, November 27, 2011

Macavoy, Leslie. Review of Francis Mootz, et al., eds. GADAMER AND RICOEUR. NDPR (November 2011).

Mootz III, Francis J., and George H. Taylor, eds.  Gadamer and Ricoeur: Critical Horizons for Contemporary Hermeneutics.  London: Continuum, 2011.

This volume is a collection of essays on the hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur. Taylor and Mootz state in their introduction that the motivation for the project was to encourage further interest in both philosophers’ work. The collection aims to "demonstrate the continuing fruitfulness of Gadamer's and Ricoeur's work and to assess continuing points of similarity and difference in order to refine and extend their legacies" (1). All in all, the book accomplishes this goal. The essays are engaging and work to bring philosophical attention back to issues in hermeneutics that remain of pressing importance but which have been less prominent in the continental philosophical literature of late. They also suggest new directions for the application of insights drawn from hermeneutic philosophy.

The collection consists of twelve essays and is organized into three sections. The first and shortest section is entitled 'History' and aims to provide some historical context to the development of hermeneutic philosophy. This section contains only one essay, which seems somewhat out of balance in relation to the number of essays in the other sections, and those interested in the historical development of hermeneutics leading up to Gadamer and Ricoeur might find themselves wanting something more than is offered here. The second, largest part of the book is entitled 'Engagements' and features seven essays that elaborate upon prominent themes in the work of Gadamer and Ricoeur and put their positions into critical engagement with one another. The first four essays in this section critically examine the work of Gadamer and Ricoeur with respect to issues that emerged as significant in the Gadamer-Habermas debate, specifically the emphasis in Gadamer on universality and on belonging to a tradition and its implications for the possibility of a critical hermeneutics. Those interested in this debate and Ricoeur's position in relation to Gadamer on these issues will especially appreciate this part of the book. The third and final section of the book contains four essays and is called 'Extensions.' As the heading suggests, the organizing theme here is to develop and extend the thought of Gadamer and Ricoeur in directions that they do not explicitly pursue. The topics engaged here are quite divergent, ranging from feminism and the body to political action to the philosophy of technology to Chinese philosophy. In what follows, I will offer a few remarks on each of the essays. . . .

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