Illuminating Language Interpretation and Understanding in Gadamer and Davidson Byrn Torgrim Ramberg 1 What happens when we understand? What happens when we understand what a text or an utterance means? Both Hans-Georg Gadamer and Donald Davidson have provided influential answers to this topic in their respective theories of interpretation

There is common ground on questions of theory, interpretation, understanding, language, and truth but also deep philosophical differences 2 For a genuine synthesis The stress on difference is not because of purism i.e., the opposition to cutting and pasting parts of philosophies Imaginative juxtapositions are useful to intellectual progress a form of scouting ahead re the philosophical possibilities

But any commensuration must proceed slowly through sensitive work in areas where the resistance is greatest A genuine synthesis, an [Hegelian] aufhebung, of parochial limitations requires hermeneutical interpretation that does not take the identity of key concepts for granted 3 Gadamer 4 Meaning and truth Gadamer writes: A person who is trying to understand a text is

always projecting. He projects a meaning for the text as a whole as soon as some initial meaning emerges in the text. Again, some initial meaning emerges only because he is reading the text with particular expectations in regard to a certain meaning. Working out this fore-projection which is constantly revised in terms of what emerges as he penetrates into the meaning, is understanding what is true. 5 Interpretation

This is Gadamers description of interpretation worked out in terms of the hermeneutic circle This is interpretation: a deliberate process, a trying to understand But this is true of all understanding This interpretative nature of understanding is especially appreciated when our immediate and unreflective projections encounter resistance and we become puzzled, surprised, curious, or frustrated (or misled) 6 Hermeneutic circle

The hermeneutic circle (German: hermeneutischer Zirkel) describes the process of understanding a text hermeneutically. It refers to the idea that one's understanding of the text as a whole is established by reference to the individual parts and one's understanding of each individual part by reference to the whole. Neither the whole text nor any individual part can be understood without reference to one another, and hence, it is a circle. However, this circular character of interpretation does not make it impossible to interpret a text; rather, it stresses that the meaning of a text must be found within its cultural, historical, and literary context. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermeneutic_circle 7 Its not a method

Gadamer is not laying the grounds for a method of trying to understand when meaning is elusive He is drawing attention to a movement in all understanding, including the most unreflective interpretation of meaning This movement is a dynamic part-whole relationship a reciprocal accommodation fueled by our expectations of meaning progressing through revisability and flexibility of expectation This is a formal assumption that what is interpreted is a part-whole unity of meaning 8

The governing assumption: truth But the governing assumption has to do with content, not this formal feature of interpretation To understand is primarily to understand the content of what is said And only secondarily to understand anothers meaning as such. This means to take what is said as being about the world and only secondarily as opinion, as psychological attitude i.e., taking what is said, as far as possible, as true Such an approach is inevitable, the prejudice of completeness It implies not only this formal elementthat a text should completely express its meaning but also that what it says should be the complete truth.

9 Understanding is to see utterances as elements of a whole The fore-conception of completeness governs all understanding all successful interpretation of texts and other expressions Coming to understand someone in communication is to see her utterances as elements of a whole that represents a coherent point of view on the subject matter 10

Coherence and truth This is not to equate coherence and truth or reduce truth to coherence The part-whole coherence that we come to understand through dialogue is a coherence owed to truth The coherence of her expression comes to us by taking it as one from which truth is in view In conversation, a mutual grasp of truth is what makes meaning available 11 Davidson

12 What is the philosophical goal of radical interpretation? Davidsons Radical interpretation shows how the general knowledge that the creature is an agent can frame observations of its behavior to yield fine-gained knowledge of its language and attitudes We (Ramberg) ask: What philosophical goal is thereby achieved? 13

Gavagai! The interpretation is radical where the interpreter doesnt understand the language E.g., an anthropologist comes into a society whose language she doesnt understand at all How does she learn this language? E.g., the speaker of the foreign language says Gavagai And the interpreter notes that he is looking at a rabbit leaping out from behind a tree She forms the hypothesis that Gavagai means rabbit And continues from there

14 Two questions Ramberg cites Davidson in Radical Interpretation: Kurt utters the words Es regnet and under the right conditions we know that he has said that it is raining. Having identified his utterance as intentional and linguistic, we are able to go on to interpret his words; we can say what his words, on that occasion, meant. [1] What could we know that would enable us to do this? [2] How could be come to know it?

15 Its not about actual knowledge Having set his topic, Davidson immediately distances this from our actual linguistic practice The first question is independent of what we in fact know that enables us to understand The second question is doubly hypothetical given a theory that would make interpretation possible, what evidence plausibly available to a potential interpreter would support the theory to a reasonable degree? The first is a how-possible question (John McDowell)

i.e., it is not about actual knowledge but the ground of the possibility [Kant] of interpretation 16 What kind of evidence is available? What is the difficulty in the face of which the possibility of interpretation is to be established? The phrase evidence plausibly available to an interpreter points to a problematic involving the evidence that would support the theory to be constructed if the model is to have explanatory power As we are trying to better understand what this explanatory task consists in

we should look to the nature of this evidence and the gathering of it 17 What the radical interpreter does What does the radical interpreter do And how does she do it? 1) She registers assertive utterances under descriptions involving no reference to specific semantic properties of the utterances 2) She registers the occasions of the assertion under detailed and full descriptions

that capture environmental saliencies 18 Developing a theory 3) Once enough initial evidence is collected a tentative, holistically constrained articulation of semantic and psychological patterns begins 4) Evidence can then be proactively sought, as theories are developed and tested an empirically confirmed theory that assigns semantic properties to the agents words and a specification of the agents intentional states 19

How likely is at that anyone could actually be a radical interpreter? At first this seems like something an actual interpreter could do But when we recall the ignorance-conditions imposed on this process, this becomes less plausible i.e., the interpreter has no prior convictions as to the specific mental content or language of the agent Critics say this makes it unlikely that any actual agent would be up to this task 20

The vast powers of the interpreter But this is not an objection to the project The radical interpreter has powers of registration, recollection, and combination that vastly exceed ours This is what gives radical interpretation its illuminating power She is able to construe passing ideolects* and provide full characterizations of rich but fleeting sets of attitudes by means of evidence to which ordinary speakers could have not access i.e., by virtue of the agents unactualized dispositions *See Davidson, A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs

21 A nice derangement of epitaphs The fictional Mrs. Malaprop in Sheridan's play The Rivals [1775] utters many malapropisms. In Act 3 Scene III, she declares to Captain Absolute, "Sure, if I reprehend any thing in this world it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!" This nonsensical utterance might, for example, be corrected to, "If I apprehend anything in this world, it is the use of my vernacular tongue, and a nice arrangement of epithets" 22

Interpreting Mrs. Malaprop In his essay "A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs", philosopher Donald Davidson suggests that malapropisms reveal something about how people process the meanings of words. He argues that language competence must not simply involve learning a set meaning for each word, and then rigidly applying those semantic rules to decode other people's utterances. Rather, he says, people must also be continually making use of other contextual information to interpret the meaning of utterances, and then modifying their understanding of each word's meaning based on those interpretations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malapropism 23 There are no such things as

languages, just people For Davidson, a language is never fully identified by any actual interpreter and never spoken uniquely by any actual speaker A language is an abstract object for a theory Davidson re languages: there are no such things in the world; there are only people and their various written and acoustical products. 24

There are no such things as radical interpreters But similarly, Ramberg proposes, there are no radical interpreters in the world Radical interpretation is idealized to capture maximum fineness of grain of empirically differentiable semantic structures so that any properties of language beyond the powers of this ideal interpreter are empirically vacuous 25 The radical interpreter is a machine This idealization of the radical interpreter suggests that we

think of her or him as an it A device embodying a mechanism designed to run a particular process i.e., take a certain kind of input and yield a certain kind of output The point is to see what kind of resources might suffice to make the device work to render transparent what in real creatures is an opaque capacity 26 The point of radical interpretation The point is to reveal the ground of the possibility of our communication by showing

how resources that would in general be available to creatures like us might suffice to account explicitly and systematically for the distinctions and attributions that we actual speakers all know how to make without being able to state in what our capacity consists 27 Triangulation makes error possible This idealization becomes even more apparent in relation to Davidsons discussion of triangulation The structure that must be in place for there to be talk of minds and content at all

Two creatures mutually recognized recognitions of common environmental saliencies [its raining, or theres a rabbit] is a prerequisite for objective reference for only then is there a space for the concept of error, which appears when there is a divergence in normally similar reactions. 28 Anchoring our responses in a common cause Only when responses to stimuli are anchored in a recognized common cause is it possible to interpret those responses to stimuli as expressions of concepts of the objects that cause them

because only this anchor makes misapplication possible Because it makes error conceivable, the social scene provides a setting in which we can make sense of the transition from mere dispositions to conceptualization. 29 The core of Davidsons question The core of Davidsons question about the possibility of interpretation is the question about how normativity (i.e., the truth-error contrast) is possible at all The point of this question must be situated in the context of

the inheritance of Quine (Davidsons mentor) There is truth and so a constraint on our thinking about ourselves in the idea that physics has full coverage 30 Causal regularity I.e., any event is a natural event and in nature all events are instances of causal regularity The fact that this notion contains an important insight is the fundamental challenge to the possibility of normativity that Davidsons philosophy of interpretation is designed to meet

And so it is unproblematic that we have dispositions i.e., causally defined states 31 From causation to agency The question is how states describable in terms of causal regularities can also be captured in the normative terms of the language of agency The philosophical goal for Davidson: to see how the normatively laden intentional concepts of the vocabulary of agency can be attributed

by virtue of observation of the behavior of other creatures, behavior that we can also observe and describe in a nonintentional vocabulary 32 Causal generalizations underlie meaning So no event, no reality, need be supposed to account for the fact that we hear meaningful utterances and impute knowledge, belief, aims, intentions, etc. beyond what could also be characterized in a language of causal generalizations

33 [Normativity and truth] Compare Kant: since causality is an a priori condition for understanding, in reality and in practical life we could be free agents, determining our lives And so we can make normative decisions: should I tell a lie or tell the truth in a situation in which everything pushing me to tell a lie But the question of whether it is true that it is raining is also a normative matter It is not determined solely by causal events in the environment Our truth-oriented linguistic behavior involving truth and errorscience itselfis also an expression of agency

It is not a purely mechanical process. How then can physics have full coverage? 34 Its a theoretical account Davidsons account is theoretical while Gadamers is ontological 1) Its plausibility depends on an idealized model of a human capacity 2) The conditions for applying the key concepts related to agency are those imposed by the radical interpreter i.e., the task of accounting for thought and linguistic interaction from a third person point of view 35

Its a theory of truth Davidson ties detailed proposals in formal semantics (i.e., Tarski) to triangulation reflections that lead to the conclusion that agents come in sets of more than one Radical interpretation turns on the ability of the interpreter to systematically individuate semantic and psychological properties on the basis of observations of behavior treated as intentional action that centrally involve truth theories 36

Social interaction is necessary for truth This is an account that makes social interaction a necessary condition of thought i.e., the triangle between observer, agent, and environment in order to create space for the truth-error contrast of Tarskian semantics i.e., Es regnet means it is raining if and only if it is true that it is raining. But if the observer sees that it is not raining, and yet the agent says Es regnet, then this interpretation must be false refinement of the theory (maybe shes a Mrs. Malaprop, and means that It reigns)

37 How meaning is extracted from truth Davidsons radical interpretation suggests how meaning may be extracted from truth. That truth undergirds communication will be familiar to readers of Davidson Radical interpretation is supposed to show how an interpreter with evidence that is restricted might move from knowing only general features of minds and language

to a detailed account of what someones words mean or what his propositional attitudes are 38 Truth is the basis of interpretation The point is to show how the imputation of thought and semantic content as we know it could be supported by evidence from observable behavior The account does not reduce or analyze intentional concepts in terms of non-intentional The role of the concept of truth makes this clear That the minded creaturesagentsare knowers of truth

is the basis on which interpretation proceeds to give individuating content to the behavior 39 Its not correspondence This is not a correspondence theory Although it may look like it if Gavagai is true if and only if there is a rabbit However this is not a situation of an isolated observer A matter of communication between individuals in a worldly context So we encountered Davidson previously (in Prado) saying against Searle: [n]othing, no thing, makes sentences and theories true; not

experience not the world, can make a sentence true. 40 The observed creature is an agent The interpreters belief is an empirical one that some creature is an agent [i.e., not a parrot in a human suit] making assertions, entertaining attitudes, realizing intentions (or failing to do so) Decisive warrant for this belief, however, relies on intentional notions The role of observation and evidence is brought out But this is not independent of or prior to the characterization of the observed creature as an agent

41 Taking something to be an agent The kind of evidence and observation is made available only insofar as we take the observed person, the subject, to be an agent Davidsons account would show how the supposition that something is an agent a creature with knowledge of the world and with goals for conduct in the world may be implemented in or employed to constrain descriptions of the behavior of the agent in such a way that individuating features of that particular mind and

language are systematically revealed 42 Criterion of success: an axiomatic semantic theory There is a clear success criterion for the radical interpreter: the production of an axiomatic semantic theory that allows for the deduction of the proper theorems E.g., the sentence, s, in the alien language means p, if and only if p. --i.e., those that allow the interpreter to interpret sentences of the agents language such that the speech and behavior is compatible with the imputation of a largely sound view of the world

A suitable axiomatic semantic theory is one that characterizes the truth-functional role of the elements of the agents language assigning truth-conditions to the sentences of the language 43 Evidence for the theory Evidence for this assigning is framed in terms of relative preferences of the agent for the truth of different sentences The task of radical interpretation is to capture these preferences and to construe their content by articulating a truth-theory for the agents language

on the basis of observation of utterances and their environmentally salient causes and behavior generally 44 Some tough questions It is a tough and complicated question whether an extensional characterization of elements of a natural language will capture all the semantic properties that we would want to invoke in an account of linguistic competence One may also have doubts about the rationality-constraint built into the general theory of mind that gives the radical interpreter a truth-theoretic grip on behavior in the

first place But this article will not be concerned with these challenges to Davidsons theory 45 Treating creatures as knowing truths and aiming for the good These objections question whether possessing the concept of truth having knowledge of the world and being able to understand a language are as directly and intimately linked as Davidson suggests

But this close link is what connects Davidson and Gadamer So let us proceed on the assumption that the construction of truth-theories allows us to characterize the semantic properties of a language and that the radical interpreter succeeds in constructing them by treating creatures as knowing truths and aiming for the good 46 Gadamer 47 The distance between them

For Gadamer, there are no constructive explanatory tasks as there is in what Rorty called pure philosophy of language [Davidson seeks to construct a logic that would explain human understanding and communication] This is because of the distance between hermeneutic ontology and human action and choice This is not the kind of distance we find in Davidson between theory and actual practice [The distance in Gadamer is not so extreme]

48 Going beyond science Gadamers own descriptions are concerned to seek the experience of truth that transcends the domains of scientific method wherever that experience is to be found, and to enquire into its legitimacy the experience of philosophy, of art, and of history itself cannot be verified by the methodological means proper to science. In each of these domains a truth is experienced that we cannot attain in any other way.

49 An experience, not an account 1) Gadamer is not seeking an account of truth as in Davidsons third person approach that would tell us what it is for something to be true but an experience of truth ways in which we encounter truth He is aiming at persuading his readers by means of his ability to characterize the particular experience as actually or potentially our experience

Phenomenological persuasiveness self-recognition on the part of the reader 50 Scientism 2) The experience of truth here is communicative What is to be illuminated: the understanding of truth as expressed in a work or an utterance The experience is available to us as dialogically engaged [not as detached observers] 3) The phenomenological account of communicative experience has normative significance There are sui generis forms of dialogically available knowledge and insight that cannot be characterized in terms of methodological reflection

[Gadamers main book: Truth and Method] Versus scientism: the tendency to take science as having a fundamental legitimizing role because of its distinctive epistemic procedures [i.e., its methods] 51 How is truth at all possible for historical creatures? Even science is subject to hermeneutic contextualization There is no escape from historicity The scientistic error is corrected by insight into the fact that it is an arena of

wirkungsgeschichtliches Bewusstsein (historically effected consciousness) The real philosophical challenge is not scientism but how the experience of historical creatures can be an encounter with truth at all 52 Our sciences too are historically conditioned If methodological objectivity is not a foundation for the aspiration to truth how is such aspiration even possible?

The historicity of understanding: The limitation of the self-reflective power of individual consciousness its historical effectedness including on our sciences 53 No new method for this One should not see in it merely a modification of selfconsciousness; say, something like an awareness that history is working on us; nor even something upon which one could base a new hermeneutical method.

Rather through this term one has to recognize the limitation placed on consciousness by history having its effect that is wirkungsgeschichte, the history within whose effects we all exist. It is something that we can never completely go beyond. 54 A gift or a curse All cognitive resources are conditioned by time and chance All thinking is locally conditioned, temporally and spatially Our norms, anticipations of meaning, intuitions about what makes sense

are the gift or curse of our particular past that made us what we are 55 All understanding is prejudiced All understanding happens by way of our prejudices which mark our particularity, our finiteness our belonging to the traditions that shape us as thinkers And so how can there be an experience of truth? rather than a mere application of prejudice, an idiosyncratic reaction

56 The negativity of experience Gadamers response: the hermeneutic concept of experience Experience involves many disappointments of ones expectations and only thus is experience acquired. Every experience worthy of the name thwarts an expectation. Thus the historical nature of man essentially implies a fundamental negativity that emerges in the relation between experience and insight. 57

Positive results The insight of experience is always a matter of self-knowledge the limits of the power and the self-knowledge of planning reason The limited degree to which the future is still open to expectation and planning genuine experience is experience of ones historicity. Positively, experience as the encounter with ones own historicity provides discernment an ability to judge aright and to understand correctly But this positive ability is not a matter of possessing specific knowledge, of mastering rules or procedures

58 Being experienced The consummation of experience, the perfection that we call being experienced, does not consist in the fact that someone already knows better than anyone else. Rather the experienced person proves to be, on the contrary, someone who is radically undogmatic the dialectic of experience has its proper fulfillment not in definitive knowledge but in the openness of experience that is made possible by experience itself.

59 Feeling the ground give way Experience is not a matter of acquiring knowledge but of developing the ability to ask and understand questions. Versus the dogmatistthe one who does not question Failure to question is a failure to understand To understand a question means to ask it. The negative dimension of insight: to be brought by experience to question to feel the ground of expectation give way to be brought up short by the inadequacy of ones prejudices in the face

of what is said or what happens 60 Cognitive virtue We go beyond mere historical accretion of contingent reactions and on to understanding as we become transformed into better questioners Becoming insightful as a cognitive virtue is not a matter of acquiring greater certainty of belief or more beliefs to be certain about But of becoming a better understander by asking better questions

61 A crippling tension The key point: by shifting the measure of understanding from what we are able to assert to what we are able to question Gadamer employs the concept of experience to recontextualize and render cognitively productive the apparently crippling tension between the aspiration to validity, to truth and the contingency of historical conditioning that is the lot of finite, temporal agents 62

Dialogical transformation The encounter with truth beyond method Gadamers central book: Truth and Method is the experience of dialogical transformation i.e., to be brought to new insight by understanding an utterance or a work as an adequate answer to a question we previously could not put but which the negativity of experience has now opened up to us 63 The experience of truth

This experience of truth is always one of experiencing limitations and of transcending these limitations of gaining new cognitive ground as new questions are opened up to us As insight, such experience is always articulate but never exhaustively articulated 64 What is language? It is an achievement of language the medium that allows what is particular, finite, limited,

contingent to reach beyond the merely particular and to participate in a process guided by the aspiration to universal validity, to truth 65 Language makes it possible to be challenged The particular nature of historical agents ensures that the universal validity-claims will be challenged, refuted, and overcome without end But it is thanks to language that our particularity finds

expression in something that is challengeable at all [Mute animals, without language, are wholly immersed in their particularity.] 66 Beyond rightness or wrongness Gadamers redescription of the tension the duality at the heart of the concrete exercise of reason by finite temporal creatures has little to do with criteria of justification or procedures of validation As ontological, it lies beyond the rightness or wrongness of any

particular claim 67 Assertion and submission Any judgment of truth, any interpretation of content, however right or wrong, responsible or cavalier is a creative act of self-assertion and a yielding act of submission The tension between these two sides produces the dynamic that drives dialogical reason that makes reason possible for historically existing individuals

For such individuals the exercise of reason is always the affirmation of the validity of the relevant norms that is beholden for its persuasive force to norms not expressed or accounted for 68 Enrichment through deficiency Any interpretation re utterances in conversation between individuals or in the appropriation of historical events points beyond itself and depends on what is left unaccounted for

The fullest manifestation of this duality of reason: the transformative power of experience where reflective understanding is enriched by encountering its shortcomings its fundamental self-insufficiency 69 Undermining our legitimizing claims Gadamers ontological account does not provide a more legitimate repertoire of criteria of validity Rather, our confidence in such legitimizing claims will be undermined

We will perceive our ability to both understand and critically evaluate truth-claims as an expression and affirmation of our intellectual dependence on the resources of the discourse that allows our evaluation to be expressed 70 Steps to new questions And think of our interpretive ability as an ability to participate in a dialectical process of questioning And of truths we may come to know as steps on the way to new questions not as achievements to be collected

71 Davidson and Gadamer 72 What a hermeneuticist wants to ask From the standpoint of a hermeneutic account of understanding one would want to ask how an interpreter would actually achieve the sort of understanding of another that that radical interpreter models What actually goes on when the interpreter gets a grip on the other as a

unified pattern of rational speech and activity? When human beings come to an understanding, it cant just be a look and see affair when they map their descriptions coordinate saliences penetrate each others motivations and guiding concerns 73 A Davidsonian who reads Gadamer We have a right to ask such questions, but Davidson doesnt give us much to work on here in trying to see radical interpretation as an actual possibility for a real human thinker

Someone who is familiar with Davidson, and then reads Gadamer, might think Gadamer has a lot to say about coming to find a common language (his definition of the process of interpretation) We should not be misled by the fact that for Davidson the two speakers do not share a common language His point is simply that understanding may be unimpeded even though we have different languages 74 Sharing a common language For Gadamer, finding a common language = bringing ones concepts into mutual alignment

enabling each to express the others concepts by using his own does not depend on using the same words The same concepts or thought-content can be expressed in different words Gadamers account: a description of bringing ones concepts into alignment with anothers obtaining confidence that we have become equipped to capture each others thoughts 75 Both appeal to truth The idea of fusing radical interpretation and the hermeneutic

circle is encouraged by the basic appeal to truth common to both --the idea that a grip on common truth makes it possible for sapient creatures to meet in communication Gadamer calls his an ontological accountit is being, reality that brings us together We have prejudices or foreconceptions There is a circular movement of their transformation in the encounter with the other person 76 Fusion of horizons There is a fusion of horizons

when we are able to achieve a perspective that allows us to articulate the thoughts and concerns of the other in a compelling way, as compelling Gadamers phenomenology of the dynamics of the hermeneutic circle contains the truth-constraint of radical interpretation in terms that connect with actual human experience and possibility 77 All understanding is linguistic Both Gadamer and Davidson insist on the linguistic nature of all understanding

on the mind as a phenomenon of language For both, interpretation is a holistic affair The fusion of horizons in dialogue is a symmetrical event Interlocutors transform themselves in the interpretation of the other Radical interpretation creates the impression of a unidirectional process But this is not the triangulation that Davidson describes 78 Commonality For both, understanding is the unique achievement of language-users

which is possible only for agents interacting in a common world This commonality, shared belonging to the world, is seen in the truth-constraint of radical interpretation and the universality of the hermeneutic anticipation of completeness 79 Seeing Davidson as an hermeneuticist Hence David Hoy writes (in Post-Cartesian Interpretation: Hans-Georg Gadamer and Donald Davidson) that both are at least engaged in the same enterprise

concerned with how interpretation is possible and giving closely related answers Perhaps then we should see the Davidsonian radical interpreter as a hermeneuticist performing a dialogical transformation of her own horizon as she articulates the perspective on the world of the other And we might see the formal features of radical interpretation as cashing out the metaphorical talk of horizon fusing 80 Revising our interpretation of the two interpreters

And so a merger of the two horizons would give a fuller illumination of what it is to be a language-using creature a better understanding of human understanding This suggests that Gadamer is aiming at a theory of content in his typically wordy, Continental manner And that Davidson is aiming at an account of actual practice of intuitions about psychological and historical reality about what we are actually able to do and what we actually experience in coming to understand 81 Pulled in different directions

But both theories must be held at a philosophical distance from attempts to capture our actual doings and saying pulled away from descriptions of actual practice but in different directions Consider this a difference between theory and ontology responding to different intellectual pressures and serving different philosophical purposes 82 Different challenges Hoys idea seems plausible that both want to establish the possibility of interpretation

But if this is not readily apparent it is because there is a difficulty or obstacle that is operating and philosophically motivating for each They are rising to different challenges Hoys truth is thus a thin one Substantive differences remain re interpretation, understanding, and language 83 Where is the common context? Points of connection between Gadamer and Davidson make it tempting to use them to overcome gaps and parochialisms in 20th c philosophy

But this will be deceptive without a clear common context of inquiry for the theoretical point of radical interpretation and the ontological self-reflective significance of hermeneutics But Rambergs article calls into question such a common context 84 Davidsons theory provides a model Davidson provides a theoretical account: A model constructed along chosen lines of idealization illuminating conditions of application of the terms that constitute

the vocabulary of agency in a particular way i.e., such that those conditions appear to be satisfiable, if circumstances are right, in a world that is also describable in the nonintentional vocabulary of causal regularity [science!] 85 Gadamers ontological task Gadamer provides no model concerned to describe finite thinkers as we actually are (ontology) no matter what we do (methodologically)

The ontological task: to show that our finitude, our lack of self-transparency and of selfsufficiency, far from being an obstacle to truth, is what makes possible the particular self-transforming questioning that opens up new possibilities = the experience of truth 86 No hermeneutics of radical interpretation Hence the differences oppose our taking them as supplementary accounts of a unified interpretation 1) The idealizations of radical interpretation, particularly the ignorance conditions

render it incapable of illuminating hermeneutic experience 2) Experience for Gadamer can only befall a creature that is historical guided by expectations and preconceptions beyond its reflective control and power 3) Davidsons radical interpreter fuses no horizons, suffers no experience and attains no transforming insights There can be no hermeneutics of radical interpretation 87 Both challenges can be gripping But both challenges can be gripping, presenting challenges to ones faith in a life of reason Davidson: the ubiquity and lawful character of natural events

Gadamer: the transience, contingency, and historicity of human norms and judgment A common horizon may be developing which may provide a beautiful and fascinating view of what it means to be a thinking being And a richer view of our philosophical past and present 88 A fusion of horizons is not a matter of will But there is no gain in underplaying the deep diversities in forms and tasks Progress only comes in bringing these out in detail

Gadamers fusion of horizons is not something we can do at will but something that happens to us in our thinking It is a transforming experience we undergo when we are moved by the force of argument against us by the strength of resistance to our interpretation to question in other ways and see things in richer and more nuanced ways 89 90

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