Historicizing the Mind: Gadamer’s “Hermeneutic Experience” Compared to Davidson’s “Radical Interpretation”
Contribution to Book
Phenomenology and the Primacy of the Political
Following some remarks of Jacques Taminiaux on Gadamer, I examine the permeating presence of history and alterity in interpretation by contrasting Gadamer’s views with Davidson’s notion of “radical interpretation.” I start by examining the debate they held with each other on several occasions. I then analyze Gadamer’s understanding of interpretation as a “hermeneutic experience” and Davidson’s method of “triangulation.” They both agree that interpretation should be free from the psychological turmoil of either divining an author’s intent or projecting the reader’s expectations. The fundamental difference is that, for Davidson, interpretation is an ahistorical process taking place in the synchrony of interpreter and observed subjects, whereas for Gadamer interpretation is a historical “event,” in which something “happens” and contributes to the making of history.