Monday, May 7, 2012

Gadamer – True to Form (on Truth Focus)

Han-Georg Gadamer’s mere book title, Truth and Method, provides an insight into general western hermeneutics. It is commonly understood among cultural anthropologists that there are three primary classifications of societies regarding basic approaches to life: 1) guilt/righteousness societies, which emphasize truth; 2) shame/honor societies, which emphasize harmony; and 3) fear/power societies, which emphasize well-being. Gadamer illustrated and exemplified perfectly a tacit, societal worldview assumption concerning the primary importance of determining truth in the hermeneutical process. Virtually every western text on hermeneutics follows this same implicit assumption. (Check 'em out.) Such a fundamental assumption paves the way for interpretation to naturally be the result of following a well defined and designed set of exegetical rules. In contrast a shame/honor based society where harmony is the personal and communal goal of life and interpretation, the hermeneutical process would understandably depend more on the aspect of relationship. These contrasting societal platforms form the basis of much misunderstanding between various cultures; most notably cultures of the East and of the West. They also form the basis of interpretation postures: the one dependent primarily on a set of rules for determining meaning, the other on the relationships between reader, author, and text within a metanarrative. I am not advocating the decline of focus on truth! Save the tomatoes and eggs. But, just imagine the potential balance if the book had been, Harmony and Method

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