By Hans-Georg Gadamer
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Extra resources for Philosophical Hermeneutics
The person who never produces anything new has also done that. It is imagination [Phantasie] that is the decisive function of the scholar. Imagination naturally has a hermeneutical function and serves the sense for what is questionable. It serves the ability to expose real, productive questions, something in which, generally speaking, only he who masters all the methods of his science succeeds. As a student of Plato, I particularly love those scenes in 13 which Socrates gets into a dispute with the Sophist virtuosi and drives them to despair by his questions.
Prejudices are not necessarily unjustified and erroneous, so that they inevitably distort the truth. In fact, the historicity of our existence entails that prejudices, in the literal sense of the word, constitute the initial directedness of our whole ability to experience. Prejudices are biases of our openness to the world. They are simply conditions whereby we experience something — whereby what we encounter says something to us. " Instead we welcome just that guest who promises something new to our curiosity.
How could one seriously mean, for example, that the clarification of the taxation practices of fifteenth-century cities or of the marital customs of Eskimos somehow first receive their meaning from the consciousness of the present and its anticipations? These are questions of historical knowledge that we take up as tasks quite independently of any relation to the present. In answering this objection, one can say that the extremity of this point of view would be similar to what we find in certain large industrial research facilities, above all in America and Russia.
Philosophical Hermeneutics by Hans-Georg Gadamer