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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 22, Issue 1, Fall 2017

Idioms of Ethical Life

James Risser
Pages 79-89
DOI: 10.5840/epoche201781698

Ethical Hermeneutics, or How the Ubiquity of the Finite Casts the Human in the Shadow of the Dark Side of the Moon

This paper attempts to define Dennis J. Schmidt’s distinctive contribution to philosophy and to contemporary hermeneutics in particular under the heading of an ethical hermeneutics. The idea of an ethical hermeneutics is considered in relation to four aspects: 1) the element of practice as the constitutive element of ethical hermeneutics; 2) the force of practice: finitude; 3) the idiom as the place of finitude; 4) ethical hermeneutics and the domain of the common. The fourth aspect constitutes the critical engagement with the idea of an ethical hermeneutics, arguing that the notion of the common, which is underdeveloped in Schmidt’s writings, serves as a practical “concept” that takes the place of the theoretical concept in an ethical hermeneutics.