Volume 26, Issue 2, Spring 2022
What Are Hermeneutic Character Virtues and Vices? Four Ambiguous Tendencies in Gadamer’s Hermeneutic Retrieval of Phronēsis
Gadamer’s retrieval of phronēsis lies at the heart of his philosophical hermeneutics. This paper argues that this retrieval requires a co-retrieval of what Aristotle referred to as character virtue, and that Gadamer’s work largely neglects this. In part one, I review Aristotle’s analysis of the relationship between phronēsis and character virtue. In part two, I show how Gadamer’s double insistence on the importance of phronēsis for his hermeneutics and on taking responsibility for concepts generates the requirement of a co-retrieval of character virtues and vices. Following this, I then survey four ambiguous tendencies in Gadamer’s work that seem to militate against such a retrieval. I conclude with some remarks for future work.