The Review of Metaphysics

Volume 73, Issue 1, September 2019

Eli Dresner, Johan Siebers
Pages 109-126

I Interpret You
Davidson and Buber

The authors bring the philosophies of Davidson and Buber, representative of very different philosophical traditions, into relation with each other as far as the nature of intersubjectivity is concerned. For Davidson, intersubjective contact between speakers is both necessary and sufficient for linguistic meaning and mental content to arise, and this in a way that does not presuppose social convention. Similarly, for Buber, the dialogical I–you relation arises intersubjectively, does not lean on social structure, and is essential for our humanity. Following this trajectory, the authors first review Davidson’s general outlook on linguistic communication. Then they pursue a comparison between Davidson’s system of ideas and some themes that can be found in Buber. They show how the philosophy of each of these thinkers can help enrich and develop the philosophy of the other, especially with respect to the dialogical nature of radical interpretation and the ethical commitments arising in the nonconventional, interpretive encounter.