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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 11, 2011

Concepts of Tradition in Phenomenology

Jan-Ivar Lindén
Pages 137-153

Wirkungsmächtige Tradition. Hermeneutische und lebensphilosophische Aspekte

The paper deals with the ontological questions related to tradition, especially focusing on Gadamer and Dilthey. It is argued that tradition should be regarded not that much as a limitation, but rather as an enabling finitude that gives access to reality. This ontological structure concerns several aspects of human existence, nomothetic science included. Historical background thus has an ontological impact that surpasses objectivistic approaches. A short discussion of causality in natural science traces the genealogy of the causal scheme and compares the notion of effect with the Wirkung in the sense of effective history (Wirkungsgeschichte). In this context the difference between the modern scientific concept of nature and the natura of the elder tradition appears to be important in order to understand the specificity of Diltheyan philosophy of life (Lebensphilosophie). There seems to be a complementary relation between hermeneutics and philosophy of life insofar as both currents are trying to reinstall the modern subject in reality, Gadamers main concern being the historical incarnation in a process, profoundly marked by language and Dilthey still trying to save part of nature in history. These two aspects can be regarded as almost direct answers to the inverse Cartesian tendency to liberate the subject from its history (represented by the prejudices) and from its bodily nature (represented by confuse sensual imagination). Experience (Erfahrung) and lived experience (Erlebnis) thus seem less contradictory than some passages in Gadamers Truth and Method would suggest.

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