Volume 14, Issue 2, Fall/Automne 2010
L. Sebastian Purcell
Recently Alain Badiou and Quentin Meillassoux have attacked the core of the phenomenological hermeneutic tradition: its commitment to the finitude of human understanding. If accurate, this critique threatens to render the whole tradition a topic of merely historical interest. Given the depth of the criticism, this essay aims to establish a provisional defense of hermeneutics. After briefly reviewing each critique, it is argued that Badiou and Meillassoux themselves face rather intractable difficulties. These difficulties, then, open the space for a hermeneutic response, which is accomplished largely by drawing on the work of Paul Ricoeur. We close with a suggested program for hermeneutic thought.