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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 6, 1998

Contemporary Philosophy

Purushottama Bilimoria
Pages 35-49

Towards a Creative Hermeneutic of Suspicion
Recovering Ricoeur’s Intervention in the Gadamer-Habermas Debate

In this paper I will examine a contemporary response to an important debate in the "science" of hermeneutics, along with some cross-cultural implications. I discuss Paul Ricoeur's intervention in the debate between Gadamer and Habermas concerning the proper task of hermeneutics as a mode of philosophical interrogation in the late 20th century. The confrontation between Gadamer and Habermas turns on the assessment of tradition and the place of language within it; the hermeneutical stance takes a positive stance, while ideologiekritik views tradition with a hooded-brow of suspicion, tantamount to "seeing tradition as merely the systematically distorted expression of communication under unacknowledged conditions of violence." In his own rescue operation, Ricoeur combines the reanimation of traditional sources of communicative action with the re-awakening of political responsibility towards a creative renewal of cultural heritage. His fusion or consensus adverts to specific symbols of Western eschatology, viz., liberation, salvation, and hope. What will result if we juxtaposed Buddhist, Daoist and Hindu symbols of Non-being, Nature as transcendence and Intelligence, respectively?

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