Understanding literature

The eminent text and its role in understanding

Patrick Martin

pp. 211-234

This paper examines the difference between everyday speech and the poetic. What are the implications for understanding of introducing this literary shift to the mode of being of the text? In what sense does literature become a privileged object of study for philosophical hermeneutics? These questions are engaged with by focusing on a passage from Truth and Method, where Gadamer maintains that the artwork «like any other text […] requires understanding». We will throughout the paper suggest different ways of understanding this statement. Our focus upon this passage is occasioned by a seeming discrepancy between Truth and Method and Gadamer’s later essays on literature. Whereas he, in the former, argues for a wide notion of literature; he, in the latter, testifies to a crucial difference between literature and writing, arguing for a narrow notion of literature.

Publication details

DOI: 10.19079/metodo.6.1.212

Full citation:

Martin, P. (2018). Understanding literature: The eminent text and its role in understanding. Metodo. International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy 6 (1), pp. 211-234.

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