Hermeneutics and relativism: Wittgenstein, Gadamer, Habermas

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This article presents three hermeneutic answers to the problem of relativism. The first answer is drawn from Wittgenstein's anthropological hermeneutics. Wittgenstein goes beyond relativism by making explicit universal anthropological categories which are specified differently in different cultures. The second answer is to be found in Gadamer's historical hermeneutics. By introducing the concepts of tradition and fusion of horizons, Gadamer evades both absolutism and relativism. The third answer is developed by Habermas in his critical hermeneutics. By situating communicative action in the life-world, and stressing the possibility of discussion and critique, Habermas can ascertain that there is no absolute truth without having to surrender to relativism. The article examines the three forms of hermeneutics, as well as the relations between them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1992

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