Dialectic as a Way of Life: Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Interpretation of Plato

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    In this chapter, Morten S. Thaning argues that Gadamer’s interpretation of Platonic dialectic should be regarded as a double response aimed at answering the Aristotelian critique of Plato’s conception of forms as well as the later Heidegger’s claim that Plato’s philosophy initiates the “forgetting of Being” allegedly characterizing the Western metaphysical tradition. The chapter sets out from Gadamer’s central claim that Plato’s dialogues must be read as dramatic depictions of the Socratic practice of philosophy and argues that a major aim of Gadamer is to demonstrate that this way of looking at Plato helps us see responsibility as the central concern in Plato’s Socratic conception of philosophy. The main part of the chapter then seeks to clarify Gadamer’s heterodox interpretation of dialectic. Thaning argues that taking the Socratic avowal of ignorance sincerely constitutes the core of Gadamer’s interpretation and that this leads Gadamer to deny that dialectic can be understood in terms of expert (moral) knowledge. The chapter further seeks to illustrate how Gadamer’s interpretation of a number of core descriptions of dialectic in Plato’s dialogues, as well as the central description of the form or idea of the Good in Plato’s Republic, convincingly and consistently points to a conception of dialectic according to which it is both the capacity to conduct a dialogue and an expression of human life as such.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPhenomenological Interpretations of Ancient Philosophy
    EditorsKristian Larsen, Pål Rykkja Gilbert
    Number of pages24
    Place of PublicationLeiden
    Publication date2021
    ISBN (Print)9789004446762
    ISBN (Electronic)9789004446779
    Publication statusPublished - 2021
    SeriesStudies in Contemporary Phenomenology

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