The Ways of Power: Hermeneutics, Ethics and Social Criticism

The Ways of Power: Hermeneutics, Ethics and Social Criticism

by Paul Fairfield
     
 

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he Ways of Power advances a hermeneutical conception of ethics, one oriented particularly toward questions of power and the critique of power in the aftermath of foundationalism. Bringing into mutual interrogation such disparate traditions as hermeneutics, liberalism, critical theory and postmodernism, and such figures as Gadamer, Ricoeur, Habermas, Foucault,…  See more details below

Overview


he Ways of Power advances a hermeneutical conception of ethics, one oriented particularly toward questions of power and the critique of power in the aftermath of foundationalism. Bringing into mutual interrogation such disparate traditions as hermeneutics, liberalism, critical theory and postmodernism, and such figures as Gadamer, Ricoeur, Habermas, Foucault, Nietzsche, and Artistotle, Fairfield argues that the principal question of ethics is no longer how to ground practices and judgments on a secure epistemological foundation. Rather, what is of importance is how normative discourses rooted in tradition and invested with power may adopt a critical posture toward these same conditions without generating an impossible circularity. Fairfield asserts that the practice of social criticism is ultimately inseparable from that of hermeneutic interpretation; critique is a matter of perceiving and understanding contexts of moral action in light of principles. In taking this view, Fairfield defends hermeneutics?in particular, Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics?against the charge leveled at it by critical theorists?in particular, Jürgen Habermas?that hermeneutical philosophy's emphasis on historicity and finitude demonstrates an absence of critical perspective in reflecting upon tradition and the power operative within tradition. With this objection in mind, Fairfield embarks upon his project to formulate a hermeneutical ethics. Ethical criticism, he maintains, belongs to the universal practice that is the struggle for illumination and self-understanding, a practice ubiquitous in human existence and central to the task of fashioning a just order. The Ways of Power is unique in bringing together a myriad of philosophical voices and perspectives, not to continue a quest for moral certainty and objective grounds?which is so often sought in contemporary society, but which Fairfield insists must be given up?but to take seriously the need for rationality in moral and political discourse.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820703602
Publisher:
Duquesne University Press
Publication date:
08/28/2004
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

What People are saying about this

David F. Gruber
This book is indeed thought provoking and ambitious in that it attempts to being together voices that speak to each other only with some difficulty.
— David F. Gruber, Professor of Philosophy, Truman State University
Charles E. Scott
The Ways of Power is thought-provoking and contains an innovative argument for a "universal theory of justice.
— Charles E. Scott, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy, Pennsylvania State University

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