Gadamer's Ethics of Play: Hermeneutics and the Other examines the ethical dimensions of understanding by focusing on Gadamer's concept of "play" as it is developed in his magnum opus Truth and Method. Monica Vilhauer argues for the global relevance of play in Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics by revealing play as the key concept that depicts the process of all understanding-that is, the dynamic, dialogical, and interpretive process by which interlocutors come to grasp a common subject matter together. Through the lens of dialogue-play, the book focuses on openness toward one's dialogue partner, respect for his differing point of view, and a willingness to learn from him in conversation as crucial ethical conditions of genuine understanding. The book aims to revive the ethical heart of philosophical hermeneutics and reveal the transforming power of the Other in Gadamer's hermeneutics.
While Gadamer's Ethics of Play develops his philosophical hermeneutics as an ethical philosophy, in the style of the older tradition of Aristotelian practical philosophy, it is ultimately critical of the extent to which Gadamer's hermeneutics can be used as a guide to practice. The book points out our need for guidance when we face our most prevalent obstacle to understanding-a closedness to the Other, or unwillingness to engage in conversation-but finds no guidance from Gadamer in scenarios where ethical conditions are lacking. Inspired by Gadamer's discussion of play, Vilhauer searches for types of human interaction that might have the power to open or reopen the play of dialogue between those who have become closed to each other, so that true understanding between them can be developed. The book is accessible to an undergraduate audience, while also being relevant to ongoing debates among Gadamer scholars.
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About the Author
Monica Vilhauer is assistant professor of philosophy at Roanoke College.
Table of Contents
Introduction: An Invitation to "Play" xi
Part I Gadamer's Hermeneutic Problem
Chapter 1 Facing the Inadequate Model of Modern Science 3
Part II Gadamer's Concept of Play: Re-Conceiving the Process of Understanding
Chapter 2 Introducing the Key of Play 25
Chapter 3 Understanding Art: The Play of Work and Spectator 31
Chapter 4 The Play of Interlocutors: Understanding as Dialogue 49
Part III The Ethical Dimensions of Play
Chapter 5 The Ethical Conditions of Dialogic Play: Between I and Thou 75
Chapter 6 Genuine Play in Action: The Model of the Philosopher 99
Chapter 7 The Value of Genuine Play: Transition to Play as a Guide to Life 111
Chapter 8 Play and Practical Philosophy: Play as a Guide to Life 115
Part IV When Ethical Conditions are Lacking
Chapter 9 The Problem of Closedness 133
Chapter 10 Cultivating an Opening to Dialogue 139
About the Author 161