Correspondence with Hans-Georg Gadamer Concerning Wahrheit und Methode

"Correspondence with Hans-Georg Gadamer Concerning Wahrheit und Methode," Independent Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 2 (1978).

But what is the basis of these and similar difficulties which I encountered in reading your book 9. You are fundamentally concerned with “Wirkungsgeschichte,” with something which is not necessarily a theme of the interpreter (432); you see what is necessarily thematic for the interpreter in the light of what is not necessarily  thematic for him (452 top), the proton pros hemas in the light of the proton physei. You know then the proton physei – I cannot say that I do. In other words, you lead one not from what is first for us as readers or interpreters, but from certain false theories and their criticism, to what is first in itself. Your book contains a philosophy of art but the relation of philosophy to art is not made thematic beyond a rejection of the view of Hegel (and therewith of Plato and Aristotle) according to which philosophic understanding is superior to the artistic understanding. I wonder whether this is not due to insufficient “historical” reflection. You say on p. 77 that the concept of art has become questionable since the aesthetic consciousness which created that concept has become questionable. Yet you entitle the section which begins immediately afterward: “Recovery of the question concerning the truth of Art” – as if that question and hence the concept of art antedated the aesthetic consciousness. (Cf. also 94. In 129 you accept an abstraction made by the discredited aesthetic consciousness. Similarly on p. 157 you accept a consequence of the discredited historical consciousness.) If the concept of Art has become questionable, if therefore a recovery of something lost is indicated, I would draw the conclusion that we must begin by going back behind that concept or the consciousness which produced it. We would thus be led back to the view that what we call Art was originally understood as sophia (cf. Xenophon Memorabilia I 4.2-3). At this stage it was recognized that “art is knowledge.” But what kind of knowledge? Surely not philosophic knowledge. With the emergence of philosophy there arises a tension between philosophy and poetry, a tension essential to both philosophy and poetry as the philosophers necessarily know and as the poets may know. To understand that tension, one must hear both sides (of. Republic X on the feud between philosophy and poetry). The greatest document of the case of poetry versus philosophy is Aristophanes’ Clouds. It is no accident that the classical document is a comedy and not a tragedy. However this may be, in studying the
Clouds (and the other Aristophanean comedies), I learned something which I could not learn from any modern: the deepest modern interpretation of Aristophanean comedy (Hegel’s) is much less adequate than Plato’s Aristophanizing presentation of Aristophanes in the Symposium. (Heidegger is silent on comedy. As for Nietzsche, cf. Frohliche Wissenschaft, aphorism 1 .) In a word, I believe that the basis of the modern philosophy of art – even of that which is free from the aesthetic prejudice – is too small.