Cross-Cultural Encounters: Gadamer and Merleau-Ponty
The chapter deals with the relevance of hermeneutics and phenomenology for cross-cultural studies, with an emphasis on the works of Gadamer and Merleau-Ponty. In the literature, hermeneutics is often defined as the theory of textual interpretation—which is a very limited view. In the treatment of Gadamer, hermeneutics has always been closely linked with practical “application” in such fields as theology, jurisprudence, and literature. The chapter at this point focuses on the connection between hermeneutics and ethics (in the Aristotelian sense). Beyond these traditional fields of application, Gadamerian hermeneutics also plays an important role in cross-cultural encounters aiming at mutual understanding. In order to avoid a “mentalist” or idealist construal of hermeneutics, the chapter turns to Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology which alerts us to the affective and “inter-corporeal” character of cross-cultural dialogue and encounter.