Politics, Hermeneutics, and Truth
The idea that hermeneutics has a positive political potential has not always been well-recognized. Yet if politics is understood as essentially constituted within a public space of negotiation and adjudication, then it is hard to see how politics could be anything but hermeneutical in character, nor could we avoid the conclusion that hermeneutical reflection must have a positive bearing on political discourse. Vattimo and Zabala’s idea of ‘hermeneutic communism’ not only draws the political and the hermeneutical together, but also shows how the resources of hermeneutic thinking can be brought to bear on contemporary forms of suffering, inequality and oppression. Vattimo and Zabala’s hermeneutic understanding of the political is premised, however, on the abandonment, not merely of a certain form of metaphysical thinking, but on the abandonment also of the concept of truth. Yet the rethinking of truth, and especially the critique of its metaphysical misinterpretations, has been at the heart of much of the development in hermeneutic thinking over the last century, such that it would seem that any genuinely hermeneutical rethinking of the political cannot be undertaken without recourse to truth. Indeed, it is precisely the retrieval of truth, rather than its abandonment, that must stand as the real basis for the sort of hermeneutic politics, or even the ‘hermeneutic communism’, that Vattimo and Zabala propose.
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