Gadamer on the Event of Art, the Other, and a Gesture Toward a Gadamerian Approach to Free Jazz
Keywords:Gadamer and alterity, Gadamer’s hermeneutical aesthetics, Gadamer and free jazz, hermeneutic identity, art’s dynamic ontology, tarrying with a work, Gadamer on contemporaneity, Gadamer and tradition
Several prominent contemporary philosophers, including Jürgen Habermas, John Caputo, and Robert Bernasconi, have at times painted a somewhat negative picture of Gadamer as not only an uncritical traditionalist, but also as one whose philosophical project fails to appreciate difference. Against such claims, I argue that Gadamer’s reflections on art exhibit a genuine appreciation for alterity not unrelated to his hermeneutical approach to the other. Thus, by bringing Gadamer’s reflections on our experience of art into conversation with key aspects of his philosophical hermeneutics, we are able to better assess the viability of Gadamer’s contributions to contemporary discussions of difference and alterity.
Sections two through six focus on key concepts in Gadamer’s account of art’s dynamic ontology and our experience of art. Such concepts include the play structure of art, hermeneutic identity, tarrying with a work, and contemporaneity. The opening sections provide not only a discussion of these central themes, but they also (1) draw attention to the various ways in which difference and otherness are integral to Gadamer’s account, and (2) utilize relevant musical examples that prepare the reader for a more focused discussion of a Gadamerian approach to free jazz in section seven. By highlighting how Gadamer’s understanding of art possesses a dialogical play structure, is characterized by identity and difference, requires actively engaged spectators and auditors, and is amenable to what many criticize as an unintelligible musical expression, viz. free jazz, Gadamer’s project is shown as other-affirming and open to ambiguity and dynamism. That is, the essential structures and concepts characterizing Gadamer’s reflections on art are likewise central to his overall hermeneutical project, and hence are not rightly described as un-attuned to difference or other-negating. Rather, Gadamer’s philosophical project upholds difference, since it requires a dialogical interplay between self and other that creates the possibility for a transformative experience.
Benson, B.E. (2003). The improvisation of musical dialogue: A phenomenology of music. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Bernasconi, R. (1995). You don’t know what I’m talking about: Alterity and the hermeneutical ideal. In L. Schmidt (Ed.), The specter of relativism, pp. 178–194. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Bruns, G.L. (2006). Ancients and moderns: Gadamer’s aesthetic theory and the poetry of Paul Celan. In On the anarchy of poetry and philosophy. A guide for the unruly, pp. 33–54. New York, NY: Fordham University Press.
Caputo, J.D. (1987). Radical hermeneutics. Repetition, deconstruction, and the hermeneutic project. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press.
Davey, N. (2013). Unfinished worlds. Hermeneutics, aesthetics and Gadamer. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press.
Di Cesare, D. (2013). Gadamer: A philosophical portrait. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
Gadamer, H-G. (2007). The artwork in word and image: “So true, so full of being!” In R.E. Palmer (Ed & Trans.), The Gadamer reader: A bouquet of the later writings, pp. 192–224. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Gadamer, H-G. (1986). The relevance of the beautiful: Art as play, symbol, and festival. In R. Bernasconi (Ed., N.Walker, Trans), The relevance of the beautiful and other essays, pp. 3–53. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Gadamer, H-G. (1993). Die aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als spiel, symbol und fest. In Ästhetik und Poetik I: Kunst als Aussage, Gesammelte Werke Band 8. Auflage, pp. 94-142. Tübingen, Germany: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).
Gadamer, H-G. (1960/2004). Truth and method (2nd ed., J. Weinsheimer and D. G. Marshall, Trans & Rev.). New York, NY: Continuum.
Gadamer, H-G. (1960/2010). Hermeneutik I: Wahrheit und methode: Grundzüge einer philosophischen hermeneutik, Gesammelte Werke Band 1, 4. Auflage. Tübingen, Germany: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).
Habermas, J. (1990). The hermeneutic claim to universality. In G.L. Ormiston & A.D. Schrift (Eds.), The hermeneutic tradition: From Ast to Ricoeur, pp. 245–272. Albany, NY: SUNY.
Jost, E. (1994). Free jazz. New York, NY: De Capo Press.
Lott, E. (1988). Double V, Double-Time: Bebop’s politics of style. Callaloo, 36, 597–605.
Marion, J-L. (2002). Being given: Toward a phenomenology of givenness (1st ed., J. Kosky, Trans.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Monson, I. (2007). Freedom sounds: Civil rights call out to jazz and Africa. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Risser, J. (1997). Hermeneutics and the voice of the other. Re-reading Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Tate, D.L. (2012). In the fullness of time: Gadamer on the temporal dimension of the work of art. Research in Phenomenology, 42, 92–113.
Tate, D.L. (2001). The speechless image. Gadamer and the claim of modern painting. Philosophy Today, 45, 56–68.
Vilhauer, M. (2010). Gadamer’s ethics of play: Hermeneutics and the other. New York, NY: Lexington Books.
LicenseAuthors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).