Dialogical Breakdown and Covid-19: Solidarity and Disagreement in a Shared World
This article considers the limitations, but also the insights, of Gadamerian hermeneutics for understanding and responding to the crisis precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our point of departure is the experience of deep disagreements amid the pandemic, and our primary example is ongoing debates in the United States about wearing masks. We argue that, during this dire situation, interpersonal mutual understanding is insufficient for resolving such bitter disputes. Rather, following Gadamer’s account of our dialogical experience with an artwork, we suggest that our encounter with the virus gives rise to new ways of seeing and experiencing ourselves and the world. Further, we draw on Gadamer’s account of the fusion of horizons to show how even competing perspectives on wearing masks arise within a shared space of meaning created by the virus. These insights provide hope for an improved model of political dialogue in the world of Covid-19.
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