Thursday, October 04, 2007

Almost Surprising

A theme of surprise has surfaced in my recent readings. Nancy talks of the surprise of freedom, Tengelyi of the surprise of new sense, and now Corradi Fiumara speaks of the emergence of something with an "almost unhoped-for spontaneity" when we properly listen to the philosophical tradition (The Other Side of Language, p. 76). I think that something is meaning. All three authors discuss meaning in some way, but whereas Nancy and Tengelyi thematize experience as the opening onto meaning, Corradi Fiumara's discussion of experience (pp. 120-123) connects the surprise of the experienced event to an attitude of not listening, rather than aligning listening directly with the unexpected. In Corradi Fiumara's existential hermeneutics the "almost" is key.

Something "speaks," in Corradi Fiumara's opinion, if it is listened for, rather than their being something said that one would subsequently listen to (p. 72). Does her thinking take us beyond the hermeneutic circle? It's not an easy question. She speaks of a "connubial listening propensity" (p. 75) and a "propensity for conjunctions, possibly similar to Heidegger's concept of 'dwelling by something'" (p. 78). I feel that "dwelling by something" is not the best guide for the problem of coexistence Corradi Fiumara's work poses. The idea of the connubial, if wed to an idea of the experience of listening as that which surprises, might offer an alternative to a paradigm of meaning according to which an interpreter constructs meaning out of an engagement that requires a prior understanding of the whole of the engaged. That is, while Corradi Fiumara takes notice of coexistence, and will thematize dialogue, I'm not sure she fully appreciates plurality as it relates to meanings. Perhaps she almost does. Perhaps she will surprise me.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 8:45 AM.


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