Hermeneutics, Life and Dialogue. A Sketch of a Buberian Dialogue with the Past

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In this paper, I formulate an existentialist view on the dialogue with the past, based on the philosophy of Martin Buber. This view is meant to supplement the traditional, hermeneutical view on the dialogue with the past. In the first part of this paper, I argue that the traditional hermeneutic view on the dialogue with the past is somewhat restricted. In the work of people such as Schleiermacher, Dilthey or even Gadamer, dialogue is always regarded as a primarily cognitive event, focused on the “I” rather than the “you.” I argue that this means that they take only one aspect of the metaphor into account, and ignore the more existential dimension of dialogue. As an alternative, I use the philosophy of Martin Buber to formulate a point of view that does embrace the existential side of dialogue. I also compare the Buberian view of dialogue with that of Gadamer, and I suggest in which a Buberian historian would differ from a Gadamerian historian.
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