fusion of horizons


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fusion of horizons

the merging of perspectives which in HERMENEUTICS is seen as an essential feature of the understanding of an unfamiliar TEXT or culture (GADAMER, 1960). For Gadamer, such ‘understanding is not a matter of forgetting our own horizons of meanings and putting ourselves within that of the alien text or the alien society’ (Outhwaite, 1985) and therefore not a matter of‘detachment’; instead, it involves a ‘rapprochement between our present world… and the different world we seek to appraise’. The concept stands opposed to two ideas:
  1. that we can expect to understand and explain alien cultures and societies by imposing an external ‘grid’; and
  2. that we can never hope to understand (or translate) such ideas. Rather ‘truth’ can be the outcome of such a fusion.

The idea of INTERSUBJECTIVITY as the basis of scientific knowledge or political agreements has a similar basis (compare FEYERABEND, HABERMAS), although the fusion of horizons for Gadamer is far from being the basis for ‘emancipatory knowledge’ it is for Habermas. However, the similarity indicates that Gadamer's hermeneutics does not necessarily involve the degree of RELATIVISM sometimes suggested.