Defense Date

5-8-2012

Graduation Date

2012

Availability

Immediate Access

Submission Type

dissertation

Degree Name

PhD

Department

Communication and Rhetorical Studies

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Calvin L. Troup

Committee Member

Ronald C. Arnett

Committee Member

Pat Arneson

Keywords

Gadamer, Hermeneutic phenomenology, Language, Listening, Phronesis, Wisdom

Abstract

Subscribing to Hans-Georg Gadamer's belief that human beings are called to be insightful and discerning, this dissertation explores Gadamer's idea and practice of listening to language in order to understand the relationship between a constitutive theory of language and a life of wisdom. As Gadamer's texts reveal, the hermeneutic practice of listening to language is a reflective engagement of language that is theoretically grounded in a constitutive view of language. First, we need to listen to language because language, not consciousness, is the critical element in understanding. Second, the ontological priority of language over subjectivity comes with the nature of our primary relationship to language--we belong to it. Language is the medium in which we think and live, which makes us human. This means that our primary and most consequential relationship to language is as hearers, not users, of language. Third, the nature of language is both binding and expansive; hence the problems that come with its binding nature can be attended to from within language itself, by engaging its expansive nature. In other words, Gadamer does not believe in linguistic determinism.

The first chapter explores the conversation between Gadamer and communication studies by surveying what communication scholars have found significant for communication theory and practice in Gadamer's thought. The next three chapters examine Gadamer's idea and practice of listening to language through a close interpretive reading of Gadamer's texts. This reading reveals three key relationships that define the hermeneutic practice of listening to language: the relationship between ordinary language and conceptual thought (chapter two); the relationship between hearing and understanding (chapter three); and the relationship between language and reason (chapter four). The last chapter takes the conversation between Gadamer and communication studies further by considering some ways in which the hermeneutic practice of listening to language can assist communication scholars and practitioners in becoming discerning and insightful.

Format

PDF

Language

English

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