2 x 2 is more

Jan 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Editorial

Hans-Georg Gadamer defined the nature of the hermeneutic, understanding experience as the dialectics of question and answer. In our digital world of knowledge at a click this formula may appear more than self-evident. Do not we learn already at school that every question can and must have a definite, unequivocal answer? And isn’t it true that the verifiability of answers still remains the ultimate criterion of scientific knowledge, even though since Popper it is now being viewed ex negativo and comes in a mirrored robe of falsifiability of all knowledge? Yet, the matter with the dialectics is just not as simple. Even the daily experience teaches us not to expect plain truths whenever it comes to interactions with other people. And the truism that one-sided and monosemous answers usually mean the end of a dialogue, is easily derivable from the political and social crises of our time. For the Humanities at least it’s not enough to have eventually found out that twice two makes four. There is no other way for the sciences of human spirit and culture to prove peer to the dialogic nature of the object they explore than through accepting this nature themselves and making the dialogic principle the methodological presupposition of their truth claim. Otherwise they would fail to grasp the very essence of their declared subject, the humanity, and thus turn out to be hopelessly meaningless. The 101, the categorical imperative of dialogical humanities research should therefore be the formula: to propose and to admit questions, to ask and to be asked in turn, which always implies not to expect definite final answers. The crucial point is to take every answering as counter-questioning and each reply as a re-quest, as a demanding returning word: a word in the face of the Other, questioned and questioning at once.

In other words, all questions lead to dialogue! But how does the dialogical being of literature actually manifest itself? And how does the dialogical approach in the literary studies function in reality? These questions are being dealt with in the latest issue of Dialogical Humanities which entails this time not the written but the lively spoken word. The series of lectures Slavic literatures in dialogical view was held in Göttingen in the winter semester 2013/2014. Eight not only Slavist literary scholars address various forms of the dialogical in literature and science. The thematic range of lectures ranges from tracing the dialogical perspective in the media literature and film, to the dialogue between different historical periods, between the past and the future, to the dialogically grounded ethical dimension of culture. The dialogical view and the dialogical way of thinking open up new and unexpected perspectives in humanities research as well as in our everyday life.

See for yourself!

The editors

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