More Truth and Method
23 May 2009 at 7am
In order to have a good conversation each side needs to take into consideration the knowledge and background of the other. One does not speak at a lecture to the general public the same way one would to a seminar of academic professionals. An article for the newspaper would need to be different than one for a scientific journal, even if they are on the same subject. You do not speak the same way to a judge that you would to a child. The dynamics of each of these “conversations” is different.
This is similar to the kind of conversation Gadamer is talking about in Truth and Method, except that the conversation is not between individuals but between the past and the present. The present must always negotiate its relationship with the past—how to translate it, understand it, apply it, make use of it. The present is always changing (albeit slowly) otherwise it would be the same as the past. We know that is not the case as there would be no remembering, nostalgia or history. As the present changes, so must its relationship with the past. It must comprehend, describe, and communicates the past in terms that make sense to the present.
For a truth to be universal it must be a living truth. It must be a vital and important part of a living, hence growing and changing, tradition. Are there any truths that do not change? Yes, truths that are no longer connected to a living culture no longer need to change; they no longer can change. They are static because they are irrelevant and forgotten. They have become lifeless, dead, unchanging.