South African Journal of Philosophy 21 (4):258-273 (2002)

Abstract
Gadamer's project in Truth and Method is as much about truth in the human sciences as it is about human subjectivity, for, following Heidegger, he claims that truth is reducible to method (technical rationality) only if one is misled by old Enlightenment subject/object dualisms. Posing the question of the possibility and nature of truth in scientific thinking, where a strict division between subjective and objective has fallen away, Gadamer belongs, as one of its inaugural figures, to an alternative tradition of philosophical complexity, which implicates environmental systems (culture, ideology, institutions), embedded in language, in the constitution of human subjectivity.With these theoretical shifts in mind, what caught my attention in a press report concerning the trial of (subsequently convicted) serial killer, Stewart Wilken (“Boetie Boer”), was the strangely anachronistic question that dominated the front page of a Port Elizabeth newspaper: “Boetie: Is he Sick or Evil?” This question, in my view, harks back to a questionable framework of Enlightenment autonomy, which depends upon the easy technical rationality of clear-cut dichotomies. In what follows I hope to show that in acknowledging the role of complex interrelations between cultural and other systems, a tradition of philosophical complexity justifiably claims a more adequate framework for understanding self- formation than that underpinning the discourses at work in Wilken's trial. I shall draw on Gadamer's hermeneutic model of an “embedded”subject, which is based on his speculative model of “play” out lined in Truth and Method, and supplement this with Lacan's psychoanalytic account of subject formation. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.21(4) 2002: 258-273.
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DOI 10.4314/sajpem.v21i4.31351
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