Schleiermacher on Language, Religious Feeling, and the Ineffable

Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 8 (2):297-312 (2004)
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Abstract

This paper is about the relevance of the ineffable and the singular to hermeneutics. I respond to standard criticisms of Friedrich Schleiermacher by Karl Barth and Hans-Georg Gadamer in order to clarify his understanding of language, interpretation, and religion. Schleiermacher’s “indicative hermeneutics” is developed in the context of the ethical significance of communication and the ineffable. The notion of trace is employed in order to interpret the paradox of speaking about that which cannot be spoken. The trace is not a brute singularity but bears a fundamental relationship to the word—and ultimately the word of God—for Schleiermacher

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Eric S. Nelson
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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