The hermeneutics of ethical encounters: Between traditions and practice

Michael Lambek


What Jonathan Mair and Nicholas Evans (this collection) describe is the scene of hermeneutics. To put it another way, encounters between traditions can be ethical only when they are approached hermeneutically. The hermeneutic approach lies beyond a choice between rationalism and relativism (a border of its own), not to mention doctrinaire assurance that one’s own tradition is right. Hermeneutics sits quite well with Aristotelian virtue ethics, especially as taken up by Gadamer. Moreover, “traditions” and borders occur within multiple levels of inclusion; speaking across them is a part of ordinary practice, hence must be a part of any account of ethical life. By way of illustration, I revisit the local interplay of three traditions described in Knowledge and practice in Mayotte (Lambek 1993) through the lens of ethics.


ethics, hermeneutics, Gadamer, incommensurability, tradition, irony

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau5.2.014