Writing and reading : a hermeneutical study of implications

DiTommaso, Tanya
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University of Guelph

Considered in this thesis is the degree to which implications in texts bind selves in ethical relations. Accepting the contemporary critique of subjectivity, and thus no longer viewing the author and the reader as two independent, complete, and fully knowing archaeologists of one and the same meaning, I shall avoid starting from the position of subjectivity, and instead begin with describing the event of writing. I shall argue that the activities of writing and reading are guided by implications, and moreover, that the implied self emerging from such activities, while always incomplete and fuzzy, is nonetheless constituted by its relation to these implications. This thesis is intended as a systematic examination and integration of various twentieth century conceptions of the self through a description of writing and implications. This analysis, guided by Gadamer's hermeneutics, will attempt to ascertain the necessary conditions for understanding the meaning of a text. Understanding, however incomplete and precariously balanced between linguistic differences, will be described as a process where we anticipate, respond and play in a certain way. Understanding, understood on Gadamer's terms, will be shown to be the goal of both the reader and the text. With understanding in mind, I shall speak more of the fruitful anticipation and interest selves have in reaching an understanding (as a 'necessary possibility'), rather than assess whether or not such an understanding, as an 'actuality', is ever ultimately reached. The goal of this examination is to develop a hermeneutical notion of self-understanding as that which emerges from implications. I shall assess Gadamer's notion of understanding as it confronts Derrida on writing and Ricoeur on the self. The contribution afforded by this project lies in its bold statement that an understanding in reading is permitted by Derrida's writing and, further that this understanding involves ethical obligations between selves.

implications, texts, selves, ethical relations, implied self, Gadamer, hermeneutics