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Reading Oneself in the Text: A Romantic Theory of Reading


Speaker: David Liakos, UNM, Department of Philosophy

When: Nov 16, 2018 - 03:00pm - 04:30pm

Where: Department of Philosophy Library, HUM 519



Can we gain knowledge by reading literary texts? In this paper, I shall develop a positive answer to this question with reference to work by the American thinker Stanley Cavell and the hermeneutical philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer. I contend that these two writers independently developed a theory that purports to phenomenologically describe the experience of acquiring self-knowledge through reading literary texts. I will reconstruct the principal elements of Cavell and Gadamer’s shared theory of reading, and I will also suggest that their theory has its roots in Romanticism. I will then defend their position against two possible objections. In my reconstruction and defense of Cavell and Gadamer’s theory, I mean to demonstrate not only that their account of reading constitutes an independently viable argument worthy of sustained attention in aesthetics and philosophy of art, but also that there are previously unnoticed but considerable continuities between a major American philosopher and one of the main figures of twentieth-century German thought