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Tag Archives: Hans-Georg Gadamer

The Difference Between Judging and Discerning

Source: The Difference Between Judging and Discerning

I am on the road for a couple of days, so I am not sure what I can post in terms of original material. I turn to pressing some great posts from others.

Val‘s post resonated with me, because judging and discerning were part of my dissertation. Hans-Georg Gadamer used these concepts in Truth and Method and they formed a significant part of my conceptual framework, literature review, and conclusions.

Gadamer proposed humans judge the world, ideas, and people as they encounter them. He used the term prejudice, which is a way of prejudging the world as we engage with it and others. In effect, there is a right or wrong way to engage. I used parentheses, because it has a negative connotation and to slow the pace of reading. It became (pre)judge and (pre)judice, which annoyed two of my committee members.

When we take more time to read text and (con)text, that which encircles us, we can (dis)cern and (in)form ourselves as we realize the world and people are complex. WE ask eloquent questions that do not have predetermined answers. We let the question frame dialogue with the world and others.

Val said “when we detach [ourselves] from the belief of good or bad, and discern life’s multicolors and shades, we find freedom beyond the rules and conditioning of the mind.” We let go of judgements of a world that is cast in binary choices of black or white, moving to complex (con)textual understandings (sub)ject to discerning and seeking new and continuous understandings. Ted Aoki contended “and” means more than the binary nature of “or.”

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Nothing Left to See Through

This poem arrived today. I waited for it and did not chase after it. When I read it, the words spoke to me.

The Zen Master Ryōkan reminded me that change is inevitable. It happens. Like yesterday’s post, chasing after and holding things, as if they were permanent, is done in vain.

To take time, to be mindful, and sit quietly can bring peace in which one can discover the essence of things and understand mistaken views. Hans-Georg Gadamer said dialogue begins not through shared understanding, but mis-understanding. This includes inner dialogue one has with ones’ self.

Past has passed away.

Future has not arrived.

Present does not remain.

Nothing is reliable; everything must change.

You hold on to letters and names in vain,

forcing yourself to believe in them.

Stop chasing new knowledge.

Leave old views behind.

Study the essential

and then see through it.

When there is nothing left to see through,

then you will know your mistaken views.

A Gift

Hans-Georg Gadamer described eloquent questions, as questions that do not have pre-supposed answers. Eloquent questions become and bound dialogue.

I used eloquent questions in my dissertation to explore how teachers experience using curriculum. Instead of arriving as a prescribed text with fixed answers, curriculum transforms into questions. Each student’s and teacher’s lived-experiences transform into questions held gently so as not to injure. The word transform means to go beyond the existing form and through the gift of dialogue and eloquent questions we can.

Denise Levertov‘s poem is about holding other’s questions as if they are fragile and are the answers to one’s own questions. Questions are gifts. When we watch a child open a gift, the joy is in watching them turn the gift to explore it from different angles. After all, differences make a difference.

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.

Logos

Mary Oliver is a poet I turn to when I am searching. Since the American election I have searched and am trying to make meaning of the outcomes. I am not American so it is easy to think my vote and voice do not matter, but they do.

I have never voted for a conservative politician or message, but I am as conservative as I am a progressive, perhaps more so. John Dewey wrote we create sects around progressivism and conservativism as if they are cleaved off from each other.

The essential element is to preserve/converse what we value and what gives us life , discarding what is harmful to people and the world. Hans-Georg Gadamer suggested more tradition remains than is replaced and much it is taken-for-granted.

What is often taken-for-granted helps us navigate our personal worlds in the form of “legitimate prejudices.” When we encounter some one and some things that are different, Gadamer argued it opens us up to dialogue and eloquent questions that have no fixed answers.

What I am certain of is in the dialogue and eloquent questions there is no room for misogyny, racism, and xenophobia that further divide us. Logos is how we use words and reason as an ethical response to others who appear in our lives for some reason, which was the underlying message in Rumi’s The Guest House.

Mary Oliver offers a message about civil discourse that includes love we express through our words and the reasons we share those words with others. It is a message that comes to us from Jesus who gave his life as an act of unconditional love. When we say the right (in French it is proper which has to do with comportment) words, the wine expands.

Why worry about the loaves and fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

Looking for the Differences

Tom Hennen wrote about the differences that can fill our senses each day. Sometimes, humans do not notice what is different as differences can hide in nooks and crannies of our daily lives. When we do sense the differences, they can excite our senses and call us to take care around them. In their daily existences, these things are “royalty in their own country.”

The words thing and objects used in the poem can be replaced by persons and subjects. How many people do we miss and avoid, because they look, speak, and act differently? There is a strangeness in the royalty of the other that calls upon us to question not them, but our self.

Hans-Georg Gadamer suggested that when some one or something different shows itself humans pull up short. Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas wrote that when the stranger appears at the door the host is faced with a paradox of unconditional responsiblity and risk. When we greet the stranger and what is different, we do so with uncertainty. The words host, hospitality, and hostile share etymological roots. We cannot know in advance who and what strangers represent when we greet them, but in Abrahamic tradition (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), the host is responsible for the care and well-being of that stranger.

Perhaps in being attentive and mindful to the world we exist in, we can better serve the stranger and what is strange when they appear.

I am struck by the otherness of things rather than their sameness.

The way a tiny pile of snow perches in the crook of a branch in the

tall pine, away by itself, high enough not to be noticed by people,

out of reach of stray dogs. It leans against the scaly pine bark, busy

at some existence that does not need me.

It is the differences of objects that I love, that lift me toward the rest

of the universe, that amaze me. That each thing on earth has its own

soul, its own life, that each tree, each clod is filled with the mud of

its own star. I watch where I step and see that the fallen leaf, old

broken grass, an icy stone are placed in exactly the right spot on the

earth, carefully, royalty in their own country.

Peace is With us Today

Peace is With us Today.

I had an Einstein poster in my classroom. My students referred to him as my dad, because I told a student, who did recognize him, he was my dad. When another student questioned me, I pointed out we had wild hair, facial foliage, and eccentric behaviors.

I enjoy Einstein, because his quotes reveal important insights. In this one, peace is something we offer and gain through mutual understanding.

I am using Jurgen Habermas, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Parker Palmer, etc. in my dissertation. I find important intersections in their work as they stress conversation, communication, and mutual understanding as integral to living peacefully in the world. It does not mean agreement, but suggests we can accept different ways of experiencing the world that allows for non-violent disagreement. We see what the Other holds true in their living as not very different from what we hold true.

Sweet is the Oneness

I just finished writing the first draft of a short paper on complexity and the teacher’s practice. Much of this is not new. A classroom has the potential to become a community. It is about the needs of each student within a classroom and their personal lived histories. Around that community has the potential to emerge. I cannot plan for it. I can wish for it. Community grows out of the livingness of our lives when we linger on bridges that link us and we while away time in those moments. This is different then when someone chooses a team with a specific goal in mind.

Those are not my thoughts. I added to the thinking of Hans-Georg Gadamer, Max van Manen, David Jardine, and Ted Aoki. I found  complexity is something we have talked about throughout history, yet we it treat like it is new. I looked for a poem that fit my writing. The first poet that appeared was Rumi and he led me to this beautiful poem about the oneness of community.

If ten lamps are in one place,

each differs in form from another;

yet you can’t distinguish whose radiance is whose when you focus on the light.

In the field of spirit there is no division; no individuals exist.

Sweet is the oneness of the Friend with His friends.

Catch hold of spirit.

Help this headstrong self disintegrate;

that beneath it you may discover unity,

like a buried treasure.

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