For many in the humanities and cultural studies, the linguistic turn that Richard Rorty proclaimed forty years ago has meant that ‘reality’ – after God and metaphysics – lost power over us, opening up heretofore unknown spaces of freedom. The so-called ’68 movement is unthinkable without these theoretical prerequisites. The same movement, however, is frequently associated with a decidedly anti-hermeneutic focus on corporeality, passion, and presence in opposition to an anaemic culture of interpretation. This unsettling tension will be the focus of the second Spannungsübung
. It informs basic questions of politics, philosophy, and religion: Is the yearning for a substantial conception of being and for experiences of presence politically dangerous, discredited, or is it, at least in a corrective fashion, indispensable? Is the human being to be determined by a constant transcending of self and nature, or is it imperative to first of all properly come into the world? Is an indefinite deferral our destiny, or do strong forms of presence (‘real presence’, epiphany, second coming, salvation) remain essential?
The ICI Berlin dedicated its second ‘Spannungsübung’ to hermeneutics as a dominant method in the humanities. On the occasion of the German ‘Year of the Humanities’ the Institute invited two renowned intellectuals to discuss their differing positions on hermeneutics and interpretation: Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht and Gianni Vattimo.