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Document Details :
Title: Questioning Rationality
Subtitle: Gadamer's Rehabilitation of Authority
Author(s): KNOTTS, Matthew W.
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 24 Date: 2014
In this essay, I consider how the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer can be interesting for theologians today, as well as people who generally consider themselves religious. I begin from the observation that faith is assailed as something irrational and pernicious to the pursuit of truth. In response to such a view, I consider Gadamer and his rehabilitation of concepts such as authority, tradition, and prejudice. A notable upshot of the considerations of Gadamer’s work is that presuppositions or ‘faith commitments’ may in fact be necessary in order to facilitate one’s growth in certain types of knowledge, and that epistemologies which are heavily critical of any fiduciary aspect to knowledge are suspect in their own ways. In order to link Gadamer more clearly with theology, and with the Christian tradition in particular, I consider the work of Augustine, in particular on epistemology and rationality. Having described the basis and motivations for such a dialogue, I argue that both figures emphasize the importance of authority in relation to rationality. Furthermore, I identify two closely related notions that could be interesting for further considerations of faith and reason, namely finitude and heteronomy. I conclude by sketching a way forward in terms of how these concepts could be applied today.