responsibility to one’s neighbor

Zimmermann and Klassen compare Heidegger, Gadamer and Levinas:

Hans Georg Gadamer … emphasizes the point that ideas for our interpretation of the world do not simply pop into our heads from nowhere but are passed on to us through tradition.

…We must begin not with greater totalities such as Heidegger’s Being or Gadamer’s tradition but with our concrete social relation to other human beings. Philosophy does not come first in our reflections but the ethical relation to our fellow human being, and such a beginning is not Greek but Hebraic. It is in the Bible, argues Levinas, that we find the true ethical grounds for humanism: responsibility to one’s neighbor. It is this ethical demand of the other human being that limits one’s self-centered impulse for control over nature and others.

From The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education by Jens Zimmermann and Norman Klassen.

knowledge that one does not know

Even Aristotle’s views on proof and argument—which, in fact, make dialectic a subordinate element in knowledge—accord the same priority to the question, as has been demonstrated by Ernst Kapp’s brilliant work on the origin of Aristotle’s syllogistic. The priority of the question in knowledge shows how fundamentally the idea of method is limited for knowledge, which has been the starting point for our argument as a whole. There is no such thing as a method of learning to ask questions, of learning to see what is questionable. On the contrary, the example of Socrates teaches that the important thing is the knowledge that one does not know. Hence the Socratic dialectic—which leads, through its art of confusing the interlocutor, to this knowledge—creates the conditions for the questions. All questioning and desire to know presuppose a knowledge that one does not know; so much so, indeed, that a particular lack of knowledge leads to a particular question.

Plato shows in an unforgettable way where the difficulty lies in knowing what one does not know. It is the power of opinion against which it is so hard to obtain an admission of ignorance. It is opinion that suppresses questions. Opinion has a curious tendency to propagate itself. It would always like to be the general opinion, just as the word that the Greeks have for opinion, doxa, also means the decision made by the majority in the council assembly. How, then, can ignorance be admitted and questions arise?

From the chapter “Analysis of Historically Effected Consciousness” from Truth and Method (2nd edition) by Hans Georg Gadamer, translated by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. Thanks to a friend who recently brought Gadamer to my attention again.

receptivity to the ‘otherness’

Gadamer argues that education is not primarily the storing up of facts but the movement away from one’s own narrow horizon into the greater context of how people have thought concerning the great human questions throughout the ages…: “It is not enough to observe more closely, to study a tradition more thoroughly, if there is not already a receptivity to the ‘otherness’ of the work of art of the past.”

From The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education by Jens Zimmermann and Norman Klassen