On the (Un)Stopping of Our Ears





Hans-Georg Gadamer, critical hermeneutics, vice epistemology, praxis


This paper is concerned with the problem of speaking past one another due to an asymmetry of the interlocutors' backgrounds. When individuals with different levels of relative privilege interact, the party with relative privilege may fail to engage with what is being communicated. I take up critical Gadamerian hermeneutics to ask how we, as individuals with relative privilege, can 'unstop' our ears so that the burden of explanation does not (unfairly) remain on those we hurt by our mishearing/non-hearing. I offer two methods to achieve this 'unstopping': 'critical self-knowledge' through Quassim Cassam's 'Vice Epistemology' framework and 'critical world-knowledge' through the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory (Max Horkheimer and Jürgen Habermas, specifically). I then take up contemporary critical hermeneutics (Lorenzo Simpson) to show how, through the application of the critical methods, one might be able to achieve a useful, cross-cultural dialogue. This is imperative given our inexorably multi-cultural world today.


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How to Cite

John, L. (2022). On the (Un)Stopping of Our Ears . Labyrinth, 24(2), 118–133. https://doi.org/10.25180/lj.v24i2.309