The point of the present essay will be to thematize the project of recovery, to probe and unfold it, and to defend its role in an adequately conceived hermeneutics. I will argue as follows. There are two philosophies of recovery or retrieval which feed into the hermeneutic strategy of Being and Time — the Kierkegaardian notion of existential "repetition" and the phenomenological return to beginnings in Husserl. In Being and Time, Heidegger demonstrates that these two versions of retrieval are of a piece, that they represent as it were twin circles. I will show that the one circle existential repetition - belongs to what Kierkegaard calls the "foundering of metaphysics," while Husserlian phenomenology, as Derrida shows so well, remains under the spell of the metaphysics of presence. I will argue that Kierkegaardian repetition controls and decisively modifies the phenomenological element in Being and Time, and hence that the hermeneutics which is at work in this book has broken with metaphysics. After Heidegger, hermeneutics means a recovery of origins, a return to the more primordial, which has nothing to do with the "nostalgia for presence" but on the contrary everything to do with what Kierkegaard calls the "courage" for repetition. Finally, without pretending to know what Derrida in the long run wants to say, and fully cognizant that I may be deconstructed on the spot, I want to conclude that Derrida's critique of Heideggerian hermeneutics is misled by the Husserlian element in Being and Time. It is a mistake, I will contend, to make the critique of presence into a critique of the whole project of retrieval, and hence a mistake to think that hermeneutics is a matter of the free play of signs — even as it is a mistake for Rorty to think that hermeneutics has to do merely with keeping the lines of communication open between the diverse "language games."


Presented at the 11th Annual Philosophy Colloquium of the Department of Philosophy of the University of Dayton, held in March 1982.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.