Stiftelsen för verkningshistoriska studier
Vaikutushistoriallisen tutkimuksen säätiö
Foundation for Research in Effective History
Stiftung für wirkungsgeschichtliche Forschung
Fondation de recherche en histoire efficiente

Asianajotoimisto/Advokatbyrå Mitts & Co
Pohjoisesplanadi/Norra Esplanaden 33 A
FI - 00100 Helsinki/Helsingfors




Trialogue Trialog Trialogue

The Historicty of Understanding
Die Historizität des Verstehens
L’historicité de la compréhension

Samuel Weber, The Singular Historicity of Understanding: « Still Ending... »

Some extracts :

“As Hegel noted in a now famous dictum, «Bekannt ist nicht erkannt» – the fact that something is familiar does not suffice to make it transparent. Indeed, the opposite may easily be the case: for despite the well-known English adage, familiarity does not simply breed contempt – it can also serve to produce a semblance of understanding and consensus precisely through its ability to conceal the relationships upon which it depends. A powerful but perhaps not sufficiently discussed concept is Freud’s notion of «Deckerinnerung» – «screen memory» as it is rendered in English. With this term Freud designates those memories that recur frequently in and outside of the psychoanalytic session, memories that are therefore familiar, all too familiar, but that serve not so much to reveal as to conceal networks of signifiers that might threaten the unity of the self-conscious ego. Such isolated and apparently self-contained memory-images operate to preserve forgetting at the heart of remembering.”

”The Hegelian Spirit differs from its Christian predecessor in important respects: it does not involve the resurrection of the body, but rather only of the spirit as determinate negation, bestimmte Negation. Such a process of conceptual self-negation however also can be seen as a matrix for historical understanding, since what it produces, which is designed to bring about the promised resurrection of the body, albeit by transcending materiality, is the resurgence of something we can call « meaning ».”

“With respect to signifying, the setting of limits constitutive of meaning and hence of understanding has to be construed less as a process of completion than as one of interruption.”

”But with Benjamin’s account of the Lebenszusammenhang out of which translatability emerges, «life» serves as a point of departure rather than of arrival. What is decisive, as we have seen, is not simply «life» as such or in general but rather the notion of «Zusammenhang»: the way it « hangs together » which is also the way it comes apart. The original « survives », lives on in its translation, but only insofar as it thereby takes leave of itself, goes «forth» – fort – into an irrevocable exile and thereby ceases to be what it was, indeed, ceases to be a Self. / And yet this movement of self-abandonment is never simply transcendent. Indeed, it spins the warp and woof of language as signifying. It is going on around us all the time, but so close that it generally escapes notice.”