Gadamerian Reflections on My Conversation with Ed Mooney

Recently, I interviewed Ed Mooney, a Kierkegaard scholar, philosopher, and poet, among other things. The interview was carried out more like a conversation than a series of questions to be answered. In correspondence, Ed and I have agreed that this gave the interview a very unique flavor and allowed a certain play and freedom to show through. I couldn’t help but think of our exchange when reading this portion of Truth and Method this morning:

We say that we ‘conduct’ a conversation, but the more genuine a conversation is, the less its conduct lies within the will of either partner. Thus a genuine conversation is never the one that we wanted to conduct. Rather it is generally more correct to say that we fall into conversation, or even that we become involved in it. The way one word follows another, with the conversation taking its own twists and reaching its own conclusion, may well be conducted in some way, but the partners conversing are far less the leaders of it than the led. No one knows in advance what will ‘come out’ of a conversation. Understanding or its failure is like an event that happens to us. Thus we can say that something was a good conversation or that it was ill fated. All this shows that a conversation has a spirit of its own, and that the language in which it is conducted bears its own truth within it–i.e., that it allows something to ’emerge’ which henceforth exists. (385)

Thanks for the conversation, Ed. It was a wonderful thing to fall into.

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3 Responses to Gadamerian Reflections on My Conversation with Ed Mooney

  1. efmooney says:

    What a wonderful quote. Of course the lesson is that we both owe the success of our conversation to something other that my presence, or your presence (though it couldnt’ have happened to us apart from our being mutually present. I REALLY like that quote!
    Ed Mooney

    • Dean says:

      That is exactly right, Ed. Gadamer’s discussions of truth and its emergence bear many parallels to the things you’ve said in our interview, and I find your words ringing as I page through. I just realized I forgot to add a page number for the above quote, so I’ll rectify that on the chance there is interest among readers in pursuing these thoughts further.

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