Gadamer on Meaning

The only thing that is universally familiar to us today is unfamiliarity itself, momentarily illuminated by an ephemeral glimmer of meaning.

Discuss.

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2 thoughts on “Gadamer on Meaning”

  1. It’s funny that the first image that popped into my head after reading this quote (particularly the “unfamiliarity itself” part) was a kid whose parents are going through a divorce. Divorce, broken family, dysfunctionality – whatever you want to call it. It’s a common occurrence. Yet I can’t help feeling like people know it’s not how things are supposed to be. Even little kids know that.

    Looking at it in a big-picture way, I think we, all humans, understand that we’re living in a world that shouldn’t be the way it is. As Christians, we’re “aliens” here…our spirit senses it’s in unfamiliar territory.

    So, where do we find the “ephemeral glimmer of meaning?” Don’t worry, I’m not going to go the easy route and say “Jesus.” Not that Jesus is easy, but answering like that doesn’t quite say it, does it? It has to be more. It’s that moment when deep calls to deep and spirit speaks to spirit. When your heart leaps at a sunset. When you lose your breath thinking about the enormity of the ocean. When tears gather in your eyes at the fleeting understanding of your *relationship to* Jesus. There’s meaning. In that moment, maybe we get it.

  2. I think you’re exactly right, MCW. It’s kind of like, for me, the beginning of a migraine (my curse). The world begins to look odd, to shimmer, to darken at the edges of my vision. And I feel off-balance a bit, wooly between the ears, and tingly.

    The not-quite-rightness feeling is balanced by the occasional absolute-rightness feeling.

    Part of the inadequacy of the “Jesus” answer is that we have placed so much value on the “personal relationship” with Jesus that we’ve missed how truly extraordinary the God-man Jesus was and is. I’ve obviously been heavily influenced by N.T. Wright on this, but if we leap over the historical person Jesus to the personal relationship of enlightenment/post-enlightenment influenced modern-day revivalist Christianity (there’s a mouthful), it’s easy to miss the meaningfulness of the universe itself.

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