JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 326
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understanding. For Gadamer then, "the truth of the tradition is never
put in question, only the dynamics of its communications, extension,
renewal, and constant revivification" (Caputo 112).
Although the complex scheme of hermeneutics has attempted to
avoid the interpretative constraints of an authorial intention, it ends up
replacing it with the constraints of the conventions of the interpretative
tradition. While the fusion of horizons claims to allow us to understand
the text both in its identity with the present and its difference from it, the
scheme remains subservient to the continuity of the tradition "whose
being consists in the return to itself from what is other" (Gadamer 15).
The hermeneutical project then is ultimately concerned with transmitting
and understanding the text in the present in order to "seek one's own in
the alien, to become at home in it, [so as to establish] the basic movement
of [the tradition]" (15). The reappropriation of the alien into the folds of
the finite (historically determined) but indefinitely evolving tradition
makes possible "new" meanings, but only within the traditional form (the
previous "effects") of understanding that shape and constrain the possible
protocols for determining meaning. We are thus assured that behind the
different finite expressions there will always be "something" that will
allow us to return (grasp) back to the tradition (home). Hence, hermeneu-
tics "gives us comfort in the face of the flux.... [It] reassure[s] us that all
is well, that beneath the surface of historical transition an unchanging,
infinite spirit [of tradition] labors" (Caputo 112).
The "interpretive community" is obviously an important aspect in the
continuity of a tradition, for, as hermeneutics argues, it permits the
retelling of the text into the present circumstances, allowing creative
transformation while still maintaining the predominant sense of what is
"true" and "valuable" about the tradition. Osiel's account of the peda-
gogical function of "liberal courts" in a post-trauma society is consistent
with the hermeneutical concern to interpret and transmit the meaning of
texts within the generating and constrained laws of the tradition. Osiel
writes, "while [liberal courts] seek to preserve the normative 'integrity'
of their community over time, judicial stories also involve a continual
effort to rework legal rules and principles 'in their best light'-to clarify
and refine extant norms in the course of applying them to disputes
regarding their scope and meaning" (Mass 73; emphasis added). The
implication here is that each retelling before the law metonymically
preserves and reworks (for like the Gadamarian account of transmission
it does not break with but only clarifies and refines) the norms of our
liberal stories/tradition. Osiel writes, "The story of what the parties did
Here’s what’s next.
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/72/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .