Ordinary Transubstantiations: Gadamer’s Notion of ‘Speculative’ and Material Logic of Hermeneutic Experience

  • Ilya Inishev
Keywords: hermeneutic experience, speculative medium, transubstantiation, materiality, perceptual faith


According to Gadamer, the main distinguishing feature of hermeneutic experience is its ontological dimension epitomized by complex and multilayered transformative processes expressed in such formulae as ‘increasing in being’, ‘transformation into the true’ or ‘total mediation’. This notion of ontological experience as a transformative event allows two readings. The weak reading of Gadamer’s hermeneutic ontology (favoured by Gadamer himself as well as by all his interpreters and critics), laying the stress on interpreter’s self-consciousness, contents itself with just ‘subjective’ side of transformative effects of hermeneutic experience. The strong treatment of transformative potential of hermeneutic experience, which corresponds better to the universality claim of philosophical hermeneutics, presupposes equally strong transformation affecting not only interpreter’s self-consciousness but also her body as well as material environments of interpretive experience. We find the elements of such a ‘strong’ treatment of the transformative (i.e. ontological) potential of understanding in Gadamer’s conception of the speculative, adumbrated in the concluding sections of his ‘Truth and Method’. Drawing on this conception, the paper proposes the notion of transubstantiation as a model for describing the bodily-material dimension of transformative processes making up the core element of hermeneutic ontology.
Being, Knowing and the Self