Synesis is a word I have needed for a long time. I’ve groped toward this concept with an unusual use of sympathy (contrasted with empathy, a related form of truth, but one that is constructed, objective and removed) and an invented word seeing-with. Synesis represents another dimension of reality, the recognition that behind the face of every person in the world is another world inter-lapping our own, which, through dialogue, can open our own world in strange ways.

Bernstein, again.

What Gadamer tells us about freedom is complemented by what he says about solidarity. His understanding of solidarity also goes back to his interpretation of Greek philosophy and the primacy of the principle of friendship in Greek ethics and politics. We recall that when Gadamer examines Aristotle’s analysis of the distinction between phronesis and techne, he notes that the variant of phronesis which is called synesis requires friendship and solidarity.

Once again we discover that the person with understanding [synesis] does not know and judge as one who stands apart and unafected; but rather, as one united by a specific bond with the other, he thinks with the other and undergoes the situation with him. (TM, p. 288; WM, p. 306)

This theme, too, which Gadamer appropriates from Greek philosophy, is universalized. “Genuine solidarity, authentic community, should be realized.” In summarizing his answer to the question “What is practice?” he writes:

Practice is conducting oneself and acting in solidarity. Solidarity, however, is the decisive condition and basis of all social reason. There is a saying of Heraclitus, the “weeping” philosopher: The logos is common to all, but people behave as if each had a private reason. Does this have to remain this way?

One of the reasons why many modern thinkers have been so suspicious of phronesis, and more generally of the tradition of practical philosophy that was shaped by Aristotle, is because of the elitist connotations of this “intellectual virtue.” Aristotle himself did not think of it as a virtue that could be ascribed to every human being but only to those gifted individuals who had been properly educated. And it cannot be denied that many of those who have been drawn to this tradition in the modern age, especially insofar as they have opposed what they take to be the excesses and abstractness of the Enlightenment conception of reason, have not only been critical of political reform and revolution but have been attracted to the elitist quality of phronesis. But Gadamer softens this elitist aura by blending his discussion of phronesis with his analysis of a type of dialogue and conversation that presupposes mutual respect, recognition, and understanding. When all of this is integrated with the Hegelian “truth” — “the principle that all are free never again can be shaken” — then the radicalization of phronesis and praxis becomes manifest. There is an implicit telos here, not in the sense of what will work itself out in the course of history, but rather in the sense of what ought to be concretely realized.


It is a privilege to be a designer. We regularly participate in the mundane transcendence of collaboration.

Whose idea was that?” is a question that has broken up many of the best bands, because the best bands are not aggregates of individuals, but is an intelligent being within whom the musicians synetically participate. This question never dogs an all-star aggregate: everyone has clearly labeled his own contribution.

To play a crucial part in something greater than individuality does not diminish one’s individuality, but actualizes it. Adulthood is learning the participant’s responsibility.)


No amount of competence can add up to greatness.

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