HANS-GEORG GADAMER (German: ; February 11, 1900 – March 13, 2002)
was a German philosopher of the continental tradition , best known for
his 1960 magnum opus
Truth and Method (Wahrheit und Methode) on
hermeneutics . He was a Protestant
* 1 Life
* 2 Work
* 2.1 Philosophical hermeneutics and Truth and Method
* 2.1.1 Contributions to communication ethics
* 2.2 Other works
* 3 Prizes and awards * 4 Bibliography * 5 See also * 6 Notes * 7 References * 8 External links
Gadamer was born in
He grew up and studied classics and philosophy in the University of
Richard Hönigswald , but soon moved back to the
Shortly thereafter, Gadamer moved to Freiburg University and began
Martin Heidegger , who was then a promising young
scholar who had not yet received a professorship. He and Heidegger
became close, and when Heidegger received a position at
Gadamer habilitated in 1929 and spent most of the early 1930s
lecturing in Marburg. Unlike Heidegger, who joined the
Nazi Party in
May 1933 and continued as a member until the party was dissolved
following World War II, Gadamer was silent on
Nazism , and he was not
politically active during the
In 1933 Gadamer signed the Loyalty Oath of German Professors to Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist State.
In April 1937 he became a temporary professor at Marburg, then in 1938 he received a professorship at Leipzig University . From an SS -point of view Gadamer was classified as neither supportive nor disapproving in the "SD-Dossiers über Philosophie-Professoren" (i.e. SD-files concerning philosophy professors) that were set up by the SS-Security-Service (SD) . In 1946, he was found by the American occupation forces to be untainted by Nazism and named rector of the university.
The level of Gadamer's involvement with the Nazis has been disputed in the works of Richard Wolin and Teresa Orozco. Orozco alleges, with reference to Gadamer's published works, that Gadamer had supported the Nazis more than scholars had supposed. Gadamer scholars have rejected these assertions: Jean Grondin has said that Orozco is engaged in a "witch-hunt" while Donatella Di Cesare said that "the archival material on which Orozco bases her argument is actually quite negligible". Cesare and Grondin have argued that there is no trace of antisemitism in Gadamer's work, and that Gadamer maintained friendships with Jews and provided shelter for nearly two years for the philosopher Jacob Klein in 1933 and 1934. Gadamer also reduced his contact with Heidegger during the Nazi era.
The communist DDR was no more to Gadamer's liking than the Third
Reich , and he left for West Germany, accepting first a position in
Goethe University Frankfurt and then the succession of
Karl Jaspers in
the University of
In 1968, Gadamer invited Tomonobu Imamichi for lectures at Heidelberg, but their relationship became very cool after Imamichi alleged that Heidegger had taken his concept of Dasein out of Okakura Kakuzo 's concept of das in-der-Welt-sein (to be in the being in the world ) expressed in The Book of Tea , which Imamichi's teacher had offered to Heidegger in 1919, after having followed lessons with him the year before. Imamichi and Gadamer renewed contact four years later during an international congress.
In 1981, Gadamer attempted to engage with
Jacques Derrida at a
conference in Paris but it proved less enlightening because the two
thinkers had little in common. A last meeting between Gadamer and
Derrida was held at the Stift of
Gadamer received honorary doctorates from the
University of Bamberg ,
University of Breslau ,
On February 11, 2000, the University of
PHILOSOPHICAL HERMENEUTICS AND TRUTH AND METHOD
Gadamer's philosophical project, as explained in Truth and Method , was to elaborate on the concept of "philosophical hermeneutics ", which Heidegger initiated but never dealt with at length. Gadamer's goal was to uncover the nature of human understanding. In Truth and Method, Gadamer argued that "truth" and "method" were at odds with one another. For Gadamer, "the experience of art is exemplary in its provision of truths that are inaccessible by scientific methods, and this experience is projected to the whole domain of human sciences." He was critical of two approaches to the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften ). On the one hand, he was critical of modern approaches to humanities that modeled themselves on the natural sciences, which simply sought to “objectively” observe and analyze texts and art. On the other hand, he took issue with the traditional German approaches to the humanities, represented for instance by Friedrich Schleiermacher and Wilhelm Dilthey , who believed that meaning, as an object, could be found within a text through a particular process that allowed for a connection with the author’s thoughts that led to the creation of a text (Schleiermacher), or the situation that led to an expression of human inner life (Dilthey).
However, Gadamer argued meaning and understanding are not objects to be found through certain methods, but are inevitable phenomena. Hermeneutics is not a process in which an interpreter finds a particular meaning, but “a philosophical effort to account for understanding as an ontological—the ontological—process of man.” Thus, Gadamer is not giving a prescriptive method on how to understand, but rather he is working to examine how understanding, whether of texts, artwork, or experience, is possible at all. Gadamer intended Truth and Method to be a description of what we always do when we interpret things (even if we do not know it): "My real concern was and is philosophic: not what we do or what we ought to do, but what happens to us over and above our wanting and doing".
As a result of Martin Heidegger ’s temporal analysis of human existence, Gadamer argued that people have a "historically-effected" consciousness (wirkungsgeschichtliches Bewußtsein), and that they are embedded in the particular history and culture that shaped them. However the historical consciousness is not an object over and against our existence, but “a stream in which we move and participate, in every act of understanding.” Therefore, people do not come to any given thing without some form of preunderstanding established by this historical stream. The tradition in which an interpreter stands establishes "prejudices" that affect how he or she will make interpretations. For Gadamer, these prejudices are not something that hinders our ability to make interpretations, but are both integral to the reality of being, and “are the basis of our being able to understand history at all.” Gadamer criticized Enlightenment thinkers for harboring a "prejudice against prejudices".
For Gadamer, interpreting a text involves a fusion of horizons (Horizontverschmelzung). Both the text and the interpreter find themselves within a particular historical tradition, or “horizon.” Each horizon is expressed through the medium of language, and both text and interpreter belong to and participate in history and language. This “belongingness” to language is the common ground between interpreter and text that makes understanding possible. As an interpreter seeks to understand a text, a common horizon emerges. This fusion of horizons does not mean the interpreter now fully understands some kind of objective meaning, but is “an event in which a world opens itself to him.” The result is a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
Gadamer further explains the hermeneutical experience as a dialogue. To justify this, he uses Plato’s dialogues as a model for how we are to engage with written texts. To be in conversation, one must take seriously “the truth claim of the person with whom one is conversing.” Further, each participant in the conversation relates to one another insofar as they belong to the common goal of understanding one another. Ultimately, for Gadamer, the most important dynamic of conversation as a model for the interpretation of a text is “the give-and-take of question and answer.” In other words, the interpretation of a given text will change depending on the questions the interpreter asks of the text. The "meaning" emerges not as an object that lies in the text or in the interpreter, but rather an event that results from the interaction of the two.
Truth and Method was published twice in English, and the revised edition is now considered authoritative. The German-language edition of Gadamer's Collected Works includes a volume in which Gadamer elaborates his argument and discusses the critical response to the book. Finally, Gadamer's essay on Celan (entitled "Who Am I and Who Are You?") has been considered by many—including Heidegger and Gadamer himself—as a "second volume" or continuation of the argument in Truth and Method.
Contributions To Communication Ethics
Gadamer's Truth and Method has become an authoritative work in the communication ethics field, spawning several prominent ethics theories and guidelines. The most profound of these is the formulation of the dialogic coordinates, a standard set of prerequisite communication elements necessary for inciting dialogue. Adhering to Gadamer's theories regarding bias, communicators can better initiate dialogic transaction, allowing biases to merge and promote mutual understanding and learning.
Gadamer also added philosophical substance to the notion of human health. In The Enigma of Health, Gadamer explored what it means to heal, as a patient and a provider. In this work the practice and art of medicine are thoroughly examined, as is the inevitability of any cure.
In addition to his work in hermeneutics, Gadamer is also well known
for a long list of publications on Greek philosophy. Indeed, while
Truth and Method became central to his later career, much of Gadamer's
early life centered around studying Greek thinkers,
PRIZES AND AWARDS
Pour le Mérite and the Reuchlin Prize 1972: Great Cross of
Merit with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of
* Dialogue and Dialectic: Eight Hermeneutical Studies on Plato. Trans. and ed. by P. Christopher Smith. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press , 1980. * The Enigma of Health: The Art of Healing in a Scientific Age. Trans. John Gaiger and Richard Walker. Oxford: Polity Press, 1996. * Gadamer on Celan: ‘Who Am I and Who Are You?’ and Other Essays. By Hans-Georg Gadamer. Trans. and ed. Richard Heinemann and Bruce Krajewski. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1997. * The Gadamer Reader: A Bouquet of the Later Writings. Ed. by Richard E. Palmer. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2007. * Hegel's Dialectic: Five Hermeneutical Studies. Trans. P. Christopher Smith. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1976. * Heidegger's Ways. Trans. John W. Stanley. New York: SUNY Press, 1994. * The Idea of the Good in Platonic-Aristotelian Philosophy. Trans. P. Christopher Smith. New Haven, CT: 1986. * Literature and Philosophy in Dialogue: Essays in German Literary Theory. Trans. Robert H. Paslick. New York: SUNY Press, 1993. * Philosophical Apprenticeships. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985 (Gadamer's memoirs.) * Philosophical Hermeneutics. Trans. and ed. by David Linge. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976. * Plato's "Parmenides" and Its Influence. Dionysius , Volume VII (1983): 3-16 * Reason in the Age of Science. Trans. by Frederick Lawrence. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1981. * The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays. Trans. N. Walker. ed. R. Bernasconi , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. * Praise of Theory. Trans. Chris Dawson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. * Truth and Method . 2nd rev. edition. Trans. J. Weinsheimer and D. G. Marshall. New York: Crossroad, 2004. ISBN 978-0-8264-7697-5 excerpt
* Arthos, John. The Inner Word in Gadamer's Hermeneutics. South
Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009.
* Cercel, Larisa (ed.), Übersetzung und Hermeneutik / Traduction et
herméneutique, Bucharest, Zeta Books, 2009, ISBN 978-973-199-706-3 .
* Dostal, Robert L. ed. The Cambridge Companion to Gadamer.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
* Drechsler, Wolfgang. Gadamer in Marburg. Marburg: Blaues Schloss,
* Code, Lorraine. ed. Feminist Interpretations of Hans-Georg
Gadamer. University Park: Penn State Press, 2003.
* Coltman, Robert. The
* ^ Jeff Malpas, Hans-Helmuth Gande (eds.), The Routledge Companion
to Hermeneutics, Routledge, 2014, p. 259.
* ^ Hans-Georg Gadamer, "Towards a phenomenology of ritual and
language", in Lawrence Kennedy Schmidt (ed.),
* Grondin, Jean (2003). Hans-Georg Gadamer: A Biography. * Cesare, Donatella Di (2007). Gadamer: A Philosophical Portrait. Niall Keane (trans.). Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253007636 . * Orozco, Teresa (1995). Platonische Gewalt: Gadamers politische Hermeneutik der NS-Zeit.
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