Hermeneutics is an art or a current dedicated to the interpretation of texts, in particular sacred writings and philosophical and artistic texts. Hans-Georg Gadamer was a German philosopher who renewed this current with his contributions.
Gadamer was a follower of Heidegger, another German thinker, considered the most influential of the twentieth century. In this article we will see a brief biography of Hans-Georg Gadamer and a summary of his contributions, particularly in the field of hermeneutics, philosophy and aesthetics.
Hans-Georg Gadamer: biography of this philosopher
Hans-Georg Gadamer was a German philosopher, born in Marburg in 1900 and died in Heidelberg in 2002. He obtained a doctoral thesis in philosophy in 1922. Later, in 1933, he taught aesthetics and ethics in his hometown, in Kiel and again in Marburg.
In the latter city, Marburg, Gadamer was appointed extraordinary professor in 1937, and two years later he was awarded a chair at the University of Leipzig. He then joined the universities of Frankfurt and Heidelberg, where he replaced Karl Jaspers as professor of philosophy. In 1968, he became professor emeritus.
Hans-Georg Gadamer is known for his essays in three notable areas: the history of philosophy, the philosophy of history, and aesthetics. (Study the essence and perception of beauty).
Truth and method. Elements of a Philosophical Hermeneutics (1960) was his most important work, in which set the budgets and objectives of the hermeneutical current (Technique or method of text interpretation). This current declares that there is no world, but several historical meanings of “the world”. However, although this current implies a great relativism, Hans-Georg Gadamer refers in his work to a possible communication and expression of a meaning.
In this work, the hermeneutical philosophy and the most relevant works of the author are systematically exposed. We show the influence of the hermeneutics of the being of Heidegger and the philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey.
The story of truth that Hans-Georg Gadamer reconstructs in his work is marked by the famous philosopher Descartes, From the concept of “adaequatio”; it means that the truth is in fact a method of achieving the correct correspondence between facts and propositions. Gadamer, however, opposes this position and describes the real possibilities of human experience of truth.
Hans-Georg Gadamer develops a series of hermeneutical principles that go beyond philosophy, and that they can be applied to different disciplines such as literary criticism or sociology. According to the author, the search for truth requires a redefinition of hermeneutics; according to him, this current goes beyond the interpretation of texts and covers a reflection essential to understand the world.
Hans-Georg Gadamer he founded the hermeneutical school and declares that the interpretation of a text must avoid the arbitrariness and the limitations which arise from mental habits, and that we must focus our gaze on the things themselves, on the texts themselves. According to Gadamer, every time we approach a text, we do it from a project and with a prior idea of what is being done there.
Hans-Georg Gadamer also spoke of the aesthetic experience, according to which from there “one can glimpse a circumstance of truth in which the person of the experience itself is modified”.
Thus, Gadamer understands, unlike other philosophical theories where truth is identified with knowledge of the positive sciences, that the truth of experiences is the result of people coming into contact with works of art, history or personal dialogue. According to this philosopher, in the aesthetic experience, there is a dissolution of the perceiving subject and the object (the work of art). This experience breaks the subject-object dichotomy.
On the other hand, the author affirms that the aesthetic experience takes place by means of a back and forth movement in which the work and the subject who enjoys it pass in the same direction. For example, in the contemplation of a work of art, the viewer is subjected to the ups and downs of the plot, and with it is brought into the work itself, while the work “operates” on. herself. This is defined by Hans-Georg Gadamer as a game.
Other works and relations with other authors
Hans-Georg Gadamer also wrote other works, such as The Problem of Historical Consciousness (1963), Short Writings (1967) and Dialogue and Dialectics (1980), a collection of essays on Plato’s dialogues.
On the other hand, throughout his life and professional career, argue with thinkers like Jacques Derrida and Jürgen Habermas. Riccardo Dottori, an Italian philosopher, published his conversations with Gadamer in a book called The Last He Gave. Lessons on the 20th century; the edition of this work was published in German in 2002, a few weeks before the fort of Hans-Georg Gadamer.
Hahn, L. and Drechsler, W. (1998). The philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer. Wefts, 2 (4), 338-351. Malpas, J. (2003). Hans-Georg Gadamer. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.