Hans-Georg Gadamer

Edited by Theodore George (Texas A&M University)
Assistant editor: David Liakos (University of New Mexico)
About this topic

Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) is arguably the figure most associated with hermeneutics in our times. Gadamer completed his doctoral studies in Marburg, where his teachers included Paul Natrop and Nicolai Hartman; the principle influence on Gadamer’s philosophical development, however, was Martin Heidegger, with whom Gadamer subsequently completed his Habilitation studies in Freiburg. Among Gadamer’s faculty appointments, perhaps the most notable are the positions he has held at the University of Leipzig from 1939–1947, where he also served in 1946 as Rector, and at the University of Heidelberg from 1949 until his official retirement in the late 1960s, as well as after this his long association with Boston College. Gadamer’s project, which is typically identified as philosophical hermeneutics, may be understood to build on Heidegger’s elucidation of hermeneutics in an ontological register. Hermeneutics, as the early Heidegger develops it, concerns not foremost the art of understanding or epistemological considerations of our cognitive capacity to understand and interpret, but, more fundamentally, the ontology of human beings insofar as human beings are characterized by their disclosedness, that is, their openness to the being of whatever beings they find themselves involved with. Gadamer, from this point of departure, stresses the finitude of such openness, arguing that hermeneutic experience is epitomized by dialogic interaction, or, conversation, and that human understanding remains always conditioned by prejudices, or, pre-judgments, passed down through tradition and language. Gadamer develops his project of philosophical hermeneutics in his major work, Truth and Method, as well as in a large body of other writings, and his work makes significant contributions in the philosophy of art and aesthetics, practical philosophy, ancient Greek philosophy, and a number of other areas. Influenced not only by Heidegger, but also several figures in the history of philosophy, especially Plato, Aristotle, and Hegel, Gadamer is furthermore noted for his important philosophical engagements with leading figures of the age, especially Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. 

Key works

While Gadamer’s writings are largely gathered in the eleven volumes that comprise his collected works, Gesammelte Werke (Mohr Siebeck, 1990), many of his important writings are available in English translation. His major work is Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method. Many of Gadamer’s important further contributions are represented in English translation in a number of collected volumes. Two collected volumes that address a broad range of central themes in Gadamer’s thought are Philosophical Hermeneutics and The Gadamer Reader: A Bouquet of the Later Writings. A volume that collects many of his important writings on the hermeneutical significance of beauty, as well as themes in the philosophy of art and aesthetics more broadly, is The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Writings; a volume that collects some of Gadamer’s most important contributions to the philosophical study of literature is Literature and Philosophy in Dialogue: Essays in German Literary Theory. A further notable collected volume is Hermeneutics, Religion and Ethics. Gadamer’s hermeneutical engagements with of some of his important philosophical influences may be found in Dialogue and Dialectic: Eight Hermeneutical Studies on Plato, The Beginning of Philosophy, Hegel’s Dialectic: Five Hermeneutical Studies and Heidegger's Ways. Gadamer discusses the arc of his own philosophical life in Philosophical Apprenticeships and “Reflections on my Philosophical Journey".


Of the many good introductions to hermeneutics available in English, those highly recommended include, in alphabetical order by author: 

Di Cesare, Donatella, Gadamer. A Philosophical Portrait

Dostal, Robert, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Gadamer

Grondin, Jean, The Philosophy of Gadamer.  

Malpas, Jeff. Hans-Georg Gadamer.  

Risser, James, Hermeneutics and the Voice of the Other.

Related categories

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  1. Congreso Internacional de Hermenéutica Filosófica. El Legado de Gadamer. Aavv (ed.) - 2004 - Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Granada.
  2. Hermeneutical Contributions to the History of Science: Gadamer on 'Presentism'.Oscar Moro Abadía - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):372-380.
    This article examines how Hans G. Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics can contribute to contemporary debates on the concept of ‘presentism’. In the field of the history of science, this term is usually employed in two ways. First, ‘presentism’ refers to the kind of historiography which judges the past to legitimate the present. Second, this concept designates the inevitable influence of the present in the interpretation of the past. In this paper, I argue that both dimensions of the relationship between the present (...)
  3. When There's No Place Like Home: Heidegger, Hermeneutics, and the Narratives of Adopted Adolescents.Scott William Abbott - 1999 - Dissertation, California School of Professional Psychology - Berkeley/Alameda
    Numerous studies have demonstrated that adopted persons, and in particular adolescents, are over-represented in psychotherapeutic treatment settings. Traditionally, clinical approaches to the treatment of distressed adopted persons have focused on largely decontextualized intrapsychic or familial concerns such as attachment issues, the formation of a self-concept and identity, or failures in navigating developmental stages. ;From the point of view of ontological hermeneutics, psychological categories fall short of addressing broader cultural and philosophical dimensions, such as the experience of not "being-at-home-in-the-world," a sense (...)
  4. What is Hermeneutics?Romauldo E. Abulad - 2007 - Kritike 1 (2).
  5. El diálogo que somos: la comprensión como espacio para la política.Maria del Rosario Acosta - 2006 - Areté. Revista de Filosofía 18 (2):205-228.
    This paper mainly proposes to point out some aspects that render hermeneutics pertinent within the context of political discussion, defending it from attacks mostly stemming from a philosophy of critical consciousness such as Habermas’s, Adorno’s, and some of their followers. It will be shown, from Gadamer’s perspective, how hermeneutics responds to those critiques within its conception of understanding as a fundamental task and a primordial political space. Contrary to a philosophy that appeals to the need of “taking its distance” as (...)
  6. Gadamer . - L'art de comprendre. [REVIEW]M. Adam - 1983 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 173:60.
  7. Gadamer Without Tears.Joseph Agassi - 1994 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 24 (4):485-505.
    The chief feature of Gadamer's philosophy is his claim that the humanities obey their own rules concerning reading texts and ensuring certitude. The promise of certitude is illusory, however, and the discourses on interpretation by him and his leading disciples are too confused to instruct the reader. His own sketch of his philosophy, published in his autobiographic Philosophical Apprenticeship, and its reflection in Gadamer and Hermeneutics (Hugh J. Silverman, ed.), shows this and reveals him as still too insensitive to the (...)
  8. Sobre la situación dialéctico-dialógica entre platón Y Gadamer.Enrique de Jesús Aguilar Prado - 2013 - Revista de filosofía (Chile) 69:21-37.
    El presente trabajo argumenta la semejanza del papel dialógico entre Platón y Hans-Georg Gadamer como punto fundante de la actividad del filósofo y como punto de desencuentro entre la dialéctica y la retórica antigua, y entre la dialéctica y la hermenéutica contemporánea. Al contrario, se analiza su diferencia para exponer el papel anticrítico de la dialéctica que caracteriza la obra de Verdad y Método y reafirma la función enunciativa de la texné en relación con la situación dialogal entre el lector (...)
  9. Raison Critique Ou Raison Herméneutique? Une Analyse de la Controverse Entre Habermas Et Gadamer.José Ma Aguirre - 1998
  10. Critical Reason or Hermeneutic Reason+ Examining the Controversy Between Habermas and Gadamer.Jm Aguirreoraa - 1993 - Revue Philosophique De Louvain 91 (91):409-440.
  11. A Gadamerian Critique of Kuhn's Linguistic Turn: Incommensurability Revisited.Amani Albedah - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (3):323 – 345.
    In this article, I discuss Gadamer's hermeneutic account of understanding as an alternative to Kuhn's incommensurability thesis. After a brief account of Kuhn's aesthetic account and arguments against it, I argue that the linguistic account faces a paradox that results from Kuhn's objectivist account of understanding, and his lack of historical reflexivity. The statement 'Languages are incommensurable' is not a unique view of language, and is thus subject to contest by incommensurable readings. Resolving the paradox requires an account of incommensurability (...)
  12. El lenguaje en la hermenéutica filosófica de Gadamer.Edgardo Albizu - 1978 - Escritos de Filosofía 1 (1):79.
  13. Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Hermeneutics, Religion, and Ethics.Christopher Albrecht - 2001 - Review of Metaphysics 55 (2):393-395.
  14. Real Knowing: New Versions of the Coherence Theory.Linda Alcoff - 1996 - Cornell University Press.
    In provocative readings of major figures in the continental tradition, Alcoff shows that the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Michel Foucault can help rectify key ...
  15. Gadamer's Feminist Epistemology.Linda Martín Alcoff - 2003 - In Lorraine Code (ed.), Feminist Interpretations of Hans-Georg Gadamer. Pennsylvania State University Press.
  16. New Versions of the Coherence Theory: Gadamer, Davidson, Foucault, and Putnam.Linda Sharon Alcoff - 1988 - Dissertation, Brown University
    This thesis explores four contemporary accounts of knowledge and understanding that highlight the importance of coherence as a major factor in justification, as a criterion of truth, and, in some cases, as a definition and ontology of truth. It seeks to explicate how these accounts advance the debate over coherentist epistemology by, principally, offering a new ontology of truth which demonstrates why coherence, if used as the criterion of truth, is a reliable means of achieving truth. ;Hans-Georg Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics (...)
  17. Escatología, hermeneútica y lenguaje.Juan José Alfaro - 1980 - Salmanticensis 27 (2):233-246.
  18. Gadamer’s Critical Views of Husserl. Alireza - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Investigations at University of Tabriz 9 (16):23-42.
    usserl, besides Dilthey and Heidegger, is one of the most important philosophers who had big influence on Gadamer and is the philosopher who is frequently referred to in his works. Gadamer’s encounter with Husserl, in spite of his greatness in the eyes of Gadamer, was always a hermeneutical one. Considering and criticizing Husselr’s phenomenology, Gadamer tries to discover his unspoken thoughts. Few scholars have even considered Gadamer and Husserl’s relationships, which among them much more are people who tried to trace (...)
  19. LEISEGANG, HANS. "Denkformen". [REVIEW]Rudolf Allers - 1951 - Modern Schoolman 29:254.
  20. La praxis de la hermenéutica filosofica segun HG Gadamer in Sobre hermenéutica.J. M. Almarza-Menica - 1985 - Estudios Filosóficos 34 (95).
  21. Dieter Misgeld and Graeme Nicholson, Eds., Hans-Georg Gadamer on Education, Poetry, and History Reviewed By.Patricia Altenbernd Johnson - 1992 - Philosophy in Review 12 (5):342-344.
  22. Kathleen Wright, Ed., Festivals of Interpretation. Essays on Hans-Georg Gadamer's Work Reviewed By.Patricia Altenbernd Johnson - 1991 - Philosophy in Review 11 (6):439-440.
  23. Hans-Georg Gadamer, The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays Reviewed By.Patricia Altenbernd Johnson - 1988 - Philosophy in Review 8 (5):166-168.
  24. Gadamer, l'Europa e la filosofia.Lluis Àlvarez - 2000 - Iride: Filosofia e Discussione Pubblica 13 (2):295-304.
  25. Gadamer's Century: Essays in Honor of Hans-Georg Gadamer.Joshua Amaru - 2003 - Common Knowledge 9 (3):545-546.
  26. Marxist Critique and Philosophical Hermeneutics.Peter Amato - 2006 - Radical Philosophy Today 2006:235-242.
    Philosophically robust conceptions of ethical life and moral critique would advance the struggle against capital. Marx can be read as implying that human life is irreducibly meaningful, linguistic, and cultural, but he often is not. Whether or not Marx recognized them himself, these dimensions of life have not been sufficiently thematized or developed by Marxists. I argue that we can move toward doing so with assistance from Hans-Georg Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics. A hermeneutical approach to historical materialism would help clarify and (...)
  27. Hans-Georg Gadamer on Education, Poetry, and History.Francis J. Ambrosio - 1995 - Review of Metaphysics 49 (1):134-135.
  28. Gadamer and Aristotle.Francis J. Ambrosio - 1988 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 62:174-182.
  29. Gadamer.Francis J. Ambrosio - 1987 - The Owl of Minerva 19 (1):23-40.
  30. Gadamer, Plato, and the Discipline of Dialogue.Francis J. Ambrosio - 1987 - International Philosophical Quarterly 27 (1):17-32.
  31. Dawn and Dusk: Gadamer and Heidegger on Truth. [REVIEW]Francis J. Ambrosio - 1986 - Man and World 19 (1):21-53.
    Understanding certainly does not mean merely the taking over of traditional opinion or the acknowledgment of what has been enshrined by tradition. Heidegger, who had first identified the concept of understanding as a universal determination of Dasein, means thereby precisely the character of understanding as project, which is really to say, Dasein in its orientation toward its own future. At the same time, I do not wish to deny that I for my part have emphasized within the universal matrix of (...)
  32. Truth and Creativity the Meaning of 'Die Virtualitat des Sprechens' in H. G. Gadamer's Philosophical Hermeneutics.Francis John Ambrosio - 1982 - Dissertation, Fordham University
    The goal of this study is to investigate the meaning and significance of the concept of die Virtualitat des Sprechens as it functions in the thought of H. G. Gadamer. The primary thesis proposed is that the success of Gadamer's enterprise in Wahrheit und Methode of providing a corrective to misunderstandings about the experience of understanding and the event of truth arising out of a model based on the ideal of scientific objectivity, depends on his ability to display how the (...)
  33. Interpretation Und Wahrheit.Emil Angehrn & Bernard Baertschi - 1998
  34. Heidegger and Gadamer.Emilia Angelova - 2013 - In Francois Raffoul & Eric S. Nelson (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Heidegger. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 165.
  35. My Sister and I; Nietzsche and the Origin of Virtue; Nietzsche and the Question of Interpretation. Between Hermeneutics and Deconstruction; Within Nietzsche’s Labyrinth. [REVIEW]Keith Ansell-Pearson - 1992 - Radical Philosophy 60.
  36. Hermeneutische Positionen Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, Gadamer.Heinrich Anz & Hendrik Birus - 1982
  37. The Common Presuppositions of Hermeneutics and Ethics: Types of Rationality Beyond Science and Technology.Karl-Otto Apel - 1979 - Research in Phenomenology 9 (1):35-53.
  38. Theorie-Diskussion Hermeneutik Und Ideologiekritik.Karl-Otto Apel - 1971 - Suhrkamp.
  39. Rezension zu: H.-G. Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode, Tübingen 1960.Karl-Otto Apel - 1963 - Hegel-Studien 2:314-322.
  40. (Mis)Appropriations of Gadamer in Qualitative Research: A Husserlian Critique (Part 1).Marc H. Applebaum - 2011 - Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology 11 (1).
    Within the Husserlian phenomenological philosophical tradition, description and interpretation co-exist. However, teaching the practice of phenomenological psychological research requires careful articulation of the differences between a descriptive and an interpretive relationship to what is provided by qualitative data. If as researchers we neglect the epistemological foundations of our work or avoid working through difficult methodological issues, then our work invites dismissal as inadequate science, undermining the effort to strongly establish psychology along qualitative lines. The first article in this two-part discussion (...)
  41. Tradição histórica e reflexão crítica: notas sobre o debate entre Habermas e Gadamer.Thiago Aquino - 2012 - Veritas – Revista de Filosofia da Pucrs 57 (3):53-73.
    The intention of this article is to reconstruct the debate between Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jürgen Habermas which occurred between the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s. In order to observe this period the later developments of these thinkers won’t be taken into account. The article plans to examine the central problematic of the debate related to the difficult relationship between historic tradition and critical reflection. The tension between these two terms will be used as a reference (...)
  42. Márgenes de la Interpretación: Diálogo, Símbolo y Analogía.Francisco Arenas-Dolz (ed.) - 2011 - Plaza y Valdés Editores.
    El camino seguido por la hermenéutica analógica representa una perspectiva novedosa entre los planteamientos de las hermenéuticas contemporáneas, que se ha aplicado a distintas áreas. En este volumen se aborda la convergencia de la hermenéutica analógica con algunas de estas disciplinas. La hermenéutica analógica procura entender no solo las humanidades sino las ciencias de un modo que no sea ni meramente univocista ni meramente equivocista, sino analógico; de un modo que no sea ni meramente descriptivo ni meramente prescriptivo, sino interpretativo, (...)
  43. Valori, Prassi, Ermeneutica Emilio Betti a Confronto Con Nicolai Hartmann E Hans Georg Gadamer.Alessandro Argiroffi - 1994
  44. The Warp of the World: Deconstruction and Hermeneutics.Alex Argyros - 1986 - Diacritics 16 (3):47-55.
  45. Presencia de CG Humboldt En HG Gadamer.Angela Benabarre Ariño - 2002 - Naturaleza y Gracia: Revista Cuatrimestral de Ciencias Eclesiásticas 1:157-168.
  46. Hans-Georg Gadamer. Heidegger's Ways. John W. Stanley Trs. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1994, 211pp. He. 0-7914-1738-7. Edward Goodell. The Nobel Philoso. [REVIEW]Georgios Anagnostopoulos Aristotle, Daniel Bonevac & Stephen Phillips - 1994 - Teaching Philosophy 1:7.
  47. bei F. Schleiermacher und H.-G. Gadamer.K. Arlt - 1997 - Synthesis Philosophica 12:135-174.
  48. Gadamerian Dialogue in the Patient-Professional Interaction.Vilhjálmur Árnason - 2000 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 3 (1):17-23.
    In his seminal work, Truth and Method, theGerman philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer distinguishesbetween three types of what he calls the experience ofthe `Thou'. In this paper, Gadamer's analysis of thisexperience is explained in terms of his philosophicalhermeneutics and brought to bear upon thepatient-professional relationship. It is argued thatwhile Gadamer's analysis implies fruitful insights fora dialogical account of the patient-professionalinteraction, it harbours elements which are conduciveto paternalistic practice of medicine. The strongattribution of value to tradition and the respect forauthority emphasized in his (...)
  49. Relativismo Cognitivo E Historicidad: (Dilthey, Collingwood, Gadamer).Pablo Arnau - 1997 - Universitat de València.
  50. Gadamer on Authority.Kristján G. Arngrímsson - 2002 - SATS 3 (1):76-82.
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