One thing that especially concerns me is that young people today grow up with very little confidence, without optimism, and without an unqualified potential for hope. (Gadamer, Hermeneutische Entwurfe 6)
NEAR the end of his life Hans-Georg Gadamer had become a kind of media star. Much against his will perhaps, but he nonetheless enjoyed this fame of his old age, after spending his entire life in the shadow of his celebrated teacher Martin Heidegger. He granted countless interviews to a variety of media and newspapers--including the rather populist Bild Zeitung and the weekly illustrated Der Stern--interviews in which he was asked about every possible topic from Harry Potter to September 11 to God himself. For those close to him this was not infrequently a source of concern, because journalists hungry for sound bites occasionally wrung statements from him that were more or less felicitous. But his grandfatherly openness contributed more than a little to his unique aura.
It would be easy to down play the significance of these interviews. But I believe that Gadamer expressed some of his most intimate philosophical convictions in these interviews, which for him were opportunities for conversation. I recall how during these years he struggled without success to launch a book project titled "From Word to Concept." But while utterly unsuccessful with the writing, in conversation he was very much his old self and faced the challenge of the questions happily and with utmost concentration. It is well known to what extent his philosophy is one of conversation. Thus it is perhaps no great leap to look for this philosophy in his actual conversations, regardless of how diverse the interests and presuppositions of those with whom he spoke (also, as it happens, a characteristic of Plato's dialogues).
And Gadamer's late philosophy, as it haltingly finds expression in these conversations, is undoubtedly one of hope. Just a few weeks before his death, practically every daily and local newspaper carried an interview marking his 102nd birthday, on February 11, 2002, in which he emphasized an insight which had become a leitmotif of his …