Hans-Georg Gadamer on Education, Poetry, and History: Applied Hermeneutics

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Chapter 14
NOTES ON PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

It would be no exaggeration to claim that we owe the modern phase of the industrial revolution not so much to the advances in the natural sciences as to the rationalization of their technical and economic application. What appears to me to characterize our epoch is not the surprising control of nature we have achieved, but the development of scientific methods to guide the life of society. Only with this achievement has the victorious course of modern science, beginning in the nineteenth century, become a dominant social factor. The scientific tendencies of thought underlying our civilization have in our time pervaded all aspects of social praxis. Scientific market research, scientific warfare, scientific diplomacy, scientific rearing of the younger generation, scientific leadership of the people -- the application of science to all these fields gives expertise a commanding position in the economy and society.

And so the problem of an ordered world assumes primary importance. The old problem of simply understanding the existing order of things is no longer the issue. It has given way to the difficulties of planning and creating an order not yet in being. But, is the question germane: should something that does not yet exist be planned and implemented? It is quite apparent that the kind of world order one would like to see governing international relations does not exist. This, in part, is due to the various ideas about what constitutes the right world order, ideas so incompatible that the overall solution has been suspended in favor of resigned coexistence. But the slogan of coexistence, substantiated by equivalence in nuclear arms, predicates a threat to the problem as posed. Does talk of creating a world order still make sense if, from the start, we are faced with irreconcilable ideas on the constitution of a right order? Can one plan according to a standard of world order if one is ignorant of the end toward which all mediating and possible steps proceed? Does not all planning on a world scale depend on the existence of a definitive mutual concept of the goal? Certainly, there are encouraging advances in such fields as world health, international communication, and possibly even worldwide distribution of food stuffs. But, can we simply proceed along the course of these successes to expand progressively

____________________
*
First published in 1965 in Daedelus, the journal of the American Academy of Science.

-165-

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