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

By Dieter Misgeld; Graeme Nicholson et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 17
CITIZENS OF TWO WORLDS

Where science is concerned, one needs to consider Europe, the unity of Europe, and its role in the world conversation which we are entering. No matter how one will describe science more accurately and whatever the specific character of the human sciences may be, it is undeniable that the science which developed in Greece represents the differentiating characteristic of the world culture emanating from Europe. Certainly one must admit -- and we recognize this more and more -- that the Greeks also were able to learn from other cultures and that, for example, the Babylonians had accomplished important results in the areas of mathematics and astronomy, and similarly the Egyptians, as the Greeks were especially cognizant. The grand high cultures of antiquity influenced Greek thinking even more through the theoretical form of the most diverse religious traditions. Nevertheless, it is still true that the form of science -- in the widest possible sense of the word -- received its actual character in Greece and this in a sense which does not yet incorporate the specific meaning of the modern empirical sciences, by means of which Europe is changing the world today. We must realize this in its total magnitude. Through the scientific impulse, which entered the intellectual growth of Europe, a differentiation in the forms of expression and thought arose which had never occurred anywhere else in the cultural life of humanity. I am referring to the fact that science and philosophy formed an independent form of spirit, which separated itself from religion and poetry. It even divorced religion from poetry and assigned art its own, even if very precarious, form of truth. This fact as such is universally known. We find ourselves completely helpless when we try to categorize, for example, the wisdom of the Far East into our classifying concepts of philosophy, science, religion, art, and poetry. It is undeniable: in Greece, the world spirit first made the turn which led to these distinctions. In a very broad sense, we can call what happened there and what structured the history of the West "enlightenment," enlightenment through science.

What does science mean here? Perhaps it will prove to be true that the awakening of science in Greece, on the one hand, and the development of the scientific culture of modernity, on the other hand, despite all

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Address delivered in Castelgandolfo, 1983.?

-209-

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