On the Politics of
A Response to Orozco and Waite
CATHERINE H. ZUCKERT
In “The Art of Allusion: Hans-Georg Gadamer's Philosophical Interventions under National Socialism, ” Teresa Orozco accuses Gadamer of having written “Plato and the Poets” to justify Nazi suppression of liberal humanist education and “Plato's Educational State” to support national conservative efforts to reform the regime. Geoffrey Waite repeats her accusation in “Radio Nietzsche. ” Whereas most twentieth-century readers of Nietzsche have unintentionally fostered his elitist politics by adopting a perspectivist reading, Waite charges, Orozco shows that Gadamer did so intentionally. In my view, there is little evidence to support either charge.
Gadamer never joined the National Socialist Party. “For this reason, ” Orozco admits, “he was elected rector of the University of Leipzig by the occupying Soviet powers in 1947. ” Although, as Gadamer has stated publicly, “there was no question of his joining one of the organizations of the National Socialist Party because of the importance of remaining loyal to his Jewish friends, ” she argues he nevertheless was “obliged to make political concessions in order to advance his career. ” 1 Orozco does not (and presumably cannot) cite any statement, vote, or action by which Gadamer explicitly supported National Socialism. Her argument depends completely upon associations she draws between the historical circumstances and things Gadamer said about Plato. “Gadamer's articles were entirely in keeping with then current research and did not appear to represent anything unusual, ” she concedes. The goals of Gadamer, in implicit contrast to those of his teacher, Martin Heidegger, “did not extend to such ambitious projects as the question of the meaning of being or revolutionizing the discipline of philosophy. ” Only by looking at the articles he wrote on Plato explicitly in the context of German politics under the Nazis did she discover the nefarious character of his apparently innocent scholarship.