Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Hans-Georg Gadamer: A Biography

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Hans-Georg Gadamer: A Biography

Article excerpt

Hans-Georg Gadamer: A Biography, by Jean Grondin.

This book will probably eventuate in damage to Gadamer's reputation, precisely because it tries to preempt any and all charges against him. It smells of whitewash. The basic story, undisputed by Grondin, is that Gadamer is a German philosopher who worked away at his studies through the Nazi years and then the early years of the Soviet occupation with slow but steady success in each situation. Clearly someone who can work well with the Nazis and Stalinists, though certainly not a member of either party (albeit decidedly cooler towards the Stalinists), is ripe for a character study, and possibly for an investigation into the captive mind, philosophy under tyranny, or even the nature of German culture before 1950. Grondin, who is self-confessedly a Gadamer partisan, will have none of it. Instead we have a badly done biography, in which major events in Gadamer's life-his divorce from his first wife and his marriage to his second, for example-are simply passed over in silence, while a good bit of time is spent in showing that, in effect, "hey, if Gadamer is a Nazi sympathizer, then so is Kierkegaard. …

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