THE GERMAN UNIVERSITY
AND GERMAN POLITICS.
THE CASE OF HEIDEGGER
This Interview with Hans-Georg Gadamer took place in Heidelberg, July 1st, 1986. Translated by the editors.
QUESTION. As you know, Professor Gadamer, it used to be common for philosophers in earlier times and even in the 1920s and 1930s and the postwar period, to philosophize about the nature of the university. We think of Heidegger's inaugural address, and Jaspers, Schelsky, and others. And yet, although this is a topic on which you might have taken a stand, we don't think you have ever actually addressed it.
GADAMER. Throughout most of my life I avoided speaking about topics lying outside my own field of specialized work. Perhaps I was somewhat too reticent in this way. But in recent years, in fact, in recent weeks, I have given addresses on the topic of the university.
QUESTION. Do you believe that philosophy in our day has been marginalized? That its theories may be no longer so central to the life of the university?
GADAMER. But when was it so central, after all?
QUESTION. Perhaps not in reality, but at least there was the idea of philosophy as central to the university.
GADAMER. Yes, this idea remained strong during the period of German Idealism and in the period of Wilhelm von Humboldt. But with the death of Hegel and the countermovement of empirical science, this idea was abandoned.
QUESTION. Yet certainly in more recent years, people such as Schelsky and -- n earlier times -- Max Scheler contributed ideas for the reform of universities. Sometimes they were leading in the direction of the professionalization of the university, sometimes leading more in the direction of a traditional theoretical idea of the university. Certainly Habermas has also written on this. Are we right in thinking that you have not directly contributed to this debate? And we are wondering what view you would take of these different models that have been proposed to us for university reform.