Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002). (in Memoriam)

By Dahlstrom, Daniel | The Review of Metaphysics, June 2002 | Go to article overview

Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002). (in Memoriam)


Dahlstrom, Daniel, The Review of Metaphysics


On March 14, 2002, Hans-Georg Gadamer died in Heidelberg, the city that feted him on his one hundredth birthday two years earlier and the site of the university where he was active for over forty years, from the time he succeeded to Karl Jaspers's chair in 1949 until long after formal retirement in 1968. Born in Marburg on February 11, 1900, the son of a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, Gadamer grew up in Breslau (today: Wroclaw). After a year at the University of Breslau where he was introduced to neo-Kantian transcendental philosophy by Richard Honigswald, Gadamer transferred to Marburg. At Marburg he experienced the ferment of current existentialist and phenomenological ideas, affecting even formerly idealistic and systematic thinkers like Nicolai Hartmann and Paul Natorp, under whom Gadamer completed his dissertation on Plato, Das Wesen der Lust nach den platonischen Dialogen [The Essence of Pleasure according to the Platonic Dialogues], in 1922. The following year he took part in a seminar on the sixth book of the Nicomachean Ethics, conducted in Freiburg by Heidegger. Though Gadamer would not embrace what he regarded as the theological remnants in Heidegger's thinking or its counterpart, the endorsement of Nietzsche's nihilistic prognoses, Heidegger's influence upon him would prove to be profound. From Heidegger he learned, as he himself put it, "the fundamental experience in hermeneutics," namely, the experience of understanding the philosophical tradition's questions as real questions and, indeed, in such a way that they become our own questions.

Heidegger's at once appreciative and critical stance toward Greek philosophy also presented challenges that Gadamer would endeavor to take up. A year after passing the state examination for classical philology in 1927, he submitted his habilitation, the basis for his first book, Platos dialektische Ethik. Phanomenologische Interpretationen zum <> [Plato's Dialectical Ethics: Phenomenological Interpretations of Plato's "Philebus"] (1931). In the 1930s at Marburg, as an adjunct professor (to make a rough American parallel to the German position of Dozent), Gadamer continued his study of Plato, especially Plato's conceptions of mathematics and of the state. For reasons of self-preservation, Gadamer tells us, he largely abandoned the latter studies, with the exception of an interpretation of the Republic in the 1934 essay, "Plato and the Poets," where he argues that the Platonic ideal state has more in common with a Swiftian utopia than political science. ("Platos Staat der Erziehung" [Plato's Educational State], a 1942 piece for a volume on classical philology, is a continuation of the 1934 essay.) The only monograph that appeared during these years of attempting to behave in a politically unobtrusive way--as he put it--was a study of the concept of power in Herder's historical thinking, Volk und Geschichte im Denken Herders [People and History in the Thinking of Herder] (1942).

In 1937 Gadamer attained the rank of professor at Marburg, followed a year later by the offer of a chair in classical philology at Halle, and acceptance of a position as full professor at the University of Leipzig in 1939. After the war Gadamer served as rector at the University of Leipzig (1946-47), before moving to Frankfurt (1947-49) and finally Heidelberg. In 1953, together with Helmut Kuhn, he founded a widely read journal, Philosophische Rundschau. Gadamer took particular pride in his dedication to teaching throughout his career. Not surprisingly, the list of his students reads like a "Who's Who" of German academic philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century, a list that includes such luminaries as Walter Schulz, Karlheinz Volkmann-Schluck, Dieter Henrich, Rudiger Bubner, Heinz Kimmerle, Wolfgang Wieland, and Reiner Wiehl (to name only a few).

From the very outset of his career, Gadamer remained convinced that there is a truth in art and the humanities that, while not capable of complete conceptualization, also does not fall prey to a historical relativism as conceptual truth claims do. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002). (in Memoriam)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.