Theology’s Hermeneutic Interest

H.-G. Gadamer concludes his essay on “The Universality of the Hermeneutical Problem” by commenting on the importance of language, with an interestingly theological turn. Gadamer suggests, The … building up of our own world in language persists whenever we want to say something to each other. The result is the actual relationship of men to […]

The Hermeneutic Productivity of the Familiar

In his essay on “The Universality of the Hermeneutical Problem,” H.-G. Gadamer draws upon Aristotle’s analogy between an army halting its retreat and the experience of coming to understanding. The halt may be so gradual that an observer can say when individuals within the army stop fleeing, but it’s more difficulty to say when the […]

Questions as the Core of Scholarship

In his essay on “The Universality of the Hermeneutical Problem,” H.-G. Gadamer reflects, It is imagination … that is the decisive function of the scholar. Imagination naturally has a hermeneutical function and serves the sense for what is questionable. It serves the ability to expose real, productive questions, something in which, generally speaking, only he […]

Rhetorical “small change”

In his 1963 essay on the “Phenomenological Movement.” H.-G. Gadamer discusses at length Edmund Husserl’s influence in founding the school. In so doing, he recounts an interesting habit of Husserl’s that In his teaching, whenever he encountered the grand assertions and arguments typical of beginning philosophers, he used to say, “Not always the big bills, […]

Gadamer on time, tradition, and continuity

Stemming from a discussion of Martin Heidegger’s temporal explanation of Dasein, H.-G. Gadamer suggests, Time is no longer primarily a gulf to be bridged because it separates; it is actually the supportive ground of the course of events in which the present is rooted. Hence temporal distance is not something that must be overcome. This […]

Subjective or Sympathetic Interpretation?

The later is arguably a better practice than the former: We can set aside Schleiermacher’s ideas on subjective interpretation. When we try to understand a text, we do not try to transpose ourselves into the author’s mind [in die seelische Verfassung des Authors] but, if one wants to use this terminology, we try to transpose […]