Gadamer, Hans-Georg

Gadamer, Hans-Georg hänsˈ gāˈôrk găˈdəmər [key], 1900–2002, German philosopher, b. Marburg. He taught at Kiel (1934–37), Marburg (1937–39), Leipzig (1939–74), and Frankfurt (1947–49) before becoming a professor at the Univ. of Heidelberg (1949–68). Influenced by his teacher Martin Heidegger, he made a major contribution to hermeneutics. In his most influential work, Truth and Method (1960, tr. 1975), Gadamer argued that a historian's own situation plays a role in determining the content of his or her interpretation of a historical event, i.e., a historian's own “prejudices” constitute necessary conditions for historical understanding. Gadamer envisaged a task of hermeneutics to be analysis of such prejudices—how they are constituted through language and how they evolve. His other works include Plato's Dialectical Ethics (1931, tr. 1991) and Philosophical Hermeneutics (3 vol., 1967–72, tr. 1976).

See Philosophical Apprenticeships (1977, tr. 1985), his autobiography; G. Warnke, Gadamer (1987).

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