Hans-Georg Gadamer


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German philosopher. Born in Marburg, Gadamer was a student of Heidegger's. His first post was at the university of Marburg, followed by chairs at Leipzig, Frankfurt, and Heidelberg. Gadamer is renowned for his work on the theory of interpretation, and for exploring what has come to be known as ‘reader response theory’. According to this the meaning of a text is never a function purely of facts about the author and his original public; it is equally a function of the historical situation of the interpreter. The leading metaphor is that of a ‘fusion of horizons’ created when the historically situated author and the equally historically situated reader manage to create a shared meaning. There is thus room for constant reinterpretation and re-evaluation, as different meanings are projected upon the work concerned. The idea is one fundamental element of postmodernism. Gadamer's most influential work is Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik (1960, trs. as Truth and Method, 1975). Selections from his critical essays are collected in Philosophical Hermeneutics (1976).

Subjects: Philosophy.

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