The essays in this book deal broadly with the question of what form reasoning about life and society can take in a culture permeated by scientific and technical modes of thought. They attempt to identify certain very basic types of questions that seem to escape scientific resolution and call for, in Gadamer's view, philosophical reflection of a hermeneutic sort.
In effect, Gadamer argues for the continued practical relevance of Socratic-Platonic modes of thought in respect to contemporary issues. As part of this argument, he advances his own views on the interplay of science, technology, and social policy.
These essays, which are not available in any existing translation or collection of Gadamer's work, are remarkably up-to-date with respect to the present state of his thinking, and they address issues that are particularly critical to social theory and philosophy.
Perhaps more than anyone else, Hans-Georg Gadamer, who is Professor Emeritus at the University of Heidelberg and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College, is the doyen of German Philosophy. His previously translated works have been widely and enthusiastically received in this country. He is recognized as the chief theorist of hermeneutics, a strong and growing movement here in a number of disciplines, from theology and literary criticism to philosophy and social theory.
A book in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought.
About the Author
Hans-Georg Gadamer is Professor Emeritus at the University of Heidelberg.
"This book will consolidate Gadamer's growing reputation in the English-speaking world. It will serve as an ideal introduction to Gadamer's thought, and to problems of hermeneutics more generally, since the essays included are clear and easy to follow. For those already familiar with Gadamer's philosophy, these essays are equally important because they illustrate themes in the recent development of his ideas. No one who reads this book will any longer suppose that hermeneutics is indifferent to social critique or political practice. I know of no other short work by Gadamer that offers a more succinct yet brilliant demonstration of the contemporary importance of Gadamer's philosophy."
—Anthony Giddens, Kings College, Cambridge
"This collection of probing and lucidly written essays shows Gadamer as the leading Continental philosopher after Heidegger. It is an impassioned defense of practical reason, and of hermeneutics as a mode of practical philosophy, against the twin dangers of scientism and ideological partisanship. In the best humanist tradition Gadamer vindicates philosophical reflection as basic precondition of a life 'worth living.'"
—Fred R. Dallmayr, University of Notre Dame
“Interest in philosophical hermeneutics has been deepening and spreading ever since the publication of Gadamer’s Truth and Method. During the past twenty years Gadamer himself has been increasingly concerned with developing its relevance to the ethic and political issues of contemporary life, arguing that hermeneutics is the heir to the older tradition of practical philosophy. The essays collected in this volume not only serve as an excellent introduction to hermeneutics, but also explore its relevance to praxis. They are essential reading for anyone interested in in the type of practical rationality and wisdom that can orient our lives in an age dominated by science and technology. At a time when there is so much doubt and skepticism about humanistic learning, Gadamer is one of the noblest exponents of its power to shape our practical lives.”
—Richard J. Bernstein, Haverford College
“This is an enchanting set of essays. Gadamer unfolds his perspective on language, reason, and practice through a series of illuminating encounters with Aristotle, Hegel, Heidegger, and Habermas. Our understanding of these thinkers is enhanced even while our comprehension of the distinctive character of Gadamer’s thought is nourished. Gadamer’s political stance emerges clearly in these essays as well. His forays into science, technology, and ecology provide valuable counterpoints both o the priorities of technocrats and the postulates of critical theory.”
—William E. Connolly, University of Massachusetts, Amherst