Hans Georg Gadamer and the Philosophical Hermeneutics

Hans Georg Gadamer and the Philosophical Hermeneutics

December 25, 2019 0 By Felso

Dilthey is the person Gadamer settled in creating his own philosophical views. Therefore, it seems appropriate to first consider how he criticized Dılthey, and then to examine how he bases his philosophical views on it. Gadamer Dilthey’s attempt to epistemologically base the sciences of psychology in Wahrheit und Methode (Truth and Method)

He criticized under the title Geçiş Transition from the Problem of the Epistemological Foundation of History to the Hermeneutical Foundation of the Sciences, and summarized his own attitude towards it.

According to Gadamer, “Dilthey determined his place in the way he grasped the historical world as an epistemological problem in contrast to the way that idealism grasped the same world” (Gadamer 1960: 205). In this case he opposes two traditions —19. century between positivism and German idealism, this division of the two influenced his philosophy. Dilthey’s aim is to complement Kant’s “critique of pure reason le with a“ historical critique of reason ”. Because historical reason, just like pure mind, needs to be justified. If the groundbreaking result of pure reasoning criticism was not only to destroy the metaphysics of the universe, soul, and God, but also to show how pure natural science is possible, the same must be done for the science of history, how it is possible, Kant’s effort should be exemplified. Because both 19th century. both positivism and German idealism are mistaken (Gadamer 1960: 206). The idealist discourse claimed that the mind dominated and knew the world and history. However, according to Dilthey, the idealistic philosophy failed to achieve what Kant had achieved for the natural sciences and to go beyond being dogmatist (Gadamer 1960: 207). Therefore, the possibility of a pure history science should be investigated in order to establish the philosophical basis of historical knowledge. Kant’s contribution to the establishment of phenomena by identifying the categories that make it possible to know should be taken as an example and historical world categories that have the power to carry the historical world should be found (Gadamer 1960: 208). According to Dilthey, what carries the historical world is not the phenomena acquired through experience, as the British experimenters thought, but on the contrary, the basis on which this world rests is the tarihsel internal historicity ”(inere Geschichtlichkeit) or the internal experiment, which makes the experience itself possible, that is, the experience of living (Gadamer 1960: 208): The real experience is the “experience of living;; this is the object of historical sciences, so they turn to what has been experienced, and rethink what was previously thought for the experience of living.

According to Gadamer, Dilthey saw no harm in questioning him epistemologically, since the historical world directed by him was always a world formed by human spirit. Because what needs to be put forward is how to reveal the individual’s experience and knowledge of historical experience. Dilthey asks how the individual is connected to life, and from this he sets out to acquire concepts that are carriers of the historical context and knowledge of this context. “Life b (Erlebnis) is the final certainty sought for the knowledge of the historical world; it is an immanence in itself that cannot be further decomposed: Life has a direct certainty. Therefore, Dilthey, from the antı experience ”, questioned how life came into being and how knowledge of the same life would be possible. This inquiry led Dilthey to consider the structure of psychic life (Zusammenhang des Seelenlebens). Dilthey’s use of the concept of structure here has a special meaning. Using this concept, Dilthey has shown that the emphasis is on the totality of the internal connections of psychic life, rather than on the temporal psychic influences that flow through time (Gadamer 1960: 210). Dilthey believed that he had achieved a special and bearing point of departure on this basis and surpassed the historical individuals of the German School of History by linking them with the “transcendental subject”. Although life can be understood from individual experiences, they express something from the whole of life; therefore, they can only be understood in connection with the whole. According to Gadamer,

Hegel, on the other hand, considers all aspects of the historical world to be self-knowing and to be self-knowing, as opposed to Dilthey, who considers them as objects within which he knows himself. This is where Dilhey finds Hegel dogmatic. Because Dilthey treats philosophy as an expression of life, not as knowledge. All aspects of the historical world, including speculative philosophy, are objects within which spirit recognizes itself. According to Dilthey, his knowledge of the spirit is not realized in speculative concept knowledge but in historical consciousness. Thus all objectivations, including philosophy, become the subject of theological interpretation. According to Gadamer, “the claim that objective consciousness should be grasped by historical consciousness, not by speculative consciousness, and that historical consciousness should replace metaphysics,

However, in this case, it should be asked whether historical consciousness has the power to comprehend objective spirit. In Hegel, while this field is filled with absolute knowledge of the spirit that grasps itself within the speculative concept, Dilthey points out that since we are historical, we can only know this field historically. According to Gadamer, however, the historical conditionality of consciousness constitutes an insurmountable obstacle for the same consciousness to mature and complement itself in the style of historical knowing. If life is an inexhaustible and continuous activity, the changing contexts of historical meaning will necessarily obstruct the path of an objective way of knowing. In other words, the effort to legitimize the knowledge of the historically conditional as a product of objective science will not reach its goal. Dilthey, however, Yapı structure that takes its unity from its center ”(Gadamer 1960: 218). The argument that the context of a structure should be understood from its own center, that is, its specific environment, is in line with the old principle of hermeneutics and the demand for historical thinking, that is to say that the historical period must be understood by itself. The historical period examined should not be evaluated with the criteria of a contemporary period that is alien to it. Accordingly, the knowledge of historical contexts will always expand until it reaches universal knowledge of history; just as the meaning of a word can be fully understood from the whole of the sentence, from the whole of the text, and from all the literature on that subject.

To sum up, according to Gadamer, Dilthey tried to solve the problem that Hegel solved with the absolute identity of consciousness and object by the possibility of transcending himself by connecting to the old doctrine that removes the possibility of understanding from the homogeneity of human nature (Gadamer 1960: 219). However, according to Gadamer, Dilthey could not solve this problem. Because his problem is not a real problem (Gadamer 1960: 233). In other words, the reason for Dilthey’s division into two lies in the internal uncertainty of the Cartesian thought in which he moves. “Dilthey’s epistemological intention to justify the sciences does not merge with his philosophy-based starting point G (Gadamer 1960: 224). “Scientific certainty always has a Cartesian face. 0 is the result of a critical method that seeks only to be undoubtedly valid. This certainty is not a certainty that has been obtained after doubt and has been overcome, but a certainty that already exists before doubt ”(Gadamer 1960: 225). In this respect, as in Descartes, doubt is an artificial situation and all methodical sciences have walked on the same Cartesian path.

Gadamer and the Philosophical Hermeneutics

Gadamer is based on Heidegger’s philosophy when criticizing Dilthey. Heidegger gave him the opportunity to base hermeneutics linguistically, ontologically and aesthetically. “My personal effort goes back to the birth of the philosophical development of Dilthey from the legacy of German romanticism. ). Gadamer in WahrheitundMethode rejects the claim that the task of hermeneutics is method research for the sciences of science, describing it as the philosophical study of the structure and basic conditions of understanding the purpose of hermeneutics. In the preface of this work he sets the purpose:

“My intention is not to develop a method for the sciences… it is not to explore the theoretical foundations of the sciences in order to obtain practical information…. It is an attempt to understand… Therefore, in this work I did not aim to bring up the old debate between the natural sciences and the spirit sciences.  (Gadamer 1960: XIV, XV).

What Gadamer wants to do is to determine what kind of “truth t can be found in the sciences of science. Because, according to him, spiritual sciences transcend the problem of method, but include the problem of truth.

If so, the question of method must be handled independently of the question of truth. More specifically, Gadamer proposes to consider the concepts of truth and method as concepts that are not related to each other. He opposes the fact that the name ik truth lay is deemed worthy of the scientific method by reversing the familiar understanding and claiming that truth can only be found when ‘hermeneutic phenomena is essentially a problem of method’. In the sciences of truth, truth can be found not by scientific method but by dialogue-based research. This is related to the ancient rhetorical discipline. The rhetoric puts a distance element in the understanding of what is said and leaves evaluator understanding on the course of the ongoing conversation, with which there can be no discussion involving pure knowing and understanding. Because, the subject to be convinced, matures in the process. According to Gadamer, for old traditions, only rhetoric was the only view of truth which defended what was possible and what convinced the ordinary mind, against science’s claim to accept what was proved right.

In short, Gadamer has two purposes in Wahrheit und Methode: The first is to explore what the sciences of the truth are, in other words, to discover their nature; the second is to address the question of truth, and to do it through the experience of art (Gadamer 1960: XVII). This second aim revolves around the question of “how is understanding possible? ((Gadamer 1960: XV). This question is central to the foundation of philosophical hermeneutics and its claim to truth. On the other hand, in order to understand what the sciences of religion are, this question must be answered first. Because the error of the sciences of science is the error in their understanding.

For Gadamer, all understanding is hermeneutic; therefore, a study of the nature of understanding coincides with the study of “universal hermeneutics.. Lama Understanding should not be regarded as one of the subject’s behavior, but as Dasein’s mode of being itself. Gadamer uses the concept of hermeneutics in this sense, starting from Heidegger. This concept reveals Dasein’s basic movement, its fineness and its historicity; starting from this, he takes the whole of his world-experience ”(Gadamer 1960: XVI). Therefore, hermeneutic examination is the asset examination and the final examination of the language. Because varlık intelligible entity is language ”(Gadamer 1960: XX). Therefore, understanding should be examined in relation to language: Language is the key concept in understanding. Language, it has an important place both in Wahrheit und Methode and in Gadamer’s entire philosophy, as it provides a perspective that should be approached with other issues within the scope of the sciences of the psychology. “In Gadamer, the language problem replaces the ontology problem and dictates how to approach the ontology problem” (Hekman 1999: 130).

Again, Gadamer sets my own goal as follows: “I took the epistemological perspective of the method as a starting point for myself. Heidegger’s extension of the concept of understanding to ontological understanding, that is, the basic categorical determination of human existence, was of particular importance to me. It was the motive that went beyond my method discussion and motivated me to extend the formulation of the hermeneutic question not only to the science but also to the experience of art and history ”(Gadamer 2002c: 285). it will extend its emphasis on analyzing the ontological dimensions of being, namely Dasein’s historicity, towards the ontological dimensions of historical consciousness (Gadamer 1990: 98).


GADAMER, H. Georg. Wahrheit und Methode: Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik, Tübingen: J: C: B: Mohr (Paul Siebeck) Verlag, 1960

GADAMER, H. Georg. “The Problem of History Consciousness Yorumcu, Interpretative Approach in Social Sciences, (Trans. Taha Parla, Der. P. Robinow, W. Sullivan), Istanbul: Dogan Kitapcilik, 1990: 79-106.

GADAMER, H. Georg. Hermeneutik, (Hermeneutik -Information on Writings-), (Trans. And Der. Dogan Ozlem), Ankara: Ark Publications, 1995: 11-28.

GADAMER, H. Georg. “Hermeneutic Pir Evigi.”, Hermeneutic and Humanitarian Disciplines, (Trans. And Der. Hüsamettin Arslan), Istanbul: Paradigma Publications, 2002a 61-73.

GADAMER, H. Georg. Herm Skeptical Hermeneutics. ”, Hermeneutics and Humanitarian Disciplines, (Trans. And Der. Husamettin Arslan), Istanbul: Paradigm Published, 2002b: 149-161.

Gadamer, H. Georgina. “Text and Interpretation.”, Hermeneutic and Humanitarian Disciplines, (Trans. And Der. Hüsamettin Arslan), Istanbul: Paradigma Publications, 2002c: 284-321.

GADAMER, H. Georg. “The Scope and Function of Hermeneutic Reflection.”, Rhetoric, Hermeneutic and Social Sciences, (Trans. & Der. Hüsamettin Arslan), Istanbul: Paradigma Publications, 2002d: 1-23.

HEKMAN, Susan. Sociology of Knowledge and Hermeneutics: Mannheim, Gadamer, Foucault and Derrida, (Translated by H. Arslan, B. Balkiz), Istanbul: Paradigm Publications, 1999


Nazile Kalaycı, Gadamer and Hermeneutics, Yeditepe’de Philosophy Magazine, Issue: 10, Yeditepe University Publications