Gadamer, Hans Georg
Gadamer, Hans Georg(1900-) German social philosopher and major proponent of phenomenological HERMENEUTICS. His major work is Truth and Method (1960). Drawing on EXISTENTIALISM (HEIDEGGER in particular) and the work of DILTHEY he argues that any engagement with the unfamiliar involves a negotiation of our prejudices. These ‘prejudgings’ cannot simply be overcome with rhetoric about objectivity. Instead, he advocates that a search for scientific truth should be abandoned in favour of a sensitive investigation of our own responses to that which is strange to us. This involves a mediation of past and present, and inevitably reflects the way that the interpreter (re)constructs history In order to achieve a FUSION OF HORIZONS with the ‘other’, we must enter the hermeneutic circle in which the text can only be understood as a manifestation of a world view, and a world view as the synthesis of a number of such texts. Gadamer has been criticized by many for his RELATIVISM, and by HABERMAS for his neglect of power in language, but he remains a key influence on sociological EPISTEMOLOGY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000