Hermeneutics, historicity, ethics

Through Husserl, the phenomenological movement was born in German academic philosophy as a reaction against the Bodenlosigkeit of transcendental philosophy that dominated academia between the 1860s and the early 20th centuries, which was characterised by the prioritisation of epistemology over ontology. For a phenomenologist, in order to give back philosophical thinking the flesh that it once wore in the times of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the uncovering of the hermeneutic circle as a moment of aletheia in the fundamental ontology of Dasein, heralded by Heidegger in Being and time, was a nod to the importance of the historicisation of temporalised existence of Dasein, culture and civilisation in the meaning of being.

The greatest contribution of Gadamer, who was closely involved with the lineage of the phenomenological movement right from its beginnings until his death in the 21st century, was in the area of ethics: thus fulfilling an unwritten part of his teacher’s magnum opus, Being and time. Ethics concerns itself with the meaning of the good, and by virtue of this, it essentially forms a philosophical ground that brings about the unity of theory and practice. Ethics is practical philosophy (Gadamer, 1991, p. 15) in Dasein‘s inherent ability to intuit the good in its inalienable embodiment and immersion in the Mitdasein of its being-in-the-world (In-der-Welt-sein).



Gadamer, Hans-Georg (1990). Gadamer on Gadamer. In Gadamer and hermeneutics (Hugh J Silverman, Ed; B Schaaf and G E Aylesworth, Trans.), pp. 13-19. New York & London: Routledge.

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