Hans-Georg Gadamer

Hans-Georg Gadamer was a giant of twentieth-century German philosophy. After his early intellectual engagement with Martin Heidegger, who was a key influence on his thought, he spent fifty years at the University of Heidelberg. His work was centred on ‘philosophical hermeneutics’, an approach that he developed in his magnum opus Truth and Method. In this work, he argued that the meaning of texts and other works emerges through a creative ‘fusion of horizons’ which is shaped by the pre-judgements or ‘prejudices’ that individuals necessarily bring to bear on the process of understanding. His work has had a major impact in a wide range of disciplines, including the social sciences, literary criticism, theology and jurisprudence, as well as influencing thinkers such as Habermas, Hirsch and Rorty. Polity has published his book The Enigma of Health.