Forum Philosophicum

Volume 14, Issue 2, Autumn 2009

Camille E. Atkinson
Pages 285-306

Is Gadamer’s Hermeneutics Inherently Conservative?

According to two critics, Georgia Warnke and John Caputo, Gadamer’s hermeneutics is inherently „conservative” insofar as he appeals to tradition as a constituent in understanding. They insist that he simply preserves the ideals, norms and values of the Western metaphysical tradition without critically examining them. I do not agree and will argue that views like this depend upon several false assumptions – for example, that Gadamer reifies the text as a „thingin-itself” (Sache selbst) and remains trapped in subjectivism. I will begin by examining some of the ways in which these charges might be warranted before proceeding to defend him.