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Gadamer and the Limits of the Modern Techno-Scientific Civilization

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Stefano Marino

This book is an attempt to provide a systematic interpretation of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutics in light of one of the most important, interesting and debated questions of the present age: the question concerning the role played by science and technology in shaping our civilization. The author argues that this question lies at the heart of Gadamer’s thought, and that such an approach to his philosophy might help to overcome some inveterate interpretive prejudices, like, for example, the idea of Gadamer as an anti-scientific and politically authoritarian thinker. In order to clarify these points, the author closely examines not only Gadamer’s 1960 masterpiece, Wahrheit und Methode, or his main writings (later gathered in ten volumes of collected papers), but most of the works he published in his more than centenarian life, including many short essays, lectures and interviews. Gadamer’s hermeneutics is seen as offering both an intriguing description of the main «pathologies» of the Western modern civilization, and a challenging proposal for «healing» the uneasiness and malaise of modernity by revaluating all forms of unmethodical, i.e. non-scientific, experience and knowledge.

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4. Cosmopolitan Hermeneutics in the Age of the “Clash of Civilizations” 65

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65 4. Cosmopolitan Hermeneutics in the Age of the “Clash of Civilizations” In the Introduction I have already mentioned Jean Grondin’s significant observation that Gadamer’s recognition of the “dimension of world-historical importance” of the “hermeneutic openness to the other” brought him, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, “to an almost ‘political’ or cosmopolitan broadening of his hermeneutics”, which he developed “mostly in lectures, […] as well as in the numerous inter- views on questions of the moment”, where “he appears alarmed by the consequences of the Industrial Revolution”1. Now, it is surely interesting to notice that Gadamer’s attention to what I have previously defined the pathologies of the industrial world also led him to point out how the Western bureaucratic and “levelling” socio- political model, during the last centuries, somehow expanded to the whole world. With regard to this phenomenon, Gadamer explicitly speaks of an “epoch of the new Oikoumene”2, or even of a new and more sophisticated kind of “intellectual colonialism (geistiger Koloni- alismus)”3 that could eventually lead to the establishment of a stand- ardized global civilization. So, in the 1989 essay Heidegger und das Ende der Philosophie we read: Brought into being by the West, […] our civilization […] has nevertheless spread its net over the greater part of the world. It concerns the world view which lies at the root of science and scientific theorizing, a world view which is characteristic of our epoch. […] Contemporary civilization strives this destiny, or so it seems, a destiny which will...

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