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Gadamer and the Limits of the Modern Techno-Scientific Civilization


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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9. The Rehabilitation and Universalization of Practical Knowledge and Experience 177


177 9. The Rehabilitation and Universalization of Practical Knowledge and Experience In the previous chapters I have given an account of what we could define as the pars destruens of Gadamer’s philosophy, that is, his strong (but, in my opinion, not one-sided or unwarranted) critique of the techno-scientific civilization. This critique is basically aimed at emphasizing the limits of the modern objectifying scientific enter- prise, i.e. what Gadamer calls the limits of objectification. In fact, as Jean Grondin expresses it: es geht in seiner [scil. Gadamers] Hermeneutik […] um die Grenzen der Objek- tivierung schlechthin. Das menschliche Verstehen, Verhalten, Fühlen hat vielleicht weniger mit Planen, Kontrolle und Bewusstheit zu tun, sondern weit mehr mit einem art-spezifischen Sich-Einfügen in die Ritualität des Lebens, in Traditionsformen, in ein Geschehen, das uns umgreift und das wir nur stam- melnd begreifen können1. It is now time to analyze the pars construens of his philosophical hermeneutics, which basically consists of a rehabilitation of all those kinds of experiences and of that knowledge that seem to elude the control of scientific-methodical patterns. In short, such an un- methodical kind of experience consists of the fundamental herme- neutic phenomenon, i.e. understanding (Verstehen). This implies that, in Gadamer’s view, the two concepts (experience and understanding) are tightly and perhaps even indissolubly linked2. 1 Grondin 2001, p. 125. 2 This close connection has been stressed, among others, by Camera 1991 (p. 196) – according to whom “experiencing (Erfahren) develops into ‘self-under- standing’, it becomes Verstehen”; by Teichert...

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