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Beyond Being: Gadamer's Post-Platonic…

Beyond Being: Gadamer's Post-Platonic Hermeneutic Ontology (Studies in…

by Brice R. Wachterhauser

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This is to my knowledge the best available exposition of Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics in English. If you've read Truth and Method and found it difficult (as most people do), you will probably not find a better supplement than this book. It's serious philosophy, for sure, but clearly one step below Truth and Method in abstraction. I think the author shows a good touch for making philosophical hermeneutics tangible and exemplifying it. I particularly liked the parallel between hermeneutic truth and the truth of a map. That's an excellent analogy for the kind of truth in interpretation which Gadamer seeks to validate.

But it should be made clear that this is no introductory book. If you've never read Gadamer you really have to start with Truth and Method and at least get acquainted with his hermeneutic vocabulary. This work clearly assumes that level of familiarity. But this book is not as difficult as the subtitle "post-platonic hermeneutic ontology" might suggest, either. It's simply a very good discussion of Gadamer's hermeneutics for people with some prior background.

As readers of Truth and Method know, Gadamer makes very frequent use of Plato. The clarifications this book offers on that topic are brilliant and made me read Gadamer in a new way. However, in my opinion the citations were a bit inadequate. Many positions are attributed to Gadamer without clearly indicating which parts of his works support these views. So the reader must either take it on good faith or search the primary sources for verification.

Nevertheless, book-length presentations of philosophical hermeneutics in English are still fairly rare and this one definitely ranks up there with the best of them, so I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Gadamer's philosophy.
  thcson | Apr 22, 2010 |
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