Theodore George
Texas A&M University
Some more recent scholarship that challenges received wisdom about Gadamer not withstanding, it remains common to associate his hermeneutical approach to art and literature, along with his hermeneutics generally, with political and cultural conservatism. In this essay, however, the author argues that some of Gadamer’s significant, but underappreciated, later essays on Hegel’s aesthetics further support and nuance the rising recognition of Gadamer’s sensitivity to the discontinuities, dislocations, and fractures that pervade any experience of the past. Specifically, Gadamer’s critical response in these essays to Hegel’s familiar thesis that art is a “thing of the past” sheds light on the special hermeneutical difficulties faced in the present historical juncture—a time, which Gadamer suggests is increasingly alienated from its own heritage. As I wish to show, Gadamer believes this schism to signal not an end of Western art, but, rather, a liberation of art that releases novel possibilities for artistic practice and for the interpretation of art. Far from being a conservative who might deny or lament the rupture of tradition, then, Gadamer’s take on the Hegelian thesis reveals Gadamer to acknowledge and even embrace this withdrawal of tradition as a source of new meaning and experience.
Keywords Gadamer  Hegel  Art  modernity
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DOI 10.1080/00071773.2009.11006662
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