Hermeneutical Understanding as the Disclosure of Truth: Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Distinctive Understanding of Truth

Philosophy Today 57 (1):42-60 (2013)
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Recent scholarship on the nature of truth within Hans-Georg Gadamer’s and Martin Heidegger’s philosophies has focused primarily on identifying and explicating the commonality between their respective accounts of truth. However, this emphasis on commonality has overlooked Gadamer’s distinctive understanding of truth outside of and beyond a simple development of Heidegger’s consideration of truth as alētheia. This paper defends the claim that the specific manner in which Gadamer and Heidegger critique the correspondence theory of truth is indicative of their distinctive conceptions of truth more generally. While Heidegger understands truth as the unconcealment of beings through the disclosure of Dasein as Being-in-the-world as such, Gadamer concludes that truth is the disclosure of human being through hermeneutical understanding as realized in concrete dialogical engagement in particular. These similar, but often conflicting, accounts of truth cannot be subsumed within one another without overlooking and thereby misunderstanding the philosophical insights found in Gadamer’s and Heidegger’s distinctive philosophies. More importantly, the inability or unwillingness to distinguish their conceptions of truth prevents any subsequent analysis of which thinker provides a more compelling critique of the correspondence theory of truth and which account is more plausible as an understanding of the phenomenon of truth broadly construed. This paper ends with a brief defense of Gadamer's understanding of truth.



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Thomas Kiefer
Fordham University

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References found in this work

The Correspondence Theory of Truth.Marian David - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
On the Essence of Truth.Martin Heidegger - 1998 - New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy 9:274-287.
On the Way to Language.Karsten Harries, Martin Heidegger & Peter D. Hertz - 1972 - Philosophical Review 81 (3):387.

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