History and Theory 51 (4):6-22 (2012)

Georgia Warnke
University of California, Riverside
Commentators have compared Hans-Georg Gadamer’s focus on tradition in Truth and Method to his focus on solidarity in his later work in order to suggest that the latter signals a move away from ontological toward ethical and political concerns. This paper, however, is guided by Gadamer’s own view that his work, both early, late, and in Truth and Method, was always concerned with ethical and political issues. I therefore want to challenge the idea that his so-called politics of solidarity marks a new direction in his work. His politics of solidarity does mark a new direction in discussions of solidarity insofar as he disconnects it from any necessary grounding in preexisting affinities such as religion and nationality. Gadamer’s later work may also be more explicitly concerned with the question of differences and the other than is Truth and Method. Nevertheless, I want to argue that rather than signaling a new direction for Gadamer, both his politics of solidarity and his concern with otherness highlight important features already present in his earlier account of tradition. Indeed, I think attention to this earlier account discloses a political dimension to Gadamer’s thought that is more sophisticated than his remarks on solidarity. Attention to this dimension of his earlier account allows us to challenge the now standard objection that it undermines possibilities for critical reflection
Keywords solidarity  tradition  Truth and Method  friendship  horizon  hermeneutics  otherness  Gadamer
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-2303.2012.00644.x
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