David J. Depew


In this paper I will comment on the now concluded debate between Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jürgen Habermas. In that debate, conducted in various forums over the better part of a decade, Habermas accused Gadamer of universalizing a hermeneutic theory which tends to uncritically sustain existing cultural norms. Gadamer, for his part, thought that Habermas' project of "critical theory" yields only an abstract and illusory liberation from untranscendable conditions of cultural understanding. I shall not review point and counterpoint in this exchange. but will, for the most part, take much higher ground. Both Gadamer and Habermas are conscious of formulating their general views in the long shadow of Hegel. By reconstructing each of their positions as opposed responses to the Hegelian legacy, I hope to point to how their disagreement might be adjudicated.


Presented at the 11th Annual Philosophy Colloquium of the Department of Philosophy of the University of Dayton, held in March 1982.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.