The Language of Hermeneutics

Gadamer and Heidegger in Dialogue

By Rod Coltman

Subjects: Heidegger
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791439005, 187 pages, August 1998
Hardcover : 9780791438992, 187 pages, September 1998

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Table of contents




Introduction: The Hermeneutical Proximity of Philosophical Distance

Part One Phronetic Application and Dialectical Participation

1. Heidegger and Gadamer on Aristotle: The Facticity of Phronesis* and the Phenomenon of Application

2. Platonic Methexis: Heidegger's Aristotelian Destruktion and Gadamer's Heideggerian Wiederholung

Part Two Hegelian Dialectic and Hölderlinian Poetics

3. Heidegger, Hölderlin, and Tragic Intensification

4. Gadamer's Hegelian Liberation of Language and Being   

Conclusion: The Counter-turning Dialogue




The first book in English on Gadamer's relationship to Heidegger, this study illustrates the philosophical power Gadamer's thinking has achieved by departing from Heidegger's at certain crucial moments.


The Language of Hermeneutics probes the most intense points of proximity between the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer and the poetizing thinking of his great teacher, Martin Heidegger--points of proximity which nevertheless show as clearly as possible the critical points of departure that set these two thinkers on separate parallel thought paths. By focusing exclusively on these two thinkers' respective readings of Plato, Aristotle, Holderlin, and Hegel, this book shows how Gadamer effectively deconstructs his mentor's architectonic of the history of being and retrieves from it a new mode of philosophizing that recognizes and embraces the fundamentally ironic structure of the world and boldly risks an interpretation of it.

Rod Coltman is an Instructor in the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is the translator of Hans-Georg Gadamer's The Beginning of Philosophy.


"This is clearly the best book-length interpretation of Gadamer's relationship to Heidegger in English. Coltman shows himself to be an insightful interpreter of both Gadamer and Heidegger, going carefully back to the German sources and citing English translations when they are available. Clear explication of key concepts is crucial in interpreting Heidegger and Gadamer, and Coltman offers the reader both clarity and accuracy. At a time when distorted and tendentious interpretations of Gadamer's hermeneutics and of its relation to Heideggerian thought are bandied about, Coltman's book is a breath of fresh air. The Language of Hermeneutics is certainly a healthy antidote to interpretations of Gadamer's philosophic hermeneutic that minimize or trivialize its relation to Heideggerian thought and misunderstand its creative appropriation of Aristotle, Plato, and Hegel." -- Richard E. Palmer, MacMurray College