Heidegger's Being That Can Be Understood Is Language

1784 Words8 Pages
Hans-Georg Gadamer was a German philosopher best known for his work on hermeneutics. However, it could be argued that his greatest contribution to this field can be summed up in a simple phrase: “Being that can be understood is language.” (Truth and Method 470). Before one can even begin to understand this phrase, one must first accept that Gadamer refused to separate doing philosophy from doing the history of philosophy. According to him, to philosophise well meant that one needed to be conscious of the role tradition plays in shaping one’s knowledge and conclusions. Meanwhile, to accurately understand the history of philosophy meant that one needed to philosophise well. This was the case since in order to understand a philosopher’s views, one needs to first discern what questions the philosopher’s views are answering. This in turn requires one to establish an understanding of what questions are good philosophical questions to ask, in addition to what are good philosophical answers to those questions. In this way, Gadamer’s philosophy is done in constant reference to the past works of philosophers. Having studied with fellow German philosopher Martin Heidegger, Gadamer was in particular understandably heavily influenced by Heidegger’s interest in the “question of Being”. Heidegger sought to illuminate the ubiquitous and inexpressible nature of Being that underlies our human existence, where “Being” refers to the background that precedes, conditions, and then facilitates the strict human knowledge of science. Gadamer thus aimed to develop Heidegger’s commitment to the nature of Being, especially in regards to the connection with the nature of Being and the philosophies of Plato and Augustine. As such, let us first consider Pla... ... middle of paper ... ...nd distorting, they can also be positive and clarifying and open up new insights to the realities of texts. Consider how many insights have come to light through the various interpretations of Scripture, Plato’s dialogues, and Augustine’s doctrines. As each interpreter faces the text, they bring with them their own questions and concerns related to their cultural context. These questions and concerns, along with the interpreter’s prejudices combine to make up a horizon. Finally, through the process of interpretation, the interpreter’s horizon will merge with the text’s horizon. Although this leaves the potential for distortions of the text’s interpretation, fusing the two horizons allows the text to take on new life and to begin a new dialogue. This dialogue may push the interpreter to question their own horizon, such that “Being that can be understood is language”.
Open Document